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Krootin’: the 2011 Overview (defense)

The Auburn secondary is ready if/when you are, Erique.

We’re picking up where we left off yesterday

DEFENSIVE END

On 2011 roster: 6 (Ford, Eguae, Bonomolo, Lemonier, Sanders, Delaine)
Projected signees: 1, more likely 2
Commitments: I’m going with none.

Analysis? A year after landing an outstanding crop of DEs, Tracy Rocker’s probably going to put most of his recruiting efforts towards shoring up the middle of the line rather than the edge. With just one junior amongst the six ends on the roster, it’s not a position of need. But they’ll probably want a blue-chipper or two here anyway, which is why they appear to be aiming high.

Targets? Auburn is firmly in the mix for mega-stud Ray Drew, and though there’s a lot of ground to make up with Xzavier Dickson, he appears to at least be giving Auburn a good look. Keymiya Harrell and Devaunte Sigler are two in-state possibilities, and hey, remember Terrance Coleman? Supposedly he would likely commit if offered, but that Chizik and Co. haven’t yet suggests they’re waiting to see what happens with targets like Drew and Dickson first.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

On 2011 roster: 5 (Fairley, Lykes, Travis, Whitaker, Carter)
Projected signees: 4
Commitments: JaBrian Niles, Angelo Blackson

Analysis? Aside from quarterback, probably the No. 1 position of need for Auburn in this class. Looking ahead to 2012, Fairley will be gone, and this isn’t the sort of position where true freshmen typically thrive, regardless of ability. So Auburn’s rotation will be made up of Lykes, Travis, Carter, Whitaker … and whoever Chizik and Co. can find in this class. You know Rocker’s going to want at least six viable candidates to choose from … and based on Travis’s burned special-teams redshirt, I doubt Rocker believes he’s going to be one. So there needs to be three of them this year, and preferably four.

Fortunately, in the super-sleeper Blackson (you think Auburn’s coaches are going to go up to Delaware just to bring in an average prospect? Right) and the offer-laden Niles, they appear to have two already.

Targets? The two big ones still on the board are D.C.-area big man Kevin McReynolds and–much closer to home–Columbus’s Gabe Wright. Auburn also appears to have serious interest in colossal JUCO DT Jonathan Jenkins, who at 6-4 and 330 (and attending a Mississippi JUCO) has drawn the inevitable Terrance Cody comparisons. Auburn High’s Jamichael Payne would love to get a firm Auburn offer and might depending on how things shake out elsewhere.

In the end, I’d expect Auburn to land one of McReynolds or Wright, add a JUCO (whether Jenkins or not), and then probably be done.

LINEBACKER

On 2011 roster: 8 (Freeman, Evans, Gaston, Bates, Curry, Owens, White, Holland)
Projected signees: 2
Commitments: Chris Landrum

Analysis? As with the DEs, a year after landing a boffo four-member class at linebacker and with 7 of the 8 current LBs still underclassmen, Auburn’s likely to go a bit easier this time around.

Targets? No doubt we’ll hear from a few more once the official-visit train gets rolling, but for now, A.J. Johnson (whose relatively “meh” guru rankings are more out of whack with his boatload of offers than just about any recruit I can remember) is the only ‘backer firmly on the Auburn radar … and it’s debatable how firmly on the radar even he is. We’ll see. I’ll be surprised if Landrum winds up the only LB in the class, but it’s not completely implausible.

CORNERBACK

On 2011 roster: 6 (Thorpe, Bell, Gulley-Morgan, Davis, White, Mincy)
Projected signees: 2-3
Commitments: None just yet

Analysis? Lots of promising young talent already on the roster, but as all of it save Mincy is coming over from a different position–and is young–how much of it is going to translate into SEC-caliber performers? No doubt Auburn will want a few more bullets in the chamber for a position that, again, will put three players on the field as often as not.

Targets? Jonathan Rose remains as strong an Auburn lean as a lean can be without actually being committed. Despite offers from the likes of Florida, Alabama, and Notre Dame, Auburn still leads for Chris Jones. So that’s a hell of a start. Ahmad Christian is another distinct possibility, and because of his nickname I have to note that Auburn just offered Robenson “Cadillac” Therezie.

The guess is that Auburn lands Rose and takes two other corners to boot.

SAFETIES

On 2011 roster: 5 (Cole, Slade, McNeil, McNeal, Smith)
Projected signees: 4
Commitments: Izauea Lanier, Anthony Swain

Analysis? Yep: assuming Bates stays at linebacker and Bell stays at corner, Auburn’s signed just two safeties in their last two classes. Meaning that Auburn doesn’t just need safety quantity–though that helps explain why Lanier and Swain were two of Auburn’s first three commitments–but they need quality as well.

Targets? Assuming the little whatever-it-was between Erique Florence and his Valley coaches was more blip than trend, Florence should wind up at Auburn, who virtually everyone agrees holds a huge lead for him. But Chizik and Co. aren’t likely to stop there: Kadetrix Marcus came to Big Cat and has been to Auburn a handful of other times.  Jones and Therezie could both wind up at safety as well.

In the end, expect a four-member class of safeties consisting of Lanier, Swain, Florence, and one other player that should keep the position well-stocked for a while.

SPECIALISTS

On 2011 roster: 2 (Parkey, Clark)
Projected signees: 0
Commitments: None, none forthcoming

Analysis? With both a kicker and punter in the class of 2010, the chances of Auburn spending a scholarship on either position in ’11 are completely nil. And just for the record, Dakota Mosley’s long-snapping proficiency means that even if Chizik and Co. were of the mindset that it would be worth recruiting a long snapper, they’re not going to do it now.

Targets? None.

A FINAL WORD

If you were wondering how long it was going to take certain Auburn fans to get spoiled by Chizik and Co.’s 2010 success, the answer–predictably–has been “yep, just the one year.” There’s been more than a little grumbling in the wake of both tackle prospects (Jamar Lewter and Brey Cook) going elsewhere and the lack of movement (forward movement, I should say, since it seems Auburn may be moving backwards with Mike Blakely) on the running back front.

To which I can only shake my head. Auburn already has a consensus top-100 quarterback and is the heavy favorite to sign two lights-out, Rivals100 defensive backs; that’s already three players more highly-ranked than any Tubby signed in his final two classes or that joined up in the abbreviated 2009 class. We’ve complained ad nauseum about the need for better in-state recruiting and look: Auburn’s got big leads with both Nos. 2 and 3, has a commitment from No. 7, and if they can hang onto Jones will likely take half of the top eight and 7 or 8 of the top 15. Of the eight players currently committed, only three–Lanier, Swain, and Landrum–can be portrayed as even “average” Auburn recruits, and there’s certainly a case to be made that all three of them are above-average as well.

So what more do people want? No, it’s not going to quite live up to the ridiculous standard of the class of 2010, but it’s not going to be all that far off. And honestly, this past signing haul wasn’t ever likely to be repeated. It was a one-time thing, and that’s fine. Auburn’s fine. Auburn’s better than fine, way better. Anyone who doesn’t realize that needs a prescription for 50 pills of Chillaxiflan, stat.

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