Don't count the Auburn Tigers out just yet in the recruitment of their former 5-star commitment, Reuben Foster. While the chances of bringing back a decommitment aren't necessarily in Auburn's favor, there's no denying that they are still in the running for the 5-star inside linebacker.
That said, other SEC powerhouse programs like Georgia and Alabama are also vying for his commitment as well, so if the Tigers want to regain their 5-star commitment, they're going to have to prevent him from becoming a member of the Bulldogs or Crimson Tide. Washington is also in the mix as well as a few outliers.
There's no doubting that Auburn certainly has a ton of work to do on the recruiting trail.
Georgia is actually listed as Foster's favorite according to 247Sports, and Kipp Adams of ESPN.com is reporting that the Bulldogs have made a simple pitch to the talented linebacker, according quotes from Foster himself.
“They told me to come to the state that I was raised,” Foster said. “They said I belong in Georgia and that I have Georgia blood in me so I should be a Georgia Bulldog. They said there is nothing any other coach can sell me on that is better than that.”
Alabama also got in touch with Foster, per Adams' report:
“Kirby Smart talked to me about how I felt when I first committed to [Alabama] and how I needed to get back on that train so I can be a great linebacker at Alabama,” Foster said. “Coach Smart said that I hurt them when I decommitted and they never wanted me to rush into anything. They would have rather me take my time. I am serious about Alabama. Not too serious, but I want to get back on that road.”
The good news is Adams also reported that new Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was able to talk with Foster, but with both Alabama and Georgia putting on the full-court press, how can Auburn prevent them from getting an advantage while also gaining its own?
Auburn's big advantage is still the fact that it has commitments from 5-star defensive ends Dee Liner and Carl Lawson. Those two are going to be stars at the college level, and Foster has to realize that playing linebacker behind two superstar ends on the edges will only make his life easier.
With the edges collapsing, running backs will look to cut inside more often than not, which will make life much easier for the inside linebacker. Also, having a great edge pass rush will obviously help Foster out in blitzing situations (the quarterback will step up into the pocket to avoid the edge rush) or even in coverage (rushed quarterbacks often times throw bad passes).
For as bad as Auburn was this year, the future of the program looks extremely bright, especially defensively, and Foster could be the star player that leads the Tigers back to prominence.
There's also the fact 'Bama and Georgia play a 3-4 defense, but Foster projects much better in Auburn's new defensive scheme the 4-2-5.
Auburn could elect to use him as the hybrid third safety in this defense. He'd generally be lined up on the strong-side of the field like a "Sam" linebacker, and he'd be asked to essentially make plays in both the run and pass game. Foster has great size so he'll be a good run defender, but he also runs a 4.60 40 according to 247Sports, so he's more than capable of playing solid in coverage.
He'd be able to make a ton of plays and essentially be the star of that defense. Even if they use him as one of the two linebackers, he'd be essentially responsible for every run play between the tackles. Either way, he could be a featured player in this defense.
Another plus—he won't have to hide his Auburn tattoo.
Finally, there's his daughter, who will play a role in his recruitment, according to his quotes via Adams:
“The school I pick has to have a good daycare program and good babysitters in case she wants to spend the night with me and I have football,” Foster said. “They coaches have to have a good bond with her too. My little girl has to like them and she knows who she likes. She likes Auburn --- and she likes Alabama. Those are the only two schools she likes, but she has not seen Georgia yet but I plan to take her there to see them too.”
She likes Auburn, which is good for the Tigers, but there's also the fact that he goes to Auburn High School, which is just down the street from Auburn University.
Going to Auburn would mean less change for him and his daughter, and it would allow her to stay within a comfort zone. Birmingham, Alabama would be just over a two-hour drive away, and Athens, Georgia is just over three.
It may have been a rough year for Auburn and losing Foster's commitment is definitely a low point, but when you break it down, it actually does have a pretty good pitch that could help the Tigers regain his commitment.
Auburn needs to keep him away from Georgia and Alabama. If it pitches the 4-3 defense and the chance to remain close to home, the Tigers just may have a chance.