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July 14, 2012

Foster flips highlights busy week

MORE: Foster flips | USC scores big

Rivals.com looks at a trio of critical commitments this week - led by former Alabama pledge and five-star linebacker Reuben Foster flipping his commitment to rival Auburn - and what they mean for the class of 2013 recruiting scene.

1. Reuben Foster to Auburn

What this means for Auburn: Auburn lands the nation's top inside linebacker and one of the truly elite prospects in the 2013 class while also winning a major victory over its hated in-state rivals, Alabama. Foster is an immediate impact player who is physically impressive at 6-foot-2, 228 pounds. He is incredibly physical but also has the athleticism to cover a great deal of space. Foster is also the type of recruit whose commitment will draw the spotlight on Auburn and make it even more appealing to other prospects in the 2013 class.

What this means for Alabama: It is never an easy pill to swallow when a recruit decommits from a school, but the decision for Foster to switch to the Tigers makes it even worse for the Crimson Tide. They will be fine in Tuscaloosa though and now will turn their attention to several other linebacker targets. Some names to keep an eye at linebacker for Nick Saban and company include Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington five-star linebacker Matthew Thomas, who has recently named Alabama his leader, as well as Jackson (La.) East Feliciana four-star athlete Kendell Beckwith, Baton Rouge (La.) University Laboratory School four-star defensive end Tim Williams, Snellville (Ga.) Brookwood three-star outside linebacker Shaun McGee, and Cordova (Tenn.) Evangelical Christian School three-star inside linebacker Walker Jones.

What this means for SEC recruiting: Foster's commitment could lead to a bit of a domino effect for the Tigers. He is the highest-ranked recruit to ever be committed to Auburn, at any time, in the Rivals.com era. That, combined with Foster's popularity among his peers, could reap benefits for Auburn down the road. Some prospects he may help Auburn with include Alabama commitment, four-star tight end O.J. Howard from Autauga (Ala.) Autauga Academy as well as a pair of Georgia commitments in Newnan (Ga.) four-star safety Tray Matthews and Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek three-star cornerback Shaquille Wiggins. Also, Foster's commitment could impact one of the top prospects in 2014, Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Northridge running back Bo Scarbrough, who is considered a lean to the SEC and a battle between the Tigers and Crimson Tide.

- Chris Nee

2. Four-star OG Khaliel Rodgers to USC

What this means for USC: USC gets a standout offensive guard who will be a mauler in the run game, a stalwart in pass protection and a physical leader. Rodgers is very strong, nasty and physical, and he will make others work harder. He cements the commitment of Kenny Bigelow to USC as well, which is also very important. The two of them are like brothers and will bring great chemistry to the team. Rodgers won't be pulling much, but he will dominate whoever is in front of him.

What this means for Auburn: This is a tough blow to Auburn because Bigelow was headed to the Tigers if USC didn't offer, and I think he was determined to bring Bigelow with him. However, Auburn had such a strong offensive line class last year that it softens the blow. But a package deal of Rodgers and Bigelow and continuing the pipeline to Eastern Christian Academy would have been nice.

What this means for Eastern Christian Academy: Along with Bigelow and 2015 quarterback David Sills, Rodgers is the third commitment from the school to USC, a program that is recruiting on a level better than anyone else in the country. ECA has now sent recent players to Auburn and USC, not too shabby for a school that just broke ground this spring. And with young talent such as Freddy Canteen and others, you can bet the 2014 and 2015 classes will continue to pump out FBS players.

- Mike Farrell

3. Four-star DE Eddie Vanderdoes to USC

What this means for USC: The Trojans add another major piece to their recruiting puzzle and continue to load up on elite talent. Vanderdoes was a little disappointing early on at The Opening but really emerged later in the event and proved to be one of the best defensive linemen there. With Kenny Bigelow and Kylie Fitts already on board, Vanderdoes is another monster on the defensive line who could be a dominant player for the Trojans. USC has 14 commitments in its class - three five-stars and 11 four-stars - and the Trojans show no sign of slowing down at all.

What this means for the Pac-12: It means USC should continue its dominance for years to come. Oregon, for many reasons, is a national contender as well but the Ducks are by no means recruiting as well as USC right now. That's just a fact. Washington, UCLA and others who are trying to compete at that national level are losing out on some major players to the Trojans, who have seen no ill effects from a bowl ban and recruiting limitation numbers. USC already has one of the most-loaded classes in recent memory and there are still some five-star and four-star recruits who are seriously considering the Trojans.

What this means for Lane Kiffin: Kiffin, by his own practices, became a menace at Tennessee and came off immature in many ways but since his time at USC he has been professional, upstanding and arguably one of the best coaches in the game. He has a coaching staff that is filled with relentless recruiters and it's paying off in a big way. The focus has really turned to the top players in California with cherry-picking around the country and that formula has been incredibly successful.

- Adam Gorney



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