Auburn University finished with another extraordinary recruiting class for the 2012 season. The major recruiting services have the players ranked as follows.
Of course there is never an accurate predictor of how a class will perform, but this is a highly regarded class by most experts at this point. Auburn had 23 slots available on the roster and has filled 19 with underclassmen and another with an All American transfer from Illinois. This leaves Auburn with three empty slots before any over-signing occurs.
Gene Chizik has said they are still waiting on word from a few possible recruits. This means Auburn could pick up another player or two as the signing period continues.
If none of these prospects pan out, then it is likely the Tigers will save those slots for the 2013 class. Currently Auburn is only expecting 14 graduates from the team this season. Add in a few more for normal attrition and that still leaves a pretty small class. A few extra slots carried over from this year could certainly help that situation.
What is truly amazing about this class is how it came to be. Auburn had to overcome the negative influence of rumors first reported at ESPN and then hyped by that network endlessly for well over a year. The NCAA did a complete, if slow, investigation of these rumors and eventually cleared Auburn last October.
ESPN as a network never admitted the reported rumors as fact. In fact, they reported that the actual violation that was found that involved another program as being tied to Auburn. This was another report that the NCAA proved false with their investigation.
All of this is old news, but what most fans do not know is that these false reports were used for an entire year of negative recruiting against Auburn. The majority of this negative recruiting was not by rival Alabama in this case but by Florida State and to a lesser extent Georgia.
The biggest problem the Auburn staff had to overcome was that this negative recruiting occurred early in the process when relationships are being built with prospects. This kept the Auburn staff from forming early relationships with many of the top recruits from the 2012 class.
While the Auburn staff did a remarkable job of countering this obstacle after October, it certainly had a negative effect on Auburn recruiting in 2012. This is simply part of the dirty business that college football recruiting has become, and those coaches were simply doing their jobs.
What fans should make a note of is that ESPN had a profound effect on football recruiting in the south by reporting false rumors. It was not long ago that ESPN crucified rival CBS for reporting the death of Joe Paterno before it actually happened. In this case, ESPN reported events that never happened and expounded on them for months on end.
There are very few reports on ESPN that are not filled with errors as they seldom report news they uncover. For instance, in their NSD coverage on February 1, 2012, one of their “analysts,” a former Georgia star, professed that Auburn had lost more than 40 percent of the last two recruiting classes.
Auburn signed 25 players in 2011 and all 25 are currently still on the team. From the 2010 class some are certainly gone from attrition. Those include:
Cameron Newton: NFL
Brandon Mosley: Graduated
Roszell Gayden: Transferred
Antonio Goodwin: On trial for armed robbery
Dakota Mosley: On trial for armed robbery
Shaun Kitchens: On trial for armed robbery
Michael Dyer: Transferred
Jessel Curry: Transferred
Jeremy Richardson: Did not qualify
Ed Christian: Transferred
There were 32 commits in that class. The loss of eight of them constitutes 28 percent of that one class and 16 percent of the last two classes. Of course, this particular analyst was educated at Georgia, and most Georgia graduates are decent with basic math, but this was another example of ESPN’s professional staff.
We all know that ESPN is not a news network and their standards are nowhere near as high for accuracy, but there is little doubt that they could do much better. In my opinion the bowl ratings last season had as much to do with ESPN as they did the teams that played the games. A little accuracy will go a long ways.
For Auburn fans, they need to get accustomed to smaller recruiting classes. 2012 was the fourth year of a four-year roster rebuilding project. It takes about 21 commitments per year to maintain an 85-man roster without over-signing. Gene Chizik does not seem to be the over-signing type.
Going forward, the Auburn staff will likely concentrate on upgrading the talent on the roster as current players leave from graduation and attrition. Auburn will have at least 14 slots for the 2013 class plus any other attrition that occurs. It is unlikely Auburn fans will see 25-member classes on a regular basis going forward.
This is actually a good thing as there are two players that were forced to make signing day decisions to go with another team after one SEC program told them they had over-signed and did not have a scholarship to offer until 2013. This is unwarranted and unnecessary and needs to stop.
The freshman class breakdown is as follows:
Auburn was very thin at offensive tackle. Greg Robinson was the only sure talent at this position returning for 2012. Auburn signed three offensive tackles in this class.
Auburn has good depth at offensive guard but will lose one to graduation in 2012. One offensive guard was signed in this class.
Auburn will lose three wide receivers and one tight end after 2012. There are two wide receivers in this class along with two tight ends.
Auburn had no quarterback step up and deliver consistently in 2011. There are two quarterbacks in this class.
Auburn lost one linebacker after the 2011 season. There are two linebackers in this class.
Auburn lost one defensive back from the 2011 team. This class has three defensive backs.
Auburn returns the entire defensive line for 2012. There is one defensive end and one defensive tackle in this class.
Auburn lost one running back in 2011. This class has one running back.
None of these freshmen can be counted on to produce in 2012. The SEC is simply a very tough place for a true freshman to have a big impact. All of these freshmen have the talent necessary to attempt this in the future. It appears Auburn filled every need with their quantity-limited class of 2012.