I have been an Auburn fan for a couple of years now. I suffered through the bittersweet 2004 season when Auburn got shafted for the national championship. I watched legendary players like Carnell "Cadillac" Williams and Ronnie Brown punish opponents. Since that amazing season the Auburn Tigers have fallen on hard times going from a decent season in 06 to two poor season in 07 and 08.
Yet as long as I have been an Auburn fan I have never felt as much excitement on a national level as right now. This off season they are already getting as much publicity as the likes of Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators. Auburn is poised to dominate the SEC for the next decade starting with 2010. Lets look at this a little bit closer.
Auburn's future domination starts and ends with the recruitment of 5 star JUCO transfer Cameron Newton. Newton was a 5 star recruit coming out of high school and committed to play football with the Gators. After legal problems and not enough playing time Newton transferred to Binn college where he was nothing less than lights out. He lead Binn college to play in the NJCAA championship. Following this Newton made the decision to enroll at Auburn, with the hopes of being the starting QB. With the graduation of starter Chris Todd, the Auburn QB job is wide open. Newton's primary competition will be with so to be Senior Neil Caudle. Since Caudle hasn't been able to earn any valuable playing time thus far. I look for Newton to dominate the competition and lead Auburn for the next 2 years.
Watching Newton play is like watching a combination of Peyton Manning and Michael Vick. He has elite level passing skills, and his mobility is second to none. He also has the advantage of already playing some D-1 ball with the Florida Gators. Look for Newton to be the face of this Auburn team for the next several years.
Besides having to fill the starting QB spot, the Tigers must fill the starting tailback spot. Which was vacated with the graduation of Doak Walker finalist Ben Tate. Tate over the last year has been nothing but phenomenal, rushing for in 2009, almost 1400 yards and 10 touchdowns. Filling these big shoes will not be so easy. Yet they have one incoming freshman who should ease their loss. Michael Dyer has dominated where ever he has played and it looks as if Auburn will be no different. Dyer has good size at 5'8, 200 lbs, and if you throw in 4.4 speed, you have a rare breed of a running back. The thing that makes Dyer even more impressive is his school, spirit. Dyer has been quoted in saying things like "I a Tiger through and through". Dyer has so much school pride he has even gone as far as attempting to sway fellow recruits like fellow five star running back recruit Marcus Lattimore to attend Auburn. Dyer may be one of the most valuable recruits Auburn has had in a while, on and off the field.
Newton while playing at Auburn is going to have to get use out of his wide out's. Luckily for Newton, Auburn has one of the best up and coming WR's core's in all of college football. Darvin Adams was Auburn's top wide out in 2009, catching 60 passes for nearly 1,000 yards. Not to mention that Adams is only a mere sophomore. Adams was able to put up those impressive stats with extremely inconsistent QB play from Kodi Burns. If Newton plays as well as he is billed Adams could be one of 2010's top candidates for the Bilenikoff award. Throw in the fact that in 2009 Auburn had only one senior wideout makes their roster seem even more impressive.
Not only has Auburn's offense turned a major corner behind the leadership of Gene Chizik. The defense at times this past season has been very good. The problem is consistency. In this years Iron Bowl Auburn's defense was very stingy limiting Heisman winner Mark Ingram and the Crimson Tide to 291 yards of total offense. Though they eventually lost the game the D showed great poise in limiting Ingram to 1.9 yards per carry and only 31 yards on the ground. Yet in this years Outback bowl the Tigers D allowed Mike Kafka, QB Northwestern, to throw for 532 yards and four touchdowns, and almost blew the game.(Though Kafka also had 5 interceptions to go along with his four TD's, still 532 and 4 touchdowns is still unacceptable for a SEC Defense).
Over the last year I have seen an Auburn program that looked to be floundering transform under the leadership of Gene Chizik, into and offensive team that can be a force. With the help of, well, flat out amazing recruiting, Auburn looks to be on its way and carry its successful 2009 season's momentum into the next decade. In the next decade look for several teams to dominate play in the SEC, I believe with the loss of Tim Tebow, the face of this past decade, a new team will come and with them a new decade of domination and that team might just be Auburn.