OK, so not every bit of news that’s come out the last couple of days has been a positive for Auburn. Though it hasn’t made the mainstream rounds just yet, Rivals has caught up with 2010 signee Jeremy Richardson and confirmed what has been suspected for quite some time: the four-star wideout from Springville is off to JUCO and won’t report to the Plains this year.
That’s the bad news. There’s some pieces of good news, too, though:
— Richardson has seized the initiative and is already enrolled at East Mississippi Junior College, with an eye towards re-signing as soon as 2011. I don’t remember any other Auburn signees (or any other team’s, for that matter) taking the JUCO route and returning to Auburn in only a year, but I’ll assume that Richardson knows more about it than I do.
— It’s encouraging and then some to see that initiative from a kid whose had to endure the kind of hardship Richardson’s endured the last several years. You can forgive him (and Auburn’s coaches clearly have) for not making academics his highest priority when he’s been dealing with the things he’s dealt with. That he’s taking such an aggressive stance to his schoolwork now seems like an excellent sign for his Auburn future.
— If there’s a position both on the roster and within the class of 2010 where Auburn can afford to see a recruit take his time arriving on campus, it’s wide receiver. The way things went in the spring, Richardson was going to have a tough time breaking into the rotation this season anyway (especially as an outside receiver rather than a slot) and with three other standout WRs in the class, Auburn’s got some cushion from a blow like this. If the Tigers lost, say, a defensive tackle, this would be a bigger issue from the teamwide standpoint.
— Richardson’s failure to qualify means that it’s extremely unlikely Auburn will have to hand out any grayshirts in the 2010 class. Auburn signed 27 scheduled fall enrollees, two over the limit of 25, but Richardson clips that number to 26. If Shon Coleman isn’t healthy enough to enroll this fall (and, as always, we’re all praying he is), Auburn’s under the limit already. If Coleman is able to make campus, Chizik and Co. would need just one more non-qualifier to avoid a grayshirt anyway–and after years and years of late, unfortunate qualification snafus, I’ll be pleasantly surprised if all of Auburn’s remaining signees cross the finish line. The odds are that no one has to wait ’til the spring, thank goodness.
So, no, this is not good news. But there’s a lot of good within the bad … not least than in a year or so, we’ll just get to see Richardson rejoin Auburn all over again.