Coach Gus Malzahn got a big addition to those plans on Monday when six-foot-two cornerback Tony Bridges from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College chose the Tigers over LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss for the 2015 recruiting class.
Playing alongside Auburn signees D'haquille Williams and Derrick Moncrief last fall and a teammate of Auburn class of 2015 verbal commitment Jason Smith, Bridges says he's excited about his decision to be a Tiger.
"What stood out to me when I was younger was when Cam Newton came down there," Bridges says of his history with Auburn. "I was loving it then.
"When I got to Gulf Coast my teammates were telling me I would have a big opportunity to go somewhere," he says. "Coming from a small town in Mississippi I wasn't sure where I was going. When I got here Derrick Moncrief and D'haquille Williams were telling me I should come with them. That just stood out to me. Me and D'haquille went at it every day and practice and he's a guy I love. I just wanted to say 'War Eagle.'
"Jason Smith was always riding me, too, telling me I might as well come be a War Eagle with him," he adds. "He kept on me. Me and Jason Smith played in the Mississippi-Alabama game together. He was playing wideout and I was covering him. He caught a pass on me one time and I had a pick on him. We went at it."
A huge fan of the way Richard Sherman plays the game for the Seattle Seahawks, Bridges has followed a similar path on the field moving from wide receiver to full-time cornerback. A big body who has the athletic ability to run with even the fastest of receivers, he says his goal is to deliver on the field what people saw this season on the way to a Super Bowl.
"I heard the coaches were loving me," Bridges says. "Coach Melvin Smith loved what he saw. That's basically what it was. He loved me being a long 6-2 corner and 190 right now. I can get a little bit weight more on me. I'm long, physical, punt return guy, special teams guy."
Making his decision public on Monday, Bridges tells Inside The Auburn Tigers that it's something he has felt for a while and finally decided to make it official.
"I kind of already knew where I was leaning," he says. "I was definitely leaning towards Auburn. I wasn't leaning towards any of the other schools so I made my decision I wanted to commit."
Already interested in Auburn, Bridges watched closely this season as the Tigers came out of nowhere to win 12 games, the SEC Championship, and came within seconds of their second BCS title in the last four years. Seeing what they were able to accomplish in the first year of a new coaching staff was huge for him he says.
"If you put me on the stage like that I would love it," Bridges says. "I see Auburn in the SEC, that's as big as it gets. I love to compete. They turned things around this year and made it. When I get there I would love for us to get it. I would love for us to get it this year, too. I love the competition so when I get there I know I'll do great. War Eagle."
A talented two-way standout from Hattiesburg High, Bridges was one of the top players in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game as a senior and had a strong senior season as well. Playing cornerback and wide receiver in addition to duties returning punts and kickoffs, he was the do-it-all player for his team. He was named All-State in football, basketball and track.
He's currently playing basketball for the Bulldogs as well, averaging 7.5 points per game in 13 games. He scored 26 points in his last game, an 88-87 overtime loss.
Scheduled to graduate from MGCCC in December and enroll at Auburn with three years to play two, Bridges notesthat he currently has a 3.3 GPA. He says that getting his decision over with is big because now he can concentrate on finishing up school strong and improving as a player this fall.
"It feels better to get it out of the way," Bridges says. "I'm just trying to get my mom out of this place. Now I can focus on my work and do what I have to do until December to get out of here."