Christian Westerman picks Auburn
Hamilton (Ariz.) Chandler offensive tackle Christian Westerman is saying War Eagle instead of Hook 'em Horns now. The five-star prospect, who committed to Texas in April, switched from Texas to Auburn today at a news conference at his high school.
This is quite a coup for Auburn, which jumps to No. 9 in the class rankings. The move also affects the Longhorns, who slip to No. 2 after holding the top spot since the rankings were released in June.
For Westerman, No. 6 in the ESPNU 150 and the No. 2 OT in the county, it was the recent coaching changes in Austin, including the retirement of offensive line coach Mac McWhorter, that got him to start rethinking his commitment. He looked at USC, scheduling an official visit, but never took it.
He took an official visit to Auburn, and while he said he was still committed to Texas, it was obvious he was looking around. In the end, it wasn't a sub-par season by Texas that did the Horns in with the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder, it was losing McWhorter.
Auburn has now won two key battles in the offensive trenches against Texas. First, the Longhorns tried to lure away the Tigers offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, but he decided to stay with Auburn. That victory alllowed Auburn to lure Christian Westerman away the Longhorns, who cited his relationship with Grimes as a reason for the change. Westerman, who's No. 6 in the ESPNU 150 and the No. 2 OT, is a huge late get for the Tigers. Auburn is losing four-starters on its offensive line and Westerman is a player who has enough ability to come in play as freshman if needed. The five-star prospect has a nice combination of size (6-4, 290 pounds) and athleticism to be a good fit in Auburn's high-powered offensive system. He is a tough and physical lineman who can be a dominant run blocker. He needs some fine tuning as pass blocker, but has nimble feet to shadow rushers and good arm length and quick hands to punch and control pass rushers. This is a big addition for the national champs.
-- Craig Haubert
"Even after a down year where the Horns went 5-7, I still had a relationship and trusted the coaches and the direction of the program," Westerman said. "After the season, my position coach left the program and then [six] other coaches left. It just all changed. There was no more relationship to hang my hat on, and my position coach is [who] I will spend about 90 percent of my time [with]. It was just too little too late. Auburn had it all and I was very close to my position coach there over the last 8-10 months. "
Auburn is not new to Westerman. He has family in Alabama, roughly 30 minutes from The Plains.
"My mom's side of the family is from the Auburn area. I have always liked the team and my grandparents live about 30 miles from the school," Westerman said. "I have spent a lot of time with my family there and many summers on Lake Martin. It is comfortable and familiar. I also have other family in Alabama on my mom's side and also Georgia, Florida and all across SEC country."
It also helped that he got to know some Auburn recruits during the Under Armour All-America Game in early January.
"I have also forged some very strong relationships with other players that I met and spend time with at the Under Armor All-America game," Westerman said. "Guys like Reese Dismukes, Thomas O'Reilly and Kiehl Frazier and guys I became close to at lightening speed. We are all in and now part of War Eagle nation. We have big plans to get Auburn back to the national championship during our career there."
Still, Westerman said it wasn't an easy decision to break a nine-month commitment. And he made it clear that he didn't flip because Auburn won the national title and Texas struggled.
"The national championship was just icing on the cake," Westerman said. "I have never been a fair weathered fan and I have been building a relationship with Auburn for about eight months now. Winning the national championship this year certainly is exciting for the program but I did not play on that team. It is my desire to get back there in my time there and that will be one of my goals along with winning the SEC and going to a bowl game each and every year.
"I am excited and blessed to move forward with my commitment to this great program and the Auburn family," Westerman said. "In the end I am following my faith, my heart and my family."
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.