The Auburn Tigers have a verbal commit from 4-star inside linebacker Trey Johnson out of Lawrenceville, Georgia, but just how strong will his commitment be once he starts taking official visits?
That's the question Auburn fans and coaches have to be asking themselves right now.
According to Kipp Adams of ESPN.com, Johnson will be taking official visits to Ohio State, USC and Florida State. He quotes Johnson's high school football coach, Todd Wofford, on the reasoning behind the visits:
"He loves Gene Chizik and he loves Brian VanGorder, but he just wants to cover his bases and he always said he was going to take visits, so he wants to check out schools that have big-time linebacker traditions," Wofford said. "He likes the kids that Auburn has committed right now, but at the same time other schools are kind of using Auburn’s season as a factor with him."
I've said it a million times, and I'll say it a million times more—nothing is official until National Signing Day. There is plenty of time for recruits to be swayed from their commitments.
Should Auburn be worried that the talented linebacker wants to check out other schools with "big-time linebacker traditions"?
Frankly, they'd be naive not to be worried.
At the moment, Auburn has a whole lot going against them.
They are a far cry from the team led by Cam Newton that won the National Championship, and their 1-3 record (0-2 SEC) really hurts them from a recruiting standpoint. It's evident that other schools are using their woeful record against them, and it's bound to eventually lead to some trepidation.
Meanwhile, Ohio State, USC and Florida State—the three schools Johnson will be visiting—all have legitimate shots at making a national splash. OSU is hindered by a bowl ban, but they will be back on top of the Big Ten soon enough. That's something Auburn can't say about the SEC at the moment, and it's going to hurt them in the recruiting process.
Sure, Gene Chizik has a very solid 2013 class to lean on, which features three 5-star recruits. However, as much as recruiting is about hope for the future, it also can be impacted by the present.
If Chizik can't sell Johnson on the fact that Auburn's future will be just as bright, if not brighter than the present at Ohio State, Florida State or even one-loss USC, then he'll risk losing some of his elite recruits.
He's going to have to operate under the assumption that those schools will be telling Johnson the opposite, and their current records may just speak a bit louder.
It seems as if Trey Johnson is at least open to seeing what other programs have to offer him, and right now that should be very concerning news for the Auburn Tigers.