In just a couple of weeks, it will be the college football fans' version of Christmas Day.
I'm talking about national signing day on Wednesday, Feb. 6. Where rumors and speculation about the decision of an 18-year-old come to a screeching halt.
Auburn fans will be waiting with bated breath for the next signature to come through on the fax machine (seriously, is this the only reason a fax machine is used any more?). Some fans may even consider this a holiday and call in sick to work.
I won't tell if you don't.
At one time, while suffering through a 3-9 2012 campaign, the Tigers recruiting class had climbed as high as No. 10, according to various recruiting services. As expected, de-commitments occurred from some high-profile prospects—such as the nation's top MLB, Reuben Foster—once Gene Chizik was fired on November. 26, 2012.
New head coach Gus Malzahn and the rest of the Auburn staff has been playing catch-up since he was hired on Dec. 5.
“Yeah, I think anytime a completely new staff comes in, you’re going to play catch-up. But our coaching staff’s done a great job of identifying the guys and really recruiting them hard, so I’m very pleased with our staff,” Malzahn told Aaron Brenner of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.
Currently, Auburn has pledges from 16 commitments and is ranked No. 19 in the 247Sports composite team rankings. Auburn will be making in-home visits during the weeks leading up to national signing day and will host official visitors on the weekends.
The weekend of Feb. 1 is shaping up to be a big weekend for Auburn recruiting, as Foster, DT Montravius Adams and others may pay a visit to the loveliest village.
Could be a big weekend for #Auburn on Feb. 1 if Reuben Foster, Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams and Tashawn Bower all visit.— Justin Hokanson (@JHokanson) January 22, 2013
With a limit of 85 scholarship players on a roster, Auburn will probably sign at or around 21 players in the 2013 recruiting class.
Auburn has needs on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Auburn would like to sign another RB and possibly another WR on the offensive side of the ball. On the defensive side, Auburn is looking to fill needs on the defensive line and at linebacker.
Auburn garnered two commitments this past weekend—both of them were pledges to other schools—in 4-star WR Tony Stevens, who was committed to Texas A&M, and S Khari Harding, who was pledged to the Arkansas Razorbacks.
No one knows for sure what the next couple of weeks leading up to signing day will bring except for the guarantee of craziness, but that is what makes this part of college football so great.
For Auburn fans, these are the five names on top of the Tigers' wish list.
RB Derrick Green (Richmond, Va; Hermitage High School) will make his college choice public this coming Saturday at 4 p.m. EST. Green will choose between Michigan, Tennessee and Auburn.
And rightfully so.
One look at Green's video and you can see the intangibles that have college coaches around the country drooling. Green has a great combination of size (6'0", 220 lbs.) and speed (4.58 40-yard dash). He can power through between the tackles and also beat a man to the outside and turn upfield.
To go along with that, he has great vision and cutting ability. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield.
Green visited Auburn unofficially over the summer and officially visited Auburn's previous staff under former head coach Gene Chizik. Despite Auburn's record and the outcome of the UGA game, he came away impressed with the gameday atmosphere at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn has signed one of the top JUCO RBs in the nation in Cameron Artis-Payne and would gladly accept the commitment from Green.
Auburn will look to sign at least two RBs in the 2013 class, including Artis-Payne.
Rising junior RB Tre Mason proved he could run the ball up the middle last year despite his size. He is more suited to be a speed guy to the outside, though. A commitment from Green would allow Mason to be used more in that role and it would also add depth to the RB rotation.
Most recruiting analysts feel that Auburn is a long shot to land the signature of Green, but Auburn QB commit Jeremy Johnson is doing his part in recruiting Green, according to Justin Hokanson of AuburnSports.com (subscription required).
Auburn was thought to be out of the picture for DT Montravius Adams (Vienna, Ga; Dooley High School). Especially after a 3-9 season and a coaching change.
But that was before long-time UGA assistant Rodney Garner and his lead recruiter for the Bulldogs arrived at Auburn as the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.
Auburn got back into the picture to land Adams' signature when Garner was hired in late December (via Michael Carvell, Atlanta Journal-Constitution).
“I’m kind of surprised, but it helps Auburn,” Adams told 247Sports. “We have a great relationship. He’s a great guy. I know that he’s a guy that will get defensive linemen to the league. I wouldn’t mind him being a guy that coaches me for three or four years. He’s going to be a guy that I’m going to be with most of the time besides the weight-training guy.”
Adams would likely play right away for Garner and Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson.
The Auburn defensive line was pushed around in SEC play in 2012. The group allowed an SEC-worst 222.63 rushing yards per game in conference play and also brought up the rear in the conference with only 10 sacks against SEC competition.
Garner and Johnson made a stop by Adams' high school on Tuesday to pay the nation's No. 2 DT a visit.
Auburn is trying its hardest to get Adams in for a visit on the weekend of Feb. 1, the last weekend before national signing day on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
One of the longest-run and most dramatic recruiting battles in the state of Alabama will come to an end soon, but it may not be on national signing day.
LB Reuben Foster (Auburn, Ala; Auburn High School) is arguably the top overall player in the nation. Foster earned MVP honors at the Under Armour All-American game earlier this month.
Foster has a long and winding recruiting story. He was committed to Alabama and moved from Troup County High School in Georgia to Auburn High School in Alabama before the 2012 season. Being so close to the Auburn University campus, he formed a great bond with the now former Auburn coaching staff.
Once Chizik and staff were fired (specifically WR coach Trooper Taylor), Foster opened his recruitment back up and just went on an official visit to Alabama last weekend. He came away with the Crimson Tide high on his list.
"I was growing up loving Alabama and that's where my heart was and might be now but you never know," Foster said. "Right now, Alabama stands very high in my standings."
Before Auburn fans could get too downtrodden with his comments about Alabama, Foster claimed that he would take an official visit to Auburn on the weekend of Feb. 1.
This is huge news for Auburn because with Foster living so close to campus, he can unofficially visit any time that he wants.
A familiar theme in Foster's recruitment has been his insistence on being able to be near hist two-year-old daughter (Via Scalici, al.com):
"I'm a family man," he said. "What Auburn has to provide for me is a family structure. Georgia has to provide the same thing. Alabama has to provide the same thing.
"I'm just a family dude and want to stay close to my little girl and my mother and just have a good family and maybe eat my mom's fried chicken every day."
That has to be music to the ears of Auburn fans.
Auburn has struggled to get productive play out of its LB corps the past two years. Foster would immediately challenge LBs Jake Holland and Cassanova McKinzy for playing time.
Along with 5-star DE Chris Jones' rise as a college football prospect has come a lot of attention. Jones is currently firmly committed to Mississippi State but has tentatively scheduled a visit to the Plains the weekend of Feb. 1.
Just getting Jones on campus would be a big win for the Auburn coaching staff. The Tigers are hanging on to DE Carl Lawson's commitment by what seems to be a thread.
Auburn is making a concerted effort to shore up its defensive line. It would be a dream come true for Auburn fans (and coaches) if the 2013 class ended up with JUCO DT Ben Bradley (already enrolled), Lawson, DE Tashawn Bower and Jones.
Auburn has a lot of catching up to do with Jones, but if an official visit does take place, it could make up ground in a hurry.
You can see Jones' highlights here.
CB MacKensie Alexander is a 4-star prospect and is another recruit that Auburn and Mississippi State are battling it out for.
After officially visiting Starkville, rumors leaked that Alexander had committed to the Bulldogs. That was quickly debunked by Alexander.
Alexander is a very physical CB and defends both the pass and the run very well. You don't see him playing soft coverage very often in his film.
A commitment from Alexander may also mean a commitment from another Alexander. His twin brother, Mackenro Alexander, is a 3-star safety, and the two may be a package deal if Auburn decides to offer Mackenro a scholarship.
Auburn has only one CB committed so far in 3-star Kamryn Melton. Auburn is working get an official visit out of the twin brothers.
Alexander's commitment is very up in the air and he could land anywhere. The Auburn staff hopes that the physical CB is roaming the Tigers secondary in 2013.