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Kozan: Auburn, Iowa and recruiting

2/27/2012

For several weeks, Alex Kozan (Highlands Ranch, Colo./Valor Christian) was a mere signature away from ending his recruiting process and officially joining the 2012 recruiting class for Iowa.

That day, however, never would come for the Hawkeyes. In fact, all Iowa received from Kozan was silence -- which is what most of the world received from Kozan for 29 consecutive days. No public Twitter posts. No public Facebook messages. Nothing.

Kozan, a versatile lineman who is considered a top-25 guard, had Iowa, Auburn and Michigan as his final three on his recruiting list. On Monday, Kozan broke his silence by announcing via text message his decision to sign with Auburn.

What ended up as the Big Ten’s loss turns out to be a huge gain for the SEC. Kozan’s decision gives the Tigers another four-star standout and, more importantly, puts an end to the recruiting soap opera starring the 6-foot-4, 295-pound lineman.

“It’s been a crazy ride,” Kozan said, “but I’m real glad it’s over.”

Kozan committed to Iowa the night of Jan. 29 and was expected to be a part of Valor Christian’s signing day ceremony. However, when Feb. 1 -- the first day for 2012 football commits to sign -- approached, the letter of intent was never submitted to the Hawkeyes, and Kozan wasn’t a part of the school’s ceremony.

Kozan, at the time, said while he had committed to Iowa, he felt as though he made a rushed decision. His decision was further clouded when offensive line coach Reese Morgan -– who had been a primary recruiting contact –- was moved to defensive line coach to make room for new offensive line coach Brian Ferentz, the son of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.

Kozan knew he had until April 1 to sign, and he wanted to take as much time to mull over all of his options.

“Just recapping it all, when I committed to Iowa days before signing day, the next day, I wasn’t feeling all that great about it,” Kozan said. “I called [Iowa] up and told them I was rethinking it. I looked at Auburn and thought they had a good coaching staff.

“I thought [Auburn] would really develop me and get me where I need to be. Not that the other schools couldn’t do that, but just looking at the opportunity there, I thought Auburn would be best for it.”

Kozan, recruited by offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, is ranked No. 23 nationally among guards and No. 6 overall in the state of Colorado. He had 25 offers from coast to coast, including Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Arkansas and Washington. Kozan said he has built solid relationships with both Grimes and head coach Gene Chizik.

Kozan also said he’s built a good relationship with Auburn strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall. It’s Yoxall’s resume that served as a decider of sorts for Kozan.

“As an offensive lineman, you want to become a better athlete and get stronger, faster and more explosive,” Kozan said. “You definitely want to find a good strength and conditioning coach who knows what it takes to get you to the next level. I think Coach Yoxall is an outstanding strength and conditioning coach. He’s one of the top coaches in the game. You definitely can’t go wrong with him.”

Kozan will bring a winning reputation to Auburn from his high school career. He helped Valor Christian win its third consecutive Colorado high school state championship in December.

A Semper Fidelis All-American, Kozan became the Tigers’ 22nd member overall and the 12th four-star athlete of the 2012 recruiting class. He is the Tigers' seventh offensive lineman of the class.