The week of national signing day is off to a bad start for the Auburn Tigers.
After nearly two years of speculation combined with wacky twists and turns (and a tattoo), the soap opera known as Reuben Foster's recruitment has finally come to an end.
Maybe. Who knows what will happen in the next 48 hours?
Foster, the No. 1 inside linebacker in America (according to 247sports), has committed to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
He made the announcement live on Fox Sports South on Monday night. The former Auburn commitment chose Alabama over Auburn and Georgia.
Missing on Foster is a big blow to the 2013 recruiting class that Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is building.
It also continues a disturbing trend of elite players spurning Auburn for Alabama.
The Tigers had a lot of momentum on the recruiting trail and were poised for a strong finish. A strong finish just got a little bit harder.
Foster was one of four 5-stars on Auburn's campus on an official visit on the last weekend before national signing day (Wednesday, Feb. 6).
That did not come without some more drama from Foster, though.
He bolted Auburn on Saturday evening and spent time in Tuscaloosa with Crimson Tide prospects and players.
Jake Rowe @Rowe247
Confirmed that Reuben Foster is in Tuscaloosa tonight. Was supposed to be on his official visit to #Auburn this weekend, but is at #Bama.2/3/2013, 3:36:18 AM
Foster was arguably the most important target to land for Malzahn and the rest of the Auburn coaching staff. Foster would have played a big part in defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson's 4-2-5 scheme in 2013.
He can start in Week 1 at most schools in the country, but with Auburn's lackluster production at the LB position in the last two years, it needed a talent like Foster more than most.
Aside from his on-the-field potential, the biggest consequence of Foster not picking Auburn in immediate terms is the impact he could have on other elite prospects that Auburn is in the running for.
Recruiting has a lot to do with momentum and Auburn had a lot of it in the month of January when seven players announced their plans to sign with the Tigers on signing day.
Auburn is in the thick of the race for elite prospects like DT Montravius Adams, CB Mackensie Alexander and JUCO DT Toby Johnson.
Adams has noted on multiple occasions that he has a close relationship with Foster. Now, Foster could be in his ear as well as others about playing together at Alabama.
Although Foster was not committed to Auburn, he was thought by most to be an Auburn lean before leaving for Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Now, he has become the latest to spurn Auburn for Alabama in a disturbing trend in recent years.
Auburn fans will likely remember Foster with the same antipathy they remember former-Auburn-commitments-turned-Tide-players T.J. Yeldon, Brent Calloway and Cyrus Kouandjio.
Those are three elite athletes who were once Auburn commitments, only to be "flipped" by the head coach Nick Saban to play for the Crimson Tide.
Yeldon, a 5-star RB prospect, flipped to Alabama from Auburn just before a no-contact period in December of 2011. He had been committed to the Tigers since June.
Calloway, like Foster, had been committed to both Alabama and Auburn during his recruitment. It was a recruitment, like many in the state of Alabama, that was high-profile and resulted in allegations being made.
After visiting Alabama on the final weekend before national signing day and being taken off the grid on a trip to Pensacola, FL, Calloway inked his name to a scholarship with the Crimson Tide.
Kouandjio, like Yeldon, played a big part in the Tide's 2012 national championship run. His recruitment was also a crazy one.
After announcing that he would be signing with Auburn on national TV, he never put his pen to the scholarship papers. Instead, he faxed the papers into the athletic department at the University of Alabama.
These recent recruiting battles combined with four consecutive national championships between the two teams have turned an already nasty rivalry even nastier.
Unfortunately, the rivaly has already resulted in a casualty.
Auburn will get its share of talent on national signing day like it always does. However, when top in-state talent and those considered to be heavy Auburn leans get plucked away from Auburn year after year, it stings the Auburn fan base in more ways than one.
As much as Malzahn has delivered on his promise that "it is a new day" for the Auburn family, it appears that the sun hasn't set on the previous day when it comes to battles on the recruiting trail.
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