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Auburn’s regional approach driving success in recruiting

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn gestures to fans as he walks off the field after they defeated Memphis 31-10 in the Birmingham Bowl NCAA college football game, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn gestures to fans as he walks off the field after they defeated Memphis 31-10 in the Birmingham Bowl NCAA college football game, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala. AP Photo

Editor’s note: All data compiled from 247 Sports rankings

The numbers paint a clear picture of the strategy driving Auburn on the recruiting trail.

During coach Gus Malzahn’s tenure, 75 percent of Auburn’s 101 signees have come from three states — Alabama, Georgia and Florida. The number jumps up to 84 percent without the class of 2013, a group Malzahn’s staff had weeks to put together.

The bulk of Auburn’s recruits outside those three states since 2014, seven of the 11, have been junior college transfers. 

While the coaching staff continues to cast a wide net offering top talent across the country, the staff has maintained a clear regional focus with Alabama an equally important part of the strategy as the two bordering states.

Malzahn has landed more recruits in Georgia (28) since 2014 than Alabama (20) by a decent margin. Auburn landed two of the top five prospects in Georgia this year including the No. 1 prospect in the state Derrick Brown.

“I thought it was big that we signed the No. 1 player in the state of Georgia; I think that’s the first time in school history that we did that,” Malzahn said. “Georgia is very important to our success — almost half of our players are from the state of Georgia — and that will give us great momentum for the future with that.”

Malzahn’s efforts in Georgia haven’t come at the expense of landing top in-state talent.

The Tigers have reeled in at least two of the top six in-state recruits each of the last three years and Alabama’s Mr. Football in three of the last four (Jeremy Johnson, Roc Thomas and Kerryon Johnson).

Auburn’s regional approach differs from that of rivals LSU and Alabama.

LSU has drawn nearly 60 percent of its recruits (42 of 73) from in-state schools since 2014 while Alabama has nationalized its recruiting efforts.

The Rolling Tide has landed recruits from 23 different states and Washington D.C. the last three years with no single state outside of Alabama accounting for more than eight of its 77 recruits during that span.

Auburn has landed recruits from eight different states in the same stretch.

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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