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November 21, 2013
AUBURN -- Momentum is on Auburn's side.
Since Auburn's thrilling win over Georgia on Saturday, the Tigers have picked up commitments from two four-star defenders for the Class of 2014, and an elite tight end for the Class of 2016.
Rivals250 corner Stephen Roberts flipped from Alabama on Wednesday morning. Late Wednesday night, Pearl River Community Collete four-star defensive tackle Dalvon Stuckey committed to the Tigers. And 2016 tight end Landon Rice pledged on Tuesday.
The ramifications of the weekend are still in motion.
Arizona Western Community College offensive tackle Jordan Prestwood named the Tigers his leader following his official visit and has cancelled his remaining trips.
Things are certainly looking up and the reasons are basic.
Winning creates trust among coaches and prospects. A pitch is just a pitch until you have the accomplishments to back up the claims.
"It gives you credibility," offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. "We come in and we start developing relationships with guys. It's Auburn so being Auburn, everybody automatically has interest in you, and a new staff is fresh. Guys will talk to you but until they see proof that hey, these guys maybe really can do what they say or they're legit, it's sometimes it's hard when you compete against other teams that have had coaches there or that have been established."
Auburn's Class of 2014 has moved up to No. 12 nationally and sits at No. 6 in average star ranking. The Tigers have a pair of five-stars and eight four-stars committed after Roberts and Stuckey made headlines.
Auburn's recruiting strategy since the summer has been simple: Be patient.
Following the commitment of Rivals100 running back Racean Thomas on Aug. 2, Auburn's only landed four commitments. Two months passed between Thomas and the commitment of Xavier Dampeer. One month passed since the commitment of Myron Burton and the Roberts decision.
That was by design.
Auburn focused all its efforts on the season and letting the results speak for themselves. The Tigers' staff banked on proving the doubters wrong. Winning is the best recruiting tool -- and it's working.
"You can only do so much if you don't have wins and you don't have games like the other night, it makes it tough," Lashlee said. "Winning is definitely the best thing you can do and doing it in front of a crowd like we did the other night, you can't do any better than that."
Roberts echoes that sentiment. He committed to Alabama during the spring because the Tide were a proven commodity and Auburn wasn't.
"I wanted to see how Auburn would do this year," Roberts said.
Now he knows.
But to have patience meant Auburn first needed a foundation. The Tigers built a Top 15 class with prospects that believed in the new Auburn brand before anyone else did.
"I was one of the first guys to commit so I have always felt really good about the coaching staff," linebacker commit Deshaun Davis said. "I bought into what they were selling early. It was just a different feeling when you stopped on the ground at Auburn after (Gus) Malzahn got here. I knew something special was going to happen, but this is just amazing."
Auburn hosted nearly 150 prospects last weekend. Roberts and Stuckey were among them, along with Rivals100 linebacker Rashaan Evans, Rivals100 Alabama linebacker commit Shaun Dion Hamilton, four-star defensive end Andrew Williams, Rivals100 receiver Travis Rudolph and more.
The sellout crowd and once-in-a-lifetime ending created a lasting impression on everyone that attended.
"Man, I jumped so high. I've never been so happy to win an Auburn game in my life," five-star linebacker commit Tre Williams said.
"I'm still speechless," tight end commit Chris Laye said. "I didn't know what to say. We were all screaming. We have the faith of the fans holding the team together."
"It was the most exciting game I've ever been to in my entire life," four-star corner commit Nicholas Ruffin said.
"It was definitely the craziest game I've ever been to," four-star athlete commit Stanton Truitt remarked. "Everyone's buying into what's going down in Jordan-Hare. I'm loving it."
Auburn enters Iron Bowl preparations on an extreme high, both on the field and across the recruiting landscape. A 10-1 record and No. 6 ranking in the BCS Standings will do that.
The question remains -- what recruiting heights could Auburn reach with a win over No. 1 Alabama? We may find out.