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July 19, 2012
It takes time for a new coaching staff to build a foundation. Auburn head coach Gene Chizik understands that.
This is Chizik's fourth full recruiting class at Auburn. Chizik knows better than anyone, the 2013 class is a significant one.
"This is a very critical year for us in recruiting. It's our fourth full class. This is the foundation and basis of what we're trying to do. I expect us every year to be in the tops of the country in recruiting," Chizik said.
Chizik and his staff had limited time to assemble the 2009 signing class after arriving shortly after the end of the 2008 season. They finished with the No. 19 class nationally, a respectable finish considering the circumstances.
The last three years the Tigers haven't finished outside the top ten.
Auburn signed the No. 4 class in 2010, the No. 7 class in 2011, and the No. 10 class in 2012. Currently, Auburn claims the nation's No. 7 class fresh off the shocking flip of five-star Reuben Foster from the Tide to the Tigers.
When Chizik talks about building a foundation, it appears he's on the right track.
In 2010, Auburn signed 32 players, four of which were JUCO prospects. 32 players is a massive class, and signing JUCO prospects, especially four in one class, isn't how Chizik wants to build Auburn.
Now look at the last two classes. Both classes undersigned, with 24 signees in 2011 and 21 signees in 2012. Neither class featured one JUCO prospect. And in Chizik's last three signing classes, only one prospect has failed to qualify (two 2012 signees still await their fate). That's building a foundation.
The recruiting efforts of the Auburn staff are well recognized and those efforts haven't missed a beat with new coordinators Scot Loeffler and Brian VanGorder. Both have a pedigree in the SEC and the NFL -- strong recruiting pitches for high-profile prospects.
How would Chizik describe their transition?
"Outstanding," he said. "This is a big picture. A large part of that picture is how their recruiting. Young kids want to know about NFL exposure and possibilities. They also understand the competitiveness of recruiting in this league. They've jumped right in and done a great job."
Chizik's crew has landed at least three five-star prospects in a recruiting class before. In 2010 they landed Shon Coleman, Michael Dyer, and a JUCO quarterback named Cam Newton. The Tigers currently have three five-star prospects committed for 2013. Signing day is still seven months away.
But don't talk to Chizik about stars or rankings.
"I don't know what all the stars mean," Chizik said. "We feel like we're hitting the right players and we're getting the right players and we're building the program the right way."