As if the Alabama-Auburn rivalry didn't need anymore drama. Things really got interesting on the recruiting side of such a great rivalry when top high school linebacker prospect Reuben Foster (Auburn, Ala.), who is the nation's No. 2 prospect, flipped his verbal commitment from Alabama to Auburn during a news conference held in his high school cafeteria Thursday.
"I have a lot of respect for the Alabama people -- the coaches and all of the other people and the fans," Foster said. "But at the end of the day, I feel like Auburn University is the place for me and my family. It has the best situation for me and my family.
"I am 100 percent confident with my final decision."
Foster transfered to Auburn High from Troup County High in LaGrange, Ga., this spring. He's now basically in Auburn University's backyard, so he's had plenty of opportunities to check out the Tide's biggest rival.
By the way, didn't he say he was "100 percent committed" to Alabama last week? Oh, recruiting. Another high school player goes back on his non-binding word. Shocker.
Forget that Foster was all about being loyal to Alabama a week ago and that it's still a long way before he actually has to sign with a school; this is a big get for the Tigers. Not only did Auburn's staff snatch its arch-rival's top commit but he gained one of the best players in the country. In a state that it must share with one of the kings of college football, Auburn pulled a quick one on the Tide.
Auburn isn't exactly hurting at linebacker, but now the Tigers have the nation's top two inside linebackers in Foster and Under Armour All-American Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett). For as much as Auburn's defense struggled last year and for as young as it still is overall, getting highly-touted and highly-talented players like this will only help the future. Chances are both players -- if they do sign with the Tigers -- will be expected to contribute early at Auburn, especially Foster.
Foster is extremely talented, but Alabama is stacked at linebacker, especially with four linebackers signing with the 2012 class. He might be considered more talented than those players, so chances are he would have had his chance to play once he got to Tuscaloosa, but he's more important to the Tigers.
He not only helps Auburn's future depth, but he's a brand name in this year's recruiting class. Auburn, which has a solid class already, should be able to build some good momentum with this kind of pickup. Other top players will take notice to this. Their interest in Auburn might even increase now. Regardless, this was a huge get for Auburn and it wouldn't surprise me if Gene Chizik and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder took a victory lap around campus once they heard the news.
And, hey, it's a shot to Alabama's recruiting class. Say what you will about whether or not Alabama needed Foster, but at the end of he day, Nick Saban and his staff want him in this class. And fans want him in this class. Losing him to Auburn stings more than just seeing him decommit. That's your arch-arch-arch-rival. You never want to see that.
We'll see how long Auburn's collective victory lap lasts. After all, this is recruiting and you better believe that Saban, a recruiting master, won't give up on recruiting Foster. Not when his No. 1 rival swoops in and takes his prize, and not when "100 percent committed" means nothing until pen is put to paper.