- Jamie Newberg, RecruitingNation
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The national champion Auburn Tigers are getting deeper at the quarterback position.
Just months after signing Under Armour All-American Kiehl Frazier, coach Gene Chizik and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn landed Edgewood (Ky.) Dixie Heights ESPNU 150 Watch List QB Zeke Pike on Wednesday. He chose the Tigers over Michigan, Tennessee, Arkansas and Purdue.
"I feel like a million bucks," Pike said. "I am so happy and it's such a big relief."
For Pike the decision was quick and unexpected. He visited Auburn earlier this year and went to check out the Tigers again last Friday, staying through the weekend and watching their spring game. That was all it took.
"I had no intentions of committing to Auburn last weekend," Pike said. "But I told them on Saturday. I actually walked in on a coaches meeting that they were having with their AD. I told them I wanted to be an Auburn Tiger, and they went crazy."
It became an easy decision for this talented signal-caller from the Bluegrass State. It came down to people, and Pike just fell in love with everyone on the Plains.
"It didn't have anything to do with Auburn winning the national championship," Pike said. "Every coach said the people make the program, and that's exactly why I picked Auburn. It's their people and it's a football town. The coaches are unbelievable. I can't explain it. It's a strong feeling and it's where I want to be. I followed my heart."
Pike, who threw for 2,218 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 1,072 yards and 17 scores last season, knows things won't be that easy once he arrives on campus. He didn't let the signing of Frazier deter him and looks forward to the competition.
"Kiehl is a great QB," Pike said. "The thing is there is going to be a great QB in front of me and coming in after me wherever I go. That's just how it is. I will work hard and earn a spot and job. It's all about the competition, and I will earn it or let the chips fall where they may. We are both great athletes. It will be a lot of fun. Kiehl will be my teammate and my friend and we will both compete hard."
Pike, 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, has a blend of size and athleticism that made him one of the nation's most coveted and intriguing signal-callers.
"Auburn has really solidified depth at the position," said Tom Luginbill, ESPN's national football recruiting director. "Zeke is big and has a big arm. He's deceptively athletic and meets some of their criteria at the quarterback position. With the big arm is the question of how accurate he will be in the long haul."
One thing is for sure, Pike loves the Auburn coaching staff and now he will get an opportunity to play for Malzahn, one of the most creative coaches in the country.
"The thing I like most about Coach Malzahn is he will adapt his offense to what he has personnel-wise," Pike said. "Last year with Cam [Newton], he was such a great runner. He ran more than they thought he ever would but that was Cam's strength. I have fallen in love with the coaches. They are like a bunch of dads."
And he hopes to follow in Newton's footsteps, mainly up a podium after winning a title.
"I want to get back to the national championship game. I want to hold the crystal ball and win that big game in Atlanta," Pike said. "But right now winning [the Kentucky] state championship is my main goal."
Pike, a two-sport star, is aiming for Kentucky state titles in football and basketball. But he also has the option to graduate in December and enroll at Auburn early.
"It's definitely a possibility," Pike said. "I am still thinking about it. But last year we went to state for basketball for the first time in 54 years. We are going to have a great team. I have to figure all of that out."
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Zeke Pike didn't expect to do it so early, but the Watch List QB committed to the Auburn Tigers on Wednesday.