Auburn Football: All-Time Best Recruit at Each Position
Numerous prospects have signed a national letter of intent to play their college football for the Auburn Tigers over the years.
Each prospect has a different story. Some that signed with Auburn have gone on to play their football on Sundays and others never lived up to the expectations that were set for them during the recruiting process.
In the last 10 to 12 years, recruiting has evolved into its own soap opera. A recruit's every step is examined and scrutinized by malicious fans. Dedicated sites like our friends at 247Sports cover Auburn recruiting throughout each recruiting cycle 365 days a year.
In the following slides, we will find the all-time best recruit that Auburn has signed at each position.
We aren't talking about on-field performance at Auburn here. We are talking about the recruit, the recruiting process and the amount of hype that prospect received leading up to signing day. On-field performance during their time at Auburn has little to do with why they were chosen.
A lot of the names will sound familiar and recent because former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville made a living largely off the 3-star recruits with great work ethic and coaching them up. But, as we'll see, he hit his share of home runs on the recruiting trail.
Gene Chizik, who coached the Tigers from 2009-2012, brought in highly touted recruiting classes in three of his four years on the Plains. The problem was that the talent he brought in did not translate into wins on the football field the last two years.
Let's see who made the cut...
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Cam Newton was a 5-star recruit out of Blinn Junior College in the class of 2010.
This one is a no-brainer. The recruitment of Newton to Auburn made national headlines in more ways than one in 2010 as Auburn made a run to the BCS title.
After leaving Florida after the 2008 season, he transferred to Blinn Junior College in Blinn, Texas. After tearing up the JUCO ranks, other SEC schools once again came knocking on the 6'6", 250-pound specimen's door.
Mississippi State and Auburn were his finalists. On New Year's Eve in 2009, he chose Auburn.
In November of 2010, news broke that Cam's father, Cecil Newton, allegedly asked Mississippi State for money to obtain Newton's signature during Cam's recruitment. What followed was a firestorm of allegations pointed at Auburn, due to assumptions that if Cecil asked Mississippi State for money, he must have asked Auburn for money and received it.
The NCAA ruled that Auburn had committed no violations in the recruitment of Newton in 2011.
Allegations aside, Newton's ability to keep himself and his team focused throughout the last two months of the 2010 season was remarkable. Newton defeated Auburn rivals UGA and Alabama under intense media and fan scrutiny.
Newton went on to become Auburn's third Heisman Trophy winner. He led the Tigers to the 2010 BCS National Championship. He was drafted No. 1 overall in the NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers. In his rookie season in 2011, he won the NFL's Rookie of the Year award.
It's safe to say that Newton lived up to the hype.
Running Back—Bo Jackson
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Recruiting rankings did not exist when Bo Jackson signed with the Tigers as a part of the 1982 signing class. Without a doubt, Jackson would have been an elite, 5-star recruit if they did exist.
As a kid, Jackson grew up in Bessemer, Ala., and his legend grew with every phenomenal feat he accomplished. In ESPN's 30 for 30, titled "You Don't Know Bo," Jackson was said to have created a "Paul Bunyan-like personality because of the weird stories that surrounded him."
Stories like doing a flat-footed back-flip in thigh-deep water or dunking a stick as an eighth grader are what made Jackson's athletic ability a valuable commodity to both Auburn and Alabama. He was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 1982 MLB draft but decided to attend college instead.
During his recruitment, Alabama told Jackson that he could come play ball in Tuscaloosa, but he likely wouldn't play until his junior year. Auburn promised him that he would have a chance to play immediately.
Jackson chose Auburn and was a big reason that Auburn got out from under the stranglehold of Alabama. In 1982, the freshman went "over the top" to give Auburn its first victory over Alabama since 1972. Since Jackson leapt over the pile that November day, Auburn holds a 17-14 advantage in wins over the Crimson Tide.
Jackson led Auburn to a Sugar Bowl victory in his sophomore season in 1983 as well as an SEC champioonship. He won a Heisman Trophy after his 1985 campaign.
Jackson also excelled on the baseball diamond. His accomplishments led to him getting drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the fourth round of the 1986 MLB draft.
Jackson's accomplishment as a two-sport athlete recently earned him the title, "Greatest Athlete of All Time" by ESPN in March.
He remains a very familiar face around Auburn athletics.
Wide Receiver—Ben Obomanu
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WR Ben Obomanu committed to Auburn's class of 2002 over Alabama, LSU and Notre Dame.
Obomanu was a star in the small town of Selma, Ala., where he dominated the Alabama high school ranks. He earned a 5-star ranking, according to Rivals.
"In my 28 years of coaching, I have never seen one any better than Ben coming out of high school," Selma head coach Jerome Harper said after Obomanu committed to Auburn. "He can electrify a crowd and change a game quick. Auburn got a unique person. He is going to make us proud" (via Bryan Matthews, Rivals.com).
His success did not stop at Selma High School. Obomanu went on to be a four-year contributor on Auburn's team, playing a big role on the undefeated 2004 team.
Obomanu is currently a WR for the Seattle Seahawks.
Offensive Lineman—Lee Ziemba
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Former Auburn offensive line coach Hugh Nall went into Rogers, Ark., in 2007 and picked up the state's top prospect. Lee Ziemba, a 4-star offensive line prospect, was hyped about as much as any offensive line recruit could be hyped.
Ziemba chose Auburn over Arkansas. Auburn landed the top two prospects from Arkansas in the 2007 class, as former Auburn WR Kodi Burns also signed with the Tigers.
Many recruiting analysts and college coaches drooled over Ziemba's massive 6'7", 295-pound frame. It was a frame that—as expected—Ziemba grew into in his college years. Ziemba finished his senior season at Auburn standing 6'8" and 319 pounds.
Ziemba lived up to the hype. He set the record for games started at Auburn in 2010 with 52 consecutive games in the starting lineup.
Ziemba was a key part of one of the top offensive lines in the country in 2010. While Cam Newton and Nick Fairley get a lot of credit, it was that offensive line that helped Auburn have one of the top offenses in the country.
Out of college, Ziemba signed with the Carolina Panthers after being drafted in the seventh round. In December of 2012, he was waived by the Panthers and quickly picked up by the Indianapolis Colts.
Defensive Lineman—Montravius Adams
Photo via 247sports.
The most hyped defensive line recruit has yet to set foot on Auburn's campus as a student.
Class of 2013 defensive tackle Montravius Adams is a 5-star recruit that signed with Auburn last February. He chose the Tigers over Georgia, Alabama and Clemson.
Auburn did not have much of a shot to land Adams until Rodney Garner was hired by new Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. At some point in Adams recruitment, all three schools in consideration other than Auburn led for his signature. It turns out that it was Alabama that Auburn edged out for Adams' commitment.
"A lot of people didn't know, but I was about to go to Alabama," Adams told the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Michael Carvell. "It's just when I went back to Auburn for my last official, that's when I made up my mind about that it was where I wanted to be. But if I hadn't gone on that last official visit, I would probably be with Alabama right now."
Scouting Adams, it's easy to see why he is so highly touted. Although he is a monstrous 6'4", 310 pounds, he has a very quick step that will allow him to be successful at the 1- or 3-technique in college. A lot of analysts think he is ready to play SEC football on day one.
He will arrive at Auburn with very high expectations for a freshman.
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Tray Blackmon came to Auburn as a part of the 2005 signing class. Blackmon was the No. 1 LB in America when he signed with the Tigers, according to Rivals.
Auburn beat out Florida State and Georgia for Blackmon's commitment.
Blackmon's ferocious hits as a high school senior is one thing that had nearly every major school in the Southeast knocking on his door. Ultimately, former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville convinced Blackmon to call Auburn home.
Blackmon's Auburn career never reached 5-star status like his recruitment did. His Auburn career ended after he broke his wrist in the fourth game of the 2008 season. He left the team to support his family after the injury.
Blackmon left Auburn in 2009 to play in the CFL for the Calgary Stampede.
Defensive Back—Joshua Holsey
Photo via 247sports.
After having secondary troubles in the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Auburn fans were excited to see Joshua Holsey ink his name to a letter of intent in the 2012 signing class for Auburn.
Holsey was a 4-star recruit and was labeled as the 12th best cornerback in the nation, according to 247sports. He chose the Tigers over Georgia, LSU and Virginia Tech.
Holsey was a safety in college, but his coverage skills and his speed led most schools to recruit him as a CB. According to Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Holsey ran a 4.31 40-yard dash which made his stock increase dramatically.
Holsey had a stellar four years at Creekside High School in Georgia. "He's the best defensive back we've had at Creekside since Eric Berry was here," Creekside coach Johnny White told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "His ball skills, his athleticism, his speed ... he's the total package" (via Charles Goldberg, AL.com)
In his freshman campaign, Holsey lived up to the hype. He earned a starting spot at corner, eventually becoming one of the Tigers' best defensive back in man-to-man coverage. Only time will tell if he will continue to live up to the hype he received as a highly regarded prospect.