AUBURN, Ala. — As best he could remember, the first contact Kaleb Kim had with Auburn was last fall, just as another school year had begun.
At the time, the Tigers were coming off one of the worst seasons in school history, which saw them go 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the Southeastern Conference. That didn't deter Kim. The consensus four-star offensive line prospect went into his recruitment with an open mind. Be it Auburn or another school, he wasn't going to let the past dictate his future.
After months of recruiting him, Kim finally made his initial visit to Auburn's campus, attending the Iron Bowl.
"So that was a pretty great introduction," he said in a phone interview Friday. "A couple weeks after that, I got the offer."
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Five months later, Kim had already made up his mind: He was going to be a Tiger. He made it official in April, holding a press conference at his high school — Mill Creek in Hoschton, Ga. — where he chose Auburn over his other finalist, Georgia.
Asked why he committed so early — before his junior year of high school had even ended — and the reply comes without pause, an example of how easy the decision came to him.
"I wanted to focus on the rest of high school and I knew Auburn was the place for me after a couple of visits," said Kim, pointing to two of the biggest factors that brought his recruitment to a swift conclusion. "It had the best feel to it. I was comfortable with the coaches and everything they were saying, so I knew that it was definitely the place I was going to choose. I thought, 'There's no reason to delay anything,' so I just went ahead and committed."
And forget about taking official visits elsewhere.
Kim won't be needing them.
"I'm completely done. I'm not going anywhere else," he said. "The only place I'm going to be is Auburn. I feel like I owe it the coaches. I gave them my word, so I'm not going to be visiting anywhere else."
Upon joining the Tigers next year, the Class of 2015 commit isn't sure where he'll play just yet. That's a testament to Kim's versatility, as offensive line coach J.B. Grimes has told him he has "the potential to play any position." When pressed on the subject, Kim said he believes guard is his most likely destination.
But if it's not, that's fine, too.
"I've played every position on the O-line. I'm comfortable with all of them," he said. "I've been at tackle the longest — I'm not saying that's where I want to be or anything like that, but that's just where I've mostly played in high school. But I can play any of the positions on the O-line."
Next year can't arrive soon enough for Auburn's coaching staff. Kim said Grimes likes "just about every part" of his game.
"He said I'm fast, so that was his No. 1 thing," Kim said. "He thinks I'm a good run blocker and I can pass block as well. He just really likes me as a player."
Kim's self-confidence shows. He couldn't pinpoint a weakness he'd like to eliminate. He was more worried about getting into the swing of things once he enrolls.
"I think the biggest thing is adjusting to the scheme once I get to Auburn," Kim said. "Anything technique-wise that needs to be done, I'm sure Coach Grimes will help polish that up. So I think getting comfortable with the plays is the biggest thing."
Until that time arrives, though, Kim is going to do everything in his power to get other highly-touted, undecided prospects on board.
"Anyone I get a chance to talk to, I'm going to tell them everything Auburn has going for it and hopefully persuade them to go ahead and commit," he said. "We're looking to get the best class possible."
Those still on the fence would be hard-pressed to find a better commit to converse with than Kim.
In a time when verbal pledges mean next to nothing and decommitments are commonplace, Kim is as unbowed as they come.
"I know that I made the right choice," he said, "and every time I go back, I feel stronger and stronger about it."