New Canaan, Conn.--One of the biggest need areas for the Auburn Tigers is at offensive tackle and that made the visit of 6-6, 315 Lucas Niang an important one this weekend. Already familiar with new Auburn offensive line coach Herb Hand from his time at Penn State, Niang said he enjoyed his second look at the Tigers and has them high on his list heading into signing day.
“I had a very good time getting to know the players and the coaches,” Niang said. “I wasn’t too sure about the coaches because Coach Hand just got hired and I only met him a couple of times at Penn State, but I got to know him and I think he’s a good guy. I like him as a coach.
“That helped a lot,” he added of already knowing Hand. “It wasn’t like it was the first time I had seen him. We had talked before so that made it easier.”
While Hand is still learning about the personnel he will have to work with at Auburn in the years to come, Niang said the coach told him they need tackles to come in and compete right away.
“He told me they’ve been playing a lot of young kids lately and that they don’t have that many juniors or seniors,” Niang said. “I think that’s important (playing early), but anywhere I go I’m going to have to fight for a job. I want to make sure if anything happens I’ll still like where I am regardless of football.”
One of the keys for Niang was having his dad along for the visit to Auburn. With his dad of French descent and his mother from Ivory Coast, Niang said they want to make sure of the education he’s going to get and Auburn passed all the checks.
“He liked it a lot,” Niang said of his father. “I guess before my parents weren’t too sure about the actual education part, but they do like it now a lot more.”
Maybe the biggest thing working in Auburn’s favor right now is having former Tigers’ linebacker Jason Miska as his high school coach. A player who has a lot of love for his alma after walking-on and playing a key role in Auburn’s undefeated 1993 season, Miska definitely is a help in learning about Auburn, Niang pointed out.
“It helps a lot because he is my coach and he’s helped me so much,” Niang said. “Knowing he came to Auburn too and it helped shape him into who he is today helps them in my eyes.”
Having already visited TCU with a trip to Miami coming up this weekend, Niang said the Horned Frogs are recruiting him the hardest at the moment. With Auburn at the top alongside TCU right now and Miami still with a shot, he said that he hopes to make a decision sometime before signing day.
“Hopefully, after all my officials I’ll just know,” Niang said. “I think it’s going to be important that if I go somewhere I’ll succeed and where I think I can do that best. Also down the line when eventually I stop playing football, what’s going to help me the rest of my life.”