Auburn limped to a 3-9 (0-8 in SEC) record in 2012, but the Tigers' future looks bright thanks to a strong incoming class.
Auburn has the 12th-ranked recruiting class of 2013, according to ESPN (insider). Of their 15 commits, they have six 3-star recruits, eight 4-star prospects and one player rated at 5-stars. They did lose several highly-rated recruits after the firing of Gene Chizik, but Gus Malzahn still has some elite talent to work with.
Be sure to keep an eye on the following recruits during the 2013 season.
As you can see above, Lawson is an absolute monster at defensive end.
He is the Tigers' lone five-star recruit and is ranked second overall in the ESPN Top 150. He's an imposing physical presence at 6'3", 250 pounds, and his explosiveness is simply astonishing for a man his size.
Lawson is reportedly exploring his options (h/t Matt Scalici, AL.com) since Chizik was fired, so unfortunately, he may not be in an Auburn uniform next season. If he is, he will unquestionably be the top freshman to watch.
If Lawson bails on Auburn, Bower will be under even more pressure to perform. But if Lawson stays, you'll still want to keep your eye on the Tigers' other heavily-recruited defensive end.
Bower is the 11th-ranked defensive end in the country (132nd overall). Although he doesn't have the raw strength of Lawson, his combination of speed and size makes him a very intriguing prospect.
Bower runs the 40-yard dash in 4.89 seconds, and he will definitely add some bulk to his 6'5", 240-pound frame. With his burst off the line and overall athletic ability, Bower could develop into one of college football's best defensive linemen in a few years.
Johnson may not get much playing time his freshman season, but he appears to be the Tigers' quarterback of the future.
He is pretty raw, but he's got great size (6'5", 215 pounds), a strong arm and a smooth, quick release. Although he's not a running quarterback, he does have good mobility in the pocket and can scramble when necessary.
As the ninth-ranked quarterback in his class, Johnson is obviously talented. If he gets some good coaching and keeps his head on straight, he will eventually be one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC.