Coveted offensive lineman Austin Troxell will play college football at Auburn.
Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports reported the prospect's decision to play for the Tigers. Auburn offensive line coach Herb Hand was clearly excited by the new addition:
Troxell is a 4-star prospect who's ranked 80th in the 2017 class. He also checks in as the No. 13 offensive tackle and second-best player from Alabama, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.
Before making his choice, he received interest from several top programs, including Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Florida and Florida State.
The Alabama native has displayed an impressive combination of size (6'7", 335 lbs), power and athletic ability for Madison Academy when healthy. Unfortunately, a torn ACL during the latter stages of his junior campaign slowed his development for a while.
Still, he's been in the spotlight for quite some time already, and he admitted to Daniel Boyette of AL.com that the recruiting process got a bit "hectic" as a junior. He tried to focus as much as possible on continuing to make the necessary strides despite the potential distraction of the widespread interest in him.
"My technique has gotten a lot better," Troxell said. "Coaches are always on me about my footwork. And my strength. I've gotten a lot stronger."
He could benefit from adding even more raw strength to his frame, but it's a delicate balance. The Auburn coaching staff won't want him to lose his small-area quickness by bulking up too much.
Troxell was a target for both Auburn and the rival Alabama Crimson Tide, which tends to add a little more intrigue to the process. That said, from a player's perspective, both schools provide the opportunity to play in the nation's top conference.
The Tigers may have received the nod because of a clearer path to playing time. While the Tide are deep up front, Auburn features a veteran-laden group that should have playing time readily available in 2017 and beyond. Left tackle Robert Leff is entering his senior season, while right tackle Darius James is a redshirt junior.
Troxell should eventually fill one of those openings, but it's still too early to tell when he'll be ready to jump into the starting lineup.
The transition for offensive linemen, especially tackles, is always a bit tricky because the players at the collegiate level are far more well-rounded than what the recruits are used to facing in high school.
That said, the long-term outlook for Troxell is highly promising. He's got the potential to become one of the top left tackles in college football by the time he's an upperclassman.