Gayden, a 6-7, 312-pound sophomore offensive tackle from College of the Sequoias, notes that he got a good feel for Auburn and SEC football on his official visit this past weekend.
Gayden is a priority recruit for the Tigers and other colleges because of his combination of size and athletic ability. The lineman says he has around 20 scholarship offers.
On Friday in Auburn he watched the Tigers play their in-state rival, Alabama, in a game that wasn't decided until the final play. "It was a great game," Gayden says. "I enjoyed it a lot. It was like a whole other level of football. It was a great atmosphere. People love their football there."
Gayden says he watched the action closely at Jordan-Hare Stadium and talked to players about the game. "I was talking with Mike Berry asking him how what's his name at Alabama (defensive lineman Terrence Cody) was to play against," Gayden says. "He said he didn't think too much of him." Cody was not credited with a solo tackle vs. Auburn and had just two assisted tackles.
The Tigers are looking for immediate help at offensive tackle to replace senior starter Andrew McCain and the lack of depth on the offensive front is a problem that Coach Gene Chizik and his staff are hoping to address in their 2010 signee class.
"I talked to a lot of people on my visit from the coaches to people on the street telling me that they want me to come to Auburn," Gayden points out. "They were telling me that if you come to Auburn you are going to have a chance to be a starter next season."
Gayden, who was a high school standout in Minnesota, notes that Auburn is certainly on his radar. "They are in my top three," he says. "I was very impressed. I could definitely see myself as an Auburn Tiger, but I still want to finish my visits before I make a decision."
In addition to checking out the football program, Gayden toured Auburn's campus and met with academic officials. "I talked to someone in the business school and that went well," he says. "It looks like they have one of the top-rated business schools in the country. I could definitely see myself being able to get into it."
He noted that he could also get into being a football player for the Tigers. "The atmosphere and the people, I have never seen it like that the way people love football at Auburn," he says.
Gayden notes that he enjoyed spending time with the coaching staff and learned a lot about the group from Auburn's current players. "The coaching staff is different than the ones I have seen before," he says. "They are really family oriented, they are really nice guys and they tell you the truth. They are not real yellers and stuff like they. They are more about talking to you to tell you what you are doing wrong."
Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes is personally recruiting Gayden. The tackle points out that he has a high opinion of the OL coach. "He is like a real cool guy," Gayden says. "He is one of those guys who doesn't raise his voice much. He just talks and teaches."
Gayden is finishing his fall classes at College of Sequoias and notes that is going well and says he is on track to graduate next spring. His team finished 5-5 this year.
Prior to attending junior college in California, Gayden was an All-State football player at Robbinsdale Cooper High in New Hope, Minn. The lineman will have two seasons of eligibility at the Division I level.