Despite the recent run of both rivals and scout magazine Top 20 signing classes, AU hasn’t been effective in translating that onto the field with incoming impact players.
A couple of notable exceptions can be found along the offensive line in juniors Lee Ziemba and Ryan Pugh. Both have played since early in their true freshman years, and Ziemba has never missed a start.
Several others have seen some playing time as true freshmen but nothing on the scale of these two.
This year AU will likely have to rely on several signees, both freshman and JUCO transfers to fill a depleted depth chart.
Several of these players have a legitimate chance at becoming real impact players this year. Let’s take a closer look at some of these new faces.
5. Darren Bates- A two-star commit from Olive Branch, Miss., Bates got a late start due to the NCAA clearinghouse. He arrived three days into fall practice. After a horrible first day, Darren quickly began to turn heads. Bates has been a standout in practice and scrimmages. He's already battling for the starting free safety spot, and may just win it.
4. Nosa Eguae- What a great name. This guy also is turning some heads at 6'2", 244 lbs. and speed to burn. He is already listed as third-team strong side DE. He will definitely see some action.
3. Deangelo Benton- LSU fans are aware of Benton, as he is one of the top-rated Louisiana high school receivers. A huge signing day surprise for AU fans, Benton has been the most impressive of the incoming receivers and has shown why he was such a highly-touted recruit out of high school. He will make an immediate impact in the Tigers' passing game.
2. Eltoro "The Bull" Freeman- This guy will make AU fans forget about Trey Blackmons disappointing Auburn carrier. A JUCO All-American last year, Freeman has already worked his way into the starting weak side linebacker spot, and looks to be one of the more impressive newcomers so far. Freeman has been banged up over the last week, but look for him to be in the starting lineup Sept. 5.
1. Onterrio McCalleb You might as well get used to saying this name. This young man will be the next AU running back superstar. With lightning speed he will be the perfect fit in Malzahn's offense.
Several other true freshmen and JUCO transfers have a great shot at playing time and even starting. This includes QB Tyrik Rollison, TE Phillip Lutzenkirchen, CB Desmond Washington,and WRs Anthony Gulley and Emory Blake.