Auburn Football: Loss of Top Recruits Puts Pressure on Gus Malzahn
3-star recruit Jarrad Davis spurned Auburn to join Florida on Sunday, making him the sixth recruit to decommit from the university since Gene Chizik was fired as head coach.
What's worse, the linebacker was from Georgia, joining fellow Georgians JaQuay Williams, Trey Johnson and Reuben Foster in decommitting.
Auburn now has three remaining recruits from Georgia: defensive end Carl Lawson, tight end A.J. Jackson and punter Jimmy Hutchinson. Lawson, who will likely visit Clemson, USC and Ole Miss (per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), is the biggest prize, ranked as the No. 2 overall recruit by Rivals.com.
Lawson, Foster and Johnson are still in the mix for Auburn, but they could also very well go a different route.
New head coach Gus Malzahn, who worked as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach when the Tigers won the national championship in 2010 with Cam Newton, has his work cut out for him.
Will Auburn finish the recruiting season off strong?
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution report, Malzahn met with Lawson and Johnson last week. He also checked in on defensive tackle Montravius Adams, a 5-star recruit from Georgia who is currently undecided.
It was inevitable that some recruits would decommit from Auburn after the firing of Chizik. It was also inevitable that some would decommit after the Tigers finished the season 3-9, including 0-8 in the SEC.
But this is where Malzahn must make his money. His meetings with such players as Lawson, Johnson and Adams are pivotal. He not only must convince these players that Auburn isn't interested in a lengthy rebuilding process, he also must convince them that he is the right man to take over for Chizik.
The good news is that Malzahn worked with Chizik in the past at Auburn, which may keep recruits interested. He also led Arkansas State to a 9-3 record, a Sun Belt title and a trip to the GoDaddy.com Bowl this season in his first stint as a collegiate head coach.
All is certainly not lost for Auburn. The Tigers have a top-15 recruiting class even with Johnson and Foster decommitting, according to ESPN.
But Malzahn can't afford to get complacent and risk losing other recruits or losing other opportunities like with Adams. His work in the coming months will be critical for Auburn to rebound from a disastrous 2012.
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