Reuben Foster has been back-and-forth before. The nation’s top linebacker and No. 2 overall prospect has twice been committed to SEC programs before opening things back up down the stretch.
But on Monday, he came to a decision just hours before announcing it on FOX Sports South’s The NEW College Football Show: Next Class 2013. He's headed back to Alabama after a stint with rival Auburn.
“I was sitting on the couch resting, waiting on my ride to come to FOX (Sports South) today, at the very last minute,” he said of when his decision was clear. “I barely slept ... I woke up early to go to school, struggling, trying to stay up.”
After the long day, the 6-foot-1, 240-pound Foster announced his intentions to play for Alabama beginning this fall, flanked by his family and holding his daughter on the set. The decision, as many would imagine, came down to the Iron Bowl rivals.
[Click here to watch the announcement]
“It was down to Alabama and Auburn,” he admitted before recalling his original pledge to the Crimson Tide. “I was young, I was a pup. I thought when I de-committed that I was too young when I (originally) committed, but I realized I wasn’t. I grew up liking ‘Bama, I grew up being a ‘Bama fan.
“So why not go to ‘Bama? They’re already winning national championships and getting the rings.”
|Foster earned MVP honors at January's Under Armour All-America Game.
Nick Saban and company were the first to secure a commitment from Foster back when he was a freshman at LaGrange (Ga.) Troup Country High in July 2011. Foster kept himself open to other schools and moved to Auburn High School in April.
He then flipped his commitment to Auburn in July -- even got a tattoo of the Auburn logo on his arm to commemorate the occasion -- then de-committed from the Tigers in December.
But in the end, Foster committed back to Alabama less than 48 hours before letters of intent can be sent in.
“It seemed just like yesterday, I was just a freshman and they were coming at me,” he recalled. “Now, it’s working all out. They knew I was going to be a successful high school student and athlete.”
With the world watching on Monday and in many different instances before that, the top player in Alabama felt a certain and very specific weight come off after bringing an end to a whirlwind recruitment.
“It’s like a big tractor came off my back,” he said after two sighs. “The weight went on my back, like a tractor, and now the tractor just fell off. I can finally breathe, I can finally walk. It’s all over now.”
Auburn was truly in it until the end, and the home-town draw certainly played its part in the process.
“I felt mad pressure. It’s crazy how you lie in that town and you see so much love,” he admitted. “But when you get out of town and see the place you love, you’ll see it different. It’s how you feel in the moment there.”
For Foster, as he’s maintained throughout the process, the decision came from the heart.
“That really led me to Alabama,” he added. “It was like, ‘What do I really want to do? For my family ... What do I want to do? This is my decision, nobody else’s.’”
Letters of intent cannot be faxed to schools until early Wednesday morning, so does Auburn or any other school have a chance to change Foster's mind before then?
“No chance,” he said. “I don’t feel like going through the stress, pressure. I’m focused. I feel like (Auburn) had a good chance with me, but the stress and the pain and the suffering through recruiting, I want it to be all over. I wish Auburn well, but I have to do what’s best for me. I love Auburn, I love them dearly.”
RB TO ARKANSAS
Reuben Foster wasn't the only five-star player to commit Monday night. Running back Alex Collins announced for Arkansas.
Former Auburn assistant coach Trooper Taylor was instrumental in recruiting Foster, but he was released in the wake of head coach Gene Chizik's ousting in December.
“When Coach Trooper was there, I used to love Auburn,” Foster said. “He left and still told me to give them a chance. I love the new staff.”
But it was the consistent staff that won out in the end. The initial staff to give the instinctive linebacker a chance secured his last commitment and likely signature come Wednesday.
“Nick Saban wins,” Foster said. “If you can’t beat them, join ‘em. Me and Coach Saban got that bond.”
FOX Sports NEXT’s Chad Simmons contributed to this report