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Big Cat Weekend II: The Search for Phillip Lolley’s Gold opens today

Just a little more restraint this year, guys, all right?

Perhaps the best testament to how fully Auburn fans have committed to the baseball team’s bandwagon (and how appealing the baseball team has made that bandwagon to begin with) is that the second edition of Big Cat Weekend, kicking off today*, still might be only the second-biggest story of the Memorial Day weekend. (And hey, speaking of the baseball team, don’t forget today’s WBE liveblog of the Ole Miss game. Starts at 3 central. And I’m doing CoverItLive rather than diary-style, so please come. I don’t want to talk to myself for three hours.)

However it compares to the baseball team, though, there’s no doubting that Big Cat Weekend remains a big damn deal. After the secondary violation hubbub from the 2009 edition it’s a safe bet that this year’s version will be a bit lower key … but that shouldn’t affect its importance to Auburn’s recruiting effort. And how important was it last year? 10 different attendees wound up signing with Auburn, including studly studs like Trovon Reed and LaDarius Owens. Any similar results would make for another smashingly successful recruiting class next spring.

So it’s definitely a story worth tracking over the next several days. (Like you weren’t going to do that anyway.) As for the attendees, it’s always a little murky with campus visits, but this list from Auburn Eagle‘s about as comprehensive as you’ll get right this second. Highlights:

Kiehl Frazier: Auburn’s top quarterback target will be on campus for the second time in a month, just after a visit to Arkansas … the two schools he now says are the only two competing for his signature. (Link via.) He doesn’t rule out a commitment this weekend, and Auburn fans have turned awfully confident over the past couple of weeks. Given that confidence, Frazier’s ties to Malzahn, and Auburn’s long track record pulling recruits out of the Natural State, I’m going to go ahead and offer the opinion that Auburn’s the team to beat with Frazier.

Ray Drew: Georgia DE is one of the nation’s most sought-after prospects and a potential five-star. Probably the highest-profile recruit out of this weekend’s visitors.

Jonathan Rose: Auburn’s led for the Leeds corner for a while and extending that lead would be awful nice. Rose attended last week’s Nike camp in T-town and tore it up:

[Ronnie] Harris may have won MVP honors, but the best corner prospect might have been Jonathan Rose (Leeds, Ala.). Rose has incredible size (6-1, 180) and physicality and could play corner or safety at the next level, although big corners with Rose’s athleticism are in high demand.

Rose is all of 6-1, 180 pounds with great ball skills and playmaking ability. Given his skill set, speed and quickness along with his natural size, he’s bound to be among the top corner prospects in the country.

The sooner Auburn can lock him up, the better.

Gabe Wright: DTs, please. (Especially ones as good as Wright.)

Dee Hart: Isaiah Crowell will also reportedly be in attendance and will be the highest-profile back in the bunch, but since the consensus is that he’s headed somewhere besides Auburn, I’ll say Hart–or Mike Blakely, if he winds up attending–is the most important back amongst the visitors. After Dontae Aycock’s departure, Auburn could really, really use one of the two.

Those five are, quite literally, only the beginning; the list is just about as impressive as last year’s, with lots more outstanding linemen (Watts Dantzler, Mitch Smothers), defensive ends (Keymiya Harrell, Xzavier Dickson), and even commitments to other schools (Brent Calloway, Jermaine Whitehead) all in the mix along with several of Auburn’s commitments-to-date and 2010 signees. A good time promises to be had by all.

Especially, we hope, Auburn fans celebrating a new commitment or lead or two this time next week.

*Charles Goldberg picks out a picture of Michael Dyer to accompany this post and captions that Dyer attended last year’s Big Cat … but I’d swear Dyer was the only one of Auburn’s big three running back recruits that didn’t show up.

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