Of the four new head coaches in the SEC, Auburn's Gus Malzahn has the best chance for an immediate turnaround considering the talent on the roster and the familiarity he has with that talent.
But it isn't just the immediate future that looks bright for the Tigers. The long-term health of the program looks good, especially after a sizzling week on the recruiting trail.
Malzahn and his staff locked down commitments from three 4-star prospects last week in the 247Sports.com composite index—junior college safety Derrick Moncrief from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Mobile, Ala., (Vigor) defensive end Justin Thornton and Mobile, Ala. (St. Paul's Episcopal) linebacker Tre' Williams.
Moncrief, a 6'2", 227-pounder originally from Prattville, Ala., has the speed to play safety at Auburn but the size to drop down and play the "star" position, which is a hybrid linebacker/safety spot in defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson's 4-2-5 scheme. He has offers from Kentucky and Oklahoma State and will compete for immediate playing time when he joins the Tigers next fall.
Thornton is one of the most sought-after prospects in the Mobile area, which has long been in the wheelhouse of new co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig. The 6'5", 222-pounder is quick off the edge and can grow into his tall frame to become a force against the run once he gets into a college weight-training program.
Craig was instrumental in securing the commitment of Mobile's Williams as well, as the 6'2", 230-pounder pledged to the Tigers on May 8. Williams is arguably the centerpiece of Auburn's recruiting class thus far, due to his star value and position he plays.
Linebacker has long been a sore spot for the Tigers, and if nothing else, Williams can provide depth behind Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy once he gets to campus next year.
Not bad to say the least. A hot week on the recruiting trail is never a bad thing, but the timing of this particular week is very important to Malzahn's overall 2014 recruiting plan.
The annual "Big Cat Weekend"—which is a tactic started by former head coach Gene Chizik that attracts dozens of unofficial visitors to the Plains at the same time—is happening Memorial Day weekend.
Visitors are still up in the air (and subject to change), but 4-star defensive tackle Elisha Shaw will be there.
Shaw could be joined by a laundry list of top talent in the class of 2014, including 5-star, in-state running back Racean Thomas.
Recruiting is a marathon, not a sprint, but the future looks bright for the Tigers moving forward.
Of the seven commits Auburn has in the class of 2014, not one has new associate head coach Rodney Garner listed as either the primary or secondary recruiting, according to 247Sports.com.
Garner was listed as one of the nation's top-50 recruiters in 2013 by 247Sports.com and top-25 recruiters by Rivals.com and has established himself as one of the SEC's top recruiters in his 15 seasons at Georgia.
That tells me that the best may be yet to come for Malzahn's Tigers.
Auburn isn't going to stay down for long.
The roster and new coaching staff can get the Tigers bowl-eligible in Year 1 under Malzahn. If their recruiting stays at its current pace, then they'll be back in the mix for the division title in short order.
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