First, the big news. We think. There’s no story up yet right this second, but the folks at AuburnSports have moved OL Roszell Gayden into Auburn’s list of commitments and have his commitment status listed as a “solid verbal” to Auburn. Gayden is Rivals’s No. 11 JUCO and has offers from Oklahoma, Cal, Tennessee, and a half-dozen other BCS programs; he’s the real deal.
Elsewhere: Inside the Auburn Tigers (and the Gold Mine) is reporting that Auburn has also landed Brandon Mosley, the 6-6, 270-pound OL/TE/DL/take-your-pick out of Coffeyville C.C. that was supposedly leaning towards Ole Miss (or Florida St.). Mosley, like Gayden, is a four-star recruit according to Rivals.
I don’t want to overstate things here. It’s just krootin’, after all, and Auburn’s had some iffy experiences with JUCOs over the past couple of years, but … assuming Gayden does, in fact, sign with Auburn today–Mosley’s paperwork is in and done–I think this is a big deal for Chizik and Co.
Let us count the ways:
1. These guys should be good. Both rank in Rivals’ top-20 for JUCOs and more importantly, both had big-time programs chasing after them that Auburn was able to beat out. Both Gayden and Mosley seem capable of contributing right away, both will have excellent shots at starting jobs in 2011, and at his size Gayden may be the favorite to start at RT as soon as next fall.
2. It really can’t be said enough: both players play on the offensive line. The OL was Chizik and Co.’s No. 1 recruiting priority for the class of 2010, and with a month-plus still to go and a few other quality targets still on the board, Auburn already has commitments from two four-star JUCOs, one four-star top-100 overall tackle, another consensus four-star tackle, and a mammoth project lineman as the cherry on top. That’s a heck of a haul already.
3. In that same vein, it’s a nice display of Chizik’s and his staff’s closing ability. Chizik himself has been up front about the need to find linemen and find them now, in time for spring, and he went right out and got them. Kudos are also in order here for Jeff Grimes, whose recruiting acumen wasn’t supposed to be one of his selling points but who very obviously is getting it done right now.
4. This is what’s maybe most important: Auburn had to get those five back-counted slots for the 2009 class filled today. They were use ’em or lose ’em … and given Auburn’s probation-style lack of numbers, they needed to get used. Bringing in 29 or even 30 new players as opposed to 26 or 27 is a big, big deal.
Auburn appears to have done just that, and even managed to do it without taking “fliers” on players who were otherwise headed to mid-major programs. Assuming Gayden really is in the fold, Gene Chizik and the staff have done it again.
UPDATE: Sanders, Curry signed and ready to go. As expected, Craig Sanders and Jessel Curry both officially signed with Auburn today and will be enrolled for the spring. From the (free!) Phillip Marshall report on Sanders’s signing:
Sanders became the first Ariton player to sign a major college football scholarship since running back Leo Jolley went to Alabama in 1983. Jolley never made the field. A heart condition ended his career.
Wednesday, a parade of students, teachers and friends went to the stage to have their picture made with Ariton’s very own hometown hero. It was Sanders’ last day at Ariton High School, and students in grades 3-12 got out of class to send him on.
“It’s great,” said Sanders, who will enroll at Auburn in January and participate in spring practice. “We have a great community, people that just love me and care for me. It was great to grow up in Ariton” …
Sanders announced last May that he would sign with Alabama, but in September, he switched to Auburn. He said he’s not wavered since he told Auburn coach Gene Chizik he would be a Tiger.
“I haven’t looked back,” Sanders said. “Coach Chizik is a great Christian man. It felt like family. I got to meet all the coaches and stuff. It just felt like home. The people coming in with me are great people.”
Sanders also took the occasion to prove himself a snappy dresser, what with that orange-and-blue tie.
It goes without saying that getting Sanders and Curry in early is big for both their chances of playing time this fall (and beyond) and for Auburn, who needs all the help at DE and LB they can get.
UPDATE: Even more krootin’. While we’re on the subject, a few other notes and links to pass on:
— If most of the action is taking place away from Auburn, today’s also an important day on campus as the coaches host Tallahassee’s Ryan White, a three-star athlete Auburn’s recruiting as a corner, on an unofficial visit. White has gotten the full-court press from Auburn the past couple of weeks and apparently has Auburn at the top of his list. Scout and Rivals are relatively unenthused but ESPN likes him, as they often do the shorter, faster, shiftier guys. (More important, of course, is the fact that Auburn’s coaches allegedly prefer him over some of the higher-rated guys.)
[Eric] Wolford left his position as South Carolina’s offensive line coach to become head coach at Youngstown State. Calhoun County coach Walt Wilson said Mack was shaken. He said Mack was “shocked” and “upset.”
“Coach Wolford had a great impact on Mack’s decision,” Wilson told The State in Columbia, S.C.. “Linemen are different than those skill-position guys. Linemen have to feel the connection for that guy they’re going to play for.”
This is hearsay–it’s Mack’s coach talking, not Mack–but still, considering that Mack was wobbling on his ‘Cock commitment even before Wolford’s departure, it sure can’t hurt Auburn’s efforts. What will hurt is heavy interest in Mack from programs like Florida’s. Still a long way to go.
— Another SEC commitment Auburn’s got an eye towards stealing away, Vandy-committed corner Bradley Roby, might be even more difficult to bring in than before–he’s received an offer from Ohio State. Even if Roby goes elsewhere, the Buckeyes’ interest does make clear why Auburn’s after Roby in the first place.
— Some info on Mike Thornton from the AJC: he visited Athens, but he’s not visiting Ga. Tech, and he will be visiting Auburn with his mother. (Via that same AJC post, here’s a nice article on Marcus Lattimore.)
Mosley photo via. Gayden ‘shop thanks to friend-of-the-blog Rod.