It’s hardly news by now, having broken Saturday morning, but if you missed it somehow: Woodlawn athlete (and very likely future corner) Chris Davis became the 23rd commitment for Auburn’s class of 2010 last weekend, as expected.
Davis is more-or-less the textbook definition of a recruiting “sleeper.” (Seriously, check out the glossary in the back of “Fundamentals of Recruiting, Vol. 3.” It’s Davis to a T.) At 5-10/5-11 and 175, unable to make the camp circuit, and playing for a relatively low-profile, cash-strapped B’ham metro school, Davis never did catch the eyes of the gurus: Rivals only recently gave him three stars (he was unranked at the time of his commitment), Scout still hasn’t bothered to evaluate him, and ESPN gives him a grade of 76, making him one of just five members of the Tigers’ 2010 class below that service’s 77 mark. Entering his 2009 senior season, Davis had yet to receive an SEC offer. (He’s since added offers from South Carolina and, obviously, Auburn.)
But here’s the thing: that Davis has been such an unknown quantity to the gurus and even (it seems) SEC coaches also means it’s more likely that the gurus (and other SEC coaches) don’t know what they’re missing here. In an article from early November that’s quickly made the Auburn rounds, the B’ham News’s Jeff Sentell writes:
There is not a single player in the Yellowhammer State more likely to make a man miss on a given play. Players like Stanhope’s DeMarcus Milliner may be just as good, but I’d need to see reels of game film to be convinced they are any better playing the game now than Davis.
Davis has legit height, legit size and a dazzling array of moves not seen on area prep fields since Deuce Palmer lit up Friday nights.
Fairfield coach Jim Vakakes has gone on record with that comparison several times over the years he’s lost sleep gearing up his defenses to face Davis.
“Palmer had a little more help with him when he played,” Vakakes said. “Chris Davis has all the potential in the world. If we would have had him, there is no telling how explosive our offense would be. I bet he’s in the top five in the state. He has to be. There’s nobody we played this year with more God-given talent” …
Davis scored 60 of the team’s 109 points this year. He ran for 877 yards. The official average was 6.5 yards per carry.
Anyone who saw Woodlawn try to block and tackle on a consistent basis would know Davis got at least 450 of those yards on his own.
His presence at Woodlawn underscores how even elite recruits can fall through the cracks. The Colonels do not have the resources of other state programs.
It’s hard for Davis to go to those elite recruiting combines and evaluation camps for those Web analysts to ply his wares against the likes of the household names with the kids and all the stars.
There’s more here. So, who you gonna trust: the gurus, or the Auburn coaches, high school coaches, and high school writers who have watched him play and given him this kind of seal of approval? Davis is expected to be added to the News’s postseason “Super Seniors” list, whenever that comes out.
There’s some YouTube for you to give you a taste of what Sentell’s writing about, though this is Davis as a sophomore back in 2007:
Watching that, I’ll tell you what Davis makes me think of: Demopolis, a few years back, when I was writing for the Demopolis paper and the Tigers were being quarterbacked by a kid named Dontrell Miller. Like Davis, Miller was undersized (sub-6 feet, less than 180 pounds), primarily an offensive player in high school despite projecting to the defensive secondary, and while cat-quick wasn’t blessed with top-end sprinter’s speed. But it’s hard to describe exactly how eye-poppingly elusive Miller was: weaving 60-yard punt returns and epic 45-yard back-and-forth quarterback scrambles weren’t highlights for Miller, they were just about the norm. Given his remarkable combination of footwork, reflexes, and return skills, it was easy to envision Miller shining as a major-college defensive back and return specialist. And yet he never did snag a D-I offer and ended up at Tennessee-Martin … where he became the Skyhawks’ best defensive player and in 2008 was named an FCS All-American. Yes, it’s safe to say that these past two seasons, Auburn could have used a player like Miller. (A player like Miller. A student-athlete like Miller … not so much. This is where the analogy ends.)
So now that the Tigers have a player who reminds me so much of Miller–and a coaching staff whose track record with spotting undersized talents like Demond Washington, Anthony Gulley, etc.–it’s safe to say I’m quite, quite happy to have Davis aboard and more-than-a-little interested in seeing what he can accomplish at corner.
Elsewhere: Decision-time for early enrollees. According to Beaver Wednesday is Signing Day for any recruit planning to enroll in January and get back-counted into the 2009 class … and if you’ve been following Auburn recruiting, you know that Chizik and Co. are looking for as many as five early-arrivers to fill in the available slots from last year. Two of those five we know: Craig Sanders and Friday Google-surveyee Jessel Curry, who I’ll take this brief moment to congratulate on his Buford team’s third consecutive state championship. Shaun Kitchens is also listed as a December grad at Rivals, so he may be a third.
But amongst potential last-minute commitments, there’s two JUCO names to keep an eye on: Ken Adams, who may or may not switch his commitment from Tennessee, and Roszell Gayden, the mammoth OL who Chizik visited this weekend and will decide on Wednesday. JUCO TE/OL Brandon Mosley is also a possibility but apparently Ole Miss is leading there.
It almost goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: getting these guys enrolled early would be huge for Auburn. Each player that slips back to the ’09 class equals one more open spot in the ’10 class … and brings Auburn another step closer to getting back up to the maximum scholarship level as quickly as possible. These next two days are, somewhat quietly, going to be very big for Auburn’s program.
Photo via al.com.