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May 5, 2011Auburn hosted a pair of visitors from up north this past Sunday, as McKees Rocks (Pa.) Sto Rox linebacker Deaysean Rippy and Iona Prep (N.Y.) corner Justin Combs took their first visit to Auburn.
The pair toured the campus, met the coaches, and got a first hand feel for the Auburn program.
Rippy holds over 20 offers, and said the visit to Auburn gave him a completely new outlook on the Tigers' program and his interest level is much higher in Auburn than before.
"It was good. At first I didn't expect it to be like it was. We visited the stadium, the campus, the indoor facility. I was impressed," Rippy said.
"Being that they were in Alabama I didn't think I would want to go that far. This visit changed that though. Sitting down with with the coaches, and getting to talk to them was great. They didn't try and put on a show for me, they were straight forward and they were being themselves, I was impressed with that and I find that cool."
Rippy said he and his godbrother Justin, walked around the campus to get feel for the lifestyle, and how it would feel if Auburn became their new home.
The 6-foot-2, 198-pound linebacker said that he plans to have his list narrowed down to a top ten or a top seven by the end of this week, and that Florida currently leads.
Rippy was honest in saying Auburn was not even in the running with him prior to his first visit Sunday afternoon, but that has changed dramatically.
"Auburn will definitely be in the top ten, they are probably in my top four or five right now after that visit," said Rippy. "Auburn is one of those schools that isn't big, and isn't really small, I think once you are on campus everyone gets to know you."
Rippy is also 7-on-7 teammates with Auburn commitment Zeke Pike. The two have a good friendship according to Rippy, and Pike is another reason Auburn is getting a harder look from the talented prospect now.
"Me and Zeke are definitely cool," said Rippy. "He's a great dude, I definitely like being around him. Now that he committed to Auburn he's trying to get me to come there. I told him though, I can't commit off of one visit, but I told him that Auburn was really nothing to me before, and now they are definitely a school of interest for me."
Combs, also 7-on-7 teammates with Pike and Rippy, seemed to enjoy his first visit to Auburn as well.
"It was fun, I like the school a lot, I like the morals and principles they are built on," Combs said.
Combs said they had a chance to tour the football facilities, the campus, the football field, and spent most of their time with wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor and safeties coach Tommy Thigpen.
"We were with coach Troop and coach Thigpen," said Combs. "Coach Troop is one of the funniest, coolest coaches I've ever met, he's real cool. He knows football too, and he seems like he really cares about the players, I think the coaches really care about the players outside of football."
While Rippy said he was not that surprised by anything he saw on his visit to Auburn, Combs was.
The famous son of hip-hop mogul Sean Combs said that when you think of Alabama, he just thought of the country, but was pleasantly surprised at the atmosphere surrounding Auburn and what he experienced.
Especially when he had the chance to learn about one of Auburn's most storied traditions.
"When you think about Alabama you just think about the country, but when we got there it was a totally different environment," Combs said. "They showed us video of the Tiger Walk, that's incredible, I'd love to walk down that before a game.
"It's a nice program, down to earth coaches, they care about their players. I could see myself playing there."
While the two prospects visited Auburn on Sunday, that certainly was not the only reason they were down south. Combs and Rippy competed in the Badger Sports 7-on-7 tournament in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday, and then made a special trip over to Pratt City, Alabama Saturday afternoon to help with the relief effort of the recent tornadoes.
What they saw left an impression, and both were certainly glad they made the trip.
"We went to Pratt City, Alabama and just helped out whatever way we could," said Rippy. "I was shocked, it was devastating. You don't get a feel until you see it with your own eyes. I heard a few stories from residents and it was shocking."
Combs said what he saw left a lasting impression, one he will not soon forget.
"It was like a movie, I've never seen anything like that," Combs said. "Everything was destroyed, it was sad. The people there were just so positive though, blessed that they were alive. I just have to be thankful that everything, never take anything for granted because you never know when it will be taken away."
Both Combs and Rippy plan to visit Miami on May 26th, and hope to be back in Auburn soon, either this spring or this summer.