Roszell “Ninja” Gayden. Please meet Mr. Gayden: a four-star JUCO offensive tackle that fits right in with the current Auburn staff’s previously established size preferences for offensive lineman: 6’7″, 310 pounds. He’s the No. 20 JUCO player in the country this year, according to Rivals, and here’s the best part: he’ll be making his first visit to Auburn a week from Saturday.
As with any player who measures 6’7″, 310 pounds: Gayden would be a big, big get for Auburn. I’d expect Chizik and Co. to take five offensive linemen at the minumum, and if that means earning commitments from “only” two more players by Signing Day, none of the three big targets we know Auburn is after–Gayden, John Cullen, and Eric Mack–appear to have even reached the status of Auburn “lean” yet. (Cullen has publicly named Tennessee his leader.) Auburn could still wind up with an outstanding group of linemen, but they could also wind up with two studs in Shon Coleman and Ed Christian and a collection of sleepers that might have to be relied upon before they’re ready.
So: Gayden is a big deal. How likely Auburn is to land him, I have no idea: Gayden is from Chicago originally, plays for JUCO in California, and doesn’t have any ties to the South. But Gene Chizik’s done everything but take out a classified ad to let people know next year’s right tackle job is wide, wide open, so there’s that.
Speaking of Coleman … Man, this is some good news:
Auburn commit offensive tackle Shon Coleman (Olive Branch, Miss./Olive Branch) made an unofficial visit to Ole Miss over the weekend for the Rebels’ home game with Tennessee, but ESPN affiliate AuburnUndercover.com reports that the 6-foot-6, 270-pounder is still firmly committed to the Tigers.
All right. The Rebels were supposed to be one of the teams that might have a shot at prying Coleman away, and for him to come away from a visit saying “Nope, not happening” is a very good sign for Auburn.
Other visitors. Not surprisingly, given that a) it’s the last chance visitation saloon as far as game environments go b) the atmosphere will be as bonkers as Auburn’s atmosphere can get, Auburn should be bringing in a number of players for the Iron Bowl. One of them (according to the AuburnSports front page) will be four-star JUCO corner Mike Harris, who claims a heck of an offer list for a JUCO.
One recruit who apparently won’t be there, according to Beaver (via Rivals): Lache Seastrunk. Oh well. (Also apparently interested but unable to make it: top-100 safety Ahmad Dixon. Seastrunk knows enough about Auburn that I don’t think it’s make-or-break with him, but has Dixon made it to campus yet? Would have been a heck of a time for his first trip to the Plains. Too bad.)
Whitaker. I would think Georgia defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker is probably one of Auburn’s highest-priority targets right now: as nicely as the class is shaping up, Kenneth Carter is still the only DT in it, and with the DT class of 2009 looking dramatically less impressive than it did on Signing Day–Terrence Coleman and Josh Jackson never made it to campus, of course, and Jamar Travis hasn’t made much of a spalsh this season, unfortunately–the offensive line might be the only position where Auburn will be more desperate for commitments down the stretch.
So it might be a good sign that Whitaker came away from visiting Georgia last weekend very clear about the fact that the Dawgs don’t have any kind of step up on Auburn:
That Whitaker was in Athens at all is somewhat of a surprise since the Bulldogs seemed to have dropped off his radar for a while. That’s not the case any more. Whitaker says Georgia is a serious contender for his services.
“[Richt] made it clear he really wanted me,” Whitaker said of their Saturday afternoon meeting. “It was really just a matter of miscommunication. At one point we just weren’t communicating at all. But Georgia has been interested in me since I was a sophomore. They never forgot about me but we just lost touch there for a little while.”
Whitaker reiterated that he is “very interested in Auburn, too,” and made it clear that at this point, “I don’t have a leader.”
“What’s it going to come down to?,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s so close I could probably reach into a hat and pull somebody out and it would be fine.”
Certainly, Whitaker had a lot of nice things to say about his visit, and he’s obviously got a good deal of interest in Cal. (It sounds like though he’s also got North Carolina and South Carolina in a “top five,” it’s going to come down to Georgia, Auburn, and the Golden Bears.) But with the disconnect (however temporary) between Whitaker and Georgia and Whitaker unwilling to name the Dawgs his leader even after the visit, I’m confident that at the very least, Auburn will have their say here.
Stock rising. I’d have expected some “Auburn builds recruiting momentum”-type stories in the wake of the Dyer and Reed commiments–which have Auburn up to 8th in the latest Rivalst eam rankings, by the by–and both Andy Bitter and Jay G. Tate provide. Tate’s post is a conversation with Rivals analyst Barton Simmons, and Simmons (predictably) has nothing but good things to say about the job done by Chizik and Co. Fave quote:
Chizik has made recruiting an emphasis. They all work hard at it — and that includes Chizik. They all work together to sell that idea of family. I’ve talked to kids who say they really liked talking to Chizik, said he relates really well with them. (Emphasis mine–ed.) They’re good at building relationships.
Hey, remember when Chizik was supposed to be as bad at recruiting as he was at winning games at Iowa St. Yeah. (Also enjoyed Simmons’s take on the Reed commitment: “They went to Louisiana and got the best player in Louisiana. People just don’t do that with LSU down there.” They do now. Mwa ha.)
Etc. Auburn still leads for Dakota Mosley … Jay Hughes, a three-star Mississippi corner, will visit Auburn in January … Adrian Hubbard has a final three schools, and unfortunately Auburn’s not one of them. Hubbard was on the Plains for the Ole Miss game; guess he wasn’t impressed … Birmingham DE Kameron Wood appears to be a name to file away for 2011.