Auburn is back on the board within state lines. The latest Tiger commitment comes from the Birmingham area in the form of two-way talent Ja'Kobi Albert, who has wide receiver and secondary experience.
The Fairfield (Ala.) rising-senior recruit says he will play defense for Bryan Harsin, Derek Mason and company on the Plains, making the announcement on his birthday Wednesday.
It was the group of new coaches at AU that helped to win the recruitment in narrow fashion over Michigan.
"I like the coaches," Albert says. "The coaches were really genuine when they talked to me, the coaches at Auburn really gave me that home feeling. They made me feel the most at home and that played a big part in my decision. I won't be living with my mom or my dad anymore, so my college coaches will be my father figures away from home.
"Along with that, just the football environment."
In particular, Mason made a big impact in Albert's recruitment. It comes with the defensive projection for the 6'1", 175-pound prospect as the Tiger commitment list climbs to nine.
"Coach Mason, he reminds me so much of a father figure," he says. "For someone who doesn't have a father in the house, just in general, I feel like he would be the man you should go to.
"When we talked, he felt like I can be like a player he had when he was at Stanford. I think he led the nation in interceptions and he said he saw me as that type of play-maker who could make big plays as a freshman. That really stood out to me, especially with him mentioning me playing as a freshman."
Albert is a versatile prospect and person. He not only plays wide receiver in football, but also makes plays on the Fairfield basketball team. After his playing days are done, he has a plan to remain around the game and Auburn had a built-in advantage versus Michigan and fellow finalist Maryland in this department.
"It's one of the best choices that I can make for my future, as far as after football, being that they're on the SEC Network," he says. "That's what I want to do, I want to major in sports communications so I can be a sports analyst whenever I'm done with football. I want to stay tied in with sports."
Like many in the Yellowhammer State, the view on Auburn will be among the most tracked heading into the 2021 season under Harsin, the first-year Tiger coach.
"I'm honestly excited to see what they can do this season," Albert says.
"Of course coming from Boise, it's going to be different, but I'm ready to see if he can make that adjustment. It's a totally different conference to coach in."
Albert is the fourth in-state commitment to pick AU in the class of 2022 and second in a three-day span following Caden Story's commitment on Aug. 1.
The newest AU verbal recognized Harsin, Mason, cornerbacks coach Zac Etheridge, wide receivers coach Cornelius Williams as well as director of recruiting Darren Uscher for additional reasons he is staying in his home state.
"I'm excited...War Eagle!"