Reuben Foster and daughter A'Ziya Blackmon showed their Auburn pride at Thursday's announcement. (AuburnSports)
Everybody, meet Reuben Foster. He's a class of 2013 linebacker prospect from Auburn (the town), ranked by Rivals as the top player at his position in his class and as the nation's second-best recruit overall, and he's now committed to play football at Auburn (the university). The 6-foot-2, 228-pounder had been an Alabama pledge since July 18, 2011, but switched his Iron Bowl allegiance at a Thursday press conference at his school cafeteria. The way Nick Saban has stockpiled elite prospects the last few seasons, especially on the defensive side, Alabama is probably the only team that could lose the nation's No. 2 player and not really sweat it.
This is bigger news for Auburn, which now boasts three five-star defenders in the class of 2013. And it must be a refreshing change of pace for Auburn fans, who'd grown accustomed to seeing the Tigers draw short straw in recent rivalry recruiting flops. (We all remember the Cyrus Kouandjio ordeal, right?) And while this blue-chip signing would be big news even if Foster hadn't previously been committed to Alabama, it's even more noteworthy in light of the discovery made by Gentry Estes, who pointed something out yesterday that we'd missed at first. Take a look at Foster's statement from his no-for-real commitment ceremony on Thursday, via Rivals:
Over the last few weeks, I've really put a lot of thought and time into where I wanted to (continue) my football career. I am blessed that I am in the situation where I have several great opportunities, and I appreciate everyone attending this meeting. I want to make an announcement so I can put this behind me and get on with all the work that I need to do for high school and get prepared for college, both academically and athletically.
I am going to enroll at Auburn University.
I have a lot of respect for Alabama and the coaches and all the other people that are there. But at the end of the day, I felt like Auburn University is the place for me and my family and had the best situation for me and my family. I am 100 percent confident with my final decision. I feel great about my decision, and I'm excited to get started.
Foster ranks as the top linebacker and No. 2 overall prospect in the class of 2013. (Rivals.com)
And now read this oh-so-similar rhetoric from 2012 Daphne, Ala. running back T.J. Yeldon, another five-star prospect, who famously flipped from the Tigers to the Tide last December:
Over the last few weeks, I've really put a lot of time and thought into where I want to go to school and continue my football career. I am blessed to be in a situation where I have several great opportunities and I appreciate everyone involved who has helped me get to this point.
I want to make an announcement so I can put this behind me and get to work on the things I need to do to prepare for college both athletically and academically. I am going to enroll at the University of Alabama in January.
I have a lot of respect for Auburn, the coaches, and all of the people there, but at the end of the day I feel like the University of Alabama is the best situation and fit for me and my family. I am 100 percent confident with my final decision. I feel great about it and I'm excited to get started.
People of internet: You have a new favorite Auburn player. (Sorry, Dee Liner.) Even if this statement wasn't Foster's idea -- he was recruited by Trooper Taylor, Yeldon by Curtis Luper, both of whom are more than capable of going the extra mile to needle the Tide -- he was willing to carry it out, and upped the adorability ratings by bringing along his daughter in a wee AU cheerleading outfit.
If it turns out Foster is capable of being a star player at the collegiate level, even better. But based on rivalry intangibles alone, it's safe to call Foster the total package.