Every school has to deal with decommitments during the recruiting season. However, the recent trend at Auburn is certainly troubling.
The Tigers had one of the best recruiting classes in the country based on its early commits to Gene Chizik. Unfortunately, the head coach was fired following a terrible 3-9 season.
When the school hired Gus Malzahn, many involved felt good about the ability to hold onto the top high school players in the country.
So far, that has not been the case.
A large group of prospects have already changed their minds about coming to Auburn following the coaching switch. Ja'Quay Williams started the trend, and he was quickly followed out of town by Trey Johnson.
Things then go much worse when the elite prospects started leaving. Middle linebacker Reuben Foster and defensive tackle Dee Liner also recently decided to go in another direction, according to Mike Brantley of AL.com.
To make matters worse, both players could end up signing with bitter rival Alabama.
Foster and Liner are two men that could literally transform a defense at a collegiate level. Liner knows how to take on blockers and get into the backfield, while Foster could end up being one of the best in the country at racking up tackles. He knows how to cover the entire field and is a big difference-maker on that side of the football.
Unfortunately, it seems like Auburn missed out on potentially great players.
This trend could continue with defensive end Carl Lawson, who is currently one of the top prospects still committed to the Tigers. He is still taking official visits to other schools and could make a change before National Signing Day.
However, the troubling part is not just missing out on having these players. It is the fact that these top prospects are leaving in the first place. These men did not want to listen to a recruiting pitch from Malzahn, and were much more comfortable with Chizik.
If this coaching staff cannot get players that already liked the school to stay on board, it is not a good sign for securing commits in the future. Malzahn has not yet proven that he can be a top recruiter as a head coach.
Obviously, it is difficult to compete with Alabama on the recruiting scene based on the team's recent success. Still, recruiting is what allows teams like the Tigers to get back to the top. They need to figure out a way to get the best players and keep them there.
In the college football world, verbal commitments do not mean much until a player is signed. Auburn needs to make sure it reaches that last step.
Auburn has a lot to offer these high school stars. From past success to NFL alumni to simply playing in the SEC, the school is a relatively easy sell.
If Malzahn cannot stop this trend, however, it will show that he does not have what it takes to bring sustained success to this program.