File under “Yes, I’ll take it.” We’re still months and months away from knowing where Ray Drew, probable five-star and one of the country’s most hotly pursued defensive ends, will sign. There’s no indication he’s even going to name a leader or “trim his list,” publicly at least, anytime soon.
But this much we can say: Auburn is legitimately in the hunt:
“The location is good, and with the coaching staff that coach Chizik has put in place, they are a strong school right now,” Drew said. “I’m looking to see what they do this year and what direction he’s going to take the program in. If they continue to improve, you’ll have some good things come out of that.”
Drew recognizes that coach Chizik is only heading into his third season as head coach, but understands that every successful coach in history has to have a starting point.
“As far as the coach being proven, or having already won trophies, it has to start somewhere,” Drew said. “Bobby Bowden didn’t just come out winning 300 games in a row, he had to start somewhere. You can’t just knock someone because he’s a young coach.”
Drew’s commented before that Auburn uses “family” as their principal selling point, but it doesn’t mean it’s only a sales pitch:
“In college, the word family is stressed a lot, and I want to go somewhere that is really all about family because they will be my family away from home. I believe Auburn has that, I can see it. A lot of places they talk about family, you see the players walk through the halls and they don’t speak to the coaches. At Auburn, every time you see the coach it was, ‘hey, how are you doing’. You could see it.”
Again, this hardly means it’s time to start feeling any more confident with Drew than, well, “we’ve got a shot,” since at this point, with as many other contenders involved, it might not be much more than “a shot.” But it’s a nice reminder to the sky-is-falling crowd of the cailber of recruit Chizik and Co. have continued to make an impression on, because when was the last time before this staff’s arrival a player like Drew gave Auburn the time of day?
That was meant to cushion the blow. Unfortunately, the big piece of actual news this week was not kind to Auburn. Adamsville defensive back Chris Jones had continued to name Auburn his leader throughout the summer even after Florida and Alabama offers, and the whispers had started in earnest he’d be committing to Auburn-possibly simultaneously with Jonathan Rose–before the end of the summer.
That all changed this week, when Jones announced to various recruiting reporters that Auburn was no longer near the top of his list and that he might not even take an official visit. Straight from the horse’s mouth at AuburnEagle:
“Right now I feel like I jumped into this a little early. I’m planning to take more official visits now than I was. I’ll probably take four to six officials towards the beginning of my season,” said Jones.
This wasn’t necessarily a spur of the moment deal for Jones, as he’s been thinking about this for some time. “It’s been weighing on me, and I thought it was time I went ahead and started over with a new direction,” he added. “Everyone right now i[s] equal. I’m more involved with Alabama, Notre Dame, Florida, and Tennessee more than I was.”
Jones takes pains at the end of the piece to not rule Auburn out entirely, but it’s pretty clear (from here) what teams he’s excited about and which he’s just being polite to. As for what caused the seemingly sudden breakneck turn in his recruitment, your specious made-up rumor–the coaches found out he painted his bedroom a shade of red that was almost crimson and turned him loose! Trooper accidentally sent his mother an e-mail that talked about how much he hated mothers! His horoscope said not to trust square-jawed men!–is as good as mine.
If there is any silver lining here, it’s this:
Auburn was considered a heavy favorite for two in-state defensive prospects, Jones and Leeds standout Jonathan Rose. The two are good friends, and have talked many times about the thought of playing together. “I talked to Jonathan and told him how I felt, and he wants me to come play with him, but at the same time wants me to go to a school where I like and I want that for him too,” said Jones.
Not that Rose can become any heavier a lean for Auburn at this point, but there you go.
Overview. While we’re busy linking AuburnEagle, their wrap-up of Auburn’s current offensive targets is well worth a look. Names missed in my roster-centric overview include Xzavier Ward, Jermaine Whitehead (who everyone else seems to be recruiting as a CB), Shon Carson, Davonta Rogers, and Jacob Fahrenkrug (of JUCO North Dakota St. College of Sciences. Fun.)
“UGA is 2nd and close to AU!!”
Hey, I’ll take that, especially from a player who seemed smitten with the Tide early on.
Frazier report. P-Marsh reports back from Kiehl Frazier’s performance at a 7-on-7 tournament and says he looks “good as advertised.” Background on Frazier’s family is also available.
At this point, the three-star prospect is still open to everyone, however he would love to check out Auburn. He hopes to make some tough decisions soon, but not until he has enough time to research everyone out there.
“This is a five-year commitment,” said Lewis. “I need to feel comfortable with the decision. At the same time I feel real blessed.”
It’s worth pointing out that Lewis had 20 different offered schools to pick out as one he’d “love to check out.” Auburn might also offer Lewis some positional solidity; at 6-0 and 194 pounds (!) there’s no doubt he’d wind up at safety at a lot of schools, but a staff that decided Daren Bates (5-11, 203) was best used as a linebacker really might want Lewis as an LB and an LB only.
Besides, if you’re looking for someone to take over Craig Stevens’ role as the numero-uno pass defender in the LB crew, Lewis might be your guy:
Lewis, who recently picked up an offer from Michigan, is not the biggest linebacker on the field, but is very fast and is excellent laterally. During Saturday’s action, he showed great skill in pass coverage. He is now approaching double-digit offers and many who scout the Tampa area consider him a prospect on the rise.
Etc. Alex Dixon doesn’t have any stars at all at the moment, but looking at his offer sheet, that’ll change soon; he visits this weekend … Quincy McKinney from Columbus wants an Auburn offer but hasn’t gotten one yet … Stephon Tuitt is still planning an Auburn visit but it sounds like there’s a lot of ground to make up.