"Tiger Prowl" Getting Attention, Coaches Say

Auburn's football coaching staff continues to prowl as they hit more high schools on their trip around the state of Alabama.

Auburn, Ala.--After making a lot of noise in the southern part of Alabama on Monday and Tuesday, Auburn's "Tiger Prowl" made it to central Alabama on Wednesday bringing a wave of excitement along for the ride in a stretch Hummer limousine.

Auburn coaches Ted Roof, Gus Malzahn, Curtis Luper, Trooper Taylor, Tracy Rocker, Tommy Thigpen and Phillip Lolley made trips to Central High in Phenix City, Smith Station, Opelika and Auburn before lunch and headed towards Montgomery for an afternoon visit with schools in the area such as Jeff Davis, Prattville and Stanhope-Elmore.

Phillip Lolley, Trooper Taylor and Ted Roof load up for the next destination.

The day started in Phenix City as the coaching staff rolled up to Central High to meet with Coach Ron Nelson and some of his staff. Nelson said the buzz that has been created over the last two days spilled over Wednesday morning.

"The mayor got word of it and he showed up bright and early this morning," Nelson said. "We had the local newspaper and the local TV station in town. Somehow they found out about it and were here. It was a good atmosphere. I hope they had a good time because I know we did."

One of the key components for the Auburn coaching staff is the fact that all seven available coaches are together on the visits that will go on through Thursday. While it shows unity and obviously an intent to focus on in-state recruiting, Nelson said another part of the visits is even bigger from a coaching standpoint.

"It means a lot," Nelson said. "Not only did I appreciate it, but our school appreciated it and our administrators and our teachers, and especially most of the football players that saw them walking in the hall.

"I didn't know how it would go because I've never had seven in at one time. I think it's good for this staff to do this because instead of just knowing the one guy that is recruiting this area I got a chance to meet all of them and try to get a relationship. I think that will help in the long run."

Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper check out an Auburn K-9 Unit while at Auburn High School.

Following a visit to Opelika High where running back Corey Grant is a standout for first-year coach Brian Blackmon, the Auburn coaches made a stop just down the street from their offices at Auburn High. Coached by Tim Carter, the Tigers have several Division I prospects for the upcoming season including defensive back Pee Wee Cobb, quarterback Calvin Jenkins, offensive lineman John Hix and defensive lineman Rodney Thomas.

While Auburn has prospects this season, Carter said that the way the coaching staff has blanketed the state to this point regardless of the intent to recruit this season is refreshing. He said being close to home makes it even more special for everyone at Auburn High.

"I just think it lets you know your school is important and your kids are going to be a top priority for this staff," Carter said. "We're excited about that.

"I think at times, being here in Auburn, it's easy to overlook the school that's in your backyard. I have been real pleased with the signing of John Sullen last year and how intent Auburn is for not only claiming the state, but also this local area."

In recent years Alabama has improved its recruiting in the state, obviously something Gene Chizik and his staff are hoping to change beginning with the 2010 signee class. Carter said what he's seen out of the new coaching staff makes him think the Tigers will be in the hunt for local guys and making the state a battleground for the top prospects..

"For years Auburn has been known for going into Georgia and going into Florida and some areas that it's good to make a presence in, don't get me wrong," Carter said. "I think our football is pretty special. It has been disappointing the last couple of years with Auburn's in-state recruiting. I think this should be a top priority. There are a lot of good football players in Phenix City and Auburn-Opelika and Montgomery. They are some areas Auburn has lost some good football players. I think it's very important."

Nelson reiterated those comments. A long-time coach at Central, Nelson said the current Auburn staff has made it a point to be very active in Alabama and closer to home. He noted that's when the Tigers have always been at their best.

"They understand in Auburn's days when they are good they're going to get kids from Alabama and Georgia," Nelson said. "I think those are the areas they are going to concentrate on the most."


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