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Krootin’: The 2011 Overview (offense)

Pretty nice block to build on.

This is pretty much the deadest of dead periods for straight Auburn news–the last two entries at the Gold Mine are both Tubby-related, the last two at Jay Tate’s place on Damon Evans and a random Chris Low post–and it’s not all that different on the recruiting trail. With Big Cat Weekend well behind us and the big push of in-season visits still a couple of months away, aside from the occasional offer to four-star defensive backs with incredible nicknames, there hasn’t been much to report since JaBrian Niles committed.

But that’s OK, since that gives us a chance to set the table for the remainder of the cycle. We’ll take a way-too-early look at the 2011 roster and go position-by-position to guess at how many of each Chizik and Co. will take for next February’s Signing Day, and name some targets to know. Enjoy:

OVERALL NUMBERS

Thanks to the timely roster breakdown provided by Evan Woodbery, we already have a pretty good idea of how many scholarships Auburn can offer for the class of 2011, namely, a lot. There’s already 20 seniors who we know won’t be back, and there’s a good chance a few noncontributing redshirt juniors–who’ll get their fourth year of their scholarship this fall/spring–won’t be asked back for a fifth year. (Candidates? A.J. Greene, Drew Cole, Mike Slade, Jared Cooper, even Mike McNeil if he can’t get healthy, I guess.)

The guess is that between the 20 departing seniors, two or three departing juniors, and the usual two or three discipline/academics casualties, Auburn will sign a full class of 25 for the second straight year. (Unlike this past spring, they won’t go higher than 25, though, since there’s no space in which to count back into the class of ’10.)

QUARTERBACK

On 2011 roster: 3 (Newton, Trotter, Moseley)
Projected signees: 1, possibly 2
Commitments: Kiehl Frazier

Analysis? There’s a good chance that Auburn will be done having signed the nation’s No. 2 “dual-threat” quarterback, Frazier, as their immediate heir apparent to Newton … assuming Trotter or Moseley don’t seize the job themselves. Waiting to sign another QB until Newton moves on will keep things nicely spread out, class-wise (in 2011, all four quarterbacks will be in four different classes). That said, if Newton explodes and bolts early, Chizik and Co., might want a fourth QB on the roster immediately … especially if that fourth is C.J. Uzomah, whose commitment Auburn might take regardless, as first a potential competitor for Frazier, and second a multi-position athlete down the road.

Targets? Uzomah’s the only one on the radar.

RUNNING BACKS

On 2011 roster: 4 (Smith, McCalebb, Dyer, Phillips)
Projected signees: 2-3
Commitments: None yet

Analysis? We’ve covered this a couple of times in the past few weeks, but with Marcus Lattimore in Columbia and Dontae Aycock off the roster, Auburn’s actually in pretty serious need of tailbacks. Assuming Phillips is a short-yardage option only, leaving the down-to-down rushing duties entirely in the hands of three players (one of which hasn’t even taken a snap yet and one of which, McCalebb, has an injury history) doesn’t seem like a good idea at all. Chizik and Co. will want two backs in this class at least, I would think.

Targets? Mike Blakely, Dee Hart (who named Auburn and Michigan his co-leaders this week), Rodney Coe, Andrew Buie, possibly Ameer Abdullah. “Athlete” Quan Bray could also play RB at Auburn.

The guess here is that Auburn winds up with two of their targets and adds a sleeper a la Phillips late in the class; three RBs in a class is a lot, but this is a RB-driven offense on an offense-driven team, after all.

WIDE RECEIVERS

On 2011 roster: 10 (Winter, Adams, Carr, Benton, Pierre-Louis, Stallworth, Blake, Goodwin, Reed, Kitchens)
Projected signees: 1-2
Commitments: None yet, but Jeremy Richardson is a lock if his plan to get through JUCO in a year works out as planned

Analysis? After taking three wideouts in ’09 and three more in ’10, I’ll be surprised if Auburn takes more than a couple this go-round; would we really need 12 wideouts on the roster? But I also doubt very seriously Auburn’s going to just ignore the position as long as Trooper Taylor’s the one overseeing it. If Richardson qualifies, expect there to be just one additional new receiver … but I’d also wager a substantial amount of money Taylor will land that one.

Targets? LB/WR Kris Frost is supposedly being recruited to Auburn as a wideout. Joe Morrow is also solidly on the radar. Tacoi Sumler is a name to watch.

TIGHT END

On 2011 roster: 3 (Lutzenkirchen, R. Cooper, D. Mosley)
Projected signees: 0-1
Commitments: None

Analysis? If Mosley sticks at tight end–and that’s where he’s going to start his Auburn career–I doubt Chizik and Co. will bother to sign another tight end unless Brandon Fulse chooses Auburn over, well, everybody. If they decide Mosley’s future isn’t at TE? They might take a flyer somewhere else, since a depth chart of just Lutz/Cooper isn’t terribly reassuring. Can’t see two tight ends in the class, though, under any circumstances.

Targets? Fulse is the only TE with what seems like serious Auburn interest to-date.

OFFENSIVE LINE

On 2011 roster: 10 (J. Cooper, Greene, Gayden, B. Mosley, Sullen, Harris, Christian, Mack, Fariyike, Slade)
Projected signees: 4-5, possibly 6
Commitments: Reese Dismukes, Thomas O’Reilly, and obviously Shon Coleman will be a part of this class if he’s healthy.

Analysis? Pretty simple: now that Auburn’s got an actual two-deep on the line, it’s time for a three-deep, right? With three additions already likely in the class, I’m betting Auburn’s going to find at least two more. Any fewer and I’ll be surprised.

Targets? Jamar Lewter delivered some bad news this week with a surprise commitment to North Carolina, and Brey Cook and Watts Dantzler stayed home (in Arkansas and Georgia, respectively) as expected, meaning that the OL radar seems a bit on the thin side at the moment. Some Auburn fans are hopeful about Louisiana lineman Greg Robinson, and it does look like an Auburn vs. LSU battle, but if Lorio lets a second straight Thibodaux recruit get away to the Plains his head will explode. That’ll be a tough pull, as will Tennessee’s Antonio Richardson.I’m expecting the remaining slots to get filled with players we’re not overly familiar with just yet.

Defense tomorrow.

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