Justin Hokanson, managing editor of AuburnSports.com of Rivals, is reporting via Twitter that Foster has decommitted from the Auburn program:
Five-star LB Reuben Foster tells me he's decommitted from Auburn. Georgia, LSU, Miami and Washington in contention.— Justin Hokanson (@JHokanson) December 7, 2012
Frankly, this is a disastrous recruiting loss for the Tigers, as Foster is one of the biggest names in the 2013 class.
It shouldn't come as that much of a shock, though, especially considering Foster said that he would try to follow now-former assistant coach Trooper Taylor if Auburn didn't bring him back. Reports came out earlier this week that stated Malzahn and the Tigers will not bring any old assistants back, including Taylor (via Hokanson/AuburnSports.com).
Foster checks in at 6'1", 250 pounds, and runs a 4.60, according to 247Sports, so he has an elite combination of size and speed for an inside linebacker. He plays extremely physical and is very aggressive, especially coming downhill to fill the gap. His quickness also allows him to move laterally, though, and make plays against the run.
He really does project to be an elite linebacker at the college level, so this is a devastating decommitment for Malzahn and the Tigers. To make things worse, this is the second star inside linebacker Auburn has lost. Four-star linebacker Trey Johnson decommitted from Auburn at the end of November.
It's the good programs that find a way to bounce back from these recruiting losses, though, and considering that this is essentially Malzahn's first test as head coach, being able to fill the void left by Foster is going to be extremely important.
So where do the Tigers turn from here?
To be honest, they're not going to be able to replace Foster from a talent standpoint at the linebacker position.
They do have a commitment from Cameron Toney, who's a 4-star inside linebacker, and he at the very least has the measurables you like to see at 6'2", 230 pounds, running a 4.80-second 40, according to 247Sports. Toney is no Reuben Foster, but he's now become their main inside linebacker commitment for 2013.
As far as star power and big names are concerned, Auburn does have a few big-time targets on its radar, so its best bet is to try to replace Foster with another elite recruit, no matter the position. At the very least this would be looked at as a recruiting win, and it would help Malzahn gain back some of the momentum he lost today.
The two big names Auburn would be smart to focus on are 5-star defensive tackle Montravius Adams, who has the Tigers in his top five (247Sports), and 5-star running back (according to Rivals) Greg Bryant, who has Auburn in his top two along with South Carolina, per 247Sports.
These players won't fill the void at linebacker, but they would certainly replace some of the star power Auburn lost when Foster decommitted, and that momentum would be really big for the Tigers.
Their best bet is to focus on trying to get to the top of Adams' interest list while also sealing the deal with Bryant. It's never easy to replace a 5-star recruit, especially one as talented as Foster, but Auburn has to do what it can in this situation.
Landing Adams and Bryant would go a long way toward filling the void Foster is leaving at Auburn. They may not be linebackers, but they are certainly elite recruits, and right now, that's all the Tigers can ask for.
Lead image courtesy of foxsports.com.