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January 20, 2013

Easy come, easy go: Auburn snatches two verbal commits from SEC rivals, loses RB

AUBURN, Ala. – January is a month for resolutions, returns of unwanted gifts and a revolving door of recruits attempting to sort out their priorities and select their destination for the next four years of school and football.

National Signing Day remains a little more than two weeks away, but Gus Malzahn and the Auburn coaching staff were hard at work over the weekend hosting numerous senior taking their official visit.

The brand-new regime went fishing for the future, and caught a couple of prospects Sunday, snatching away two recruits from SEC rivals.

Four-star wide receiver Tony Stevens, from Orlando, now has a handshake agreement with his third different college, after confirming to AUTigers.com, AuburnSports.com and AuburnUndercover.com he plans to sign with Auburn. Stevens, previously committed to Florida State and Texas A&M, was swayed when former Seminoles quarterbacks coach Dameyune Craig talked him into coming to the Plains.

Three-star safety Khari Harding (Edmond, Okla.) pledged to Arkansas in June, but decided against staying with his commitment for new Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema in favor of Auburn.

However, four-star running back Jordan Wilkins (Cordova, Tenn.) had been solid to the Tigers since July, but wavered since Gene Chizik’s firing. Just as Harding made his declaration on Twitter, Wilkins announced his decommitment via social media Sunday.

On the surface, it’s a solid trade for Auburn, which is fairly set at running back with 1,000-yard rusher Tre Mason and top junior college signee Cameron Artis-Payne holding the fort – meanwhile, wide receiver and safety remain positions of need.

Malzahn, his family, coordinators Ellis Johnson and Rhett Lashlee and many current Tigers players plopped down in section 116 of sold-out Auburn Arena for Saturday night’s basketball game between Kentucky and Auburn. They were joined by Stevens, Harding, and other high school football players – some verbally committed elsewhere, some not – preparing to make final decisions.

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