Nine months ago, when Ahwatukee Foothills resident and Hamilton mega-recruit Christian Westerman Jr. verbally committed to Texas, Auburn wasn't even on his radar.

But on Friday, a variety of factors led the 6-foot-4, 295-pound senior and top-ranked Arizona prospect to switch his commitment from the Longhorns to the Tigers.

The dominoes started to fall in December when Texas offensive line coach Mac McWhorter retired, someone the Ahwatukee Foothills resident forged a relationship with since the recruiting process started.

"At Texas, the problem was like, ‘Who is going to be my offensive line coach?'" Westerman said. "‘Who I am going to be coached by? Is it going to be a good coach? Is it going to be somebody who prepares me for college and maybe even the next level?' At Auburn, I saw that they had all that."

With great college ambitions and a possible shot at the NFL down the line, finding a line coach he was comfortable with was tantamount to Westerman.

Texas took awhile to find McWhorter's replacement, which opened the door for Auburn.

Although the Tigers weren't on Westerman's original list, he became more interested because of the team's national championship season, friendships he made with Auburn recruits at the Under Armour All-American game, the fact that he has family in the area, and maybe most importantly, because of the relationship he forged with line coach Jeff Grimes.

"As a player, you spend 90-something percent of your time with your position coach," said Christian Westerman's dad, Christian Sr.

Westerman's grandparents live 30 miles from the Auburn campus, and he has family in the area. He downplayed the adjustment of moving from the West to the South, noting that he has visited the area several times.

Westerman said he expects to battle for a starting spot on the offensive line right away.

"I'm not much of a sideline guy," Westerman Jr. said. "I love football. I want to play as soon as I can."

Westerman was a key cog in helping lead the Huskies to three straight state championships in his high school career. Now he's going to have a chance to help Auburn defend its national title.

"When it's all said and done, I think I made a great decision," Westerman Jr. said. "With all the other schools, there was kind of a lump in the bridge. At Auburn, I didn't find that crack. It definitely helps seeing that there aren't really any cons."

Kyle Odegard is a reporter with the East Valley Tribune.

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