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Auburn Lands First Commitment From Big Cat Weekend

Auburn has received a commitment from offensive lineman Shane Callahan from Chaparral High School in Parker, Colo.

Callahan chose Auburn over such schools as Colorado, Michigan, Arizona Washington and Vanderbilt.

Callahan’s commitment to Auburn should come as no surprise.

I knew awhile back,” Callahan told the Birmingham News. “I knew I should make the decision now. I’m ready. It’s where I want to be.”

Callahan, who is Auburn’s sixth commitment for the class of 2012, said he plans to graduate from Chaparral early and enroll at Auburn in January.

Auburn’s coaching staff is hoping to enjoy more success from the Big Cat Weekend, which has become a popular recruiting tool for the Tigers since Gene Chizik and his staff arrived in 2009. 

Several big name prospects are on campus right now. Running back Barry Sanders Jr., defensive tackle Justin Shands and wide receiver Jaquay Williams are just a few visiting Auburn this weekend.
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Barry Sanders Jr. Visits Auburn

Highly-touted running back Barry Sanders Jr. is in Auburn this weekend for the Tigers’ Big Cat Weekend.

His visit was a surprise, according to the Birmingham News.

Sanders has often been linked to Alabama
, which has been aggressively recruiting Sanders to follow Trent Richardson in the Crimson Tide’s backfield.

Sanders said he was enjoying his trip during an interview in Auburn.

“It’s definitely more relaxed just seeing some of the top guys going out there and busting a move and having a good time, smiles on their faces,” Sanders said. “This is something I’ll remember and look forward to experiencing again.”

Oklahoma State will of course be a school to watch for Sanders, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 121 prospect by Sanders’ father won the Heisman Trophy in 1988 playing at Oklahoma State.

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Did Saban Break Rules By Visiting Recruit?

Yesterday we told you that Oklahoma City recruit Barry Sanders Jr. had told the press that Alabama’s Nick Saban had told him that Mark Ingram was turning pro early.

Sanders is a junior in high school.  Saban met with him on Wednesday at his high school.

Whoops.  Now folks from Oklahoma to Auburn — especially Auburn — are asking questions.  Here’s why…

An extended conversation between Saban and Sanders is a potential violation of NCAA Bylaw which states: “Off-campus recruiting contacts shall not be made with an individual (or his or her relatives or legal guardians) before July 1 following the completion of his or her junior year in high school.”

Further, NCAA Bylaw defines contact as “any face-to-face encounter between a prospective student-athlete… during which any dialogue occurs in excess of an exchange of a greeting.  Any such face-to-face encounter that is prearranged or that takes place on the ground of the prospective student-athlete’s institution… shall be considered a contact.”

That photo at left seems to show a pretty clear face-to-face encounter between Saban and Sanders.  (Sidenote — It’s reported that that is Barry Sanders Jr. in the photo, but we at MrSEC have no idea if that’s him or not. believes it’s him.)

According to — the Rivals site covering Alabama — Sanders said, “Coach Saban came to my school this week to talk to some of my coaches and I saw him for a quick moment passing by in the halls.”

Saban is well known for the accidental bump-into.  In fact, he’s had so many “bump-intos” with recruits that the NCAA chose to implement what’s been called “The Saban Rule,” banning such “accidental” run-ins and keeping head coaches from making recruiting visits during the spring evaluation period.

In case you’re wondering, a violation of would be secondary in nature. 

However, Alabama is currently serving an NCAA probation.  Also, the NCAA has begun suspending coaches — like Saban pal Tom Izzo of Michigan State — for violating certain secondary rules.

In other words, if the NCAA takes note of this one and determines that a rule was violated — given Saban’s history with this type of violation — the spanking could be a bit more severe than it might have been just a year or two ago.

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Recruit Says Saban Told Him Ingram’s Going Pro

Nick Saban is recruiting running back Barry Sanders Jr. to Alabama.  Sanders Jr. told The Oklahoman newspaper yesterday that Bama’s coach is offering playing time as a lure.

“He just said, ‘We need running backs,’” Sanders Jr. said.  “How Trent (Richardson) would be a senior if I were to go (to Alabama).  He told me Ingram’s leaving, he’s making it public probably Friday.”

I’m not sure that this is shocking news to anyone.  Ingram won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore and then saw his numbers slightly decline this past season.  He missed two early games with an injury.

Saban has said that he wants his players to do a bit more research on the NFL’s labor situation before jumping into the draft early this year, but Ingram provides a good example of just how much labor concerns will impact juniors’ decisions — it wont.

Sanders Jr. is a junior — in school terms, too — and is a top running back in the class of 2012.

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