I guess we can be thankful that the fireworks of this year’s Big Cat Weekend weren’t of the impromptu pep rally/Toomer’s rolling/Saban smack-talking variety. (We know the NCAA is.) This year’s fireworks took place on the commitment ledger, and they were even better than a year ago’s, as quarterback Kiehl Frazier of Arkansas committed to Auburn.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Frazier is both one of the top prospects in the nation, at any position, and in the discussion as the best quarterback in his class. His offer sheet is about as strong from a national perspective as any Auburn recruit’s from the last few classes: Florida, LSU, Notre Dame, UCLA, Michigan, Clemson. His stats from his junior year are eye-popping: a 63 percent completion rate, 3,817 yards, 48 touchdowns vs. 14 interceptions, and one thrilling comeback for YouTube:
Frazier, as you’d expect for someone being recruited by Gus Malzahn to run his offense, can also run the ball when needed–1,729 yards over the previous two seasons. But he also stands a full 6-3 and weighs 212 pounds.
We all knew Auburn was going to take a quarterback in their 2011 class. The only questions were: who? when? and how good will he be? The answers: Frazier, this early, and by all accounts, pretty damn good. And even better, with those questions now answered, Auburn can look even better in the eyes of potential skill position recruits and start re-focusing their efforts elsewhere. Frazier is the kind of recruit the class can be built around.
So that’s part of what Frazier’s commitment means in the big picture. The other part is that it’s latest sign that Auburn’s 2010 class was no fluke. The Tigers have seven commitments to-date, and while Frazier is the only one to currently sit in the Rivals’ 100, three more–Dismukes, Blackson, and O’Reilly–seem likely to wind up as four-stars when all is said and done. That percentage seems likely to only increase in the near future, based on comments like these from Jonathan Rose:
“This is my seventh visit, and I say after my seventh time it’s time to make a decision,” Rose said.
Rose has offers from Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State, Mississippi State and Southern Miss, among others, according to Scout and Rivals.
Rose, who Scout says is a four-star prospect and the No. 12 cornerback in the country, categorized recruiting this way:
“It’s Auburn and everyone else. Auburn is at the high point right now. Everybody else is in their own category. Auburn is in its own category,” he said.
Music to orange-and-blue ears. Thanks to Rivals keeping the post-Big Cat quotes out from behind the paywall, you can read a ton of recruit reactions, four posts’ worth: one two three four. Obligatory encouraging “family” quote, this time from Gabe Wright:
“I love how they stress family. You can’t stress that enough. Football is just football. It’s what you know. It’s what you have. It’s like what Coach (Gene) Chizik said, football is what he does, but a father and husband is what he is. Football is just something that he is good at, but it doesn’t run his life. And family isn’t something they just use. It’s not something they say for recruiting. All you have to do is go there and see that they are for real.
Mmmmmm, that’s good quote. (Wright still claims Auburn and the Tide as his top two, with what seems like maybe the slightest of edges to Auburn.) But this one is my favorite, from Ray Drew:
“It was a really good visit. I haven’t seen anything like it before. I liked how I got the chance to meet with the other recruits and see how close of a family they are over at Auburn. I liked everything, the coaches. I actually told Coach (Gene) Chizik he’s the only person I knew who could pull off a white see-through shirt, khaki pants and cowboy boots. It was fun.”
Hey, as long as the recruits think he was pulling it off.
Overall, it appears Big Cat Weekend II: Son of Big Cat did exactly what it was supposed to do: earn at least one big commitment, strengthen Auburn’s lead with players like Rose with whom they already had a lead, and put Auburn firmly in the running with players like Drew and, say, Louisiana lineman Greg Robinson. All that and Chizik wearing cowboy boots with khakis and a see-through white shirt. You can’t ask for anything more, can you?