Tailback Jordan Wilkins (Cordova, Tenn./Saint Benedict) informed Auburn's coaches this week that he was committed to being an Auburn Tiger. He becomes the seventh ESPN 300 prospect to commit to the Tigers.
“A lot of reasons,” Wilkins told ESPN when asked why he selected Auburn. “When I went down there I felt real comfortable. I felt real comfortable with all the coaches. Also, I know a couple of guys on Auburn's team. That helps a lot.”
Wilkins, ranked the No. 225 prospect in the nation, was referring to linebacker Daren Bates and Jovon Robinson. Both are former Memphis, Tenn., area standouts and should help Wilkins make the transition to college football. They've already given him the inside story on college life on The Plains.
“It's big just to know how it is day in and day out,” said Wilkins, who is rated the 21st tailback in the nation. “Every college is going to try to tell you they're the best when you come to visit. It helps to know how it is every day.”
Other than friendly connections, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound running back said he was most impressed with Auburn's coaches.
“They're great,” he said. “They're like players. They get all pumped and jump up and down. They get all excited. That's what I like about Auburn's coaches. They're going to coach you but they'll be jumping around like you.”
Wilkins was partly referring to Trooper Taylor, the Auburn receivers coach whose energetic sideline presence has become a trademark. Taylor is also known as a strong recruiter. He is certainly familiar with the Memphis area from his time as an assistant coach at Tennessee. Running backs coach Curtis Luper was also key in Wilkins' recruitment.
There was a time when Wilkins seemed like he would head north to play college football. He has family in Ohio. Michigan recruited him heavily. Yet he said he was never really that close to leaving the South.
“I was just thinking about it really,” Wilkins said. “I decided I wanted to stay in the SEC. I'm from SEC country. That's what I've grown up watching. I got used to that. I don't want to go too far.”
The Auburn decision will also allow Wilkins to play against his older brother, Trey Wilkins, who is a sophomore receiver at Vanderbilt.
“It will be pretty cool,” the younger Wilkins said. “We're both on the offensive side so we won't be going against each other, but we're going to be competitive. It will be all good.”
The brotherly connection also gave Vanderbilt a great chance to land Wilkins. He said Vandy was second in the battle for his services and that it was hard not to join his brother.
“At the end of the day, I had to do what's best for me,” Wilkins said. “I love the coaches. Still I had to go where I thought I fit best.”
Wilkins also named Tennessee as a finalist, but said it was primarily a two-horse race between Auburn and Vanderbilt. Wilkins, who is rated the second best prospect in Tennessee, is the second high-profile prospect to opt to leave the state in three days. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey from Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy committed to USC on Monday.
“I got a really good vibe from Auburn,” Wilkins said.
Auburn now has 17 commitments for the 2013 class, as well as some incredible momentum after landing five-star linebacker Reuben Foster (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) last week.