Auburn Football Recruiting: Why Tony Bridges Chose Ole Miss Over the Tigers


Sending a big blow to the 2015 Auburn football recruiting class, Tony Bridges signed with Ole Miss Wednesday.

But why did he choose the Rebels?

Bridges discussed his reasoning with Patrick Ochs of, who was on hand for the signing ceremonies at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

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Considered to be the top junior college defensive back in the country in this year’s class, Bridges earned first-team All-State and All-Region honors for his play at MGCCC, which included 33 tackles, five pass breakups and two interceptions. He scored two touchdowns as well, one on an interception return and one on a punt return.

Bridges had been committed to Auburn, but flipped to Ole Miss in November, less than a week following Auburn’s 34-7 loss to Georgia. Perhaps he saw the writing on the wall in regards to Ellis Johnson, who was fired two weeks later after the Tigers lost 55-44 to Alabama, their third consecutive loss in SEC play.

Once Johnson was fired, it took another two weeks for Auburn to secure Will Muschamp as the new defensive coordinator. Bridges was reportedly a top priority for Muschamp, but with uncertainty still surrounding who will be on the Auburn defensive coaching staff after the January bowl game, as Bridges said, he didn’t have time to wait.

Jan 3, 2014; Irvine, CA, USA; Auburn Tigers cornerbacks coach Melvin Smith at practice for the 2014 BCS National Championship at UC Irvine. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“(Muschamp) looked at tape of me and said ‘I really need you,’ this and that. I have love for them because they showed me love, so I can’t say nothing bad about them,” Bridges said. “That being said, it was too late. I didn’t know which way the defensive coaches, like (cornerbacks coach) Melvin Smith, was he going to be there or not?

“I think some stuff was going on he hasn’t figured out yet. I haven’t got time going into school doubting.”

Part of the equation, as Bridges mentioned, is who will coach him in the secondary next season. Melvin Smith is the currently cornerbacks coach at Auburn, however, a report from said last week that Florida defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson is expected to join the Tigers as part of Malzahn and Muschamp’s defensive staff.

There has been no announcement from the university one way or the other, and Robinson is reportedly still recruiting for the Gators and will coach them in the Birmingham Bowl in January. He has also reportedly been offered an opportunity to stay in Gainesville as a member of new head coach Jim McElwain’s staff.

But, since Bridges feels there was still some “stuff going on” with the staff, likely meaning head coach Gus Malzahn and Muschamp were noncommittal as to whether or not Smith would still be with the Tigers in 2015, expect Robinson to end up at Auburn following the bowl game.

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  • Of course, there is more to Bridges’ decision than coaching. He also mentioned that Ole Miss went hard after him from beginning to end, and he is a Mississippi native, which played a role as well.

    Whatever the reasons, Bridges was once a key piece to the 2015 Auburn football recruiting class, but will instead play against the Tigers next year.

    Three of Bridges’ teammates at MGCCC – quarterback Jason Smith, defensive tackle Maurice Swain and specialist Kevin Phillips signed with Auburn Wednesday. And as hard as they tried to sway Bridges, his mind was made up.

    “Jason Smith was recruiting me last night,” he said. “I told Jason, ‘I love y’all but we got to go our separate ways.'”

    Next: Previews and Predictions For Every Bowl Game

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