Let’s start right here: I don’t feel good about Auburn keeping Shon Coleman. Obviously anything can happen between now and Wednesday, and there still seems to be plenty of (reasonably well-founded) optimism from certain Auburn corners … but ‘Bama optimism is rampant right now, and not just from their fans: when the guys on their recruiting beat are saying similar things, it seems a good bet (to me) that Auburn has problems.
Which, as I mentioned the other day after Coleman’s visit to T-town was confirmed, initially made me want to fight a wall. I’d already gone out back and drawn a suspiciously Saban-shaped outline next to the garden hose and everything. But after the taking of several deep breaths and a nice spot of warm tea*, I remembered something: One recruit isn’t worth this.
Recruiting isn’t a micro game; it’s a macro game. As that seminal Dr. Saturday post I always link up demonstrates, it’s not about individual recruits and getting a tiny leg up on one’s rivals. It’s about putting together entire classes and getting a definitive leg up … or in the specific case of Auburn vs. Alabama, erasing that existing definitive leg. I might have devoted an entire post to this, except that Phillip Marshall stole my thunder like whoah:
The truth is that, if Coleman switches, it won’t mean anything more or less than Craig Sanders’ switch to Auburn meant.
Maybe he really is 100 percent committed to Auburn and just taking visits. Maybe, as some on the other side of the state say, he really wanted to go to Alabama all along and was just waiting for an offer.
Either way, he ought to do what feels right to him. And whatever that is, he won’t deserve to be bashed for doing it. (Word.–ed.)
If Coleman decides to go to Alabama, chances are that Auburn will win the same number of games it would have won if he’d honored his original commitment. And if he honors his original commitment, chances are Auburn will win the same number of games it would have won if he hadn’t.
I do think maybe Marshall swings too far in the direction of “one recruit doesn’t matter”; certain high-profile players at need positions that can create that nebulous “momentum” can matter very much indeed. Hwo differently would things have played out if Tim Tebow had chosen Alabama? If Eric Berry had stayed home in Georgia? A large part of me still thinks that LaDarius Owens was/is the most important get in this Auburn class–a stud linebacker with strong Auburn ties? It would have been hard to have too much respect for Chizik and Co.’s efforts (particularly from a defensive standpoint) if he’d gotten away.
But with all that said, Marshall’s point still stands: this is going to be a phenomenal class for Auburn whether Coleman’s a part of it or not, whether Marcus Lattimore is or not, whether any single recruit is or not. Auburn’s victory in this year’s recruiting cycle–at the macro level, the level that counts–has already been declared. Now we’re just waiting on the final score.
It’s easier to suggest remembering that between now and Wednesday than it will be actually remembering it. But it’s damn sure worth the try.
Aside from Coleman–who I would of course remain thrilled to see sign with Auburn, despite the above, and remain plenty hopeful he will–there’s been lots of little shifts and updates over the past couple of days with Auburn’s targets and commitments. Going player-by-player, with the caveat that everything I say here (and anybody says anywhere, at this point) should be taken with a grain of salt:
Marcus Lattimore: A week ago Lattimore’s gauge-needle seemed to be pointing firmly towards Auburn, but it’s swung back the other direction a bit as most gurus now seem to see him as a toss-up or a tenuous Carolina lean. Spurrier will get the final sales pitch to Lattimore today and for his part, The State’s Phil Kornblut thinks it would be “shocking” if Lattimore picked AU over the ‘Cocks.
This is the same Columbia-based Kornblut, of course, who reported Eric Mack’s recruitment was over and done with just hours before he decommitted from SC. For me, yeah, I’m maybe less confident than I was a couple of weeks ago … but I’m still expecting Lattimore to sign with Auburn. Both sides seem really optimistic (and one will be seriously disappointed) but the Tigers had a consensus lead not that long ago and I don’t see enough evidence that’s changed to think otherwise.
D.J. Howard: Howard told Doug Segrest just today he was still committed to Auburn, which flies in the face of what seemed to be a growing consensus that he’d end up at either Clemson or Kentucky. I have no doubt that Auburn’s coaches are telling him the truth when they say Howard will come to Auburn as a tailback, but you have to wonder if someone who clearly wants a real shot at a starting RB job would risk sharing a class with both Dyer and Lattimore. I think in the end he pulls a Signing Day switch and goes elsewhere, which would be a heck of a shame … but not something I’d blame him for if Lattimore does choose AU.
Byran Jones: Bleah: the Hogs have apparently just offered Jones’ teammate Alan Turner and Jones is supposedly a) now a tenuous Arkansas lean b) making his announcement quickly. Adding those two data points up seems to equal Jones staying in-state.
Jeffrey Whitaker: He’ll announce Monday after a weekend visit to Miami. Hasn’t said or done anything I’m aware of to reject the conventional wisdom that Auburn has a solid lead for him.
Mystery Recruits: Auburn’s got 23 commitments for the 2010 class right now, so even if they pull off a clean sweep of the Lattimore/Whitaker/Corey Lemonier triumvirate, there’s a couple of slots remaining … and that’s before you consider Coleman’s and Howard’s possible defections. So I’m still expecting at least one late surprise commitment and probably two when all is said and done.
As for possibilities: Beaver thinks Pat Swilling Jr., son of the longtime Saints great, is one. It makes sense, especially with Howard wavering; even with Demetruce McNeal getting some late props, you’d think Auburn would want more than one safety in the class. If Jones chooses the Hogs I think Auburn could (and should) definitely be in the market for another defensive tackle; Jared Morse is a name I’ve seen thrown around, but whether we could pry him away from Vandy at this late date, I have zero idea. The Vic Beasley rumors have refused to die, since he apparently hasn’t ruled out a visit this weekend to Auburn.
But in the end I think the Mystery Recruit (or Recruits) end up coming at us like Daren Bates and Josh Jackson did last year: one minute we’ve never heard of them, the next they’re faxing their LOIs in. We’ll see.
So, it’s going to be a nerve-racking couple of days … but it should be a lot of fun, too. Stay tuned.
*That may have actually been a couple cans’ worth of Miller Lite. I’m not sayin’.