Alabama-Auburn is one of the greatest rivalries in college football. It’s a rivalry that dates back centuries, but it has become magnified on a national scale over the last few years, and not just on the field, but on the recruiting trail as well.
Last year, ESPN 150 running back T.J. Yeldon committed to Auburn in June, but in a turn of events that nearly sent the state into pandemonium, he flipped his commitment to Alabama and ultimately signed with the Crimson Tide. Now, Yeldon is poised to make a significant impact as a freshman for UA.
Fast forward to this year’s class.
Reuben Foster, the nation’s No. 2 player in the country, committed to Alabama last summer. When the five-star linebacker transferred high schools this spring and moved from LaGrange, Ga., to Auburn, Ala., he quickly became the state’s top prospect. He also just so happened to be in AU’s backyard.
It was only a matter of time before Foster flipped to the Tigers, and when he did, it felt even sweeter for Auburn fans after what happened the year before with Yeldon.
It’s the same thing every year. Alabama and Auburn go toe-to-toe right up to national signing day for the state’s top recruits. Other schools may come in and steal a player every now and then, but the majority of kids who grow up in the state want to play for the Tide or the Tigers.
In this 2013 class, 11 of the top 15 players in the state have already committed to play for Alabama or Auburn, including the state’s top three players, Foster, Dee Liner (Muscle Shoals, Ala.) and O.J. Howard (Prattville, Ala.)
With the state’s top two prospects, Foster and Liner, already on board, AU has the early advantage over the Tide this year, but it was Alabama who dominated the in-state recruiting a year ago.
Howard, the nation’s No. 2 tight end, is Alabama’s top in-state recruit for 2013, but Auburn is still doing everything it can to flip the 6-foot-6 target. It has all the makings of another epic recruiting battle between the two SEC powerhouses.
Regardless of who ends up where, both Alabama and Auburn have shown the ability to recruit as well as anybody. Currently, the Tide’s class sits at No. 4 nationally, and Auburn is just two spots behind at No. 6. Both classes could wind up in the top five.
The last three national championships have come from the state of Alabama, and if recruiting is any indication, that trend may continue.
“If the players do what they’re supposed to do and keep working and keep developing, you’ve got outstanding coaches at both universities, I think they can both compete for the national championship in the years to come,” Muscle Shoals head coach Scott Basden said.