The commitment of Reuben Foster, the nation's No. 2 overall prospect and a five-star, to Auburn last Thursday gave the Tigers their third five-star pledge on defense.
Only USC can boast three five-star commits, and no program can currently boast three five-star commits on one side of the football. Foster joins defensive ends Carl Lawson and Dee Liner as five-stars hoping to lead the way for a resurgent defense.
Lawson and Liner were critical in recruiting Foster to Auburn, making a big impact during the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in Atlanta just a few weeks ago. Lawson had an idea after that event that Foster would join the Tigers' class.
"I was happy that it was public, I expected him to flip," Lawson said. "I was real happy. I was pretty confident he was coming. He has a great relationship with Dee and I, and the Auburn community."
Many believed Foster wouldn't flip from Alabama to arch-rival Auburn. Liner hinted at Foster's flip at the Challenge, and was thrilled when it became reality.
"It was really important because people really thought he wasn't going to come to Auburn," said Liner.
Auburn now has commitments from the nation's top inside linebacker (Foster), the nation's top weakside defensive end (Lawson) and the nation's third-ranked strongside defensive end (Liner). Foster's abilities are praised across the recruiting world. Those abilities certainly aren't lost on Lawson and Liner.
"Reuben brings rare abilities to the field," said Lawson. "To have that in a middle linebacker, to read and react, to be able to scoop up anything that comes through the hole, it's great. It helps having him in the middle, but it helps the two 'A' gaps. He's freakish and it's great to have him on the team."
Liner has never seen better.
"He is really good. He's the best linebacker I have seen out of high school," Liner said.
The Tigers finished the 2011 season ranked No. 81 in total defense, allowing 408 yards per game. Under new coordinator Brian VanGorder, Auburn is hoping to dramatically change that. Three five-star defensive prospects, along with the nation's No. 2 inside linebacker Trey Johnson, are creating high expectations for the future.
"We think we can accomplish greatness, but at the same time we have to see how things go. We have a chance to build something special," Lawson said.
As far as recruiting, Lawson and Liner are leading the charge in persuading top talent to join Auburn's 2013 class.
After saying differently publicly at The Opening in Oregon, Lawson has decided not to take visits to USC and UCLA. Meanwhile, Liner flirted with Alabama this spring with visits, but reaffirms his commitment after Foster's decision.
"I'm way more than solid," said Liner.
Instead, the pair, joined by Foster, will continue to recruit elite prospects on board. Liner has his sights set on three.
"We're going after Montravius Adams, Tray Matthews (Georgia commit) and O.J. Howard (Alabama commit)," Liner said. "I'm going to get Tray on board. We are going to have the number one defensive class in the country."
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