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Gene Chizik fired: SEC rivals closing in on Auburn's star recruits

Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee are all making moves for Auburn's top recruits after the Tigers fired head coach Gene Chizik.


In the aftermath of Auburn's firing of Gene Chizik, many fans around the country are asking which recruits plan to stick with Auburn and which may elect to move on. That's a tough question, but it makes sense to assume that players who were already looking around will continue to do so. It's also relatively safe to assume that players who never wavered from their commitment to Auburn during the disastrous 2012 season will probably stick.

I'll get to the players with shaky commitments, but first, news came Sunday night that Jaquay Williams, a receiver who had already been wavering, decommitted. Williams had a long relationship with Auburn, having signed there last season and failing to qualify before heading to Georgia Military Academy, a prep school.

Auburn's recruiting class sits at 18 members following Williams' decommitment. And compared to classes at other SEC schools with coaching vacancies like Tennessee and Arkansas, it is a loaded group.

Now, about those players who were already looking around. There are a lot of them. There has been cause for them to look around for a while, as Auburn's struggle was very public and ugly and not at all sudden. Other schools were already coming hard after these kids, and they will only crank up the rhetoric in the coming weeks as Auburn remains coachless.

The top commitment in that category is Reuben Foster, the No. 1 linebacker recruit in the country. Foster famously decommitted from Alabama and switched to Auburn after moving to Auburn from his Georgia home. Oh, and he also got an enormous Auburn tattoo. But in recent weeks, his commitment has been anything but solid, and many believe the resurgent Georgia Bulldogs will get back in the race. Foster is a consensus five-star recruit, and his highlight tape is stuff of legend. If Auburn loses him, it could resonate with other recruits.

Follow Foster's recruitment in his story stream.

Speaking of linebackers, Lawrenceville (Ga.) Central Gwinnett High's Trey Johnson already planned to visit several SEC schools, plus Florida State. Auburn sources feel confident that they can hold on to him, because he committed to the school and not just the ousted coaching staff, but the status of his commitment to the Tigers will likely depend on the head coaching hire. Johnson is a consensus four-star recruit, and a very athletic linebacker at 6'2 and 218 pounds.

His coach spoke with Rivals Sunday:

"He's going to take his visits and make the best decision for him," Wofford said Sunday. "He hasn't decommitted yet but he had a great time up in Columbus this weekend."

"He said if they keep some of the staff it would help them out," Wofford said. "If they clean house and depending on who they bring in, they would probably be out of it."

Another key piece of Auburn's recruiting class is Arshad Jackson, a talented tight end from Hampton (Ga.) Lovejoy High School. Jackson visited Florida State for the Florida game, along with his friend and FSU commitment Davin Bellamy. Jackson has not yet decommitted from the Tigers, but many believe it will only be a matter of time for the 6'6, 235-pounder.

Two other big names with shaky commitments to Auburn are found on the defensive line in Carl Lawson and Dee Liner.

Lawson is arguably the second-best defensive end in the country, after the consensus No. 1 player, Robert Nkemdiche. Out of Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton, Lawson has been committed to the Tigers for months, but has wavered recently. He visited Clemson over the weekend, and saw the opportunity for immediate playing time there. He also plans to visit Florida State, though a date has not been set for the visit. Lawson is a four- or five-star recruit depending on the service, and he has a great combination of quickness and power at 6'2.5 and 250 pounds.

Liner's recruitment has been a bit quieter. Also a long-time Auburn commitment, the defensive tackle from Muscle Shoals (Al.) High isn't talking about his recruitment until his season is over. But the consensus four-star's coach did speak with ESPN about the situation:

For now, Liner remains committed to Auburn. He is going to wait until after his senior season is over before addressing his situation.

"We sat down today, and we're at the same thing," Muscle Shoals coach Scott Basden said. "It's not any different. We're not going to talk about it until after our season is over with, and that's the way it's going to be. He's not going to deal with it, and we're not even going to talk about it."

Alabama is attempting to make a move for Liner, while Auburn cornerback commitment Kamryn Melton wants him to stay with the Tigers:

Don't miss: Jahmere Irvin-Sills wavering from Auburn Tigers: West Virginia in the mix

The final recruit whose commitment is thought to be on shaky ground is Jordan Wilkins, a talented scat back out of Cordova (TN) St. Benedict. As an out-of-state recruit, Wilkins doesn't have many ties to Auburn in the wake of the Tigers' staff being dismissed. He spoke with Dave Hooker ($):

"I have some thinking to do," the four-star tailback said.

An in-state school, Tennessee, could play a prominent role in Wilkins' recruitment. The Volunteers are currently looking for a new coach to replace former coach Derek Dooley, who was fired last week.

"They were on me," Wilkins said of the Vols. "Haven't heard from them in awhile but I'd like to. They're still in the picture."

It's unlikely that Auburn will lose all of these recruits. After all, something other than the coaching staff drove them to Auburn in the first place. But without a head coach in place, the drama is about to hit a fever pitch.

While we’re here, let’s watch some of the many fine college football videos from SB Nation’s YouTube channel:

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