The seemingly neverending tumult on the Auburn roster has its latest victim:
Cornerback D’Antoine Hood, a former Central-Phenix standout, has transferred from Auburn to Alabama State.
Hood, the cousin of former Auburn and current Tennessee Titans cornerback Roderick Hood, appeared in 22 games and started twice in two years with the Tigers, playing mostly on special teams and as a reserve defensive back. He finished with 22 career tackles.
Reading that, you might not think this is all that big a blow. And I guess, really, it’s not that big a blow. Hood would have been the nickelback at best this season, and maybe not even that depending on how quickly T’Sharvan Bell and Anthony Gulley took to the position.
But that’s the thing: given the prevalence of the spread and multiple-receiver sets, the nickelback is almost important as a starter these days, and the other options are both having to adjust from other positions (safety in Bell’s case, receiver in Gulley’s, so not major shifts … but still). Or they’re going to0 be true freshmen. Corner is not exactly a position of great depth for Auburn.
And more than that, it’s not like Hood didn’t have potential. He got one start and plenty of playing time as a freshman in Auburn’s injury-ravaged 2008 secondary, and generally acquitted himself very, very well. By the end of that season, it looked like Thorpe and Hood might be a nice pair of bookend corners for years to come.
But coaching transitions make fools of us all, and Hood never found his footing under Chizik and Co., thanks in large part to a high-ankle sprain that–in the manner of high-ankle sprains everywhere–never really seemed to get better. By the time Hood appeared in the Northwestern game (and got torched a few times), he seemed to have lost both his own confidence and the confidence of the coaches. And now he’s gone.
It’s a shame, because a Hood that never got hurt and never fell behind in the race for playing time last year is more than likely a solid-to-outstanding third corner for the 2010 Tigers. Honestly, sometimes an injury doesn’t have to be a torn ACL or a broken vertebra to be career-ending.
On the bright side, Hood will get to play immediately at Alabama State, where we wish him the best of luck and remain confident he’ll grow to be a difference-maker for the Hornets. And if Washington and Thorpe stay healthy KNOCK ON THE BIGGEST PIECE OF WOOD YOU CAN FIND, Bell continues his upward ascent, and either Gulley or Jon Mincy wind up ready to play, he won’t be missed. Probably.
Nonetheless, there was an opportunity with Hood, and opportunity he and Auburn have missed. That’s not insignificant.
One final question: am I the only one getting fatigued with the amount of roster turnover Auburn’s suffered the last several seasons? First it seemed to accelerate in the final years of the Tubby era as he seemed to roll the dice with recruits more often, then we had the coaching transition and the natural conflict there, and now … shouldn’t things be settling down? Instead we’ve lost Aycock and Hood just since spring ball, and of course guys like Hawthorne, Rollison, and the injury crew before that. I’m assuming that once the roster is entirely (or even just mostly) Chizik recruits that we’ll have less of this, but still, turning over this much of the roster every season doesn’t seem like the best way to build a strong, stable program. (Unless, of course, you’re a coachbot who engineers departures and just replaces them with a hand-picked factory-assembled five-star. But Auburn is not run by coachbots.)
Photo via. Not that you couldn’t tell anyway.
Hood was not going to see significant playing time if any at all. Roof went off on him in the Bowl with his horrendous coverage. Our backup corners will be freshmen, but the ability level will not decrease. It will increase.
I’ll agree that he wasn’t in line for much PT unless there were injuries–Bell, at least, had supplanted him for sure, and we agree that Roof didn’t seem to like him a bit–but I’m not sure the true frosh will be an improvement on what Hood would have brought to the table. Hell, if they’re as good as Hood was as a freshman himself, I’ll be delighted.
I’m tired of disappointing turnover too, but I think it’s a natural progression. A small percent of Tub’s recruits won’t fit well with the new staff, and I think Hood’s injury put him in a hole. I’ll be surprised if the turnover continues at this rate. Regardless, I hope this is the last casualty in this year’s 2-deep.
The 2008 class takes another hit. That leaves Thorpe, Bell, E Smith, O-Mac (who failed to qualify and was re-signed in 2009) and Darvin Adams as contributers. Still hope for Trotter and maybe Lykes. PPL could have been something but I think he’ll take a hardship scholly sooner rather than later. And then there’s Drew Cole. That’s it.
And you need to stop looking at this sign-and-cut issue through orange and blue glasses, Jerry. Chizik isn’t any more noble than Saban on this issue, he just clears the roster out early rather than late, thereby making it harder to scrutinize him for it. Honestly, I would question his competency if he wasn’t refreshing the roster as quickly as possible.
It will be interesting to see how that starts to play out once the team is full of Chizik recruited players. If he ever (2 or 3 years from now) signs fewer than 25 (not “signs 25+ but fewer enroll due to grades”) then I’ll admit that Chizik is a more caring coach than the Sabanator, who will never stop refreshing his roster at the quickest rate possible.
Marmot, that’s a possibility that’s crossed my mind. However, three things:
1. Chizik still has yet to put himself in a position where he HAS to make cuts; every player had room to stay on the team, at least according to the math. There still hasn’t been a Tarence Farmer-type situation where a kid who clearly would have stayed on the roster suddenly disappeared. Maybe it’s just slight-of-hand on Chizik’s part, but there’s no smoking gun the way there is w/ Saban.
2. Saban has been plenty willing to slash and cut players he himself has signed; to-date, the overwhelming majority of Auburn’s roster turnover has come from Tubby’s recruits. (IIRC Aycock and Rollison are the only Chizik recruits not still with the team.) That doesn’t make it “better,” of course, but I do think it means we’ll see less attrition from here on out. (We’d better.)
3. A lot of the guys who have left were surefire _contributors_ at the minimum: Rollison, Jemison, Harry Adams, now Hood … all while a handful of guys we know will never play have remained on the roster. Saban’s cuts (with the exception of one or two medical hardships) have universally come from the very back end of the depth chart.
I know I’m inclined to think the best of Chizik and the worst of Saban, and I’d welcome an AU beat writer looking into, say, Dax Dellenbach’s disappearance last summer. But I don’t think these situations are the same at all just yet.
I realize this post is stale and commenting here is like screaming from the middle of Death Valley, but I can’t help myself.
I am also inclined to believe better of Chizik and I think time will bear that out when the roster is full of capable players who keep their nose clean and grades up. So far Chizik has kept spots available for full signing classes by going after mostly discipline issues… and no one will fault him for that. If he stays true to his Family vision for our team he will continue to have a low tolerance for players with behavior problems.
Buu…..uut, I have never had such a rosey view of Chizik as to believe that he didn’t plan to sign 25 a year for 4 years before he ever met the 1st Auburn player. He was going to refresh the roster as quickly as the NCAA allowed come heck or high water, even if every athletically challenged player on the roster was healthy and spending their free time studying or volunteering at a retirement home. So far the players that needed to go have presented themselves in a timely fashion.
And I knew Dax was gone the moment Tubs was fired. It was just a matter of when. Heard on a message board he was a fun guy, FWIW.
Well, Marmot, I hear your screaming, at the least. We’ll have to agree to disagree on how un-Sabanlike Chizik is or isn’t, but I think we both feel things should slow down once he’s got his own players on the team.