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Auburn Tigers push to lure more recruits

Auburn swung and missed on all six of its on-the-fence recruits during last year’s national signing day, an outcome Gene Chizik’s newly assembled staff hopes to reverse today.

Today marks the first opportunity for football recruits to officially fax their chosen school a letter of intent.

Auburn added one final verbal commitment Tuesday night, when four-star Georgia Military College cornerback Taikwon Paige pledged to sign with the Tigers after picking up a much-anticipated scholarship offer, according to AuburnSports.com.

The Aiken, S.C., native committed to North Carolina in 2007 but spent the past two years at the Milledgeville, Ga., prep school. He has three years to play two seasons at Auburn.

That brings Auburn’s 2009 class to 26 commitments, but the final tally could change if Chizik and his staff’s last-second push to lure more high-profile recruits pays dividends.

Tampa, Fla., running back Dontae Aycock appears to be the most likely of the undecideds to sign with Auburn.

The four-star recruit drew heavy interest from Georgia Tech, but the Yellow Jackets threatened to pull his scholarship offer if he visited Auburn last weekend. Aycock did, and the Tech coaches followed through on their promise, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Georgia Tech was recruiting Aycock to play quarterback in its option offense; he would be a running back with the Tigers.

Auburn is a finalist for a handful of other recruits. Olive Branch, Miss., offensive lineman Aubrey Phillips is a Tennessee commit but said after his visit to Auburn last weekend that he might “shock” some people come signing day.

Phillips is a high school teammate of safety Daren Bates, a recent Tigers commit. Florida State is also in the picture for the 6-foot-6, 310-pound lineman.

Austin, Texas, four-star wide receiver Emory Blake, the son of former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake, has narrowed his choices to Texas Tech, Colorado and Auburn, according to AuburnSports.com.

Bastrop, La., defensive DeQuinta Jones is a Michigan commit but made January visits to Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee.

Memphis, Tenn., linebacker Greg King’s choice is down to Tennessee and Auburn, according to Rivals.

In other developments:

Ÿ According to AuburnSports.com, Mobile, Ala., athlete Robert Cooper accepted Auburn’s grayshirt offer, meaning he would enroll at the school as a full-time student and scholarship player in January of next year.

The 6-foot-4, 204-pound recruit could play quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, safety or linebacker in college.

Ÿ Mike Eargle, a cornerback from Lackawanna Community College in Scranton, Pa., would accept a scholarship if presented with one, according to AuburnSports.com, although that offer looks less likely now that the Tigers wrapped up Paige.

Ÿ Of Auburn’s current commits, Bessemer, Ala., athlete Brandon Heavens is a candidate to switch schools. The three-star recruit visited Mississippi State last weekend and is leaning toward the Bulldogs, according to Rivals.com.

Mobile, Ala., defensive lineman Terrance Coleman visited Tennessee last weekend after his primary recruiter at Auburn, James Willis, took a job with Alabama. Coleman is the nephew of Tigers star defensive end Antonio Coleman.

Ÿ A pair of top-notch running backs — David Oku from Midwest City, Okla., and Bryce Brown from Wichita, Kan. — won’t make a decision today.

Oku, formerly a Tennessee commit, visited Auburn last weekend and said he won’t make a decision until mid-February. In addition to the Volunteers and Tigers, he is considering Syracuse.

Brown, the No. 1 overall recruit in the country according to Rivals, might take a visit to Auburn after signing day. He is currently a Miami commit.

Ÿ Bastrop, La., wide receiver DeAngelo Benton and Stevenson, Ala., linebacker Tana Patrick appear to be long shots. LSU is the frontrunner for Benton and Alabama for Patrick, according to Rivals.

Ÿ Three visitors from last week are no longer on Auburn’s radar. Tulsa, Okla., tight end Tracy Moore stuck with his Oklahoma State commitment, Perry, Ga., offensive lineman Johnnie Farms plans to honor his pledge to North Carolina and Tallahassee, Fla., defensive tackle Corey Gaines chose Ole Miss over Auburn on Monday.

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