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Krootin’: bad news, good news (UPDATED)

Say it ain't so, Antonio.
Say it ain't so, Antonio.

The recruiting trail is going to seriously heat up these next few weeks as Auburn’s coaches burn up the road–obligatory duck-hunting reference/comparison goes here–and Chizik and Co. try to put the finishing touches on their 2010 class. Based on the way they closed out last year in vastly more difficult circumstances, it should be a hell of a lot of fun for Auburn fans.

But the biggest bit of news this week, unfortunately, isn’t on the positive side.

Goodwin de re-commits.

UPDATE: Nevermind all that stuff below: this afternoon Antonio Goodwin re-pledged to Auburn and declared he’d sign with Auburn in February. Outstanding news: Auburn is back to having received 22 commitments for the class of 2010 and somehow not a single decommitment to date.

So, yeah, I’m going to leave the following take from this morning up and in italics because I wrote it and all … but anyone new to the post, just ignore it.

Yep, four-star Georgia receiver Antonio Goodwin, one of Auburn’s highest-rated commitments, has re-opened his recruiting and retracted his Auburn commitment. Competition for his signature now includes Georgia, West Virginia, and North Carolina.

And while there’s a chance Goodwin could return to the fold, in my (admittedly limited) experience following recruiting I haven’t seen many examples of a decommited recruit recommitting to his initial program. Which’ll be a hell of a shame for Auburn–Goodwin is a consensus four-star, one of the highest-rated receivers in the country and the No. 24 player overall to ESPN. He’s going to be a good one.

But decommitments happen even to the best of programs, and it looks like wide receiver might be one of the few places where Auburn can withstand one, even one as highly-regarded as Goodwin. Trovon Reed, Shaun Kitchens, and Jeremy Richardson mean Auburn still have three different four-star wideouts in the class (four stars to at least one service, anyway), and of course between Adams, Zachery, Benton, Blake, and Stallworth, it’s not like the depth chart isn’t looking at least somewhat crowded for the next couple of seasons to begin with. Losing Goodwin is a blow, but it’s a much softer one than losing Auburn’s other “soft verbal” (lineman Shon Coleman) or one of their linebackers, safeties, etc. would be.

Onto the (other) positives:

Still in the running. Two of Auburn’s highest-profile targets made cuts this week, and Auburn’s survived in both cases. Marcus Lattimore trimmed North Carolina off his list; he’s down to Auburn, Georgia, Oregon, South Carolina, and Penn St. So, yeah, still a ways to go there.

It appears a little more clearcut for consensus four-star tackle James Stone, though, according to his coach:

Four-star offensive tackle James Stone (Nashville, Tenn./Maplewood) is now only considering Alabama, Auburn, Stanford and Vanderbilt according to Maplewood coach Ralph Thompson, ESPN affiliate Web site AuburnUndercover.com reports.

However, two schools appear to have an edge, “I really think it will come down to Auburn and Alabama,” Thompson said.

Well, that’s exciting. Stone is universally considered a Tide lean (as far as I can tell), but that Auburn has made this kind of impression on an out-of-state prospect as hotly pursued as Stone has been is still–like so much of Auburn’s recruiting efforts over the past year–damn impressive. And, of course, it goes without saying that actually stealing away one the country’s top offensive line recruits from the Tide would be a huge, huge coup.

The next commitment? Woodlawn athlete Chris Davis fits the definition of “sleeper” recruit pretty snugly–he still doesn’t have a grade at Rivals or at Scout, and ESPN gives him a low-end three-star 76. But obviously there’s something to see there–South Carolina and Miss. St. recently offered, and now Auburn has shot him an offer that could result in the Tiger’s next commitment:

Davis told us two weeks ago that if the Tigers offered they would jump to the top of his list. Coach Chris Davis, no relation, is an assistant at Woodlawn. He Davis will be quite a catch for the team that gets him.

“He is just an outstanding player,” Coach Davis told us. “I have had a lot of players go on to college, and he is definitely one of the best. His football IQ is terrific. He lined up many places for us because he can read the offense or defense so quickly and react. He just knows what he is supposed to do.”

His coach isn’t the only one raving–check out this B’ham News article that compares him to David Palmer (and reaffirms that Davis is likely Auburn-bound, as does this Rivals header). There’s also Chizik and Co.’s already-burgeoning track record with (ahem) smaller athletes–Demond Washington, Travante Stallworth*, and Anthony Gulley all ended up being useful (to say the least) finds. Davis would be a nice addition.

Tackles Wanted. Auburn needs DTs for this 2010 class as much as they need anything that’s not offensive linemen, and their top two targets appear to be Georgia’s Mike Thornton and Jeffrey Whitaker. Unfortunately, despite heavy Auburn interest, neither one seems poised to make a decision all that soon. AUUndercover on Whitaker:

Whitaker, 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds from Warner Robins (Ga.) High School, took an unofficial visit to Auburn last weekend [for the Iron Bowl]. Warner Robins coach Bryan Way said Whitaker enjoyed his visit.

“We talked about it the other day, and he told me he had a really good time over there for the game,” Way told AuburnUndercover.com. “He said nothing really stuck out to him, but he loved the atmosphere. He said it was really loud and definitely exciting for him.”

Whitaker has not said much about his favorite schools, and he has not narrowed his list down, but the time to take official visits is nearing. Way said Whitaker knows where he wants to go on four of his visits.

“He will take an official visit to North Carolina this weekend, Auburn sometime in January, Georgia sometime in January and South Carolina at some point,” Way said. “The fifth visit is up in the air” …

Way said the official visits may be approaching, but Whitaker is no closer to naming who he will sign with in February. Way said Whitaker has taken his time throughout the entire process, and he is not going to rush now.

As for Thornton, the AJC reports:

The Stephenson defensive lineman, considered one of the top uncommitted prospects in the state of Georgia, had planned on making his college decision about now. He was going to graduate from high school early and enroll in the college of his choice in January. But Thornton told me Monday he has decided to remain in high school for a second semester, which should relieve some of the intense recruiting pressure he has been experiencing the last few weeks.

“I just sat down and decided I needed to take some more time,” said the 6-foot-2, 285-pound tackle. “I didn’t want to rush into anything. My academics are fine. I’m still an A-B student. That’s not it at all. It’s a recruiting decision. I just want to make sure I make the right choice.”

Thornton said he plans to take some more official visits — he has been only to Penn State so far — and set up a personal workout regimen with Stephenson strength coach Reggie Ball Sr. to improve his strength and speed.

That Thornton talks exclusively about Georgia in the piece isn’t the end of the world–it is the AJC, and he doesn’t seem that excited about the Dawgs, either–but that he doesn’t even commit to a visit to Auburn doesn’t seem like the best sign in the world. Here’s to hoping, but Whitaker seems like the more likely of the two at this stage.

Visitors, visitees. Via Rivals, Scout, and AuburnUndercover, a quick list of uncommitted (to Auburn) recruits who have either scheduled visits to Auburn or have gotten a recent visit from Auburn’s coaches: SC OL Eric Mack, Fla. ATH Ryan White, Ark. DT (!!) Byran Jones, Fla. CB Rashad Knight, JUCO TE/DE Ken Adams, OL John Cullen, and I’m sure there’s one or two I’ve missed.

Like I said: this stretch run here ought to be fun.

Good to hear. Ed Christian isn’t going anywhere.

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