Auburn Football: National Signing Day Haul Dulls Sting of Toby Johnson Snub

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Auburn Football: National Signing Day Haul Dulls Sting of Toby Johnson Snub
The Auburn coaching staff celebrates when Montravius Adams announces for Auburn. Photo credit: Todd Van Emst

You can finally close the book on Auburn's 2013 recruiting class.

Auburn came up short on Tuesday for the signature of one of the final uncommitted 2013 prospects when 4-star JUCO defensive tackle Toby Johnson chose to sign with the Georgia Bulldogs. 

He chose the Bulldogs over the Tigers and Mississippi State. 

While Auburn would have gladly made room on a crowded defensive line for the 6'4", 310-pound DT, the Tigers should be ecstatic with the additions they made along the defensive front in the 2013 recruiting class. 

The addition of defensive line coach Rodney Garner to the Auburn coaching staff paid immediate dividends.

Garner's relationship with 5-star DT Montravius Adams from his time as Georgia's DL coach and his ability to work back into the good graces of 5-star defensive end Carl Lawson helped land the signature prospect.

In addition, Auburn signed 4-star DE Elijah Daniel and 4-star JUCO DT Ben Bradley.

The four-man class of defensive linemen was good enough to earn recognition as the nation's top defensive line class from 247Sports' national analyst, Gerry Hamilton. 

One of the Tigers' most pressing needs after a horrible 2012 campaign and the departure of DE Corey Lemonier to the NFL draft was along the defensive line.

Auburn was consistently beat at the line of scrimmage last fall. The Tigers allowed an SEC-worst 197.58 rushing yards per game in 2012 and was ranked near the bottom of the conference in sacks and tackles for loss. 

The four newcomers are expected to help turn those problems around immediately in 2013. 

Adams is a massive DT nearly equal in height and weight of Johnson. Despite his huge frame, he has excellent speed that will give him an advantage getting through the A and B gaps. If Adams develops as projected, he will be a guy who commands double teams and will open lanes for blitzing linebackers. 

Lawson's pass rushing ability was coveted by every college head coach in America. He has a great combination of size and speed that allows him to get to the QB with a bull rush or by running the arch around the offensive tackle. 

Daniel was a big flip for the Tigers from Ole Miss. Like Lawson, he plays with a tenacity in getting to the ball carrier. Daniel and Lawson rushing the passer should be fun to watch in the coming years. 

Bradley was Johnson's teammate at Hutchison Community College in Kansas. Having already played at a level above high school and having the opportunity to go through spring practice with Auburn, he'll have a leg up on the other signees in fall camp. 

Signing Johnson on Tuesday would have been icing on the cake for head coach Gus Malzahn's first recruiting class, but you won't hear anyone complain about the defensive line or cumulative recruiting class that signed with Auburn in 2013. 

With the recruiting class officially wrapped up, it is now time for these players to earn all the attention they received in this recruiting cycle. 

Because the Auburn coaching staff put together a borderline top-10 recruiting class after being on the job for only two months, missing on Johnson will not do anything to dampen the spirits around the Auburn football program. 

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