Talented Linebacker Chooses Tigers

Woodlawn standout Cassanova McKinzy talks about his decision to commit to Auburn.

Birmingham, Ala.--After favoring the Auburn Tigers for several weeks following a visit to the Plains last month, talented linebacker Cassanova McKinzy from Woodlawn made his decision on Thursday as he committed to coach Gene Chizik's program over Alabama, Arkansas, Clemson, UAB and several others.

"It's just that every time I go there and visit it just feels like home," McKinzy said. "I grew up as an Auburn fan. I had always told myself that whatever decision I made my heart had to be in it because I would be there for the next four or five years of my life.

"I had always grown up liking Auburn football so why not. I have a chance to get on the field and I can do well in my academics, that's the most important thing. I have a very good relationship with coach (Tommy) Thigpen too."

A three-star prospect at outside linebacker by Scout.com, the 6-3, 230 McKinzy is considered one of the top athletes at his position in the Southeast. After missing the first three games because of an injury as a junior he had 98 tackles 10 sacks and six forced fumbles in just seven games for the Colonels.

Making a visit in February to Auburn to check things out, McKinzy said at the time he had a good feeling about the Tigers after seeing how things work on the Plains.

"It helped a lot," he said of his last visit. "I got to hang around people I didn't know. I got to meet some of the players. It just helped a lot."

With those good feelings inside him and wanting to get his decision out of the way, McKinzy said he started to think more and more about an early commitment until he decided a few days ago to make it public.

"I wanted to commit Sunday and my coach was like, ‘Just wait.' I said, ‘I can't wait no longer.' He told me ‘Whatever is in your heart, go ahead and commit.' I think he wanted me to go somewhere else besides Auburn."

Now with his decision out of the way McKinzy said he hopes he can relax and concentrate on finishing his junior year strong and working on several fellow prospects on Auburn's behalf.

"It actually feels good because now I can say I'm an Auburn Tiger," McKinzy said. "The stress will be less now that I'm already committed. The recruiting process is very stressful."

McKinzy becomes Auburn's second commitment for 2012 joining Oxford offensive lineman Michael Flint. With back-to-back very good classes signed by the Tigers under Chizik's watch, he said he's going to do what he can to help that become a reality again this year.

"It's kind of important to me," McKinzy said. "I've got best friends that are big prospects in Alabama like Jameis Winston and Kwon Alexander. We're best friends. We play AAU basketball and baseball together. I actually think if I commit there that they'll come on board too. Not to be cocky and all, I actually think I'm a leader in our group. Jameis wants to play baseball but he's got a passion for football."

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