Marshall: AU Signee A Lot Like His Proud Papa

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes about the most surprising signee in Tommy Tuberville's 2007 recruiting class.

It was one of the more interesting events of the recruiting season.

There was nothing unusual about Auburn's interest in Adam Herring, a hard-nosed linebacker from Shiloh Christian in Springdale, Ark. A lot of people were interested.

But what made this recruiting story different was that Adam Herring, who signed with Auburn last Wednesday, is the son of Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring.

Next season, father and son will be on opposite sides when Auburn and Arkansas play at Razorback Stadium.

And no one is prouder than Reggie Herring.

Herring was linebackers coach at Auburn from 1986-91. He has three Southeastern Conference championship rings. Adam and his sister, Caroline, were born at East Alabama Medical Center.

"I couldn't dream up a better scenario for my son than for him to get to go back to his birthplace," Reggie said as he sat in his office a day before signing day. "It's special."

Herring makes a tackle as a senior for Shiloh Christian.

At Auburn, Adam will play for James Willis, who played for his father. He was recruited by Hugh Nall, his father's close friend since their days coaching together on Pat Sullivan's staff at Texas Christian.

It was at Auburn that Reggie took the first big step in toward becoming one of the nation's top defensive coordinators, a journey that has taken him to Texas Christian, Clemson, the NFL's Houston Texans, North Carolina State and now Arkansas.

And now his son will play where he won championships as a coach.

"Hugh Nall is like a brother to me," Reggie said. "I have so much respect for him. Having the opportunity for him to be the one to recruit my son and then for Adam to go to a place like Auburn and play for a man like James Willis is a fairy tale for my family."

Reggie was known for his toughness as a Florida State linebacker who led his team in tackles for three consecutive years. At Auburn, he established a reputation as a tireless worker, a gifted teacher and one who coached the game as fiercely as he played it.

"The time I was at Auburn with Coach Dye was the best experience I've had as a football coach," Reggie said. "We were winning. We were dominating. It was a proud time to be at Auburn. It was the highlight of my career."

His respect for Auburn grew even stronger last season when Arkansas went to Jordan-Hare Stadium and stunned the Tigers 27-10. It was a bitterly disappointing day for Auburn, which lost an unbeaten season and eventually a chance to play for a championship.

"I have awesome respect for those people and that place," Reggie said. "I'll never forget the class of their fans after we beat Auburn. They knew they'd just gotten whipped and they appreciated good football. The class they displayed to our kids was unbelievable."

Much has been shared between father and son over the years. Adam plays the game the way his father did, with fierce determination.

"I love contact," Adam said. "Since football season has ended, I've missed it every day. I miss hitting people. Sometimes I almost get carried away in the hall at school. I love the game. I love everything about it.

Adam left Auburn when he was two years old, but he's always felt an attachment to the place his father remembers so fondly. As a child, he watched Auburn games on television at every opportunity. When he arrived on campus for his official visit that feeling grew even stronger.

"I just got that feeling of excitement inside me, just seeing the campus, and knowing about the program, the tradition, everything," Adam said. "I knew that's where I wanted to be."

Recruiting services didn't think so much of Adam. But a lot of coaches did, including Arkansas' Houston Nutt, who wasn't happy when he got the news that Arkansas wouldn't be considered.

"Him having to be around here and being known as Coach Herring's son was something we wanted to avoid," Reggie said. "He has been in NFL locker rooms, been to NFL practices, been on the sidelines for more college games than any high school kid. His daddy comes home from work and he hears about the pressure and knows what it's about.

"To give him the opportunity everybody else has, we thought it was best for him to go away, make his own bed, make his own name."

Auburn will get a linebacker who has been taught by one of the nation's top defensive minds since he was in elementary school. Adam Herring knows what it takes to succeed.

"He's mentally tough," Reggie said. "He knows it's going to be hard. He has no illusions. He's instinctive, he's intelligent and he's athletic. Does he run a 4.4? No. But he'll run fast enough and compete hard enough to be a productive player at this level."

At 6-foot-2, Adam still has plenty of room to grow. He's working every day to get bigger, stronger and faster.

"I know he has the right stuff," Reggie said. "He has incredible growth potential. He's up to 220, and it's all muscle. He's in explosion speed training. He lifts every day. It's his life. He's not playing basketball, not running off to play baseball. He's a football player, and that's what he does."

Adam Herring is known as a physical player.

He did it well enough to lead Shiloh Christian to an unbeaten season and the 3A state championship. Now, it's time for a new adventure.

I've known Reggie Herring for 20 years, but I've never seen Adam Herring play a down of football. I'd never talked to him at all before last Monday.

It didn't take long to realize that the son is a lot like his dad. And that's a very good thing for Auburn football.

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