Maybe it was the SEC title or maybe it was the national title game appetence. Maybe it was the charm of Gus Malzahn.
Maybe it was none of those things. Still, something allowed Auburn to come in late, trump a family tie and steal the commitment of Rivals100 offensive lineman Braden Smith, who announced his intention to sign with the Tigers during a Signing Day ceremony at his high school.
So while Smith's sister is on the track team at TCU and Texas A&M has been recruiting the highly touted guard for as long as anyone, the spoils went to the newcomer. There's certainly still something to be said for building long-standing relationships in recruiting. It's just not be said here.
"Auburn offers an opportunity to play early and their system is similar to ours, so I should be able to learn it pretty fast," Smith said.
A prospect with more that 18 scholarship offers to his name. Smith only decided to visit Auburn a month before Signing Day, when he dumped a scheduled trip to Notre Dame in favor of the Tigers, which replaced the Irish as a finalist in his recruitment.
First impressions, at least in this case, are overrated.
"In the SEC, you are going against the best of the best, so I will have to be ready to take it to the next level," Smith said.
As a senior at Kansas' Olathe South High School, Smith played in a run-heavy offense and was rarely forced to pass block. He was selected as an Under-Armour All-American and was a unanimous all-state selection in Kansas.
Smith visited each of his finalists before announcing his choice. The No. 50 player in the class of 2014, Smith is the highest-ranked offensive lineman in Auburn's class.