War Eagle, everybody! It’s the day after signing day, and aren’t we relieved that recruiting season has ended? Much like the numbness after a successful root canal, we’re glad it’s all over, for the rest of the year! For us Auburn Tigers, there is much to celebrate. Before the coaching turbulence on the Plains, Auburn had assembled an impressive class. Despite the resignation of Tommy Tuberville, and an unpopular replacement hire, the class held together, and Auburn even added a few late gems! Coach Gene Chizik and his staff are to be commended, for hanging onto most of Tuberville’s commitments, and adding a lot more! War Eagle!
And so, how does this class fit in with the current Auburn football team? Who can help immediately? Who’s not going to make it? Time will tell, but a look at what we already have, and who’s coming in, will give us an idea. Auburn signed a skill-player-heavy group, this go-round. The lament heard round the Plains the past couple of seasons, was that the team lacked playmakers. If nothing else, the incoming class promises to end that deficiency!
Team analysis, after the jump!
NICK FAIRLEY, DL, 6-5, 265, Copiah-Lincoln CC
JOSH JACKSON, DT, 6-1, 260, Gainesville (Ga.) High School
JAMAR TRAVIS, DT, 6-1, 298, W.S. Neal-Brewton
Incumbents: Mike Blanc, Jake Ricks, Zach Clayton
Situation: Auburn returns 3 salty veterans in the middle, but none were dominant SEC linemen. Fairley is the most likely to see early playing time, if his academic situation holds up, but Travis is a real possibility, as the 11th ranked defensive tackle in the country. Somehow, some way, Auburn needs to put a 4th capable tackle on the field, next fall.
TERRANCE COLEMAN, DL, Williamson-Mobile, 6-1, 251
NOSA EGUAE, DE, 6-3, 234, Summitt-Mansfield, Texas
DEE FORD, DE/LB, 6-3, 205, St. Clair County-Odenville
Incumbents: All-SEC Antonio Coleman, Michael Goggins, Antoine Carter
Situation: Auburn returns the superstar Coleman, with Carter backing him up, but needs help on the strong side. Terrance Coleman is likely to see playing time, but Auburn will likely have to find a strong side backup from the current scout team.
JONATHAN EVANS, LB, 5-11, 202, Blount-Prichard
ELTORO FREEMAN LB, 6-0, 218, enrolled at Auburn
HARRIS GASTON, LB, 6-3, 210, Bessemer Academy
Incumbents: Craig Stevens, Josh Bynes, Spencer Pybus, Adam Herring
Situation: Auburn is thin at linebacker, and it’s likely that Freeman will play a major role, possibly starting. Freeman may well turn out to be the best early contributor of this Auburn class.
REGGIE TAYLOR, CB, 5-11, 175, Peach County-Fort Valley, Ga.
Incumbents: Walter McFadden, Aaron Savage, Neiko Thorpe, D’Antoine Hood, Harry Adams
Situation: Taylor is the only designated corner on the list. Given the experience returning, Taylor is likely to redshirt in 2009. Aaron Savage is a possible move back to safety, because we DO remember how much Chizik likes speedy safeties who can play the ball! If Savage goes back to safety, Taylor has a better chance to play early.
(I’ve lumped the “athlete” signees here, because that’s often where they end up!)
DONTAE AYCOCK, ATH, 5-11, 210,
DAREN BATES, DB, 5-11, 195, Olive Branch, Miss.
ANTHONY GULLEY, ATH, 5-11, 185, Brantley
IZAUEA LANIER, ATH, 6-1, 185, Gordo.
TAIKWON PAIGE, DB, 5-10, 175, Georgia Military-Milledgeville
DEMOND WASHINGTON, ATH, 5-9, 185, Miss. Gulf Coast Community College
Incumbents: Zach Etheridge, Michael McNeil, Mike Slade
Situation: Some of these players will end up elsewhere. For instance, Aycock is being recruited as a running back, and Paige as a corner. With the experience of Etheridge and McNeil, and a possible move by Aaron Savage, look for most of these guys to redshirt.
ANDRE HARRIS, OL, 6-4, 336, Lovejoy-Hampton, Ga.
JOHN SULLEN, OL, 6-5, 340, Auburn
Incumbents: Lee Ziemba, Ryan Pugh, Byron Issom, Mike Berry, Andrew McCain, Bart Eddins, Jared Cooper, A. J. Green.
Situation: Auburn has a corps of veteran linemen from which the starters are likely to emerge. Both signed linemen are HUGE, and will likely need conditioning before any serious playing time is considered.
PHILLIP LUTZENKIRCHEN, TE, 6-4, 240, Lassiter-Marrietta, Ga.
Incumbents: Tommy Trott, Gabe McKenzie, Vance Smith
Situation: We’ve been promised the great “receiving tight end” since the days of Bowden and Jack Schwieger, and pretty much have not had the advertised hands end up on the field at Auburn. Lutzenkirchen is supposed to be that guy, but meanwhile, he’ll have to surpass one of 3 veterans to get that playing time. At 240 pounds, it’s not likely, in the SEC. After a redshirt year of Yoxercise, and the graduation of McKenzie and Trott, look out!
EMORY BLAKE, WR, 6-1, 194, S.F. Austin-Austin, Texas
LAVOYD JAMES, WR, 5-10, 176, Williamson-Mobile
TRAVANTE STALLWORTH, WR, 5-9, 180, Leesville, La.
DEANGELO BENTON, WR, 6-3, 205, Hargrave Military
Incumbents: Montez Billings, Tim Hawthorne, Quindarious Carr, Terrell Zachary, Darvin Adams, Derrick Winter, Phillip Pierre-Louis
Situation: Benton, if he REALLY qualifies academically, should step in and start. He’s that good! All of the signees are top-100 receivers, and playing time in Malzhon’s offense could be there, especially if the veterans don’t step up. Emery Blake is a special talent, too, and will likely play early.
BRANDON JACOBS, RB, 6-1, 230, Parkview-Lilburn, Ga.
ONTERIO MCCALEBB, RB, 6-0, 175, Haragrave Military, enrolled at Auburn
Incumbents: Ben Tate, Mario Fannin, Eric Smith
Situation: In addition to the two “official” running back signees, a number of the “athletes,” such as Dontay Aycock, are being looked at as backs. McCaleb is an electrifying talent, with speed not seen in the Tiger backfield since the days of Bo Jackson and Brent Fullwood. However, he’s really on the light side. Jacobs is a powerhouse, too, but vying for playing time against the established tandem of returning backs, it’s more likely that both signees will redshirt.
ROBERT COOPER, QB, 6-4, 204, Daphne (grayshirt)
CLINT MOSELEY, QB, 6-4, 196, Leroy
TYRIK ROLLISON, QB, 6-2, 185, Sulphur Springs, Texas
Incumbents: Kodi Burns, Chris Todd, Neil Caudle, Barrett Trotter
Situation: Quarterback becomes the most crowded position at Auburn, today. Likely, several of these players will move elsewhere, to other positions, or other teams. Whomever takes to Malzhon’s scheme fastest, will likely start. However, having seen SEC speed on the field, you’d HAVE to think that Kodi Burns and Chris Todd would have the huge advantage. I would not be surprised to see Todd start, if his shoulder recovers. That would mean “pine-time,” for the signees. Rollinson is said to be a spectacular athlete…
As usual, some of these guys may not make it, academically. In addition, Auburn may sign additional players, such as running back David Oku, who elected not to sign on “signing day.” Still, you’d have to think that those who’ll likely see the field in 2009, are listed above.