If the past few weeks of Auburn recruiting has been disappointing, consider 5-star defensive end Dee Liner to be a bright spot.
From a football standpoint, there's a ton to be excited about in regards to Liner. He's 6'2'', 274 pounds (according to Rivals.com) and he runs a 4.86 40-yard dash, according to 247Sports.com. For a strong-side defensive end, that's an elite combination of size and speed.
He should be dominant on the edges as a pass-rusher, but he's more than big enough to play strong against the run as well.
From a recruiting standpoint, there are some questions surrounding Liner because of his status. As a "soft" commitment, Auburn fans can't be too excited about the fact that he'll be taking a visit to Miami, according to Gary Ferman of CaneSport.com:
"Miami has been in touch with him and coach (Jethro) Franklin came up here, watched him practice," Muscle Shoals High coach Scott Basden said. "Miami coaches said they like that he has a great first step and is strong, plays with good pad level, said he has a lot of great qualities."
Coach Basden then went on to say that Liner's commitment was "up in the air" (per Ferman's report):
"Other than Miami I'm not sure where he'll take his official visits," Basden said, adding that, "I think at this stage anything is a possibility for where he winds up. He's committed to Auburn, but with their situation I don't know what he'll do.
"I know Alabama is high on his list, Auburn, and he liked his visit to USC. It's just really up in the air."
This can't be too encouraging for Auburn fans, especially considering all the disappointment that has surrounded the program as of late. That said, this visit to Miami—and any other suggestions that Auburn is in trouble in regards to Liner's commitment—may be just a blip on the radar.
Comments made to the media can be well thought out, calculated and almost strategic. Twitter, on the other hand, is known for being a place where gut-reactions, true opinions and unfiltered thoughts are displayed in 140 characters or less.
Here's what Liner himself had to say on his Twitter account after apparently talking with new head coach Gus Malzahn:
Just got off the phone wit my new head coach! I Feel a whole lot better about everything! WDE!!— Dee Liner (@Liner_25) December 5, 2012
He certainly appears excited and sold on Auburn's program. If there is any reason to believe that Auburn will be able to hold Liner's commitment, this would be it.
Uncertainty was the one thing that was really hurting Auburn recruiting. Now that Malzahn is in place as head coach, he'll be able to provide recruits with a system and a refreshed belief in Auburn football.
His exciting and efficient offensive scheme should really help create a new-found buzz around the program, and at least now recruits like Liner know who will be calling the shots in their football lives for the next three to four years.
He also just recently hired former Southern Mississippi head coach Ellis Johnson (via Phillip Marshall of 247Sports.com) to be the defensive coordinator, so now Liner and other elite defensive recruits like Reuben Foster and Carl Lawson know who will be coaching them, and they'll know how Johnson plans to utilize them in his scheme.
Will Liner stick with Auburn?
Auburn's program went from a disaster to a work in progress, and now with Malzahn and Ellis at the helm, there's plenty of reason to be excited about the Tigers.
You could worry about Liner taking a visit to Miami, but his comments would suggest that Auburn is still in very good standing with the 5-star defensive end.
There are plenty of other things Auburn needs to worry about right now. Liner's visit to Miami shouldn't be high on that list.