Cassanova Loving DC Hire At Auburn

Cassanova McKinzey talks about the hiring of Brian VanGorder as Auburn's DC and about helping to recruit five-star players Stefon Diggs and Arik Armstead.

Birmingham, Ala.—While the hiring of Brian VanGorder as Auburn's defensive coordinator has been a smash hit so far with the fans, for Auburn commitment Cassanova McKinzey it was a positive as well with his NFL pedigree and SEC experience.

Over the weekend the 240-pound linebacker made the trip down to Auburn to hang out with his fellow commitments and also talk with his future coach and he said it couldn't have gone any better.

"I feel like it's a great opportunity," McKinzey said. "You've got somebody coming from the NFL that can get you ready physically and mentally. I think it's going to be a great opportunity because he knows everything you're supposed to do if you want to make it to the next level. He's a good guy and has good schemes. He has a good mindset of what he wants to do on the field.

"He has a lot of packages that can relate to me coming off the edge," McKinzey added. "I don't like to just sit back. Basically he's going to use me where I fit to make it to the next level."

While getting to know VanGorder was in the plans for the weekend, McKinzey also wanted to do his part in helping the Tigers finish off the 2012 recruiting class in style. That meant hanging out with commitments such as Josh Holsey and Jonathan Jones while also putting the full court press on a couple of five-star prospects. One of those is on the offensive side of the ball in Stefon Diggs and McKinzey said the two hit it off this time around and are getting closer the more they hang out.

"I want to say something about Diggs," McKinzey said. "At first he used to walk around kind of stuck up, but he's actually a good person and we can relate to a lot of stuff. He's real cool. We basically hung out the whole night.

"I'm trying to get him on board because we're going to need some offensive playmakers. I think he's going to be one of them."

That's something that players the last few seasons have done and it has worked out well for the Tigers in landing some late commitments. McKinzey said not only is it important to the team, but also to him as a player at linebacker.

"It's very important because I actually want to win another championship or even two of them," McKinzey said. "If I could win four in a row I would win four in a row, but let's be real about it. We need players on board. Also the big defensive tackle (Arik Armstead), I told him ‘I need you to keep them off me'. Defense is going to win games."

Currently weighing 240 pounds and hoping to play at 235-240 while at Auburn, McKinzey said that even though several schools have continued to recruit him he's done with the process and is now focusing on signing day.

"I'm through," McKinzey said. "I'm not visiting anywhere else. I don't have time. South Florida has called me and South Carolina. Florida State hasn't called me in a while. I guess they're getting the memo.

"It's just the environment and being around so many positive people," he added about Auburn. "You want to have a relationship with the coaches and talk to you and your parents respectfully. That just means a lot and goes a long way."

With Eltoro Freeman moving on and Auburn needing linebackers, McKinzey said the chance to help out right away and make an impact has him fired up about his future on the Plains.

"I think I have a good chance of coming in and starting or getting some early playing time," McKinzey said. "That's one of my biggest fears is coming in and redshirting. I don't want that to happen. My biggest deal is to work hard and try to get on the field."

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