So: the early signing deadline is behind us with all five available “back-counting” slots filled and there’s only a couple of weeks of fervent recruiting remaining before Signing Day. Meaning it seems like a good time to take one last deep breath, look around at where Auburn stands with their 2010 recruiting class, and make a guess at what’s going to happen as Chizik and Co. sprint to the finish line (starting with this weekend’s serious crop of visitors). Starting with …
The magic number of members in Auburn’s 2010 class has been assumed to be “33” for a while now–the five early signees plus the permitted 28-recruits-per-class.
Remember, though, that Auburn can only enroll 25 of those 28 (or, at least, enroll them on scholarship) and that unless Chizik and Co. are going the Saban-patented “sign first, ask questions later” route, to bring in that full class the Tigers have to have those 25 scholarships available out of the allotted 85. Double-checking the number of occupied scholarships on the roster, by recruiting class:
2005: 1? (Aairon Savage could get a sixth year of eligibility if he wants it; last we heard, this was still up in the air, right?)
2006: 13 (Berry, Blanc, Caudle, Clayton, Eddins, Etheridge, Fannin, Goggans, Isom, Roseman, Shoemaker, Stevens, Zachery)
2007: 14 (Burns, Bynes, Byrum, Carr, Carter, Cooper, Douglas, Greene, Herring, McNeil, Pugh, Slade, Woods, Ziemba)
2008: 13 (Adams, Bell, Cole, Henderson, Hood, “Lipscomb,” Lykes, Pierre-Louis, Pybus, E. Smith, V. Smith, Trotter, Winter)
2009: 20 (Aycock, Benton, Blake, Cooper, Eguae, Evans, Fairley, Ford, Freeman, Gaston, Gulley, Harris, Lutzenkirchen, McCalebb, Moseley, Rollison, Stallworth, Sullen, Travis, Washington)
2010: 5 (Curry, Gayden, Mosley, Newton, Sanders)
Transfers/Walk-ons: 1? (John Cubelic got one this year; doubt it’s guaranteed for a second year)
Your total: 65 slots taken not counting Savage or Cubelic, or only 20 open for Signing Day.
Uh … so are Chizik and Co. going to be able sign that full class? Odds are it’s happening anyway. My understanding of Standard Operating Procedure (outside of Alabama, anyway) is that scholarships are regularly not renewed for non-contributing fifth-year seniors, and Darrell Roseman already even has his degree; it’ll be a surprise if he’s on the fall roster. After missing an entire year with a head injury we still don’t know much about, and with still no word on any kind of comeback, I’ll also be a little surprised if a smart cookie like Spencer Pybus (remember, his other offer was Duke) returns to risk his post-football future on another concussion.
From there it’s not hard to see three other slots opening up: there’s already been a flurry of QB transfer rumors; guys like Frenchy Pierre-Louis, John Douglas, Cameron Henderson, and Eric Smith (surely) are already on some awfully tight leashes; Zac Etheridge could also be in line for a medical scholarship; you know there’s someone on the current roster who’s going to go the way of Kyle Coulahan and suddenly drop off mid-spring; and grades and grayshirts (the latter hopefully the kind the kid’s agreed to ahead of time) could trim the class down past 25. I’m not worried yet, but if the projected fall roster goes past spring ball with more than 85 names on it, that’s when things start getting skeezy; it’s one thing to boot a kid off his scholarship because discipline issues mean you want to, it’s something entirely different (ethically speaking) if you have to. With any luck, it won’t come to one of these mid-summer purges we’ve seen in Tuscaloosa these last two years. (Please, guys?)
Anyway, with 22 Signing Day commitments on board Auburn still has six available slots in this class, but because of the above numbers crunch it won’t be the end of the world if they only use five of them.
On roster: 4 (Caudle, Trotter, Rollison, Moseley)
Committed: 1 (Cameron Newton)
Auburn didn’t need a quarterback in this class, but you don’t look a gift horse (and I and Terrell Zachery do mean horse) like Newton in the mouth.
For as much as the assumption has been that Auburn has a jam-packed backfield, Chizik and Co. will go through spring practice with more quarterbacks (and ex-QBs) on the roster than running backs … which makes even less sense when you consider that the Spread Eagle regularly can go through four or even five RBs in a single series. With Tate gone, Fannin only a year away, and Smith and Douglas both big question marks going forward, Auburn needed to grab at least one and probably even two potential workhorses in this class. Obviously, you can’t do any better than landing Dyer for the first of those two, and pairing him with Lattimore would be a coup beyond coups. Seastrunk is probably out of the picture, but his raw speed would be such an asset for this offense I’m not totally ruling him out if Lattimore decides to go elsewhere. (If you want to, though, you’ll probably be OK.) If neither Lattimore nor Seastrunk wind up in Auburn, Chizik and Co. will very likely simply keep D.J. Howard at RB (assuming he stays in the class) and reserve the spot for a prime McCalebb replacement in ’11; no other RB appears to even be on the radar.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
On roster: 9 / 3 (Adams, Benton, Blake, Burns, Carr, Pierre-Louis, Stallworth, Winter, Zachery / R. Cooper, Lutzenkirchen, Woods)
Needed: 2 / 0
Committed: 4 / 0 (Trovon Reed, Jeremy Richardson, Antonio Goodwin, Shaun Kitchens)
At a glance, this seems like wideout overkill: 13 guys on scholarship this fall? But there’s several mitigating factors, the first being that there’s not much strength in numbers here; the coaches don’t appear to see a rotation spot going forward for Pierre-Louis or Winter, and Burns is a) a senior b) hardly a prototypical WR to begin with. Then there’s the fact that these aren’t the kinds of prospects you turn down: Reed and Goodwin are both consensus high-end four-stars, Richardson’s got four stars at Rivals, and Kitchens remains a member of the ESPNU 150. And finally, there’s some flexibility here: if the depth chart winds up a little too crowded down the road, Kitchens, Goodwin, and Reed (all classified as “athletes” according to Rivals) all have the versatility to play elsewhere. So, yeah, this is basically the best wide receiving class we could ask for.
At tight end, three scholarships are already occupied, Jay Wisner’s also available, and Dakota Mosley can slide here if need be. It’s not a surprise (though I’ve written differently before, I know) that Travis Dickson wound up the only TE Auburn even half-heartedly pursued in this class.
On roster: 11 (Berry, J. Cooper, Eddins, Greene, Harris, Isom, Pugh, Roseman, V. Smith, Sullen, Ziemba)
Committed: 6 (Roszell Gayden, Brandon Mosley, Ed Christian, Shon Coleman, Dakota Mosley, Chad Slade)
Targets: Eric Mack
About that “11”: six of those players are seniors, and of the other five, their total number of snaps outside of garbage time equals however many John Sullen and Jared Cooper combined for in this year’s Ball St. game. So Auburn needed both tons of quantity and tons of quality … and lo and behold, that’s pretty much what they’ve got: one of the top players in the nation in Coleman, two other consensus four-stars in Christian and Gayden, another Rivals four-star in B. Mosley, and an Under Armour All-American in D. Mosley. It’s not too tough to see those five guys alone forming a decent starting lineup in ’11; a goliath like Slade is just the icing on the cake. Snaring Mack on top of all of that would just push things beyond the pale.
On the flip side, though, if Mack stays with the ‘Cocks and Coleman bolts, Auburn would be down to just three freshmen in the class; it’s conceivable Chizik and Co. would want to add another at the last minute, though who that might be I couldn’t even begin to guess.
Defense and a final projection, comin’ later today.