War Eagle, everybody! What a year it has been. After the disaster of the 2008 campaign, Auburn faces a tough road back to the top of the SEC. Due to unprecedented attrition, Auburn played the 2009 season with shockingly few players. Despite the low numbers, Auburn fought hard, and made us proud. The spirit of Auburn has been renewed! Who persevered through the tough times, and was still on the Auburn roster at the end of 2009?
From the 2006 class: Mike Berry , Mike Blanc, Neil Caudle, Zach Clayton, Bart Eddins, Zach Etheridge, Mario Fannin, Michael Goggins, Byron Isom, Jake Ricks, Darrell Roseman, Ryan Shoemaker, Craig Stevens, Ben Tate and Terrell Zachary. That's 14 players.
From the 2007 class: Kodi Burns, Josh Bynes, Wes Byrum, Quindarius Carr, Antoine Carter, Jared Cooper, John Douglas, Nick Fairley, Eltoro Freeman, A. J. Greene, Adam Herring, Michael McNeil, Ryan Pugh, Mike Slade, Bailey Woods, and Lee Ziemba. Freeman and Fairley took two years to actually get into Auburn. That's 16 players.
From the 2008 class: Darvin Adams, T'Sharvan Bell, Drew Cole, D'Antoine Hood, Neiko Thorpe, Derrick Lykes, Onterio McCalebb, Phillip Pierre-Louis, Spencer Pybus, Eric Smith, Vance Smith, Barett Trotter, Derek Winter, and Chris Todd. McCalebb was a year late getting in. That's 14 players.
From the 2009 class: Dontae Aycock, Daren Bates, DeAngelo Benton, Emory Blake, Robert Cooper, Nosa Eguae, Jonathan Evans, Dee Ford, Harris Gaston, Anthony Gulley, Andre Harris, Phillip Lutzenkirchen, Clint Moseley, Tyrik Rollinson, Travante Stallworth, John Sullen, Jamar Travis, and Demond Washington. That's 18 in the freshman class.
All in all, only 68 signees from the past five years made it through to the end, an average of 12.6 per year. Even the last 4 classes averaged only 15.5 players. And the above figures also include a few suspended players, and players who've been battling injury. From this year's group, graduation will claim Antonio Coleman, Andrew McCain, Walter McFadden, Gabe McKenzie, Jake Ricks, Chris Todd and Tommy Trott. The only other scholarship senior is Clinton Durst, who walked on originally. Even with graduation, Auburn returns 60 signees. With a deep signing class this year, Auburn could be close to 85 scholarship players next fall.
2010 is set up for the Tigers to succeed. While we are rebuilding our depth, the starters who return should be good enough to be in the thick of the SEC race, if they aren't having to play every snap. 2011 might well be the toughest of the rebuilding years, as both lines of scrimmage will be made up of young players. Looking at the 2009 depth chart, only a few key players leave. We'll need help on the defensive line the most. All starting linebackers return, and only Walter McFadden leaves from the secondary. We'll need to find a punter, and a punt returner. The offense must replace a right tackle and a quarterback, and must find a starting tailback out of a number of capable candidates. Auburn's starters will be a year better, and we should have a bit deeper well of talented young men to fill in. The schedule is favorable too, with neither Florida nor Tennessee on it. LSU, Arkansas and Georgia visit Jordan Hare. Auburn's road trips are to Starkville, Lexington, Oxford, and Tuscaloosa..
War Eagle! I can't wait for spring ball to start!