Heralded Auburn recruit Dee Liner was still in class Tuesday when the news of Gus Malzahn’s hiring as the new Tigers coach broke.
The Muscle Shoals defensive lineman, who’s rated one of the best in the country, didn’t yet have an opinion of the hire, saying he isn’t familiar with Malzahn.
“I really don’t know at this point, but I’ll probably have some answers soon,” said Liner, who committed to Auburn before his junior year in 2011. “I’ve never talked to (Malzahn). I’ll probably have a talk with him soon.
“I’m still going to be with them, but I have to see what kind of defense they’re running, things like that.”
Rated a five-star prospect by recruiting websites Rivals and Scout, Liner combines with linebacker Reuben Foster and defensive end Carl Lawson as the backbone of an Auburn 2013 recruiting class that Rivals ranks 10th nationally.
Trooper Taylor, the recruiting coordinator on former coach Gene Chizik’s staff, has continued recruiting Liner since Chizik was fired Nov. 25. Taylor was seen wearing Auburn apparel while standing on the sideline during Muscle Shoals’ loss at McAdory on Friday.
“Me and coach Taylor have stayed talking,” Liner said. “We have a good relationship.”
Liner said he had a similarly close relationship with Chizik, whose firing had him weighing options other than playing at Auburn.
“It did shock me,” Liner said of Chizik’s firing. “It hurt me a lot. I’ve never been as tight with a coach before as I was with Chizik. At first, it had me looking elsewhere, but I decided that I’m going to play for a school, not a coach.”
While Liner said he still considers himself an Auburn verbal commitment, finality won’t come until Feb. 6, the first day high school seniors can sign with college programs.
“It’s still Auburn,” Liner said, “but I’m going to wait to make a final decision until signing day.”
UPDATE: Liner indicated that he had spoken with Malzahn and seemed to reinforce his Auburn commitment with this tweet Tuesday night.