As one of the Official Brothers of WBE put it in an e-mail subject line re: Ariton defensive end Craig Sanders decommitting from Alabama and simultaneously committing to Auburn: Don’t see that every day.
No, you don’t. According to Andy Bitter it’s been six years since a one-time Alabama commitment signed with Auburn, and of course right up until yesterday (or a little earlier, depending on what part of the Internet you’re hanging around in) it didn’t seem like that streak was in much danger with the Coachbot on the clock.
But it apparently wasn’t even a tough decision for Sanders, and it’s nothing but great news for Auburn’s recruiting efforts. Sanders is regarded by pretty much everybody as a high-end prospect: the No. 12 DE and No. 199 player overall to Rivals, the No. 20 DE to Scout, No. 40 DE to ESPN. Sanders is a solid four-star to the two traditional services and just misses the cut at ESPN. His offer sheet is about as good as it gets: Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson, and obviously the team he’d been previously committed to. Sanders is a Big Deal.
But on top of being a potentially excellent addition to Auburn’s future roster, Sanders’ commitment is welcome news for a couple of other reasons. One is that Chizik and Co. are, as the recruiting saying goes, “finishing strong.” After the hot start and Big Cat Weekend hullaballoo, Auburn went a couple months picking up some solid “sleepers” but hadn’t produced any major headline-grabbing coups (Antonio Goodwin aside) for a while. Sanders and LaDarius Owens, however, make for two huge, high-profile commitments in the space of a few weeks–and that’s with four-star lineman Ed Christian now calling Auburn a “heavy favorite”, Michael Dyer still looking as orange-and-blue as ever, and various other major targets still on the board. Especially given the track record this staff established last year, it should be a very, very encouraging sprint to the Signing Day finish line.
The other nice thing about signing Sanders: he’s in-state. Chizik and Co. have sworn up-and-down that they’d get things turned around in Alabama, and lookie here: three of Rivals’ top 7, five of the B’ham News’s 12 Super Seniors, 5 of the state’s top 12 at Scout. The goal in-state, as always, isn’t to beat Alabama–it’s just to avoid the kind of flat shut-outs Auburn suffered in ’08 and ’09, when a prospect like Sanders that didn’t wind up with the Tide would have gone to Clemson or Georgia or some other place. Chizik and Co. have all but shut that door and between Owens and Sanders, started picking off players that the Tide actually, you know, kind of wanted. It’s yet another promise Chizik has made and kept.
(Speaking of the Tide: let’s not pretend this is some kind of huge blow for them. In Saban’s 3-4, Sanders would have played outside or “jack” linebacker, and we should all know that if there’s any position where the Tide can afford to hemorrhage prospects, it’s at linebacker. The bad news for them isn’t necessarily that Sanders is gone, though obviously Saban must have thought pretty highly of him to push him into committing in the first place; it’s that Sanders has gone to Auburn.)
More Sanders: here’s his Super Seniors profile, here’s Beaver with a few more pertinent details (he should be in for the spring–score), and here’s a highlight reel from his sophomore (!) year:
A 4-0 start and recruits forsaking crimson for orange-and-blue? These are the good times, folks. Better enjoy them.
Photo via al.com.
Joe Blow says
Wow, this kid doesn’t stop until the whistle blows, no matter what’s going on. That’s rare. What a great pick-up!
What’s been the latest talk on Lache Seastrunk?
If Dyer or Seastrunk, one of them, commits, do you think the other would find greener pastures?
Justin, there’s probably lots of people out there on the Internets who would know better than me, but from what I can tell Seastrunk has kept to his post-Big Cat word that he wasn’t going to keep a highly visible recruiting profile any longer. The last bit of real news (I think) was a fairly recent visit to LSU that supposedly went well–the LSU fans I’ve read are convinced they’ve got him. That the Auburn recruiting sites have had so little to report on Seastrunk (and that Seastrunk’s good friend Trovon Reed, interested as he obviously is in Auburn, is still considered an LSU lean in most quarters … again, I think) makes me feel that LSU probably is Seastrunk’s most likely destination at this point. But I have no doubt Trooper and Luper will have their say and AFAIK there’s still only one coach Seastrunk has said was like a second father to him, and that’s the Chiznick. (The other nice thing is that LSU’s running game is a steaming pile at the moment and that Charles Scott has fallen completely off the national radar. It doesn’t look like the best situation for a stud RB, if you ask me.)
As for what Dyer’s commitment might mean to Seastrunk, not as much as you might think, because looking at the Tate/McCalebb pairing you can see exactly how Auburn would want to use a Dyer/Seastrunk pairing. The bigger issue for Seastrunk would probably be McCalebb, who’s a similar back with three years of eligibility after this one. He isn’t going anywhere, and I’m not sure if Seastrunk will want to spend three years splitting the “speed-back” carries, which of course are already just half of the total carries. I remain hopeful, but we’ll see.
Dyer has said previously that he isn’t worried about another big-time back committing as well.
From what I’ve read, Seastrunk is enjoying the recruiting “process”. My impression from reading between the lines on AU’s Rivals site is that they still feel AU will be a major player for Seastrunk, but they don’t seem as confident about him as they did back in the early summer. He is apparently visiting Cal this weekend on an official visit for the USC game. From what I’ve read, it’s still probably either Auburn or LSU, although USC has apparently made a big push of late. I don’t think Dyer’s commitment would influence Seastrunk (or vice versa). They are two very different types of backs, and Dr. Gus is doing a good job of showcasing how he can exploit the talents of both a downhill runner (like Dyer) and a multi-position speedster (like Seastrunk) within the same offense.
McCalebb will probably try to go pro after next year. He went to Hargrave for a year, so he will be 3 years removed from HS after next season. Syfney Rice did the same thing. I say this because of some of the quotes Ive read and his family background. But I do hope he stays and finishes his degree. Education is best way to a good future.
WDR ,that’s a good point. McCalebb has mentioned the NFL repeatedly. The question is whether he’s going to be able to bulk up enough to leave early–he’s just too skinny right now for NFL teams to give him the benefit of the doubt at tailback. I’d say maybe he could make it as a WR, but he’s not particularly tall, either. If I had to bet, I’d place my money on him going pro after his junior year, but I could be wrong.