Oh, the games people play. Specifically, the people who coach college football for a living.
Last weekend, as you know, Auburn's Big Cat Weekend stole a boatload of recruiting headlines. In a not-so-stunning coincidence, it emerged early this week that five-star CB DeMarcus Milliner would be announcing his certain commitment to Alabama Thursday, which he did. Yours truly predicted this would lead to a Big Cat "Auburn = flash, Saban = substance" backlash, which I don't get points for because sometimes it's just too easy.
Besides, what I should have also seen coming is that Auburn's coaches would be smart enough to see that coming themselves. And so, in a second not-so-stunning coincidence, Jeremy Richardson committed to Auburn today, all of a day after Milliner committed to Alabama.
Auburn fans will surely respond with something along the lines of WE'RE BACK while 'Bama fans will surely respond that nabbing the commitment of the No. 26 wide receiver doesn't compare to the No. 1 corner/top player in the state. the truth, as always, in somewhere in the middle: while Milliner may--may--be even more of a lock to be a productive SEC player than Richardson, the odds are that both players will prove to be quality additions for their respective teams. Neither Auburn nor Alabama have really "won" this round over the other by virtue of either commitment: both schools had built-in advantages with their respective recruit ('Bama with their connection to Milliner's high school coach and general 'Bamaness, Auburn with their available playing time and family connection), pressed those advantages, and locked them up. The real test for Auburn will be snagging a commitment from a recruit of Richardson's quality where they don't have those advantages; at the same time, Alabama can't dismiss Auburn's recruiting efforts as empty gimmickry when it's earned them a recruit that the Tigers have seen slip away from them in recent years.
So I wouldn't go overboard with the WE'RE BACK talk. But we also shouldn't minimize that Auburn
1. just landed (or has very, very likely landed--Signing Day is, as always, forever away) their highest-profile in-state recruit since 2007
2. has received commitments from three different four-star wide receivers in the five months since Chizik and Co. have been in operation
3. is being coached by a staff that has a very clear picture of how to rebuild Auburn's recruiting brand and are more than willing to play the same game of one-upmanship their foe across the state has proven so adept at.
Things still aren't perfect on the recruiting front--as Jay's post from this morning could tell you, about which I'll have more Monday--but they're better than they've been in a long while, we can say that much.
UPDATE to add the Richardson highlight clip below (HT: Auburntron) and ask you to enjoy your weekend.