2010 Class A Priority For Luper And Tigers

Auburn running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Curtis Luper discusses the focus for 2010.

Auburn, Ala.--With the hiring of Tommy Thigpen from North Carolina and Phillip Lolley, Auburn's Gene Chizik put the finishing touches on what has a chance to be one of the best recruiting staffs in the country. With several coaches on the staff with the reputation as top notch recruiters, running backs coach Curtis Luper says right now the main goal of everyone on board is to work together to make Auburn as good as possible.

"You really don't want to be overloaded with recruiters or it could kind of work almost against you at certain terms," Luper said. "But we've got five, six, seven, eight, nine guys that can really go at it. The most important thing is that we've got people we can really bounce ideas off of.

"Tommy Thigpen comes from North Carolina and they did a great job of recruiting there. Troop (Trooper Taylor) was at Tennessee and they did a great job there. At Oklahoma State we did a good job. Gus (Malzahn) was at Arkansas and they did a great job of recruiting. A lot of times it's just the ideas and different things we can do."

With the full staff now in place just two weeks removed from signing day, the thoughts have already turned to 2010 and Auburn's needs on the field. Luper says while they're moving forward and have already hit the ground running, this staff is still at a disadvantage for next year and is working hard to make up ground.

"We still feel we're behind," Luper said. "When we were solidifying our ‘09 class everyone else was working on the 2010 class. We still feel we're behind, but we have to catch up. It's a process, but we're catching up.

"We're evaluating talent," he added. "We're assigning coaches recruiting areas right now. We'll have that done, it's tentative now, but we'll have that done in the next couple of days. We're just evaluating talent to see who fits into our system. Offensively we have to learn the system and go recruit to the system. It's imperative that we recruit specific to our system on offense. It's the same on defense."

One of the ways Auburn hopes to get back to even for 2010 is with a series of junior days on the campus designed to give prospects a chance to see the program and coaching staff up close and personal. Luper says the first of those days will happen on March 7.

"Obviously we want to get all of the instate players in here that we kind of have our eye right now," Luper said. "Even some that we've extended offers to. We want to get them all here. Then the neighboring states, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, get those guys in. There will be some that travel from as far away as Texas and North Carolina.

"It's very important because there are some that come on junior day, that will be their only exposure to Auburn," he added. "We have to make sure we roll our the orange carpet for them. We'll have one during spring practice, at least one, so they can come in and see a practice and see their potential position coach on the field coaching. Junior days now have really evolved into a huge, huge deal for us."

One of the biggest changes for Auburn's recruiting efforts under Chizik and Luper will be the way the State of Alabama is handled. In recent years Auburn has had five coaches in the state dividing up regions. Luper says now they'll have a few more to make sure they canvas locally as much as possible.

"You know I'm a military man right," Luper asked. "One of the basic elements of the military is to protect your border. We've got to protect our border. We'll start right here in this state. There will be seven of us and actually eight because coach Chizik will be the eighth."

As Auburn's recruiting coordinator, Luper says his first job is to help put together a class that fills the needs of the team for the upcoming year and down the road. He added that if that class also happens to be ranked as one of the best in the country then it makes it even better.

"If they're keeping score you want to win," Luper said. "I think they kind of keep score on those things. You can't get caught in four-star or five-star, you still have to evaluate and see if he fits into your system. If he's a three-star and you feel like he's the best offensive tackle in the country then you take him. A lot of people get caught up in signing so many four-stars or so many five-stars. You still have to do a thorough evaluation process."

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