Auburn Football Recruiting: The Good and Bad of National Signing Day
The Auburn recruiting class filled a ton of needs this year with a host of unexpected talent. There was a lot of good that came with signing day, but there were also some misses for the Tigers.
Auburn was able to pull in star defensive lineman Montravius Adams, but they lost a lot of top-level talent during the coaching transition, and the new staff failed to make up lost time with some of the former commits.
Looking back at the Tigers' full list of 2013 commits (per 247Sports) after signing day, this is the best and worst of the 2013 recruiting cycle for Auburn...
Good: Montravius Adams Lands in Auburn
Montravius Adams was set to choose between Auburn, Clemson, Georgia and Alabama on signing day. Early in the process on ESPNU, Adams made his commitment to Auburn known, and later faxed his letter of intent to the Tigers football offices.
This was a major pull for the Tigers program, especially after losing commitments from Reuben Foster and Dee Liner after the coaching change.
Adams is a major disrupter at the position and will be an early impact player for the Tigers. Auburn struggled to find success up front a year ago defensively, so the hope is that Adams can bring his talents to the Plains and get playing time this fall.
Bad: Swing and Miss on Previous Commits
The Tigers lost some top rated defenders when Gene Chizik was fired after the 2012 season. Dee Liner and Reuben Foster both decommitted from the Tigers, and eventually landed in the Crimson Tide’s signing class.
Some Auburn black helicopter types will tell you they were plants, but at the end of the day it is the pull that Alabama currently has in the state. Three national titles with and Auburn crystal ball sandwiched in is still a favorable scenario for the Tide.
Auburn has to get back into the SEC title scenario for them to take back the stronghold in the state. Auburn’s one year as a champion led to them owning the state in recruiting for a cycle.
A title for Malzahn will change that.
Good: JUCO Talent Filling Needs
The Tigers needed to bring in a number of JUCO players in this class to fill out voids that are all over this Auburn roster.
They filled needs along the defensive line with Ben Bradley, and added help at linebacker with Kenny Flowers. The Tigers also brought in defensive back Brandon King to compete for the star position in the Ellis Johnson defense.
Nick Marshall was a defensive back in one year at Georgia, a quarterback at Garden City Community College in Kansas and has no definitive answer as to what his role will be with the Tigers just yet. It is expected he will get a shot at quarterback, but his skills may see him shift positions.
Don't forget about running back Cameron Artis-Payne. Artis-Payne is a very talented running back that will make an early impact for the Tigers offense.
This class needed players that were proven at the collegiate level to come in and help push this team back into the postseason. Bradley may be the most important signing of the entire class.
Bad: Lack of Star Linebacker
The Tigers were able to land a few linebackers in this class, but they missed on the star players that once lined the commit list. Losing Reuben Foster was big for this class.
Auburn finished well with JUCO transfer Kenny Flowers and Cameron Toney, but not having that headliner was something this Tigers staff missed out on.
This class will give Auburn eight linebackers for two positions. This will be a roster that has more than enough talent to choose from, and despite not being as highly rated as Foster, Toney has the build—6’2”, 225 pounds—to be a major player early for the Tigers.
Good: Running Back Class Filled Out
The Tigers lost out on some of their top targets at running back this year with Derrick Green and Greg Bryant going elsewhere, but Malzahn and Co. quickly recovered when they landed in Auburn.
The Tigers pulled former Vanderbilt commitment Jonathan Ford into the class, as well as former Ole Miss commitment Peyton Barber. The Tigers also signed JUCO stud Cameron Artis-Payne.
This Tigers backfield was a bit light heading into signing day, but now it has a solid mix of youthful talent and experienced workhorses ready to take on the new year.
This backfield will be a major part of the Tigers offense heading into the Malzahn era.
Bad: Lack of Safety Presence
The Tigers needed to bring in multiple pure safety's in this class and failed to do so.
The Tigers did add JUCO player Brandon King and incoming freshman Khari Harding, but Auburn needed three to four players at the position in this class to be comfortable.
This is a really talented class that filled a number of needs, but adding an additional safety would have made this class complete. It didn’t happen.
Auburn has a lot of talent in the secondary; the coaches just need to figure out how to make it productive. This wasn’t a major miss, but it is one worth noting.
Good: Quarterback is No Longer a Liability
The Tigers have had issues with the quarterback position over the last two seasons, but this class filled out the roster at the position and should provide enough talented options for Malzahn to find a leader.
Jeremy Johnson, Jason Smith and Nick Marshall are all incoming players that play the position. Smith is an athlete type that may change positions. Marshall is the same.
Johnson is a pure quarterback that fits the Malzahn zone read perfectly. He is a true freshman so he may have to sit a year, but adding his talents as well as the other two prospects makes for a tight quarterback race.
Auburn needs competition at the position, and this class meets the need.
Bad: No Tight End in the Class
The Tigers have a number of talented tight ends currently on roster in C.J. Uzomah and Brandon Fulse, and they also plan on bringing back Darrion Hutcherson to campus.
The tight end is also a position that isn’t a major focus in the Malzahn offense.
Still, this class could have used a big, athletic body to be another option in the passing game as a safety valve. Easy throws help quarterbacks gain confidence. It was underutilized a year ago and will return this season under Malzahn.
Good: Strong Closers
The Auburn Tigers have some of the best closers on the recruiting trail in the college game and it was proven on signing day.
This class is full of talent that was expected to end up elsewhere, but instead the players inked with the Tigers.
The combo of Charlie Harbison, Dameyune Craig, Rodney Gardner, Tim Horton and Gus Malzahn makes for a strong closing group. This group of coaches is ready to sell Auburn, and they are showing that they can do it well.
Good: Wide Receiver Class
The Tigers finished really strong with offensive skill players in this class, and receiver was no exception.
Auburn landed Tony Stevens, Earnest Robinson, Dominic Walker and Jason Smith—if he moves from quarterback which is expected.
This class will have at least one playmaker in the group that can walk in and play for the Tigers as a true freshman. The Tigers have to have a change in the passing game, and it isn’t all on the quarterbacks.
This team needs playmakers on the outside and this class filled that need extremely well.