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Malzahn Pulls in Stellar Class — Again

By on February 5th, 2014 in Member Post 18 Comments »

    Racean “Roc” Thomas is the second consecutive ‘Mr Alabama Football’ to sign with Auburn. (photo:Julie Bennett,

What a great day for Coach Malzahn and his staff. They may not have a TOP 5 Class and all the glitzy primadonnas that try to reinvent the Hat game for their two minutes on ESPNU, but the staff did a stellar job of addressing major needs with impact players and adding depth where it was sorely needed.

The much maligned secondary gets a major infusion of talent with Markell Boston and 4 star DB’s Stephen Roberts, Kalvaren Bessent and Nick Ruffin. The D-Line added more talented depth and eventual starters  with 4 Star DE Andrew Williams and Davonte Lambert and 4 Star DTs Donavious Russell and Deveroe Lawerence. The LB rotation finally gets some talent to back up Frost and McKinzey with future starters 5 Star Tre Williams and 4 star DeShaun Davis. Those were serious needs that were addressed with spectacular recruits that will serve to shore up Auburn’s defensive deficiencies.

On offense, the Tigers don’t have many holes but the gaping one left by Tre Mason’s departure was certainly filled by Roc Thomas, who will make an impact from day one. I promise you, “The Roc” is just  

that, and if he is anything like his highlight reel, the Auburn rushing attack won’t miss a beat in 2014. Four-star QB Sean White seems to be quite the media darling, and if he is as advertised, the next couple of years are going to be interesting on the Plains as he and Jeremy Johnson fight to be the next Auburn signal caller. And it will be a fight, because Auburn added more quality targets for them to trow to like 5 star WR Dahaquille Williams and 4 Star TE Jakell Mitchell. If nothing else,  look for the ear to ear grin from Sammie Coates, as defenses will not be allowed to double cover him without leaving ample space for Williams, Ricardo Louis  or Marcus Davis to attack.

The big win today though, IMO was the signing of 4 star OL, and 6’6′ genetic freak, Braden Smith out of Kansas. Aside from 3 star Center Xavier Dampeer, Auburn didn’t have any OL recruits slated for this class and as I think we all realized this year, if you want to win, you better have a good line on ‘both’ sides of the ball. Auburn had great line play this year and should be deep there as well next year. However, Greg Robinson’s departure opened a hole that will only get bigger in the next couple of years but luckily for Coach Malzahn, Smith will help bridge that gap until we bring in more recruits next year. Smith is a monster that is freakishly strong, with good feet, and will be a good candidate for pulling guard and eventually left tackle. He’s a great score for the offense and a nice NSD surprise that somehow Coach Grimes was able to pull off in the last couple of months. All in all, you can’t look at the areas that needed to be addressed and not be thrilled with the job that the Tiger staff did today … if only there was one more name to add to the list.

There will be a lot of criticizing of Auburn and Gus Malzahn for losing out on Rashaan Evans but I think Malzahn did a stellar job again, and actually may have saved himself a headache by not getting the Auburn HS standout. A lot of the recruiting pundits thought it was imperative for Malzahn to stand up to Saban and keep him from picking talent  in Auburn’s backyard to show that Malzahn and Auburn  were on equal footing in the state. That’s really a disingenuous argument to make because kids don’t base their decision on geography, they base their decision on where they will be most successful, both on the field and in the classroom.

Rashaan Evans wants to go to the NFL and get paid big money, and he knows the best way to do that is to go someplace where he will primarily rush the QB and get sacks. That’s how you get big 1st round money and Rashaan Evans knows it. At Alabama, they have a long history of OLB’s and defensive ends that rush the QB and go to the NFL in the early rounds. Auburn does NOT have that history with its LB’s, in fact we have a pretty lousy history of putting LB’s in the NFL. Outside of Karlos Dansby and Takeo Spikes, you’ll be hard pressed to find much of a LB presence in the NFL. Corey Lemonier is the most recent to go pro but played sparingly as a rookie. Alabama LB’s litter the NFL landscape from DeMeco Ryans to Courney Upshaw to Dontae Hightower, seemingly sending one or more to the NFL each year. If Evans wants to be get a big money NFL deal, his best option was to go to Alabama. It is a mistake in my opinion, because of his body type, but if that is what he ‘wants’, then that’s the best way to do it.

If Evans went to Auburn, he would have been dissatisfied with his role in the defense unless the Star was going to be a QB rusher. That is not what the Star position is there for in Ellis Johnson’s defense and if he changes his defense around to accommodate the wishes of one player, not only would the defense likely be less effective, it would put individual goals above the team goals. I believe that is where Gene Chizik started to lose his team. So to do so – to accommodate Evans would have been the first step down a slippery slope.  I believe in the long run, Coach Malzahn is better off on missing on players that want special treatment and sticking with those that believe in his vision and that want to do what is best for Auburn football. In the end I think Gus dodged a bullet and saved himself a headache.

The onus is now on Evans to add weight and size, while keeping his speed so that he can play the Jack LB in Saban’s defense. If he can’t, well Saban won’t think twice about giving that opportunity to someone else that more naturally fits that position. It’s a win, win for Saban regardless because at the end of the day Evans isn’t playing for Auburn. IMO Evans missed a big opportunity to be an impact player on Auburn’s defense from day one, instead of a backup for two or three years at Alabama. Evans has great instincts and speed and I think he would have been great in the Star position, however it ultimately was not the position he wants to play, so unfortunately for both parties we’ll never get to see how that would have turned out. I wish him luck and hope he enjoys his time at Alabama and he is able to get that big NFL payday he is looking for … but I also hope he enjoys tangling with “The Roc” and getting stiff armed by Jeremy Johnson. Sorry Rashaan, it was ‘your’ choice.

In any event, it’s a great start to 2014! I can’t wait for kickoff!



  1. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    Good observations, but you gave far too much ink to Evans. I don’t disagree with you, and I certainly disagree with Scarbinsky that losing him is an unparalleled disaster due to Bama coming to our backyard AGAIN. Great class that fits our needs – as you also observe, the test will be on the field!!
    War Eagle.

  2. uglyjoe says:

    Not that it’s important, but I’m curious and I can’t get the math to work for me….if we had gotten Evans, where would we have ended up in the rankings?

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      247Sports Composite recruiting rankings (which equally weigh the ratings of all the major recruiting services, has the Tigers 2014 class ranked presently at No.6 this morning, so adding another 5-star would have definitely put Auburn in the top 5 maybe top 3.

  3. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    Meh, Evans shm-evans… Kid has been cooped up in a small town too long and wants a different menu of skirt…I don’t blame him; new chapter, get away from the ole gang and start anew. The difference is we don’t get any kids out of Tuscaloosa because the family would get death threats and Auburn isn’t willing to relocate the whole family to Auburn just to get one out of their back yard. Evans will get his share of whiffs at the ‘Roc’ – that kid spins better than Lacy…

  4. AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

    Good up Colonel,

    Agree that the best surprise for this class (although he had AU in his final 3) was Braden Smith. The battles in the games are always won or lost on the line. Having said that, I like the balance of the 2014 recruiting roster.

  5. WDErichie WDErichie says:

    Is it just me or does anyone else feel like maybe these big recruits that Bama steals from us each year are put up to it to make us look bad? Each year we have one string us along and at the last minute pick Bama. Just funny how it keeps happening.

    • It’s not just you. Happens too often for there not to be something to it.

  6. I get why Evans got a bunch of ink–because the media is making this out to be a bigger deal than it is. I guess, if Alabama has to *win* against Auburn, it might as well be recruiting. It certainly hasn’t stopped us from beating them on the field (again, much to the chagrin of the media–how dare we stop the three-peat!, with all of our *luck* and comeuppance).

    I agree that we dodged a bullet with Evans and I had a feeling that he wouldn’t come anyway. I got the distinct feeling that his Dad never got over the lack of playing time behind Bo Jackson and said that he was going to do things differently with Rashaan…..Moreover, and the Col. said it well, but just to reiterate, you need players who are going to buy into your system–Gus understands that.

    The minute you start selling out to 17 or 18 year old kids because of their perceived talent is the minute that you’ve lost control of the situation. This goes beyond team sports of course–this speaks to building teams of people in management groups, research groups, etc.. Something that I don’t know if we appreciate enough is the fact that Gus is really preparing them not only to kick ass on the field, but to kick ass in life.

    Welcome to the Family, New Tigers! War Eagle!!!

  7. I like what Coach Malzahn said when asked yesterday about Evans:

    “Here’s what we focus on, we focus on the guys that are here and we’ve got one of the best classes in college football — not only talent wise, but everything else that goes with it and we’re coming off a year that we came up 13 seconds short of winning the national championship,” Malzahn said. “We’ve got a lot of guys coming back and when you add that to this group coming in, the future is very bright and we’re going to win a lot of games.”

    War Damn Eagle Coach!

  8. WoodrowAU95 says:

    The longer the Evans “Dog and Pony show” went along, we all should have known he was going to pull the mullet hat. His loss. Not ours, by any means. This class looks very exciting! The secondary commits sound impressive.

    Any ideas

    • WoodrowAU95 says:


      Any ideas of which (if any) signees may not qualify?


  9. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Dontarrious Thomas played a few years, I think with the Colts? At linebacker? You’re right, though. We’ve really not put many linebackers in the NFL the last few years. One reason is that both Bowden and Tuberville liked ’em light and fast.

  10. sparkey sparkey says:

    I don’t get the ire against Rashaan Evans about picking Bama when Saban has developed every single one of his five recruits into first round draft picks as of now. I don’t like Evans because he is a Bammer myself, though. I just hate Alabama. I get why he chose them. But, I still hate everything about that school from its colors to the way over worshiped cheating Paul Bryant. Sorry, but losing Evans stings and I disagree I think we’re missing out not dodging a bullet.

    Now, as far as the whole Bama gets whoever it wants spin that’s not really true either. Roc Thomas came to Auburn. We also have the number one junior college recruiting class in the country. We have plenty of kids coming in that can contribute right from the beginning.

    I look for the 2015 class to be top five again and more like top three or even possibly better.

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      Agree Sparkey, Bama doesn’t get whoever it wants. Auburn got 4 of the top 7 players in the state of Alabama and came dang near to going 5 out of 7.

    • Don’t forget that Auburn flipped two 4 star bammer commits this year, Roberts and Bessent.

  11. milehighmike says:

    I, like so many others, thought Evans would be coming to Auburn. But the fact that he didn’t and CGM’s recruiting class was still raked int the top 6 in the nation says something about Malzahn and his staff. Even with his top rated signing class, Weeman is trying to come up with a way to stop Gus’ offense, and not by X’s and Os but rather through a rule change. Just goes to show ho cheap and callous he is

  12. milehighmike says:

    Thomas may have ended his career with the Colts but I believe he started his NFL career with the Vikings.

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