Auburn Football Recruiting: Final Weekend Gives Tigers Shot at Top 10 Class
Another wild and crazy season of recruiting is winding down across the college football landscape.
The final weekend of official visits before national signing day will take place Friday through Sunday on the Plains.
And if you like stars next to the name of prospects, this is the weekend for you.
Auburn is expected to host four 5-star prospects, two 4-star prospects and three 3-star prospects on official visits from Feb. 1 to Feb. 3.
Other prospects, like Auburn 4-star commit Tashawn Bower, will likely visit Auburn in an unofficial capacity.
There could always be a surprise visitor, like when 5-star cornerback Mackensie Alexander stopped by last weekend for an official visit. That turned out pretty well for Auburn.
5-star: ‘I was really impressed’: 5-star CB MacKensie Alexander talks about his Auburn visit and plans for a decision. bit.ly/10Wo1Wh— Auburn Undercover (@Auburn247) January 27, 2013
With recruiting momentum in the Tigers' corner, a fourth consecutive Top 10 recruiting class is not out of the picture. According to Rivals, Auburn's classes ranked No. 4, No. 7 and No. 10 in 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively.
A Top 10 recruiting class did not seem likely just last month, when Auburn dropped as low as No. 28 in various recruiting rankings.
Not only are Auburn's visitors top-tier prospects that will have the "star-gazers" in awe, but they are prospects for positions in which Auburn needs immediate help. Six of the eight visitors are defensive prospects at the defensive line or linebacker positions.
Getting these high profile prospects on campus the final weekend before national signing day gives the Tigers a big opportunity to finish the 2013 recruiting class in strong fashion.
The pitch from the Auburn coaching staff will likely be the last face-to-face recruiting pitch these recruits hear before announcing their college destination. The NCAA-mandated quiet period, where only on-campus visits are permitted, begins on Feb. 3. The dead period, when no face-to-face contact is permitted, begins on Feb.4.
The last 48 hours leading up to signing day on Feb. 6 will consist of the Auburn coaching staff communicating with prospects on the phone.
If nothing else, Auburn will be an interesting team to watch down the stretch. According to Rivals' national recruiting analyst, Mike Farrell, Auburn will be the most interesting team to watch.
"I thought USC would be the most interesting team to watch, but now it's Auburn," Farrell said on the Birmingham-based radio show, Eyes on Auburn.
Auburn will have to make a big impression on the 5-stars visiting campus. Acclaimed recruiter and defensive line coach Rodney Garner will be the main recruiter for much of the top talent on campus during the visit. Three of the four 5-stars visiting will make their home on the defensive line at the school of their choice.
The four 5-stars (according to 247sports) visiting are DT Montravius Adams, LB Reuben Foster and DEs Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniels. All of these prospects rank in the Top 3 in the country at their position.
Auburn is thought to hold a slim lead over Georgia for Foster, the one-time Auburn commit who decommitted from the Tigers following the dismissal of former head coach Gene Chizik and his staff.
Lawson is currently committed. Tennessee and Clemson have made a strong late push for Lawson, however.
247sports national recruiting analyst, J.C. Shurburtt, still thinks he is Auburn-bound.
Thanks to a relationship with Garner, the Tigers have also gotten in on the Adams' sweepstakes and are getting an official visit from Daniels, who is committed to Ole Miss.
Among the 4-stars visiting, JUCO DT Toby Johnson is Auburn's primary target. Like Adams, he is also a UGA target that Garner has continued to pursue after being hired.
Currently Auburn sits at No. 18 in the 247sports composite rankings.
To crack the Top 10, Auburn will need to secure a commitment from at least one more 5-star and fill the remaining spots with 4-star prospects.
An interesting scenario to watch will be if Foster and Lawson announce their intentions to play for Auburn on Monday. Foster will be announcing on Fox Sports South at 10 p.m. EST.
Lawson will simply call the school of his choice and end the recruiting process. That's refreshing, isn't it?
If both Lawson and Foster announce for Auburn, does that build even more momentum and catch the eyes of other recruits considering Auburn and lead them to signing with the Tigers? It's certainly possible.
Commitments from prospects with a lot of stars do not necessarily predict how well a team will do. Auburn fans can testify to that after seeing three highly ranked recruiting classes result in a 3-9 season in 2012.
But as recruiting services have improved, the rankings have become a good barometer of a team's potential when the talent is developed.
Programs are defined on the field during fall Saturdays, and Auburn has certainly defined itself in that way over the past 121 years.
But it is weekends like this that have the potential to impact the program on the field for the next four to five years. Auburn has surprisingly put itself in position to have yet another talented recruiting class come in.
With a strong finish on the recruiting trail, this new coaching staff can make a loud and clear statement to the rest of the SEC.
In just a few days, we will know exactly what kind of statement it sent.
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