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June 14, 2013

Auburn moves into Frazier's top five

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Rivals100 defensive tackle Josh Frazier entered his mid-week visit to Auburn with a top five of Alabama, Arkansas, Texas A&M, USC and Georgia.

Following his visit, things have changed.

Auburn has catapulted into Frazier's top five and replaced Georgia. In addition, Frazier said he already plans to return to the Plains for an official visit for the Iron Bowl in November.

Needless to say, the visit that started on Wednesday night and lasted until Friday morning, placed the Tigers squarely in the mix for Frazier's services.

"I didn't know what to expect. When I got here, I didn't think much of Auburn. They moved a lot, I'm tweaking my top five and what I'm thinking of doing is knocking out Georgia," Frazier said. "They haven't recruited me as hard as Auburn has, they've been to my school a bunch of times and I credit them for coming after me and wanting me this much."

Frazier admitted that placing UGA into his top five was a mistake, and with the addition of Auburn, the nation's No. 5 defensive tackle and No. 1 player in Arkansas feels comfortable with his favorites.

"I feel pretty good right now," Frazier said. "The reason why I went with Georgia, I knew Auburn was recruiting me very hard. I thought I had the right top five, but when I came down here I knew it was wrong to put Georgia in there."

Hailing from Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber, there are no shortages of relationships between Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and Frazier's high school head coach Chris Wood.

Wood knows Malzahn from their Arkansas high school coaching days at Springdale. Wood coached Lashlee during his junior high year and during Lashlee's senior season at Shiloh.

Those connections work in Auburn's favor.

"My coach is best friends with Coach Malzahn, they coached together at Springdale when they had like the number one team in the country. It's a good situation over here, that's very big," Frazier said.

"They constantly were telling me to come to Auburn and they will take care of me, I'm starting to believe them now. I didn't know what to think, but I think it's a good situation coming down here, but we'll see."

Frazier recently visited Texas A&M, and will visit Alabama on Friday. He has plans to check out USC and Arkansas again.

During his visit, Frazier spent time with senior defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker and Arkansas-native, Kiehl Frazier. The result of Frazier's time spent around the Auburn players and program was summed up in a familiar word, "family".

"I hung out with Jeffrey, he's a cool guy and good Christian guy and got to know him better. Auburn's players are just genuine guys, they care about others on the team and I like that. When I saw Jeffrey and Kiehl work out -- my impression is they got after it. It's a family down here in Auburn," Frazier said.

"I went to bed (Wednesday) night and woke up on Thursday morning and didn't feel homesick, I felt at home. I guess that's a plus for me, usually if I'm somewhere else, I'd feel homesick. That's a good thing for me."

Frazier also spent time with the Tigers' defensive line coach Rodney Garner. The topic was defensive schemes, in particular, Auburn's 4-2-5 defense compared to Har-Ber's 3-4 defense, and how Frazier would fit.

"He's a really cool guy. He showed me film and what they run defensive wise," Frazier said. "I asked coach why they run the 4-2-5 compared to the 3-4, he told me at my position at the three-technique, the nose guard is supposed to take up blocks. The reason they run a four-man front is they want all the guys to pass rush and go make plays, it gets everybody involved.

"I like that and I'm starting to like the 4-2-5. I know when you get to college, you aren't going against tiny guys like in high school, it's big people and I'm just 18 coming into college and you're facing guys with way more experience than I have. I'm sure I'll get knocked on my butt a couple of times. I see why they run a four front instead of a three front."

Frazier said he could play either the three-technique or the defensive tackle position in college.

Yet another feature of Auburn's new program that stood out is new strength and conditioning coach Ryan Russell. Frazier got a first-hand look at the tiered program Russell uses to measure his players progress by, and likes what he heard.

"He has this stage program where each person does a workout from stage zero to stage four," Frazier said. "When you're at stage zero, you're a freshman and everyone is at stage zero and work your way up. He said once you get to stage three, you are pretty much working on your own and they don't have to bark at you and they know you are going to work and get your reps in.

"I thought that was cool. When you get to that point, they trust you and I thought that was pretty cool."

The health and wellness aspect is especially appealing to Frazier right now. He's lost nearly 20 pounds recently and is down to 327-pounds, standing 6-foot-4.

Frazier plans to take all five official visits and make a decision following his senior season.

Twitter: @JHokanson

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