Auburn Football 2012: Development Defines the Program Every Day of the Year

Kevin McGradySenior Writer IMay 22, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  Head coach Gene Chizik of the Auburn Tigers against the Virginia Cavaliers during the 2011 Chick Fil-A Bowl at Georgia Dome on December 31, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Gene Chizik and the Auburn Tigers are unlikely to have one of the top recruiting classes this season according to the criteria most recruiting sites use to rank such things. The reason for this is a simple lack of space on the roster to fit a full class of 25 new recruits. This has forced the Auburn staff to be really selective for each position filled.

Four years ago when Gene Chizik arrived on the plains with his four-year rebuilding plan, this was the goal he appeared to describe looking forward. Four years later, Auburn has one of the most talented rosters in the nation. The 2013 recruiting class will be the first totally dedicated to replenishing outstanding talent already on the roster.

So far it appears Coach Chizik and his staff are getting the majority of the recruits targeted to fill the scant few openings projected in the roster after the 2012 season has ended. Attrition has fallen to much lower levels than ever was the case under the previous staff.

Outstanding players have chosen to come to Auburn and the majority of them have chosen to stay and develop their talent on the plains. Auburn now offers multi-year football scholarships that help ensure that dedication actually does end with a degree for these young men.

Instead of managing the roster like the majority of other “elite” SEC programs, who simply recruit the maximum allowed by the rules and cut the less successful players from the roster to make room, Auburn is managing their roster in a very similar way to most professional teams. They tend to target areas needing a talent infusion or upgrade and focus on players to fill that specific void.

Players now have a full college career to develop and achieve their potential at Auburn. They do not have to worry about being cut from the roster if a new recruit appears to have more potential to the staff. Their slot on the roster is theirs as long as they make strides toward meeting their academic and athletic goals while following the rules.

This environment has led to a noticeable shift in the team atmosphere at Auburn. There are not as many players that appear to be there solely for individual gains. Many are now more focused on what they can give while at Auburn instead of what they can take from Auburn. The result has been the attraction of a higher level of talent beginning their careers in the Auburn athletic program.

In year four of Gene Chizik’s scheduled rebuilding effort, Auburn now has a healthy roster and healthy atmosphere for young men to develop for life. When these young men retire from future NFL careers, they will be well-equipped for the next opportunity life offers them.

Gene Chizik has met other goals while at Auburn, but this is likely the most significant of those achievements. Auburn will now contend for championships on a regular basis, but they will mold champions of life every day.

The first and most apparent benefit of this shift in team atmosphere has been the offseason effort in strength and conditioning. The majority of players are meeting or exceeding their goals in this area. Peer pressure and competition is focused, keen and friendly in this area.

There is no conditioning program in college football where the goals of individual players and positions are met more consistently. This is a program where young bodies become defined and toned to their ultimate potential.

The team has a very healthy individual effort program to develop players in the current scheme on offense and defense. While contact with the staff is limited by NCAA rules during certain times of the year, development of these athletes never stops. If a player wants to make an appearance on the field this fall, that player will likely need to improve daily, if not, it is almost certain another player on the roster will.

Fans of Auburn football can look forward to the fall knowing that the players in Orange and Blue have worked all year to be contenders for championships. This is no longer a young Auburn team, it is an Auburn team that is ready, willing and able.