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July 12, 2012

Analysis: Foster flip seismic

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The news out of Auburn High School on Thursday that Alabama five-star linebacker commit Reuben Foster is switching his commitment to Auburn sent shockwaves through the recruiting world.

Foster, the nation's No. 2-ranked overall prospect, had been pledged to the Crimson Tide since July 18, 2011. Almost one year later, Foster has switched sides of a bitter rivalry.

It's the highest ranked recruit to ever be committed to Auburn, at any time, in the Rivals.com era. Foster's commitment gives Auburn pledges from the state of Alabama's top two prospects in Foster and Muscle Shoals (Ala.) five-star defensive end Dee Liner.

The addition of Foster now gives Auburn an astounding three five-star commits on the defensive side of the ball. Foster, Liner and Alpharetta (Ga.) five-star defensive end Carl Lawson. Auburn is the only school that can boast that.


The Foster flip is a significant one on the football field. The Tigers are looking for elite linebackers as Brian VanGorder takes over the defense and there is a need at the position for playmakers. Foster fits that bill in every sense of the word. He's instinctual, he's 6-foot-2, 245-pounds and hits like a freight train and he's an extremely sure tackler.

Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said of Foster after the Rivals Challenge, "he is a special guy. He looks like an SEC linebacker right now."

Rivals.com analyst Chris Nee said, "for a big ole boy, he moves well, he covers a lot of ground. Lateral movement for a guy that size, it's almost unparalleled."

Foster recorded 185 tackles and 14 sacks as a junior at Troup County High School (Ga.). Auburn will utilize Foster most likely in the middle, and allow fellow Rivals100 linebacker commit and four-star Trey Johnson to play the outside linebacker position at 6-foot-1, 223-pounds.

Johnson is ranked by Rivals.com the nation's No. 2 inside linebacker, with Foster holding the No. 1 spot at that position.

Between Foster and Johnson, the two combined for over 330 tackles in 2011. Johnson alone has 316 tackles the last two seasons. The two could form an intimidating duo in VanGorder's new attacking style defense.

While Foster's on-the-field talents are undeniable, and from a recruiting perspective it's monumental news, the flip of Foster is a monster shot in the arm to the Auburn program. As it battles Alabama for favorable perception in-state, Auburn showed that despite the Tide's recent national championship, the Tigers coaching staff remains as formidable as any in the country. Credit Tigers' receivers coach Trooper Taylor for his persistence in flipping Foster.

The term "seismic" has been used in the state of Alabama before referencing high-profile commitments. Foster's flip can only be referenced in the same light.

Lastly, don't underestimate the impact Foster's decision will have on fellow prospects. Foster's smile and fun-loving personality are infectious. He has close relationships with Alabama Rivals100 tight-end commit O.J. Howard and Georgia Rivals100 linebacker commit Tray Matthews, as well as 2014 in-state prospect Bo Scarbrough. Foster's flip could have long-lasting repercussions as dominoes continue to fall.

With over six months until National Signing Day 2013, there's no question Auburn will have to fight off Alabama and Georgia for Foster's signature. But for now, Thursday was an extremely bright day for Auburn's football program.



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