Immediately after leaving his press conference where he was introduced as new head coach of the Tigers on Monday, Gene Chizik headed west to Prattville High, home of the powerhouse 6A program that won its third consecutive state title on Dec. 6th.
Auburn's new coach made the trip to Prattville to emphasize the point that he plans to be aggressive on the in-state recruiting trail and he talked to a variety of coaches and players at PHS.
Zach Brownell, a 6-0, 210 safety who has been recruited by the Tigers this year, says he got to spend some time with the new Auburn coach.
"It's kind of honor knowing that right after his press conference, the first stop Coach Chizik made was at Prattville," Brownell says.
"He is a real nice guy," Brownell says. "He is easy to talk to. He came in there and made friends with all of the coaches.
"He was saying that he was going to look at our film and evaluate me and not just me, other players on our team," Brownell adds. Alex Page, a senior defensive end, is getting looks from colleges as is Jerodis Williams, a running back. La'Angelo Albright is a senior linebacker and junior safety Nick Perry, who is expected to be one of the top in-state prospects for the 2010 signee class.
Brownell says he talked to Chizik for about five minutes. "He asked me how our season went, how the all-star game went and how we had such great facilities and stuff like that."
Chizik coached defensive backs and was defensive coordinator at Auburn from 2002-2004.
The safety notes that was the first time he had ever talked to Chizik, who was head coach at Iowa State the past two seasons after spending two seasons as defensive coordinator at Texas and three at Auburn as the coordinator.
Brownell notes that he had been talking on a regular basis with James Willis, the Auburn linebacker coach, who recruited Prattville High for Tommy Tuberville's staff. "I talked to Coach Willis a lot in the last month and he came to the state championship game and watched that," the senior says.
Brownell had nine solo tackles, one assist and an interception to lead the Lions on defense in their 16-13 victory over Hoover to capture the state title at Legion Field in Birmingham.
Zach Brownell helped preserve Prattville's state championship victory with an impressive interception to stop Hoover's potential game-winning drive.
The safety said he had a good relationship with Willis and was sad that the whole Tuberville staff was fired, including the linebacker coach. "He is a nice guy and I was upset to hear they let him go, but things are going to keep moving on up there and hopefully Coach Chizik can get Auburn where it needs to be."
Brownell, who has an offer from South Alabama, was in Mobile last Saturday for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game. He played outside linebacker in that game.
"It was well and it was a lot of fun," he says of the game that featured a victory for the Alabama team. "They moved me down to outside linebacker and I think I had five or six tackles there and I had an interception. It was fun to get to know all of those guys and playing with all of that talent.
"It was something new playing linebacker, but it was pretty fun changing up like that," he notes. "When you are closer to the ball, it comes at you a lot faster and there is a lot more action."