The Auburn Tigers' struggles seem to be continuing despite the hiring Gus Malzahn as new head coach. The kicker is, instead of struggling on the football field, the Tigers are having issues in the realm of recruiting.
Yesterday, 5-star inside linebacker Rueben Foster—Auburn's marquee recruit, mind you—basically said that he'd follow current assistant coach Trooper Taylor out of Auburn if Taylor weren't retained on Malzahn's new staff.
“I do not know how to respond to the news about the assistant coaches because I have been told they could still interview,” Lawson said. “So as of now I am not sure what to think.”
Malzahn has made a few attempts to get in touch with Lawson, but as of Wednesday night he had been unsuccessful.
“He has called me a couple times, but I have been busy with homework,” Lawson said. “It is important to know him just as it is for me to know any coach.
Lawson certainly seems to be concerned about the future of the assistant coaches, and to make things worse for Auburn fans, Lawson is planning on taking official visits to other schools, and "probably" Auburn as well, according to quotes via Adam's report:
“I will definitely take official visits to Clemson, Ole Miss and USC, maybe UNC too and probably Auburn,” Lawson said.
This may be reading between the lines a bit, but Lawson does not appear to be sold on the Auburn Tigers. Wanting to take official visits is a bad sign in itself for the Tigers, but even more concerning is the fact that he hasn't yet talked with Malzahn.
We're talking about the newly appointed head football coach of Auburn University struggling to make contact with a recruit.
Let that soak in for a minute.
Lawson obviously had enough time to give his quotes on the situation to ESPN, but for some reason, he can't find even five minutes to talk to his new head coach? This isn't a good sign for Auburn.
Lawson is listed as "solid verbal" by Rivals.com, but it may be time to change that to a "soft verbal." He's obviously not feeling great about the uncertainty in regards to who the assistants will be for Auburn, and one has to question if he really is making the effort to get in touch with Malzahn.
I'll be the first to tell you that homework and school need to come first in every situation for student-athletes, but in the same breath, I have a hard time believing Lawson can't even take five minutes out of his day to talk to the man who will essentially be running at least the next three years of his life.
He can't find five minutes while eating breakfast, or before lunch? How about throwing Malzahn on speakerphone while brushing his teeth? The reality is, if Lawson really wanted to get in touch with Malzahn, he would find a few minutes to make it happen.
The concern about assistants is expected, considering the recruiting relationship players develop with assistant coaches and all the time they will spend with them while in the program. Wanting to have a good connection and rapport with an assistant is normal for recruits, so I can see why Lawson would feel a bit uncertain there.
That can be easily remedied, though, once Malzahn makes his hires. Whether he retains some of Gene Chizik's staff or goes in a new direction, Auburn can at least provide Lawson with some answers.
According to Phillip Marshall of 247Sports.com, Ellis Johnson, former head coach at Southern Mississippi, has recently agreed to be Auburn's new defensive coordinator. Having a coach in place should go a long way with Lawson, so Auburn would be smart to get Johnson in touch with the 5-star defensive end as soon as possible.
His lack of communication with the new head coach is what should be really worrisome for the Tigers though. Add that to the fact that he's planning on taking visits, and this doesn't look too good for Auburn.