Auburn Football Recruiting: Everything You Need to Know for National Signing Day
After Auburn's heartbreaking loss to Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game, the only thing left for Tigers fans to do is look forward to the future.
As it turns out, "the future" is almost here—as Auburn's 2014 signing class continues to shape itself with national signing day approaching.
Believe it or not, the Auburn coaching staff has been almost just as successful off the field as it has been on the field in the past several months. While Gus Malzahn and the Auburn coaches were engineering the best turnaround in the history of college football between the whistles on game days, they were also putting together a solid recruiting class off the field—one that they hope will help bring the Tigers back within reach of a national championship sometime soon.
With Feb. 5 just on the horizon, here is everything Tigers fans need to know before letters of intent start rolling in on national signing day—and before Auburn takes its first steps toward what looks like a bright future ahead on the Plains.
Top Remaining Targets
Of all the recruits out there still up for grabs, no one prospect may be more centered in the Auburn coaching staff's crosshairs than the one closest to home—5-star Auburn High School outside linebacker Rashaan Evans.
Standing at 6'3" and weighing in at 220 lbs., Evans is one of the country's most versatile defensive prospects. At the next level, Evans could play anywhere from safety at the back of the defense to right on the line as a hand-down outside linebacker. Evans is regarded as the nation's third-best outside linebacker and state's second-best player by 247sports.
Evans recently narrowed his top choices down to three finalists in Auburn, Alabama, and UCLA, per AL.com's Matt Scalici—after Todd Grantham's recent departure from Georgia.
With redshirt sophomore Greg Robinson leaving for the NFL Draft, Auburn has a hole to fill at left tackle. Returning Tigers Shon Coleman and Avery Young are expected to compete for the starting spot—and both appear capable of taking the reins—but Auburn would be able to throw a fresh face into the mix and add even more depth at the position if the coaching staff is able to land Jordan Prestwood.
Prestwood, a 4-star junior college transfer, would add quality talent at offensive tackle right away. Prestwood is rated as the nation's 10th-best JUCO player by 247sports. Three years ago, 247sports rated Prestwood as the nation's fourth-best offensive tackle in the class of 2011.
The Auburn coaching staff has already managed to reel in 21 recruits for the 2014 signing class, including five enrollees and 16 verbal commitments.
- D'haquille Williams: 6'3", 213 lbs. WR, Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. (Perkinston, MS)
- Derrick Moncrief: 6'3", 226 lbs. S, Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. (Perkinston, MS)
- Stanton Truitt: 5'10", 185 lbs. ATH, Monroe Area (Monroe, GA)
- Chris Laye: 6'5", 240 lbs. TE, Lambert (Suwanee, GA)
- Xavier Dampeer: 6'4", 300 lbs. C, Copiah-Lincoln C.C. (Wesson, MS)
- Racean Thomas: 5'11", 196 lbs. RB, Oxford (Oxford, AL)
- Tre' Williams: 6'2", 230 lbs. LB, St. Paul's Episcopal (Mobile, AL)
- Kalvaraz Bessent: 6'0", 170 lbs. CB, Camden County (Kingsland, GA)
- Justin Thornton: 6'5", 222 lbs. DE, Vigor (Mobile, AL)
- Dontavius Russell: 6'3", 300 lbs. DT, Carrollton (Carrollton, GA)
- Stephen Roberts: 6'0", 177 lbs. CB, Opelika (Opelika, AL)
- Nick Ruffin: 6'0", 180 lbs. CB, St. Pius X (Atlanta, GA)
- DaVonte Lambert: 6'3", 278 lbs. DE, Georgia Military College (Milledgeville, GA)
- Sean White: 6'2", 204 lbs. QB, University School (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
- Dalvon Stuckey: 6'3", 300 lbs. DT, Pearl River C.C. (Poplarville, MS)
- Kamryn Pettway: 5'11", 221 lbs. RB, Prattville (Prattville, AL)
- Jakell Mitchell: 6'3", 214 lbs. TE, Opelika (Opelika, AL)
- De'Shaun Davis: 6'0", 225 lbs. LB, Vigor (Mobile, AL)
- Myron Burton: 6'2", 203 lbs. ATH, Peachtree Ridge (Suwanee, GA)
- Devaroe Lawrence: 6'3", 278 lbs. DT, Georgia Military College (Milledgeville, GA)
- Raashed Kennion: 6'6", 228 lbs. DE, First Coast (Jacksonville, FL)
Players Who Could Contribute as Freshmen
With running back Tre Mason out the door and headed for the NFL Draft, Auburn will be looking to replace his 1,800-plus yards of output in 2014—and there's no reason why 4-star running back Racean Thomas can't be a big part of that undertaking.
The Tigers will likely find themselves using a by-committee approach in 2014, as returning Tigers Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant—while proven backs—will be hard-pressed to fill the shoes of one of the greatest running backs to ever come through the Plains.
Thomas could come in and help shoulder the load along with Artis-Payne, Grant and others, taking significant snaps and seeing solid playing time during his freshman season.
As the Auburn defense rolls into its second season in defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson's 4-2-5 scheme, the Tigers expect to see some movement at the linebacker position as senior Jake Holland graduates.
Holland's departure could make room for Tre' Williams, who will be looking to secure a spot somewhere in the rotation alongside Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy.
The Tigers struggled to find consistent play at linebacker all season in 2013—and Williams will only be able to help the cause in solidifying the position in 2014, no matter where he finds his place in the group.
Storylines to Watch
Close to Home
Auburn has been successful so far this recruiting season when it comes to nabbing its hometown talent—already pulling in 3-star tight end Jakell Mitchell from Auburn's neighboring city of Opelika and flipping his teammate, 4-star cornerback Stephen Roberts, away from Alabama a week before the Iron Bowl.
Now, the Tigers coaches have their sights set on 5-star Auburn High School prospect Rashaan Evans. Evans has narrowed his choices down to three finalists: Auburn, in his own hometown; Alabama, within the state; and UCLA, clear across the country.
If Auburn is able to keep Evans close to home and earn his letter of intent on national signing day, the Tigers would have completed a solid trifecta in keeping its top local talent at home—finding three solid prospects who could each become major contributors for the Tigers down the road.
Stud JUCO Duo
A pair of signees from Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. should have an immediate impact on the Plains in 2014.
Williams is rated as the nation's No. 1 JUCO prospect by 247sports, and he was named as an honorable mention on the NJCAA All-American team in 2013 after being a first-team All-American in 2012. Moncrief is rated by 247sports as the nation's top JUCO safety.
Under Armour Connection
Eight Auburn commits played in the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 4—including quarterback Sean White, who finished 10-of-12 for 156 yards and two touchdowns and earned MVP honors in the game.
Under Armour has been Auburn's official equipment and apparel provider since 2005—and Auburn is the company's top revenue-producing school. Under Armour also famously sponsored former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton after his departure for the NFL.
Auburn's eight commits stood as the second most for any school at the game, behind only Alabama's 13.