AUBURN, Ala. — Larry Porter won’t shy away from anyone on the recruiting trail.
The new Auburn tight ends coach — and perhaps more importantly, the new recruiting coordinator — arrived on the Plains with a big-time reputation. Through stints at LSU, Texas, Memphis, Arizona State and North Carolina, Porter established himself as one of the nation’s best recruiters.
In his move to Auburn, Porter will go head-to-head with the nation’s most established recruiting program. He doesn’t see it that way.
“Well I don’t necessarily see it as a challenge. It’s my job. Whether it’s Alabama or USC or Michigan or whoever. It’s my job. I love my job, whether it’s recruiting, whether it’s coaching, it doesn’t matter. I never kind of approached it that way,” Porter said. “If it’s you and I versus a kid, I’ve got to find a way to win. I could care less of who you are. … but I’ve recruited against Nick (Saban) before. I was at LSU once. So this is not new to me. That doesn’t — I don’t get caught up in that.”
Porter has twice been named the National Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.com (2007 and 2009). That included his last season at LSU, which was the last time a non-Saban program held the No. 1 spot in the team rankings. He hopes to re-establish that elite-level recruiting at Auburn.
The Tigers aren’t hurting on the recruiting trail. Under the Gus Malzahn regime, Auburn has finished 10th, 6th, 8th, 9th and 9th. That’s consistent top-10 success despite the only real on-field production coming in the 2013 season (just before the No. 6 finish).
Porter saw that kind of recruiting production and felt Auburn was on the fast track to a national-title push, hence his decision to join the Tigers’ staff.
Now he knows the onus is on him to make the consistent top-10 finish a consistent top-5 finish.
“It’s my job. And so much of recruiting in terms of when it comes to kids is all about the presentation, you know? It really is. And so the most important thing for me coming here to Auburn is to figure out the things that I can sell that are real when they get to campus they can feel, they can see and they can want to embrace,” Porter said.
Porter’s recruiting hotbeds will be Florida, Georgia and Louisiana. Those states have been Porter’s bread and butter since he became a superstar in the recruiting circuit.
Porter will recruit where he feels comfortable — and where he has seen proven success.
“I feel totally comfortable with anywhere in the south,” Porter said. “That’s kind of natural to me, and just my background, my experiences throughout the world of recruiting. There’s certain places you go for certain types of players and we’re kind of looking at that as well. We’ll tap into different markets.”
What pushes Porter to recruit better than his counterparts?
“Well one I think the fear of just being outworked. You go to bed at night just always trying to figure out ways to always get an advantage on anybody you’re recruiting against,” Porter said. “Two, I think you’ve got to have great people skills. You also have to build trust with the people that you’re recruiting and the families you’re recruiting. And that just simply comes through communication and I’m not trying to go out and be someone that I’m not.”
At the end of the day, Porter knows recruiting the state of Alabama is what makes or breaks a class.
That brings the Saban element back into the discussion. With the Crimson Tide constantly at No. 1, there is a stigma out there that Auburn must wait to snag Alabama’s backup plans. Aside from the fact that’s a skewed reality, Porter said Auburn can’t think that way if it’s going to emerge as one of the top recruiting programs in the nation.
And he won’t.
“Alabama can’t sign but 25 of them, period. And I don’t quite know their recruiting footprint now, I just now that in the state of Alabama every player that’s available that we feel like will put us in position to win championships, we’re going to pursue them — regardless of who’s recruiting them,” Porter said. “Pressure is self-imposed. And the bottom line is regardless of where you are nowadays, if you don’t win, they fire you. Kind of how it works, right? So I’m going to go out and recruit.”