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Krootin’: Reese Dismukes commits, etc.

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Party hats, kazoos, etc. Reese Dismukes has committed to Auburn. This is a substantial development for several reasons:

— Firstly: Dismukes is good. He’s got offers from Alabama, Florida St., Stanford, Ole Miss. He’s the No. 217 prospect in the country according to Scout, as well as the third-best center and a four-star recruit. He’s on both the Rivals and the ESPN 250/150 watch lists, and ESPN has already invited him to the Under Armour All-American game. This much acclimation and attention this (relatively) early in the recruiting cycle usually equals Quality.

— Much as we’d love to pretend otherwise, Auburn beating out Alabama for a recruit–and as many visits as Dismukes has taken to T-Town and given that he’d readied one February announcement already before backing off, I think it’s fair to say ‘Bama did indeed want Dismukes aboard–still helps our side a lot more than it hurts theirs. They’ll find another Dismukes, or someone the gurus think is just as good, anyway.

What’s significant here is that for the second time already this year, Auburn has pulled a commitment from a major in-state recruit with both a high level of interest from the Coachbot and Co. and–at one time–a strong interest in Alabama. This is a sea change from 2008 and 2009, when recruits like Dismukes and Region and likely future Auburn commit Jonathan Rose weren’t giving Auburn the time of day. LaDarius Owens and Craig Sanders were the first indications that Auburn was done just watching Alabama take whoever they wanted in-state; Dismukes is the confirmation. The Tide will, unfortunately, probably still win more head-to-head battles against Chizik and Co. than they’ll lose. But the days of there not even being a battle are over.

— Hey, remember when Auburn’s 2011 offensive line was going to be a disaster zone? It’s still going to be hard-pressed not to take a step back from this fall’s edition, but between Brandon Mosley, Roszell Gayden, Eric Mack, Ed Christian, John Sullen, Thomas O’Reilly, Region, Dismukes, 2011 recruits still to come, and several sleepers besides, Auburn’s going to be all right. If the Tigers could manage in 2007, they’ll manage in 2011 as well.

UPDATE: Jay G. Tate has a useful report from Spanish Fort, complete with the backstory behind Dismukes’ love of do-rags and his delayed announcement from earlier this year.

The beat, as they say, goes on. Dismukes is without question the headliner for this week’s worth of krootin’ news, but there’s still plenty else to cover:

A-Day A-OK. There’s maybe been a slight tinge of disappointment out in Auburnland over the fact that A-Day weekend didn’t produce an immediate commitment despite some 200 prospects hitting campus, but that really, truly doesn’t matter when it does accomplish things like

1. turn a tenuous lead for Erique Florence–potentially the No. 1 prospect in the state this year,  one of the top safeties in the country, and at this stage perhaps the odds-on favorite to become the highest-rated member of Auburn’s 2011 class–into what now appears to be a commanding lead

2. keep Auburn firmly in the mix for All-American Brey Cook, a long-time Hog fan who’s probably staying home … but that’s what we said about Eric Mack, too

3. make our case with top-of-the-line prospects like Florida RB Mike Blakely and Georgia quarterback C.J. Uzomah.

The positives here so outweigh the negatives that it’s not really even worth discussing. A-Day’s job was to set ’em up. Now we’ll see if Big Cat II can knock ’em down.

More good news. Auburn made an impression last week on hotly-pursued Georgia linebacker A.J. Johnson:

“Right now, I’m wide open,” Johnson said. “I’m just going anywhere visiting places. Where they want me to come, I’ll come visit. If I get a good vibe for the place, I’ll come back and try to come visit again.

“I know I’m coming back (to Auburn) for sure … I’m not sure of the date but for the little cat thing” …

“I got here and talked with the coaches and they were straight-up and real cool,” he said. “I’d love to come back and get to chill with the players and go more around campus and see how I like it.”

We’ll differ on the size of the cat, but as far as I’m concerned he can call it whatever he likes as long as he shows up for it.

Gabe Wright is shaping up as one of the most critical recruits for Auburn’s class–yes, a highly-rated defensive tackle from Columbus who may go to Alabama if he doesn’t wind up at Auburn is a pretty important get–so it’s nice to hear he’s telling people that “if there is a team to beat, it would be Auburn.” Even better: unless the interview in question took place before last weekend, he’s saying that after visiting Tuscaloosa for their A-Day.

Some bad news. That’s not to say that everything is wine and roses. Auburn’s wishlist of potential quarterbacks was cut from four to three when Jeff Driskel, who’d made lots of positive noise about Auburn early in the process, committed to Florida. With Christian Lemay seemingly edging towards Georgia, Auburn’s eyes may turn even more intensely towards Kiehl Frazier and Uzomah.

And while Auburn never seemed to be a serious player for Lamicheal Fanning or Jabriel Washington, making it somewhat less of a tragedy they’ve decided to go elsewhere, you’d still rather see them make that elsewhere somewhere besides Alabama.

And lastly, Florida running back Dee Hart and his mother visited Michigan’s spring game and nothing but TOTALLY AWESOME reviews of the visit, prompted a flurry of insider-y assertions from Wolverine fans that Hart would commit to Michigan on a planned return trip. Hart was originally a strong Michigan lean before Rodriquez’s shaky future seemed to give him pause, so if RichRod and Co. have convinced Hart (and maybe more importantly, his mother) that he’s not going anywhere, Chizik and Co. will have an awful lot of work to do here. So it goes.

Photo via al.com.

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