Numbers games. Two statistical-type notes for you this morning: first, expect to see a ton of names on this year’s Signing Day sheet. With only 20 players actually qualifying to join the team this fall, up to five early-enrollees can get back-counted into the 2009 class. Auburn can then still turn around and sign the full 28 on Signing Day. (Before, of course, watching a quarter of those players fail to qualify and starting the process all over again next fall.) That’s a total of 33 possible signees, and given Auburn’s depth problems it’ll be something of a surprise if the staff doesn’t fill as many of those 33 slots as possible.
In short: with Auburn sitting at “only” 18 commitments at present, expect to see plenty of Daren Bates-style “wait, who?” sleeper commitments down the December/January recruiting stretch alongside (hopefully) some of the bigger targets.
(As for those early enrollees: the AuburnUndercover link above mentions Jessel Curry and Craig Sanders, Shaun Kitchens is supposedly on track to graduate early, and if I remember correctly Taikwon Paige made noise about coming in early after he failed to qualify in the fall. [That’s assuming Auburn’s coaches still want him, of course, not that I’ve read anything either way.] I’m sure Auburn will be able to find their five.)
Second note: Doug Segrest reports that there are more Georgians on the SEC’s two-deeps than players from any other state, even that neverending fountain of talent, Florida. Theory: the presence of Big 10 schools like Minnesota and Michigan recruiting in Florida (but not other Southeastern states, which they might not have time to scout fully) means that it’s easier for SEC schools to pick up sleepers in the Peach State. Just a theory.
RB watch. Hit me with some good news, P-Marsh:
Michael Dyer, the nation’s No. 1 running back prospect, continues to lean heavily toward Auburn.
It is likely Dyer, from Little Rock Christian High School, will announce his decision before the end of the month, and it will come as a significant surprise if he doesn’t choose the Tigers.
Marshall and Rivals have both noted that watching Arkansas kick Auburn around in person had no effect on Dyer’s plans, which, uh, when he just saw the player he’d theoretically be replacing rush for 180-some-odd yards, why would it?
At that same Marshall link, he reports that Lache Seastrunk is planning on being in Auburn for the Iron Bowl, but any other trips are only “a possibility.” However, ESPN’s also reporting that Seastrunk and his mother will be in Baton Rouge for this year’s Tiger Bowl, so he’ll get a look at Auburn then as well. That would be Seastrunk’s second game day visit to LSU–he was there for the Florida game. Auburn had best make a good impression on the bayou that night, I’m thinking.
Up. “Soft verbal” Auburn commitment Shon Coleman is a hugely, hugely important member of the Tiger class–for starters, he’s an offensive lineman, which alone puts him in, like, the class’s top 10 percentile of importance, or something. Second, by every account I’ve seen (that’s not a lot of accounts, of course, but still) he’s been wrecking fools left and right this season and he’s making some serious strides in the gurus’ estimations. One of the very highest-ranking items on Chizik and Co.’s recruiting to-do list has to be to make sure Coleman stays in the fold.
Bleah. I’ve had high hopes for Mike Thornton, a top-notch, offer-laden Georgia DT whose attention Auburn’s had since the very start of recruiting season, but it looks like Chizik and Co. have some ground to make up:
Generally the battle for Stephenson defensive tackle Mike Thornton is thought be between Georgia and Auburn. But I’ve long said not to discount Penn State in the battle for the state’s top uncommitted senior defensive lineman.
Sure enough, Thornton told me this week that Penn State is “pretty much” his favorite. The 6-foot-2, 280-pounder plans to make an official visit with the Nittany Lions the weekend of Nov. 7 when they play host to Ohio State.
Thornton said the same thing to PalmettoSports.com, which covers South Carolina recruiting, earlier this week. “They’ve got a good coaching staff that is going to be there for a while and they’re a good team,” Thornton said. “They’re probably my favorite right now.”
That’s discouraging enough, but the rest of the piece is a series of Thornton quotes on how much enjoyed he enjoyed his (second) unofficial visit to Athens. Thornton is still expected to make his way to the Plains sometime this year, so Auburn will have the chance to make their pitch, but if Thornton is set on being an early enrollee (as the AJC reports) that’s not much time in which to change his mind.
OLs wanted. Well, that part where Florida St. decommit Ed Christian had Auburn as a “heavy favorite” appears to have passed: Auburn is now apparently part of a “top three.” He’ll still be here for an official for the Kentucky game and hopefully Auburn will preserve what might still be a lead there, but according to Beav Christian is planning on looking at several schools–not that I blame him in the least–and ‘Bama fans have been warned not to sleep on Christian as a possible replacement for the decommitted Juwuan James. Auburn’s going to have to fight for him, not that that’s really a surprise.
Etc. In 2011 news, newly-transferred Aubun High DE LaMichael Fanning has named Auburn and Alabama his early leaders, and Philip Rivers’ little brother has a Tennessee offer …a handful of Auburn commits will be playing in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.