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Thursday, Apr. 22, 2010

Auburn football: Chizik says recruiting Columbus area a 'huge, huge priority'

Auburn coach visits Columbus Phenix City Auburn Club

- abitter@ledger-enquirer.com
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With spring practice having concluded just days ago, all Auburn coach Gene Chizik has done is simply traded one hat for another.

Chizik spoke for the Columbus Phenix City Auburn Club at Green Island Country Club on Wednesday, one of many speaking engagements he’ll have in the next few months, when the Auburn coach’s focus shifts from on-field matters to recruiting and promotion of the program.

“We think we’ve got a pretty good track on recruiting in terms of who’s where, but you always go out and gain so much more information,” Chizik said.

Chizik said he and his staff will continue to try to be proactive on the recruiting front.

The Tigers garnered national attention last spring for the coaches’ Tiger Prowl limo tour of the state. They grabbed different headlines for the overzealous Big Cat recruiting weekend, which resulted in minor penalties for secondary recruiting violations.

“We’re just going to go out and do our recruiting thing, and obviously try to be on the edge with how we recruit and what we do and things of that nature in terms of just trying to be maybe a little bit different than most,” Chizik said.

“I feel like some of those things we did that were different captured the audience some, but at the end of the day you have to out-work everybody in recruiting. You build relationships. You’ve got to find ways to interest young men and your university.”

Chizik didn’t bite on a question about the quarterbacks (“I was waiting for you to ask me about that,” he told one reporter with a laugh), reiterating his statement following spring drills — that the staff is in the process of re-evaluating all four quarterbacks and has no timetable for when a decision will be made.

For now, though, the focus is recruiting. Chizik said he thinks his staff has made progress in making Auburn relevant again on the Columbus-area recruiting scene.

The Tigers have signed only two scholarship players from the area in the last five years. D’Antoine Hood (Central-Phenix City) is a junior cornerback. Safety DeRon Furr (Carver) transferred to Memphis in 2008 before ever playing a game for Auburn.

“There’s been some really good players to come out of this area that have played at Auburn,” Chizik said. “But there have been so many players that have come from this area that have gone to other places.

“And that’s the point of us needing to get back in here and be a stronger presence in here than we have in recent past. So that’s a huge, huge priority for us in recruiting.”

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