As word spread Tuesday afternoon that Auburn has landed Gus Malzahn as the program's 26th head football coach, reaction from Auburn commits reached by phone ranged from extremely excited to wait-and-see.
Cameron Toney is excited about Auburn's choice for head coach.
“I think it’s great," said five-star inside linebacker Reuben Foster of Auburn (Ala.), the highest-ranked Tigers commit. "I don’t know him but I’m looking forward to meeting him and building a relationship with him. I’m definitely still committed to Auburn.”
Another five-star commit, defensive tackle Dee Liner of Muscle Shoals (Ala.), also took the hire as being a positive for the Tigers.
“I was really shocked about who they got but I’m very happy now," Liner said. "I can’t remember him very well but from what I’m hearing from the players he’s supposed to be a very good coach."
Liner said he remains firmly committed to Auburn.
“Oh yea, I’m committed," he said. "War Eagle!
Auburn's third five-star commit, defensive end Carl Lawson of Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton, wasn't sure what to think about the hire.
"I don't have much information on him to tell you the truth," Lawson said.
Lawson, who plans to do some research on the coach, said he understood the need for Auburn to "get someone the fans are familiar with" but added, "at the same time it won't be good if it doesn't turn out good."
Asked how firm he was to the Tigers, Lawson replied, "I'm not gonna comment on that one."
Linebacker Cameron Toney of Huntsville (Ala.) was among the Auburn commits that liked the choice.
“Love it," said the Tigers pledge " I’m going to still stay loyal to my team. War Eagle!”
Cornerback Kamryn Melton of Dothan (Ala.) seemed equally excited.
“I think they chose a great coach to lead Auburn back to where it needs to be," Melton said. "He’s already familiar with how big the family thing is at Auburn because he was there when they won the national championship. He’s going to keep most of the recruits around because most of us are already familiar with him. Hopefully, he’ll keep some of the coaches around that we already got to know.”
Melton met Malzahn last year, when he was still the offensive coordinator at Auburn.
“He’s a great person," Melton said. "He's a down-to-earth. He’s just like my coach down here. He’s really just a good guy to talk to.”
Jimmy Hutchinson of Kennesaw (Ga.) Harrison, the country's No. 1 punter, shared those sentiments.
"I'm real excited about it," Hutchinson said. "He gets to come back in, not have to make a lot of changes, and get things back where they were. I think it will help with recruits. They know he'll be able to get Auburn back to where it was, and work that spread again back to where it was. It wasn't that hard to wait for me. I had trust in Auburn to find the best coach for them, and for us, and I think they did."
For Cooper City (Fla.) safety Lemond Johnson, the waiting was difficult.
"It was pretty tough," he admitted. "I'm glad they finally found a coach."
Johnson said he doesn't know much about Malzahn, but remains firm to the Tigers.
"I hear it was a pretty good hire, that a lot of people wanted him," Johnson said. "I've never really heard of him or know much about him. I'd like to get to know him and see what he's all about. I just want to see what kind of coaches come in on the defensive side of the ball. I want to see if he keeps some coaches or brings in some of his own guys."
Linebacker Jarrad Davis of Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County told 247Sports last week a de-commit from Auburn could happen soon. On Tuesday, he made it clear his verbal isn't as solid as it once was but seemed willing to give Malzahn & Co. a chance.
"I'm probably going to wait [to decide anything] until I meet all the new people [at Auburn]," Davis said. "But if I find a better school than Auburn on these visits I'm going to take, I probably will de-commit. I going to Ole Miss this weekend, and I know I'm going to Duke the next weekend. I'm probably also going to be going to Florida on Jan. 11. [With Auburn] I would have to go up there and talk to somebody, talk to the coaches, and build a relationship."
Kicker Daniel Carlson of The Classical Academy (Colo.) already seems sold on Malzahn.
“I’m still committed to Auburn and I think it will be a great fit and I’m very excited," Carlson said. "I still want to see if special teams coach Jay Boulware is able to stay. I hope he can stay and then I am in for sure. If not, I want to see what my new situation would be and go from there. But I still definitely want to be at Auburn.”
Bryan Matthews of AuburnUndercover contributed to this report.