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Krootin’: Sammie Coates, Jaylon Denson commit (etc.)

Remember when Chris Berman would call NFL tight end Ben Coates "Winter"? Yeah, we'll have to do better than that with Sammie.

This should have been an interesting last weekend, krootin’-wise, what with Auburn hosting some 300-400 football players for their final big senior camp of the summer. And whaddya know, it was.

But not for the big names in attendance, the Mike Blakelys and Kris Frosts. Instead, the headlines were that Auburn offered and got commitments virtually on the spot from two different in-state sleeper wide receivers: Sammie Coates of Leroy and Jaylon Denson of Hoover.

Both players were well off the Auburn radar entering the weekend, but coaches at every school are willing to drop offers on players that show out at their own camps. What was particularly eyebrow-raising about Coates’s and Denson’s commitments were that both of them came at wideout–a stacked position where Auburn wasn’t expected to take more than two or three signees at the most, with one of those all but assured to be Jeremy Richardson, assuming his get-through-JUCO-in-a-year plan works as promised.

So if Auburn’s taking on Coates and Denson, does that mean there’s still room for Joe Morrow? Tacoi Sumler? Tide commit Danny Woodson, who seems to be doing some serious wavering? Are they still interested in Auburn? Why would Auburn give up on them for 1. an average three-star committed to Southern Miss without an SEC offer (Coates) 2. a player without a Rivals ranking at all (Denson)? Cue the wailing from the glass-half-empty set (and the laughter from the Tide fans, of course, which if you ask me is what accounts for the wailing in the first place).

As for why, it’s pretty simple: Trooper Taylor got a first-person, up-close look at them, and decided he wanted them in orange-and-blue, damn whatever cost there might be. Is it possible he just got overexcited and made offers he’ll regret later? I guess. But this is hardly Taylor’s first rodeo. He’s seen hundreds of receivers like Coates and Denson (and Sumler and Morrow) at dozens of camps. No doubt he’s known for months how many slots he’d have to work with in this class and could plan accordingly. It’s not a week before Signing Day and he’s not offering out of desperation. These are guys Taylor got a first-hand evaluation of and decided they could play for Auburn. You really going to tell him because the Rivals guys have barely heard of Denson and haven’t given Coates the time of day that he doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing? Right.

Besides: the logjam at receiver means that Taylor ought to swinging for the fences in this class–between Reed, Benton, Goodwin, Blake, Stallworth, and Kitchens, there shouldn’t be much need for players without exceptional physical gifts–and both Coates and Denson appear to offer staggering upside. Coates by all accounts posted multiple 40 times under the 4.4 mark, and while that would be an awful nice feather in the cap for a 5’10” slot jitterbug, bear in mind that Coates is listed at 6’3″. He’s still a string-bean and it’s anyone outside of Leory’s guess how his hands are, but show of hands, who’s interested in seeing what Auburn’s coaches could do with a guy the size of Darvin Adams who’s as fast as Devin Aromashodu? Aaaaaand that’s everyone.

As for Denson, this isn’t the first summer camp he’s rocked to its core. Rivals’ report from the Palmetto State Showdown 7-on-7 tournament, in which they named Denson the best player in attendance:

The word that came out of the mouth of anyone who saw Denson play was “wow.” Denson was the most dominant player at the event and was quite literally uncoverable. His size and speed were not wasted as he displayed soft hands and great jumping ability. Denson would go get the ball at the highest point as well as fight for it when the defensive backs may have jumped the route. It was almost an automatic touchdown if quarterback Ryan Carter got the ball anywhere near Denson. His play carried Hoover offensively all three days.

At 190 pounds and maybe a step slower than Coates, but with better reports on his hands, Denson appears to be a little more a possession-type. But still: 6’3″ (again), great body control, terrific hands. It sounds like there’s more than enough here for Taylor to work with.

And after all–doesn’t he know that better than anyone?

(One last note about Auburn’s receiving class: it won’t surprise me a lick if Auburn takes on one more wideout anyway. Frenchy Pierre-Louis’s career may be finished after this latest knee injury, Richardson might not make the grade until the class of ’12, guys like Kitchens and even Reed could still wind up at other positions when all is said and done, and if any coach on Auburn’s staff has the pull to get an extra spot or two on the roster, it’s Taylor. It’s possible Auburn takes both Richardson and one more, especially if that one is Frost, who Auburn’s recruiting as a wideout but is too good to turn down regardless.)

Lots of other stuff to pass on:

— More camp offerees: Florida corners Marcus Roberson and Lucheiz Purifoy, both of which are carrying Florida offers.

— Yet another Floridian name to know: DT Terry Bell, unranked at Rivals despite offers from half the SEC.

— According to LSU’s Scout writer, C.J. Uzomah has narrowed his choices down to LSU and Auburn. This is rather excellent news, as Uzomah’s an underrated prospect–check out the offer sheet–who the gurus have slow-played thanks to not knowing what position he’ll play at the collegiate level. (He’s been rumored to move out from behind center for his high school team this season and could be a tight end.) Auburn’s been high up his list for months and is much, much closer to home than Baton Rouge, so I would think Auburn would be the slight favorite here. We’ll see.

— As if I wasn’t already excited enough about Angelo Blackson, despite having grown up in Delaware, this is clearly a Southerner at heart:

“They eat a lot down there,” Blackson said. “Two things I do great – play football and eat. They do them both very well down there.”

Lots more good stuff on Blackson’s home life and work ethic (he’s added 50 pounds this offseason!) at the link.

— At least before the weekend, Mississippi wideout Joe Morrow sounded as interested in Auburn as ever. He is being recruited by Trooper Taylor and all, you know.

— Sounds like Jermaine Whitehead will be sticking with his Miss. St. commitment.

— Phil Kornblut is reporting that Auburn is in the running–sort of–for “next Myron Rolle” Wayne Lyons. Top 14! Only 13 other schools to go! (A few other AU targets get cameos in Kornblut’s round-up, but nothing new reported, I don’t think.)

— These links are starting to get just a little on the, uh, crusty side, but Dee Hart and his Dr. Phillips (Orlando) teammates played a big-time 7-on-7 tournament recently where Hart was “easily the best player on the field for Dr. Phillips.” More post-tourney raves here. That’s the good news; bad news is that ‘Bama seems to have re-joined Auburn and Michigan at the top of his list, for now. Unless they haven’t.

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