Auburn, Ala.--One of the biggest pluses for Auburn in the hiring of new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is his reputation as being one of the top recruiters in the Southeastern Conference.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of any college football team and playing in the best league in the country makes every year an important one for a team hoping to challenge for championships.
Already with a Top 10 recruiting class for 2016 on Scout and with more talented prospects considering the Tigers heading into the last month before signing day the job for Steele, Coach Gus Malzahn and the rest of the staff will be to finish strong. Steele said based on what he knows about Auburn the sales job is one that should take care of itself.
“Just like anything, recruiting is fun,” Steele said. “You get a lot of joy out of it. It’s almost like a hobby and so it’s not a hard thing to do. If you yourself believe in something, then you can market the positives--the head coach, what kind of person he is, the system, the players we have here, the building process toward becoming champions. That’s fun to do so it’s not a hard message at all. And this university as some of you know, I hope you know this if you’re sitting in this room, this is a very unique place.
“The Auburn family, what it means to the people who support this university, what football means to it, the pride in the university, the love for the program is not something that is hard for players to see, for prospects to see," the defensive coordinator said. "It’s easy for me because, as a young first, second, third, fourth grader growing up in this stadium coming here. I wore No. 7 in junior high, and I was a quarterback at Prattville Junior High.
“I don’t think I need to tell you why I wore No. 7. The guy won a Heisman trophy here, Pat Sullivan. Those kinds of things I experienced as a youngster in this state following this program so the very things that I lived are easy to present to the prospects and what this place is and what it stands for and the family that exists here, the pride that exists here in the football program and what it means to be an Auburn Tiger. That’s not a hard sell.”
Leaving his job at LSU to take a job at Auburn might seem like a surprising decision to some, but for Steele the move made perfect sense. A coach who has been around some of the top coaches in the game such as Tom Osborne at Nebraska and Bobby Bowden at Florida State, Steele said he sees some of the same qualities in Malzahn and that’s one of the reasons why he’s a big believer in the future of the Auburn program.
“I can assure you this, when you’ve coached as long as I have, you know the signs of greatness and you know the signs of when the right people are at the right place,” Steele said. “Starting with the head coach, you’ve got to understand, Coach has the same characteristics as a person, a leader, a communicator and as a football coach as two other guys.
“I think you will understand why I’m saying this, Coach Osborne and Coach Bowden, same type of personality in terms of just the way they go about dealing with us as coaches, dealing with players, recruiting and why they are coaching. First and foremost, it’s about the players. That was very evident to me, but I always knew that because Coach and I have known each other for a while,and that was a key component.
“I guess what you are saying is, why did you think this was the right place at the right time, to come and build and be a part of a championship program? In 35 years, you know what that looks like, you know what the right people are, and it’s really about people. The other stuff changes, but it’s really about people, and I am very confident that from players all the way to the head coach, that we have what it takes to be champions.”