The Tigers made their way to the Outback Bowl despite fielding a roster of just 74 scholarship players by season's end. Most teams in the conference are much closer to the NCAA's allotment of 85 scholarship players.
With so many scholarships available, Chizik said there is no margin for error in Auburn's recruiting efforts.
"Strategically, we're going to have to be right on with every decision we make recruiting-wise — when we're bringing them in, how many we bring in," Chizik said. "We've got a lot of scholarships to fill.
"First of all, we've got to be able to, because of the limitations, we have to be good about how many we can count back bring in, in January. What positions you need to be able to zero-in on January kids. What positions have the priority over others."
A new SEC rule confines teams to just 25 incoming scholarship players each year. However, Auburn can count five scholarships back to last year. That's because the Tigers signed 28 players, but six didn't qualify. Brandon Jacobs chose to play baseball after signing.
One player — either Eltoro Freeman or Onterio McCalebb — counted against the 2008 signing class.
As a result, Auburn is hoping to find up to five players to enroll in school early. The Tigers have two so far — linebacker Jessel Curry and defensive end Craig Sanders — are set to come to school early.
With Auburn's most pressing needs coming on the offensive line, the coaching staff is targeting several junior college linemen. Roszell Gayden, John Cullen, Brandon Mosley and Laurence Gibson are all current targets that could enroll early.
Especially with Auburn looking to replace starting tackle Andrew McCain this spring, early admittance could behoove both sides.
Chizik said finding a tackle that can enroll early is a high-priority operation for his staff.
"We know we need to get an offensive tackle, without question that's got to happen in January," Chizik said. "It's got to be the perfect fit. He's got to be able to be getting out, graduating, but we know we need that. Maybe two offensive linemen in January. That one stands out really above the rest."
There are several positions of importance for Auburn this recruiting season. With Ben Tate graduating, running back is certainly one. The Tigers have already landed a commitment from five-star back Michael Dyer and are in pursuit of Marcus Lattimore, another five-star tailback.
Linebacker and offensive line are two other positions where Auburn can offer immediate playing time to incoming players.
That opportunity to play for three or four years is something the coaching staff has aggressively tried to sell to recruits.
"I think it's huge," Chizik said. "I think the fact that they see a very bright future here and the opportunity, it's opportunity. The future is very bright here. I think everybody is seeing that."
That Auburn will end its season in a New Year's Day bowl game certainly lends reason for optimism.
For Chizik to fulfill that hope with the program, he must land a big recruiting class this year.
His staff has made significant strides toward that goal so far this year. Rivals.com and ESPN rate Auburn as No. 8 among recruiting classes so far.
Auburn hopes that will assist in building its foundation while also eradicating the glaring holes on the depth chart.