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Dream season expands AU’s recruiting base

When it comes to recruiting, winning isn’t everything. But it sure doesn’t hurt.

Kouandjio is expected to visit Auburn.

Auburn’s perfect season which culminated in Monday’s win over Oregon in the BCS Championship game has already boosted the Tigers’ recruiting efforts and they’re on the fast track to signing another top five class on Feb. 2.

“We’ve got kids recruiting us,” assistant head coach Trooper Taylor said. “When you get that kind of coverage it helps you in recruiting because it reaches all across the United States. It’s not just regional. It’s all over the place.

“We had a kid from California that sent an email about Auburn and it’s because he saw Chizik on ESPN.”

It’s not just the wins, it’s the exposure Auburn has received over the past couple of months. Recruits see All-Americans like Cam Newton and Nick Fairley on T.V. and imagine themselves in those same uniforms scoring touchdowns and sacking quarterbacks.

While the effects of Auburn’s national championship won’t be fully realized on the recruiting trail until the 2012 and 2013 classes, It’s already helped to stir up interest from a few top 2011 prospects that were giving little to no attention to the Tigers earlier this fall.

All three are from areas that aren’t natural Auburn recruiting grounds.

Running back Savon Huggins St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, N.J., wasn’t on Auburn’s radar until November. But he officially visited Auburn in December and now has the Tigers as one of his finalists.

In just the last few weeks, elite offensive tackle prospect Cyrus Kouandjio from DeMatha in Hyattsville, Md., has added the Tigers to his list and plans to officially visit Auburn this month.

Sanders Jr. is a top prospect for 2012.

Auburn is also a finalist for offensive tackle Christian Westerman from Hamilton in Chandler, Ariz., who is committed to Texas but visited Auburn in December.

While most of the nation’s top 2011 prospects are already committed or already have a good idea of where they’ll sign in the next three weeks, most 2012 and 2013 prospects are just starting to develop schools of interest.

And top juniors from across the country like offensive lineman Andrus Peat from Corona Del Sol in Tempe, Ariz, running back Barry Sanders from Heritage Hall in Oklahoma City, Okla., and defensive lineman Vincent Valentine from Edwardsville (Ill.) High are all showing strong early interest as Auburn expands its recruiting base.

The Tigers will always focus their recruiting efforts in traditional Southeast states such as Alabama, Georgia and Florida but their dream season has opened up perhaps the nation’s most fertile and competitive recruiting grounds -- the state of Texas.

A couple of Lone Star standouts played a big part in Auburn’s 2010 season in wide receiver Emory Blake and defensive end Nosa Eguae but the Tigers are already focused on an unprecedented number of Texas juniors.

Quarterback Matt Davis from Klein Forest from Houston, running back Russell Hansbrough from Arlington, running back Trey Williams from Dekaney in Spring, wide receiver Thomas Johnson from Skyline in Dallas, wide receiver Cayleb Jones from Austin High and defensive end Mario Edwards from Ryan in Denton all list early offers from Auburn.

Hansbrough and Williams both visited Auburn this summer. Jones is Blake’s cousin.

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