Who'll make this sort of impact this season?
War Eagle, everybody! National Signing Day has come and gone, and Coach Gene Chizik and his staff have once again signed a tremendously regarded class of football players! ESPN ranks Auburn's class 3rd in the nation! If nothing else, this class is LOADED with great linemen, and that's where this game is won or lost. Your guess is as good as mine as to who will be an instant star, but I'll take a crack. I think Jonathan Rose out of Leeds high school will be able to crack the playing rotation at cornerback immediately. Chris Westerman at guard or tackle might be the runner up. You'd have to pencil in Tre Mason as well. If there's anything to raise an eyebrow at, it's that the Tigers only signed one running back. Several "atheletes" could fill in there, but it looks like the coaches expect Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb to carry the load.
To see the sort of year-one impact a good class might have, we need look no further back than 2010. As with most classes,some starred, some played roles, some are developing, and some washed out. Here's a look back a year, and what those signees did in 2010. (I'm using ESPN's star ratings for convenience.)
2010 signee performances, after the jump!
Cameron Newton: Won the Heisman trophy as Auburn's starting quarterback, and had a near-sweep of most national quarterback and offensive MVP awards. Accounted for a school record 51 touchdowns. Is headed to the NFL after just one season.
Brandon Mosley: Became a starter at right tackle after just three games. Returns for his senior season as Auburn's top offensive lineman and only returning starter.
Roszell Gayden: Spent an injury-plagued ten months with the Tigers, then left the team, with the intention to transfer.
Ladarius Phillips: Was making a case in fall camp to be in the playing rotation at H-Back, but was derailed by injury and redshirted. Coaches were looking at Phillips at defensive tackle in bowl practices.
Tunde Fariyike: Came in on the heavy side at over 330 pounds and redshirted, presumably to work on conditioning.
Jessel Curry: Emerged from fall practice as the top dime-package linebacker, but succumbed to injury as the season went on. Should compete for playing time in 2011.
Ryan Smith: Played sparingly in mop-up duty at safety. Should be granted a redshirt year. Will have a chance to compete for playing time in 2011.
Justin Delaine: The speedy but small defensive end was redshirted and will spend the winter working to get bigger.
Demetruce McNeil: Made an immediate impact as a head-hunter on special teams, and got into the playing rotation at safety after the season-ending injury to Aaron Savage. May be the fastest Auburn safety. Made a crucial tackle near the goal line against Oregon to save a touchdown on a drive where Auburn eventually stopped the Ducks on the goal line on 4th down. Will likely start in 2011.
Chad Slade: Big offensive lineman spent the fall on the scout team, and redshirted.
Chris Davis: Immediately cracked the playing rotation at cornerback, often matched up on the SEC's biggest and best. Should compete for a starting job in 2011.
Jonathan Mincy: Looked to be earning playing time at cornerback in fall camp, but was suspended by head coach Gene Chizik just before the season opener. Redshirted.
Ryan White: Initially battled for a spot among the quarterbacks, but settled in for a scout team year at cornerback. The redshirt came off against Ole Miss and Chattanooga, as injuries mounted for the Tigers. White will compete for playing time in 2011.
Jeremy Richardson: Failed to qualify, enrolled at East Mississippi Junior College.
Shon Coleman: Endured a battle with cancer, and has re-signed with Auburn for the 2011 class.
Kenneth Carter: Saw playing time at defensive tackle, and is probably the number two returning tackle for the 2011 season. He's a likely starter.
Craig Sanders: Became the lead head-hunter on special teams coverage units, and saw cameos at defensive end. Should compete for playing rotation time at defensive end in 2011.
Steven Clark: Started at punter for several games, before losing the job back to Ryan Shoemaker down the stretch. Will likely be the starting punter in 2011.
Jawara White: Suffered a serious neck injury in preseason workouts and was redshirted.
Jeffery Whitaker: Stepped into the playing rotation immediately as Nick Fairley's backup. Should be a starter in 2011, and may be poised for a break-out year.
Cody Parkey: Split time as a kickoff specialist with Wes Byrum. Also kicked a few extra points in mop-up duty. Should be the starting kicker in 2011.
Ed Christian: Was redshirted in 2011. Could compete for playing time on the offensive line in 2011.
LaDarius Owens: Redshirted, but should compete for playing time at linebacker in 2011.
Shaun Kitchens: Worked at H-back and was occasionally in the playing rotation, finishing with one catch for minus three yards. Could move to wide receiver after the departures of Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachary.
Corey Lemonier: Saw extensive playing time at both defensive end spots. Should compete for a starting job in 2011, and may be a break out star as a sophomore.
Eric Mack: Some estimated Mack's weight as high as 365 pounds at this time last year. He redshirted in 2010, and could be a factor on the offensive line in 2011.
Antonio Goodwin: Played sparingly early in 2010 at wide receiver after rave reviews in fall camp. May be eligible for a redshirt year. Should be a factor in the wide receiver corps in 2011.
Trovon Reed: Was another player who got many kudos in fall camp, but an ankle injury limited his playing time. Reed finished with two carries for eight yards on a pair of snaps from the wildcat quarterback formation. He should be eligible for a medical redshirt, and much like Onterio McCalebb this past season, Reed could be an explosive factor on offense in 2011.
Michael Dyer: Earned the number one running back spot less than midway through his freshman season, and finished with a freshman school record of 1093 rushing yards. Two big Dyer runs at the end of the BCS title game propelled the Tigers to victory. Dyer is poised to be a star in the SEC in 2011.
Using a strategic mix of early acceptance and over-signing, Auburn had 32 guys lined up to come in for the 2010 season. By the numbers, 3 guys did not make it or transferred out. 11 guys never saw the field for various reasons, and were redshirted. 3 guys saw very limited playing time, and should still be eligible for redshirts. That leaves 15 guys that played significant downs. 3 guys (Newton, Dyer and Mosley) became full-time starters. And of course, Newton was the most decorated player in college football in 2010. I'd say that the 2011 class will have its work cut out to have as much impact as the 2010 group did! However, with all those linemen Auburn signed, anything is possible.