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October 23, 2012

Liner rewarding AU's loyalty with his own

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Muscle Shoals (Ala.) five-star Dee Liner hasn't spoken to the media in more than two months.

The 6-foot-2, 274-pound Liner, an Auburn commit since June 2011, has instead remained focused on his senior season.

The nation's No. 2 strong-side defensive end and No. 21 overall player has led his Muscle Shoals team to an undefeated record after eight games and a top ranking in Class 5A.

But while Liner has enjoyed immense success on the field this fall, the program he's committed to hasn't been as fortunate.

Last week, fellow five-star commit Reuben Foster spoke out in support of the Auburn program and remaining loyal to his pledge.

Now, Liner is following suit.

"The Auburn family is what this whole thing is about. I've always been an Auburn fan. They are going to struggle, every team has that type of year sometimes," said Liner. "Auburn, that's my home."

Liner understands overcoming adversity and hurdles that arise. Liner's troubles this summer were well documented, and he missed the first game of his senior season due to suspension.

Still, Liner believes he learned from his mistakes and is ready to repay Auburn's display of loyalty with a display of his own.

"Auburn stuck with me when I made a couple of bad choices, they stuck with me. So I'm going to stick with them." Liner said.

On Sunday night, Auburn head coach Gene Chizik and assistant coach Trooper Taylor spoke with Liner. The conversations covered a wide array of topics outside of football. Liner appreciates his relationship with both.

"They just are good guys, good coaches. They call me every week, or I call them for an hour at a time. Talking to them is like having a normal conversation," said Liner. "Coach Chizik just told me to ignore the negativity around me and what people say, and remain strong. That's what I'm going to do."

Despite Auburn's rocky season, its No. 9 ranked recruiting class has remained intact with zero de-commitments to date. Liner is proud of that fact. He sees himself as a leader of the 2013 class and after Foster's strong words last week, Liner wanted his voice heard.

"I talk to my fellow commits all the time," Liner said. "I talk to Reuben, Earnest (Robinson), Trey (Johnson), Carl (Lawson), Jeremy (Johnson), all of them. We are sticking together and we are a team, family. The main thing we talk about is staying focused. People talk bad about Auburn, but we can't listen to that. We stay strong and loyal to each other."

Auburn still is pursuing five-stars Derrick Green and Montravius Adams, four-star Georgia commit Tray Matthews and more. Liner wants them on board.

"When we talk, I tell them don't get too focused on one year because in two or three years, it could be completely different. Someone else could be top dog next year. Many times, there's more satisfaction in building something up than anything else," Liner said.

"I know with the guys we have committed and the guys that are close to choosing Auburn, we are going to battle for the number one class in the country. My class will make a difference."



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