LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- It's often said relationships are the cornerstone of recruiting. There has never been a greater example of that than in the recruitment of the nation's top running back prospect, Michael Dyer (Little Rock, Ark./Little Rock Christian) to Auburn.
Dyer committed to the Tigers during a press conference at his school Friday morning honoring him and teammate Dakota Mosley for being named to the 2010 Under Armour All-American game. Dyer also considered Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, FSU and Ole Miss, among others.
The key to Dyer's commitment to Auburn was his relationship with offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. That bond started during Dyer's sophomore year back when Malzahn was at Tulsa, but continued and strengthened after Malzahn joined Gene Chizik's first Tigers staff this past spring.
"I have gotten to know him and his offense and everything he had to offer is amazing," Dyer said. "Even when he was at Tulsa, I thought about Tulsa for the simple fact that playing for him would be great and I would have a great opportunity to do some work. You won't meet too many people like him during this whole football process."
Add in a game day atmosphere at Jordan-Hare Stadium that is one of the best not only in the Southeastern Conference, but in the country, and Dyer was hooked. From the fans to the scene to Spirit, the Auburn War Eagle, soaring around the stadium, Dyer knew it was something special.
"[Spirit] flies across and everybody is just so excited and happy," Dyer said. "When you are sitting there in the stands, everybody has a bond, not just the team, but the fans and everybody.
"When I went to the game [a 41-30 Tigers win over West Virginia on Sept. 19)] it was pouring down rain and the game was delayed 30 minutes, but the fans were still there cheering and wet. People had paint all over their bodies and signs that they held out and they sat there throughout the game. They didn't move. Those are true fans that I would like to play for and go out there and give 100 percent."
When you talk about Auburn running backs, names like Bo Jackson, Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown come up. It's quite a tradition and looking at the numbers of current Tigers back Ben Tate, who leads the SEC with 1,067 yards, it's not one that's slowing down any time soon. Dyer isn't making any guarantees about being the next great one on the Plains, though.
"I am going there and am going to put my effort into the team and do my part," Dyer said. "I am just going to try to do my part and let everything else take care of itself."
In fact, Dyer's already trying to his his part for the Tigers by trying to recruit other elite running back to join him at Auburn -- ESPNU150 and four-star backs Marcus Lattimore (Duncan, S.C./James F. Byrnes) and Lache Seastrunk (Temple, Texas/Temple). Dyer has been in touch recently with Lattimore, who officially visited Auburn last week.
"The last few weeks, me and Marcus Lattimore have had conversations and sent texts back and forth trying to figure out what's going on and to see if he's going to go to Auburn or not," Dyer said. "I told him it would be great for both of us to come out there and tag-team and run the ball. He seemed to be very respectful like he would fit into Auburn. I have been working on him to get him to commit there. He's a nice guy and it would be pretty amazing to get him to commit to Auburn."
But with or without another running back joining him, Dyer is comfortable with his decision. While Arkansas has done a good job of keeping most of the in-state stars at home playing for the Razorbacks, Dyer was ready to get out on his own.
"I wanted to go out and do my own thing," Dyer said. "I didn't want to feel like I had to be a star at Arkansas and live up to somebody else's hype. I wanted to go out and live my life according to how I feel. I was my choice.
"I just wanted to go live my life and get a brand new start. It was just what I am looking for."
Current Auburn standout Kodi Burns is from Fort Smith, Ark. He, along with Tigers starting tackle Lee Ziemba (from Rogers, Ark.) bolted the Natural State in 2007 to sign with Auburn and then-head coach Tommy Tuberville (ironically an Arkansas native himself).
"[Burns] said there was hard pressure to go to Arkansas being an Arkansas kid," Dyer said. "He said we lived in Arkansas and we can't help that, but we wanted to expand and do something for ourselves. He chose to go to Auburn for himself. He wanted to go out and do something for his life. He worked for all of that since he was a kid, so he had a right to choose where he wants to go."
Dyer saw parallels with Burns' decision and his own.
"He chose Auburn for a reason and I feel the same way," Dyer said. "If I put in all this time and sweated it out, then I have the right to choose where I want to go, what coaches I want to sit down and talk about my problems with and it's easy when you think about the whole decision, it's really easy.
"Tennessee is going to have a powerhouse team and they are going to be phenomenal in the years to come. I just wanted to make my decision based on what I feel is real.
"Auburn is on the rise," he said. "We want it to be that team that everybody talks about like Florida or LSU. Auburn is going to be that one day. Once we all get there and get on the same page, we are going to make history."
JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.