The Auburn Tigers have gotten a big jump on their 2016 recruiting class, getting an early commitment from 5-star wide receiver Nate Craig on Monday.
Craig, who hails from Tampa Catholic High School in Florida, tweeted the news of his college decision:
According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Craig is the No. 2 receiver in his class and the 17th-best prospect overall. The site also lists him at 6'3" and 205 pounds while ESPN.com (subscription required) notes that Craig runs a 4.62-second 40-yard dash.
Allie Davison of Rivals.com spoke with one scout who had particularly high praise for the dynamic playmaker:
How good is Nate Craig? One analyst told me he could be the No. 1 player in the 2016 class…overall.— Allie Davison (@Allie_Davison) July 22, 2014
There is no question that Craig is a special talent, and he will bring a game-changing element to Auburn's offense. Already possessing an enviable blend of size and speed, Craig figures to only get faster and stronger once he moves on to the collegiate level.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is creative with his game plans, though he has often relied heavily on the rushing attack in both of his recent stints with the program.
That was especially true in his first season at the helm, when Malzahn guided the Tigers to the national title game. Adding someone like Craig will open up both dimensions of the offense. Presuming Auburn continues recruiting well and running the ball with similar effectiveness, Craig is in store for plenty of big plays.
How do you feel about Nate Craig?
Craig has outstanding ball skills that suggest uncommon instincts and feel for the game. What also stands out is his field vision once the ball is in his hands. Stretching the field vertically and being such a threat on quick slants and short passes will make Craig a nightmare for SEC defensive coordinators in the years to come.
The route tree deployed in the Tigers passing game also isn't likely to be overwhelming in its complexity. It's important for Craig to continue developing and refining his technique in that regard, but the fit at Auburn should allow him to make an immediate impact, too.
Malzahn has demonstrated the capability to capitalize on the strengths of his skill players. It should be no different with a wideout like Craig at his disposal. This is a great match for both parties—one that should allow Craig to grow into one of the premier prospects from the Class of 2016.