The Auburn Tigers are putting the finishing touches on preparations for the 2012 season, but the focus is not completely pointed to on-field development.
One major focus is the 2013 recruiting class which has taken shape this offseason, but there are a few positions that the Tigers staff will look to pull into the class during the season.
Looking at the current roster and commits that are already in the fold, Auburn does not have a lot of open spots remaining in the class or holes they need to fill. The Tigers staff has the opportunity to be very selective and find the right fits to fill out the remainder of the class.
With Auburn still in the mix with some very big names, here are the positions that the Tigers coaches will focus in on during the 2012 season.
One of the few positions that the Tigers are in need of additional future signees is the safety position.
The Tigers are very deep with young talent across the roster, but safety is a big focus for the 2013 recruiting class. Lemond Johnson is a consensus 3-star from Fort Lauderdale, FL. and is already in the fold, but the Tigers would like at least one more safety.
A name that the Tigers are focused on is Tray Matthews out of Newnan, GA. Matthews is ranked as a consensus 4-star and is one of the top recruiting targets at the safety position in the country.
Auburn would like to land Matthews, but he is currently committed to the in-state Bulldogs and the longer the commitment sticks, the less likely the flip will happen.
There are a handful of other names the Tigers are pursuing, but it appears the coaches have launched a wholesale effort after Matthews.
The Tigers have a stacked backfield heading into this season with a number of underclassmen found in the ranks. A change in offensive philosophy has brought about a need for bigger backs, and with the recent ruling finding Jovon Robinson ineligible—at least for the 2012 season—the Tigers are searching for two backs in the 2013 recruiting class.
The Tigers have landed Jordan Wilkins—a 6’1”, 212-pound back out Cordova, TN.—who is a consensus 4-star, but the Tigers are still on the market for one more back.
Auburn is in great shape with Richmond, VA. running back Derrick Green who recently visited the Plains.
Green was expected to make a decision near the end of the month when his high school plays on the ESPN family of networks, but in a recent interview with Mike Farrell at Rivals.com, Green was quoted as saying, "Anyone who knows him knows that wouldn't happen. Our focus is on the game and winning, it can't be about one player."
The him that Green was referring to was his head football coach, so it doesn't look like the decision will be made anytime soon for Green.
Auburn is also in the final two for consensus 4-star running back Greg Bryant. Bryant doesn’t have the size of Wilkins or Green, but at 5’11”, 196 pounds there is a lot of potential for future growth.
Expect the Tigers to land either Green or Bryant to round out the running back position in the 2013 class.
Auburn has signed two consecutive classes of top offensive line talent and is not in need of a lot of key prospects. The Tigers are looking to sign a few guards to the 2013 class, but no commits are currently in the fold and the Tigers do not have a runaway lead with any of their targets.
The Tigers wanted to land big-time recruits Khalil Rodgers and Tyrone Crowder, but Rodgers recently committed to USC and Crowder has listed Clemson and Georgia as his leaders.
There are a few recruits that are still on the Tigers watch-list, but expect Auburn to continue to push for Khalil Rodgers as the season wears on. They may not land a big name recruit at the guard position in this class—if that happens they will likely sign an in-state prospect this February to fill out the class.
Auburn currently has two cornerbacks in the fold in the 2013 recruiting class—Kamryn Melton and Jahmere Irvin-Sills—and will look to add at least one more to the fold for the incoming class.
The Tigers have recruited well in the secondary since the arrival of Gene Chizik and his staff, but filling out the roster is still a need in the defensive backfield.
The Tigers are going hard after 3-star Georgia commit Shaq Wiggins and consensus 4-star MacKensie Alexander. Alexander does not have Auburn in his top list of schools, but the Tigers are looking to get him on campus this fall.
Consensus 3-star Jonathan Cook is another target, but he is currently committed to Nebraska.
Auburn will lose star receiver Emory Blake after this season, as well as key contributing seniors DeAngelo Benton and Travante Stallworth. The Tigers have a lot of talent that will remain on the roster, but adding two receivers in the 2013 class would be a plus.
Auburn currently has consensus 4-star Earnest Robinson from Pinson, AL. on the commit list, but the Tigers would like to add one more to the fold if possible.
Auburn has a lot of receivers on the wish-list heading into the season—guys like Isaiah Jones, Laquon Treadwell and Marquez North—but they all appear to be long shots.
The Tigers would be comfortable landing just Robinson in this class, but they wouldn’t turn down another big-time playmaker either.
The Auburn defensive front is, by far, the most talented and experienced position for the Tigers heading into the 2012 season. Despite that depth, the Tigers have already landed three defensive ends, and are among the top choices for the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle Montravius Adams.
The Tigers are battling for the top defensive tackle in the country, and they stand a strong chance of landing him in this class.
Auburn will have to battle to keep their current commits on board—it is among the most talented line class in the country—and that will be a task in and of itself as other schools will continue to recruit the talent found on the Tigers commit list.
Landing Adams in this class is a major priority that will continue this season, and getting him on board will likely give Auburn the best defensive line class in the country.