And the beat goes on. For all intents and purposes, Auburn should have been largely out of the spotlight on National Signing Day 2013. Two consecutive disappointing seasons, a new coaching staff, and battling the most formidable in-state rival of any college football program were all reason enough individually for the Tigers to sign a less than stellar 2013 class. Enter Gus Malzahn.
Ole Miss shared ‘media-darling’ duties with Alabama for much of ESPN’s signing day coverage, and the Rebels did have a fantastic haul. Despite that, it is Ole Miss’ first class in a long time of any great significance to the balance of power in the SEC West. Texas A&M also brought in an impressive group of players thanks in large part to their outstanding inaugural season in the SEC that featured an upset-win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa. LSU and Alabama both continued their recruiting success with Alabama again grabbing the nation’s number one class. Only one other school in the SEC West can make the case for having kept up in recruiting with LSU and Alabama, and that school is Auburn.
Getting defensive. Long time commit Carl Lawson, along with signing day surprises Montravius Adams and Elijah Daniel, round out an exceptional defensive linemen class that also includes 4-star defensive-tackle Ben Bradley. This group has a chance to be very special. Competition is always a good thing and these guys will provide a serious spark to the current group of defensive linemen.
Quarterbacks Everywhere! Jonathan Wallace, Jeremy Johnson, Nick Marshall, and Kiehl Frazier. The annual Auburn quarterback controversy starts early this year. The competition should be fierce among this group.
These guys are good too. While the class lacked a little defensive punch to me (minus the d-line signees) I think Gus did a great job of addressing team needs and snagging some playmaking talent. Look for Tony Stevens, Peyton Barber, and Marcus Davis to possibly have early impacts on offense. Overall I think the coaches did a great job considering the time-frame and competition they were up against.
In all fairness, Auburn’s recruiting classes of years past combined with this one do not warrant a direct comparison to the likes of LSU and Alabama at present time, but to pretend or conveniently forget that Auburn has a wealth of talent on its roster is a mistake. It is undeniable that most of the players brought in under Gene Chizik were under-developed, but their athletic ability didn’t leave town with the previous coaching regime. Buying in to Malzahn’s new program will be a difficult sell for many of them, but the rewards could be substantial. As it stands right now, Auburn is getting what it deserves in the perception department. Respect and recognition are earned on the field and extenuating circumstances rarely matter.
Despite all of that, the Auburn Tigers have the best chance to be the breakout team in 2013. Not Ole Miss, not Mississippi St. (as they have been promised to be every year under Mullen), and not Arkansas. Gus Malzahn certainly has his hands full, but he’s proven to be more than capable thus far. I believe that come September, Auburn’s opponents will have their hands full as well.
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