Auburn, Ala.--When the NCAA ban on satellite camps was recently overturned it opened the door for teams from across the country to go off-campus to showcase their programs. For the Auburn Tigers and Coach Gus Malzahn the satellite issue has never been a problem, but now that the door is open for SEC teams the Tigers will hit the road this summer.
Auburn has always focused on the Southeast in recruiting and even with the ability to go nationwide for camps the Tigers will remain in their region with camps in Atlanta, Miami and Tampa expected for Malzlahn's program. While there are possibilities for even more camps, the Auburn Coach said right now it's still a work in progress for his program.
"We had some plans already in place, but this is kind of a new thing for everybody," Malzahn said. "We're trying to figure out what's best for Auburn. We think there is great value in getting players to our campus, so we're just trying to figure out the right thing to do for Auburn as far as strategy is concerned; about where we should go and how many places we should go and who we should send. I know the rest of the coaches in our league are trying to answer these same questions, but I'm just taking a deep breath and figuring out what is best for us moving forward. We haven't made any final decisions yet, but we're in the process of doing that."
One thing remains clear for Malzahn and Auburn and that is they want to remain focused on the key recruiting areas for the Tigers. That means continuing to keep a strong presence in the Southeast. Malzahn said even if they decide to branch out some they'll never stray too far from their roots as a program.
"We're going to stay true to who we are," Malzahn said. "Alabama, Georgia, Florida, those three states we hang our hat on. Every now and then we'll go out if we have a specific relationship or a specific player, but those are the three states we're going to make our living in and where we'll spend most of our time."
Atlanta is an obvious choice with the long history of Auburn players coming from in and around the city. One of the most talent-rich areas in the country, Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs is perhaps the most important place for the Tigers’ coaching staff can be this summer. Just last year the Tigers signed Derrick Brown, Antwuan Jackson, Marlon Character and Kyle Davis all from the region and with Georgia once again loaded with prospects it’s a natural fit for Auburn.
Miami has long been a focal point for college football recruiters and for Auburn since the days of Otis Mounds, James Bostic, Frank Sanders, Calvin Jackson and Brian Robinson, Dade and Broward Counties have been a hotspot for the Tigers. All you have to do is look at the current roster, with names like John Franklin, Carlton Davis, Paul James, Jamel Dean, Sean White, Jeremiah Dinson, Tim Irvin and Marcus Davis all from South Florida, to see the impact the region has with Auburn football.
Rounding out the trips could be Tampa. Central Florida has become more of a focus for the Tigers in recent years with guys like Chandler Cox, Byron Cowart, Tony Stevens, Ryan Davis and others currently on the roster from the region. Auburn signed several players from the area in the 2016 class as well, including brothers Nate Craig and Jayvaughn Myers. Throw in that Tampa is close enough to pull players from across the bay in St. Pete, Clearwater and Bradenton with IMG Academy as well as up the road in Lakeland and Orlando, and you have the makings of an insanely talented camp in Central Florida.
No matter how well the satellite camps do for the Tigers, Malzahn said nothing will ever take the place of getting kids on the Auburn campus and that's something the coaches will continue to push no matter how much they get on the road.
"I will say that getting players to our campus is how we operate at Auburn," Malzahn said. "We think that's a good advantage, getting guys around our coaches and getting a feel for Auburn and the facilities and everything that goes with that."