Out of miracles, Auburn came up just short of the national title with a gut-wrenching 34-31 loss to Florida State in the Jan. 6 BCS title game. Now, the Tigers and their fans will quickly fix their gaze to the future with the hopes this program can sustain the success it found this year.
The way recruiting is going early, Auburn stands a good chance to do just that:
Auburn's Gus Malzahn: "Our program is very bright right now. We have most of our guys coming back, and recruiting is going great."— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) January 7, 2014
These next three players, in particular, appear poised to make an impact not just down the road, but next season.
Tre' Williams, LB, 6'2", 230 lbs.
Tre Williams is almost a certain lock to make an impact at Auburn next year. He is an exceptional prospect, and linebacker is a position of need for Auburn.
He is listed by 247 Sports' composite rankings as the second-best inside linebacker of his class and the 33rd overall recruit.
The 2014 commit appears to be best suited for the inside linebacker position. He has an excellent first step and a natural ability to read and react to the offensive play.
He also has the strength and attitude to handle blockers in the run game.
If he is going to struggle, it will come in space. Although he has a good initial burst, he does not have a great top speed, and he is stiff while trying to change directions.
D'haquille Williams, WR, 6'3", 213 lbs.
D'haquille Williams is ranked by 247 Sports' composite rankings as the No. 1 junior college player in this class. His addition will help the Tigers find a more balanced attack on offense.
Just his commitment to Auburn is a boost to the program. Auburn didn't land Williams until he decommitted from LSU in May. I'm sure Auburn won't be shy about pointing out this recruiting win over a conference foe as they push on in the recruiting trail.
Williams has the talent and production to justify the recruiting battle for his services. According to NOLA.com, Williams produced 67 catches for 18 touchdowns and nearly 1,300 yards this past season.
Williams is a rare combination of physicality and speed. 247 Sports lists him with 4.4 time in the 40 and watching film, it quickly becomes evident he is eager to attack defensive backs.
Racean Thomas, RB, 5'11", 196 lbs.
The potential impact Racean Thomas can make next year is largely out of his control. Incumbent running back and Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason is still undecided about his future. Mason has filed paperwork to the NFL Draft Advisory Committee to find out his perceived draft value in the upcoming draft.
If Mason doesn't come back, Thomas will still have to fight for playing time with the returning Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant. No matter what happens, however, head coach Gus Malzahn should find playing time for this talented youngster.
Thomas was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for a season where he rushed for 2,211 yards and 32 touchdowns.
In 247 Sports' composite rankings, Thomas is ranked as the third-best back in this class and the 17th-best recruit overall.