Flipping recruits from Auburn to Alabama is practically a Signing Day tradition
We all have traditions around our homes for the holidays. From enduring Aunt Greta’s hard-as-a-rock annual fruitcake to the “open presents Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning” debate, this time of year always delivers.
There are also non-holiday traditions that the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate every year: flipping commitments from Auburn. In recent weeks, the Tide flipped 4-star offensive tackle Javion Cohen (Phenix City-Central HS) from Auburn to rival Alabama.
Cohen is expected to be a part of Alabama’s 25-player class that can sign as early as Wednesday. After briefly holding the No. 1 spot last week, the Crimson Tide are ranked No. 2 by 247sports.com, behind only Clemson, in the national recruiting rankings.
But Cohen was far from the first potential Tiger to end up at Alabama. Here is a history of some of the best, and a couple of busts …
Reuben Foster, LB, Auburn (Ala.) HS
We lead off with Foster because he could well be the best flip of all. The talented linebacker committed to Alabama the summer before his junior season, then flipped to Auburn before the start of his senior season — even getting a Tigers tattoo to seemingly seal the deal and saying “… at the end of the day, I feel like Auburn University is the place for me and my family. I am 100 percent confident with my final decision.”
But in December 2012, Foster backed away from the hometown team and eventually re-committed to the Crimson Tide a few days before National Signing Day in February 2013. Foster enjoyed a stellar 4-year career in Tuscaloosa — including winning the Butkus Award in 2016.
Foster would be drafted by the San Francisco 49ers with the 31st overall pick in 2017 and, while he has had several legal altercations, remains in the league with the Washington Redskins.
Quinnen Williams, DT, Birmingham (Ala.) Wenonah HS
Williams pledged to Auburn in early 2015 before backing off that decision in early June, committing to Alabama for good a few weeks later by arriving at his commitment ceremony wearing an Alabama shirt.
The 4-star talent might end up being the most notable flip when it comes to accomplishments, as he won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman in 2018 after a redshirt sophomore year that saw Williams rack up 45 solo tackles, 71 total stops, 19.5 tackles for loss and 8 sacks.
Williams was drafted by the New York Jets with the 3rd overall pick and agreed to a 4-year deal with the Jets worth $32.5 million featuring a $21.6 million signing bonus and a 5th-year option. Williams has played in 11 games so far with the Jets, recording 13 solo tackles and 1.5 sacks.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Daphne (Ala.)
The 5-star running back in the 2012 class committed to Auburn in June of 2011 before flipping to Alabama in December — citing uncertainty over the Tigers’ offensive coordinator position after Gus Malzahn’s departure to Arkansas State. Yeldon formally committed during the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl and enrolled in classes at the Capstone a few weeks later.
Yeldon had a great career with the Crimson Tide, rushing for 3,322 yards and 37 touchdowns in 3 years. He left early for the 2015 NFL Draft, where he selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars (the 36th overall pick) in the 2nd round.
Yeldon played in Jacksonville from 2015-2018 before forcing a trade to Buffalo, where he has played sparingly for the Bills through the 2019 season. In 5 seasons, Yeldon has gained 1,917 rushing yards on 475 carries and 6 TDs. He also has 181 receptions for 1,402 yards and 6 TDs.
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic HS
The nation’s No. 1 offensive tackle and No. 2 overall recruit in the class of 2011, Kouandjio was seemingly Alabama’s to lose with his brother Arie already on campus. The younger Kouandjio, however, committed to Auburn on National Signing Day — though he didn’t actually sign his National Letter Of Intent and backed off that commitment later in the afternoon. Kouandjio eventually signed to Alabama 3 days later.
The standout went on to have a great career with the Crimson Tide — started all 14 games at left tackle as a sophomore and was a 1st-team All-SEC pick after his junior year. Kouandjio left early for the 2014 NFL Draft and was selected in the 2nd round (44th overall pick) by the Buffalo Bills. Kouandjio played with the Bills, Lions and Broncos through 2018, and is now with the fledgling XFL New York Guardians.
Josh Chapman, DT, Hoover (Ala.) HS
The First Flip, Chapman committed to Auburn before his senior season at Hoover in 2006, but, after Nick Saban took over at Alabama in January 2007, he made flipping Chapman a priority. That flip came true when Chapman signed with the Tide within a month after Saban’s hire.
A part of Saban’s first championship team in 2009 and again in 2011, Chapman played 4 seasons at Alabama. He was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft (136th overall selection) and played 3 seasons in Indianapolis. Chapman has been an assistant strength coach at Alabama since 2016.
Dee Liner, DT, Muscle Shoals (Ala.) HS
A longtime Auburn commitment, Liner decommitted from the Tigers in January of 2013, named Alabama his leader, and subsequently signed with the Crimson Tide on National Signing Day. A few days before fall practice began, Liner posted photographs on Instagram of he and friends holding wads of cash.
Liner played in just 4 games in his Crimson Tide career, registering 3 tackles. He eventually transferred to Arkansas State, and in 2 years Liner amassed 58 tackles, including 15 tackles for a loss and 1 sack for the Red Wolves.
Liner made the Kansas City Chiefs’ roster during the 2018 season, and was on the Los Angeles Chargers’ roster for a cup of coffee in 2019.
Brent Calloway, LB, Russellville (Ala.) HS
The 4-star linebacker made an early commitment to Alabama in June of 2009 before flipping to Auburn during the 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Calloway eventually flipped back to the Crimson Tide on National Signing Day.
Calloway was dismissed from the Alabama program in early 2013 following an off-the-field incident that also involved Eddie Williams, Tyler Hayes and D.J. Pettway. Williams was accused of attacking a University of Alabama student and stealing his UA student card, along with various credit and debit cards. Calloway reportedly admitted to using the student’s UA card for several purchases.
Calloway attempted to continue his football career at the Arizona Western College and was out of football soon after.
Joshua Casher, C, Mobile (Ala.) St. Paul’s Episcopal HS
Casher committed to Auburn in March of 2013 before backing away in July of that year. The 4-star center then made his commitment to Alabama in October and signed on the dotted line in February 2014.
A career reserve at Alabama, Casher appeared in 8 games as a senior in 2018. He played in 6 games as a junior and 5 games a sophomore in 2016 and 1 as a redshirt freshman in 2015.