SEC Football: Auburn’s Ellis Johnson on Reuben Foster, ‘we didn’t really need him’

New Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson says Reuben Foster wasn’t that big of a priority; Auburn was recruiting him as more of a “wild card”, if anything. I wonder if Gus (pictured) knew that?

It’s funny the type of spin you get on top prospects after signing day is dead and gone. I mean, you would think that most coaches, if they miss on a big-time guy, would simply lick their wounds and walk away, but Auburn’s new defensive coordinator (Ellis Johnson) is making sure everyone knows that 5-star linebacker prospect—and eventual Crimson Tide signee—Reuben Foster wasn’t a miss for Auburn because they never really expected him to sign in the first place. Furthermore, had he signed, he essentially would have just been a nice player to have on their squad as their new defensive scheme (4-2-5) doesn’t much utilize linebackers anyhow.

Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said five-star linebacker Reuben Foster was recruited as a “wild card,” not a core member of the Tigers’ linebacker signing class.

Johnson’s 4-2-5 defense places less emphasis on linebackers, at least compared to a traditional 4-3 base. There is one fewer linebacker on the field, generating less need at the position.

Foster, who played last fall at Auburn High and formerly was committed to AU before signing with Alabama, was considered the top inside linebacker prospect in the country. Auburn thought enough of him to leave a spot open in its signing class, Johnson said.

“We had the two that we needed, and we held for Reuben just because we knew he was good enough we were going to hold for him,” Johnson said. “We got your ‘X’ number of positions, and we always keep a couple wild cards. He was going to get one of those if he wanted it, and that’s fine.” (Ryan Wood, Opelika-Auburn News)

*scratches head*

I know a little bit about recruiting and I assure you I’m not trying to throw paint on the Barners or anything like that, but there was nothing about the way they recruited Foster that would have led any of us to believe they weren’t pining for him (nearly begging, actually) to end up on ‘The Plains’ in 2013—I don’t care what Ellis Johnson says about it now.

And, quite frankly, if he was just that disposable of a player, then someone should have told their new defensive line coach as he missed the memo.

Yeah, they didn’t expect to sign him at all.


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