In which a recruit’s name is plugged into Google and the bits of information that trickle out–guru ratings, newspaper profiles, YouTube highlights, all that stuff–are synthesized in the hopes of getting a clearer picture of the player we’ll see at Auburn next fall. Previously: Jessel Curry, Craig Sanders, Roszell Gayden, Brandon Mosley, Demetruce McNeal, Jake Holland, Shaun Kitchens, Cody Parkey, Cameron Newton, Joel Bonomolo, LaDarius Owens, Antonio Goodwin, Kenneth Carter, Ryan White, Dakota Mosley, Trovon Reed, Ryan Smith, Chad Slade, Ladarious Phillips, Jawara White, Steven Clark, Jonathon Mincy, and Jeffrey Whitaker. A brief note: to date I’ve tried to keep a balance between the high-profile guys and the “sleepers,” but with kickoff fast approaching, we’re going to focus on the guys slated for 2010 playing time first, making sure they’re covered before the opener. Sorry, Tunde.
By the time Signing Day rolled around and Corey Lemonier took the awesome step of announcing on ESPNU he’d be attending the University of Auburn (OK, so that one particular turn of phrase was slightly-less-than-awesome), it might be fair to say that getting a commitment like his had become almost … dare I say it … old hat? Maybe I’m exaggerating–certainly there was plenty of excitement amongst Auburn fans over the chance Lemonier would be coming to the Plains, and plenty more when he signed–but looking back on it, it still seems like Lemonier’s decision got a bit lost in the Signing Day shuffle, a bit less-hyped after Chizik and Co. had already plucked Reed from Louisiana, Dyer from Arkansas, Whitaker from Georgia, etc.
It shouldn’t have been. As you’ll see, Lemonier’s level of guru approval comes in second only to Dyer’s amongst Auburn’s class of 2010, in essentially a dead heat with Reed and Newton. He had offers out the proverbial wazoo. And though “Florida” doesn’t seem like such an impressive pull from a geographical standpoint, remember that Hialeah is essentially Miami–and as far away from Auburn as Richmond, Virginia. Particularly considering that Auburn jumped on Lemonier relatively late in the process, this is yet another incredible recruiting job by Chizik, Tracy Rocker, and the rest of Auburn’s staff … and they deserve just about as much praise as they got for landing Dyer, Reed, Coleman, and the rest.
The best part about it? Lemonier’s already showing how much benefit Auburn stands to reap.
BASICS: We’re waiting, AUfficial Signing Day bio sheet. Give it to us:
DE, 6-5, 223
Hialeah, FL (Hialeah HS)
HIGH SCHOOL: Ranked No. 44 on the SuperPrep Elite 50 and the No. 11 defensive lineman and No. 4 player in Florida … Named to the PrepStar Dream Team as the No. 108-ranked player in the nation … Ranked No. 5 in the Orlando Sentinel’s Florida Top 100 … 2010 Under Armour All-American Game participant … No. 13 on the Mobile Press Register’s 2010 Super Southeast 120 … Selected to compete in the “Team USA vs. The World” all-star game … Registered 50 tackles and 10 sacks as a junior.
10 sacks as a junior, huh? 12 more as a senior despite missing time with a foot injury, huh? 6’5″ and still fast enough and agile enough that speed and agility are his alleged strengths, huh? Still has the frame to pack on another 20 pounds or so, you’d think, huh? (He’s currently listed at 227.) All that does help explain the hype, huh?
RECRUITNIK HOO-HA: Yeah, this is fun. At Rivals: four stars, grade of 6.0, No. 35 player in the country (eight spots away from the five-stars), No. 3 weakside defensive end, No. 4 in Florida, the following evaluation:
He has excellent height and is muscular – yet very lean – meaning very little body fat on his current frame … I don’t care what 40-time he ran at a camp (they’ve got him listed at 5.06, which, dude, whatever–ed.), he has very good football speed and is a serious pass-rushing threat. Lemonier also has excellent lateral movement and can run sideline to sideline in pursuit … Most likely a redshirt candidate until he gains needed weight unless he goes into a situation where the depth chart is limited. I expect him to be a two-to-three year starter with NFL potential.
They mention that Lemonier needs more weight to stand up against the run, but will probably never gain enough to play strongside (or, at Auburn, “power” end). Which, hey, OK, so he plays the “quick” end his whole career. Not a big deal. I’ll take the NFL-quality pass-rushing package, thanks. So will Chizik and Rocker: it’s obvious Lemonier’s chances of redshirting are zero.
Size, speed and athletic ability are three traits that make Corey Lemonier one of the top defensive players in the country. A great first step allows him to get the edge on any given play and is a disruptive force once in the opposing backfield. Like any player entering his senior season of football he needs to work on his overall strength but as he grows and continues to get bigger he will be a force at the next level.
Mmm, yummy. ESPN is the outlier on the low end, but even they have Lemonier at No. 94 overall, the No. 9 DE, and of course a solid four-star. Their write-up:
Lemonier is a defender, who is capable of leaving blockers and ball carriers feeling bitter. Right off the bat, the kid impresses you with his physical size. He is a well put together prospect with ideal height and while he appears on film to be a pretty muscular kid already, he should be able to add more good bulk. He displays good quickness off the ball. He has a nice reach and uses his hands. Against the run, he will bring them to maintain some separation from the blocker. He works to play with good pad level and can shed from blocks. You would like to see him more forcefully engage blockers at the point of attack at times and not just bring his hands, but shoot them and generate power from his lower body … He seems a bit high-cut and is at his best when he can stay square and react. He can be troublesome off the edge with his size, quickness and reach. Will flash the ability to attack the shoulder and can use his weapons to knock down the blocker’s hands and clear. He is also able to turn into the blocker and bull rush his way back. Lemonier is a very good prospect that brings some good natural tools to the table. In flashes, he reminds us some of 2009 end prospect Sam Montgomery. He is probably further along physically, but maybe not as naturally fluid. Either way, Montgomery was a fine end prospect and so is Lemonier.
In the end, it’s basically the same refrain: he could be stronger and heavier, but he couldn’t be much taller, faster, or agile.
His offer sheet agrees: Florida, Alabama, Florida St., LSU, South Carolina, Miami, a bunch more besides. He could have gone wherever he wanted, basically.
LINKS OF POTENTIAL INTEREST: Yeah, you know there’s highlights:
It’s not like you need more guru or newspaper approval with Lemonier, but just so you know, the Miami Herald named him the top prospect in the (perpetually loaded) Miami metro area. Quote on signing with Auburn:
“Seeing my family happy was the best feeling in the world,” said Lemonier, who many speculated would choose Florida State. “I told them late last night. I had gone back and forth, but it came down to how I felt when I was at Auburn. That’s where I felt the most comfortable with the coaches and the environment.”
There’s more signing video at that link, too, in the player on the left. (Click the Hialeah link. You probably figured that out.)
It’s not exhaustive by any means, but someone from South Florida turned in this Hialeah scouting report in which Lemonier features:
The first one we will look at on Hialeah football team is none other then defensive end Corey Lemonier. He has become one of the premier players not only in Florida but the entire nation. We have now had the opportunity to watch him work out in the weight room this spring and on the practice field. He looks like a potential star at the next level. When you look at what Hialeah has produced on the defensive line the past few years it is quite impressive that Lemonier may end up the best of them all. Defensive End Adawale Ojomo is one of the better defensive lineman at the University of Miami and Corey Liuget will start for Illinois. While both those guys were super talented coming out some feel Lemonier may be even better …
Hialeah does not lack talent. Some could argue that Corey Lemonier is the top player in Florida this year. He has the least amount of downside of any prospect. He is big and can flat out run.
“Least amount of downside” … gotta like the sound of that. It helps that it at least sounds like–between the ESPN evaluation and this brief piece in which he discusses using his height as leverage against blockers–Lemonier already has a reasonably solid understanding of technique.
I mentioned that Auburn came on late for Lemonier, but it helped that so did his other major suitors; as of the last week of July ’09, he was still naming Illinois and New Mexico his co-leaders, the same two teams that led for teammate Calvin Smith, who at the time was expected to be half of a package deal also featuring Lemonier. Unfortunately for Calvin, his stock didn’t rise quite as high as Corey’s, and by the end of the year that talk was pretty much done, per Lemonier himself. (You’ll no doubt recall that poor Calvin wound up committing to New Mexico.) Even by the end of the year, Auburn seemed to be firmly trailing Tennessee and Florida St. At the end of January, ‘Nole fans were “pretty confident with him.” MWA HA HA HA.
That interview came in the wake of the Under Armour game, where Lemonier didn’t seem to make a huge impact, but did draw this notice:
Corey Lemonier has been impressive all day and has been a handful for the offensive linemen today.
(One last recruiting note you’ll enjoy:
Lemonier had eliminated Miami recently and he took a visit to Alabama last week and liked it, but apparently not enough to make the Crimson Tide a finalist.
‘Bama would have had to play him as an OLB, so that might have been a hurdle for them … but still. Sweet.)
Your obligatory coachquote:
“His work ethic is by far one of the top work ethics I’ve seen in a student athlete in 26 years of coaching,” said Berman. “He’s a strong kid who works hard in the weight room. He’s self motivated on the field and he makes plays.”
Que bueno. Berman mentioned that early playing time was (or would be, at the time) a key factor in Lemonier’s decision. (Alternatively, per an auto-translation into some other language and back into English, “Getting upon the field, that’s the greatest thing for him, and that’s what everybody is revelation him … Anyone that’s recruiting him right divided expects him to come in and fool around right away.” I love the Internet.) Not surprisingly, he’s going to get that PT, unless the Chiznick is really blowing some smoke up our netherparts.
It would be disingenuous to provide an overview of Corey Lemonier’s presence on teh Googlez and not mention the guns-and-Corvette pics that popped up in many different places across the webs, even though the only real lesson to learn from them (unlike what some bitter Florida St. fans would tell you) is that Lemonier needs to be much, much more discrete about the pictures he makes public. This is also a rare opportunity to offer the Alabama media some praise; I figured certain excitable types would be ready to seize upon the pics and proclaim Lemonier an, ahem, poor influence. But they basically came and went without any notice from the MSM. As they should have.
WHAT CONCLUSIONS WE CAN DRAW, IF ANY: Is there any indication Lemonier can’t/won’t become the next McCloverian/Grovesian/Colemanian Auburn pass-rushing terror? Any? The work ethic is there, the speed is there, the attention to detail is there, the size and strength will be there soon … the only thing standing in his way would seem to be Joel Bonomolo and Dee Ford, both of which it seems Lemonier has already outplayed this fall camp.
So no, I don’t see those indications. The guess: he apprentices as a passing down-specialist this season, and takes over as the starting quick end in ’11, certainly no later than ’12. And he destroys people.