Auburn hopes recruits Lawson, Liner stay put

ORLANDO, Fla. — Dee Liner and Carl Lawson laid sod on a youth football field in Orlando on Thursday as part of their time at the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game.

Where they’ll spend the next part of their football careers is what people want to know.

The prospects, who already committed to Auburn, played on the same team in the Under Armour Game on Friday in St. Petersburg and Tigers fans hope they remain in identical jerseys in the fall. National signing day is Feb. 6.

The worries about keeping the prized recruits surfaced after the university’s coaching overhaul. Gene Chizik and his staff were fired on Nov. 25 after a 3-9 season, a campaign without a win inside the Southeastern Conference two years after winning the BCS Championship Game.

Liner, a five-star defensive tackle from Muscle Shoals, Ala., committed in June. He is the state’s top recruit and the country’s No. 6 defensive tackle, according to Depending on where he lands, Liner could play tackle or defensive end.

“I’m still with Auburn. I’m still with them but all of my options are open,” said the 6-foot-3, 270-pounder at the Under Armour community service project a day before the game at Tropicana Field. He had one tackle in the game.

Lawson, a four-star defensive end, committed in March. The 6-foot-2, 251-pounder is the nation’s 11th-ranked end, a position led by fellow Georgia native Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s top overall recruit.

Lawson isn’t at a loss for words. The Milton High School product from Alpharetta said this week that no one in the Under Armour Game can block him. He had one quarterback hurry Friday night.

“This has been real fun, a great opportunity to come out here and compete,” Lawson said.

He also knows how to keep quiet. Lawson is mulling offers from Ole Miss, Clemson and North Carolina. He admitted this week to shying away from recruiting interviews.

He remains an Auburn commit but said Thursday, he’s giving everything extra looks.

“I reevaluate every process. Recruiting has always been stressful,” Lawson said. “It just is what it is. It’s a blessing and a curse.”

Alabama, Miami and LSU are making a hard push for Liner’s services. Chizik’s firing admittedly threw him a curve, but he likes new coach Gus Malzahn.

“It messes with you a little bit but what I’m doing now is getting to know Malzahn and the rest of the coaching staff,” he said. “He’s a cool man, a laid back guy. I’ve just got to get to know him better.”

Alabama has one more live chance to lure him. The Crimson Tide will close out the college football season in yet another BCS title game, against Notre Dame Monday night.

Even if he flips his way to Tuscaloosa, Liner has the convenience of staying in-state. He says he doesn’t take his offers from the state’s big two for granted.

“It’s a big thing. I feel players would do anything to get an offer from those schools,” he said.