Auburn's Big Cat Weekend was expected to be another big recruiting haul for the Tigers and it looks like the final count is three commitments to the program as a result of the event. This year was very successful not only in terms of the number of commitments but in the quality of players unofficially visiting the Plains as number one rated running back Barry Sanders Jr. and top cornerback Geno Smith were among the recruits in attendance.
Still, it was the three commitments that likely have the Auburn coaches excited. Parker (Co.) offensive tackle Shane Callahan not only took one of the longest trips to visit but also kicked things off by committing in the middle of Big Cat Weekend on Saturday.
"The coaches, they're phenomenal," Callahan told AuburnSports.com. "But it's really a place... You're not always going to have football, so if they weren't here, it would be a place I would want to be even without football. It's one of the greatest towns, colleges, campuses. And the football team... They're one big family and I'm really excited to be part of that family."
The 6-foot-6, 280 pound Callahan will enroll in the school early and come in and compete at both tackle spots. He held offers from Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Utah, Washington and Vanderbilt but does not plan on taking any other visits. He is the second offensive lineman in Auburn's class of 2012.
While Callahan was the only player to commit during Big Cat Weekend, two other players waited to return home and discuss things with their parents before pulling the trigger on a commitment. Prichard (Ala.) defensive end Darius Philonwas one who took his unofficial visit last week but he didn't end up getting an offer from Auburn. He already held offers from Kentucky, Mississippi State and Texas Tech among others but it was one from the Tigers (that eventually came) he was waiting on.
"Yes sir, I committed," Philon told AUTigers.com. "I actually decided on Friday. They wanted me to come see the campus and I did. They showed me around. It's where I've wanted to go since I was a little boy."
The 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive lineman committed to Auburn on Monday. The final commitment came Tuesday afternoon as Miami Beach (Fla.) wide receiver Ricardo Lewis pledged to the Tigers after visiting during Big Cat over the weekend.
"I came back from Auburn and I just fell in love with the place and felt real comfortable," Louis told AuburnSports.com. "Everything felt right, going there, meeting the coaches, going over the plays, I just felt like I fit in their offense."
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Lewis formed an especially close bond with receivers coach Trooper Taylor and he was one of the main reasons why the talented receiver decided to join the reigning National Champions.
"Coach 'Troop' is great, down to earth, feels like a dad," Louis said. "I feel like part of his family and they said they will take care of me."
The trio gives Auburn eight commitments from the class of 2012 at a variety of positions. Proving that a BCS title has expanded the visiblity of the program, five different states are represented in the Tigers' upcoming class.
Photo of Darius Philon via Maxpreps