With one week remaing until National Signing Day 2012, Auburn is sitting at 15 commitments and nine spots left to fill in this class. There are several highly regarded prospects who list Auburn in their top two or three that will be announcing on signing day. Either the coaches are magicians with something up their sleeve, or they are playing a very dangerous game.
All of the ups and downs since the end of the regular season have been well chronicled. But, in case you were under a rock, a quick recap: First, the (not so unexpected) departure of Ted Roof left an opening at the defensive coordinator position. Then Gus Malzahn went back to his home state to be the head coach at Arkansas State, leaving the offensive coordinator spot empty. Due to the upcoming bowl game, Chizik decided to focus his attention to bowl preparation rather than a coaching search. He took his time filling the positions.
How much of an effect did that have on recruiting? A little ... maybe a lot. There was a running back from Daphne that deceived the coaches and wound up across the state and Ricardo Louis grew leary of how long it took to fill the offensive coordinator spot, allowing FSU to gain favor. But, in the end, when Chizik finally filled the positions, he hit a homerun. Some might say it was a walk-off grand slam. Brian VanGorder and Scot Loeffler are very good coaches and very good recruiters. We will see in seven days how much of an impact they'll have on this class or if the amount of time that passed without having coordinators in place stalled any momentum Auburn may have had. One thing is for certain, the coaches are busting their tails out on the trail this week, dropping in to check on top prospects and current commits.
We currently have 15 commitments, and some very good ones. If Auburn only signed the fifteen guys they currently have committed, sure it would be disappointing, but it shouldn't be. There is a lot of talent in the group, and at positions of need. Who are they?
Zeke Pike - QB - 3 star, 6'5 220, Enrolled
Jovon Robinson - RB - 4 star, 5'11 220
Jay Prosch - FB - TR, 6'1 250, Enrolled
JaQuay Williams - WR - 4 star, 6'4 200
Ricky Parks - TE - 4 star, 6'4 235
Darrion Hutcherson - TE - 3 star, 6'7 245
Patrick Miller - OL - 4 star, 6'6 275, Enrolled
Shane Callahan - OL - 4 star, 6'6 275, Enrolled
Robert Leff - OL - 3 star, 6'6 270
Tyler Nero - DL - 4 star, 6'2 285
Gimel President - DL - 3 star, 6'4 250
Javiere Mitchell - LB - 4 star, 6'2 209, Enrolled
Cassanova McKinzy - LB - 4 star, 6'3 230
Joshua Holsey - DB - 4 star, 5'11 175
Jonathan Jones - DB - 3 star, 5'10 184
TJ Davis - DB - 3 star, 6'1 172
*Note: Star ratings from 247Sports
Jay Prosch is a redshirt sophomore transfer from Illinois that will count towards the 25 limit for this signing class.
Who is remaining?
Nine of the current 15 commitments are on the offensive side of the ball, which makes you think that the remaining targets will be heavy on defense. There are 16 recruits left on the board that Auburn is focusing on to try and close out this class with. Of those, seven are on the defensive side of the ball. Let's look at those first.
Arik Armstead - 5-star athlete, wants to play DE and that is where Auburn is recruiting him. Could also be a monster at offensive tackle. A lot will depend on whether his older brother, Armond, is granted a waiver from the SEC. Notre Dame, Cal, Oregon, and USC are also in the mix. Signing Day decision.
Eddie Goldman - The big defensive tackle from Washington DC has narrowed his list down to Auburn, FSU and Alabama. It is likely going to be an AU/FSU battle all the way until signing day for the 5-star. Signing Day decision.
Ronald Darby - This 5-star defensive back was committed to Notre Dame but recently opened it up. Now it seems like it will come down to an Auburn/FSU battle. Signing Day decision.
Leonard Williams - It's going to come down to Auburn or Florida for this athletic 4-star defensive lineman. Signing Day decision.
Kwon Alexander - 4-star in-state linebacker will decide between Auburn, Alabama or LSU. Signing Day decision.
Deon Bush - Auburn was thought to lead big at one time, but the 4-star defensive back committed to Miami. Auburn coaches have not given up trying to flip him. One to watch on Signing Day
Jordan Moore - Has exploded on the scene late. Played wide receiver primarily, but injuries to a teammate forced him to play safety in the playoffs. Has received over a dozen big-time offers based on those three games alone. It's down to Auburn or TCU for the 3-star. Signing Day decision.
Are you seeing a pattern? Let's continue with the offensive players left on the board.
Cordarrelle Patterson - The top JuCo wide reciever is a 5-star. He has narrowed his list down to Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee. Playing time is a factor, and that may work against UT. Signing Day decision.
Menelik Watson - The 4-star JuCo offensive lineman will be another Auburn/FSU battle. Has not set a decision date, but could come before Signing Day.
Avery Young - 4-star offensive tackle will decide between Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Miami. Auburn and Georgia are neck and neck with Florida making a strong late push. Signing Day decision.
Alex Kozan - 3-star offensive lineman has a top 3 consisting of Auburn, Iowa and Michigan. A decision is expected later this week.
Beniquez Brown - A 4-star athlete who is being recruited to play running back by Auburn. He is also atheltic and big enough to play linebacker if needed there. Mississippi State and Tennessee are probably the leaders, but if Auburn pushes, the Tigers could get in there late. Probable Signing Day decision.
Jeremy Liggins - Big 4-star athlete is being recruited as a quarterback. His top four consist of Ole Miss, Miss State, Auburn and Alabama. Possible Signing Day decision.
Ricardo Louis - A one time Auburn commit, flipped to Florida State after a visit while Auburn was searching for its offensive coordinator. Loeffler made Louis one of the first players he visited after being hired, and the 4-star wide receiver could flip back by Signing Day.
Jordan Diamond - 4-star offensive tackle has a top 5 of Auburn, Arkansas, Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Has said he has a top three, but won't say who they are, except that Auburn is one of the 3. Has said he will notify the coaches of his decision before signing day but will not announce his decision until Friday, Feb. 3.
Stefon Diggs - 5-star wide reciever has been hard to read. Auburn, Florida, Ohio State and Maryland are on top of his list. It's believed to be an Auburn/Florida battle. He has said he won't have a decision until Friday, Feb. 10.
The first thing that jumps out is that there is a lot of talent on the board. There are a lot of stars listed above. If Auburn can fill the 9 open spots with any combination of the sixteen players listed above it will be very good. Possibly a top 5 class. There is also the chance that we miss on a majority of those guys on signing day. If that happens, most fans would feel very disappointed, and I would fully expect to see a message board meltdown. Would it be warranted? Absolutely not! We are still looking at signing at least 10 4-star or better prospects, all at positions of need. That will be a top 15 signing class. Not bad at all considering Auburn spent a month without a defensive coordinator and even longer without an offensive coordinator. Auburn's coaches are known to be strong closers. They are going to be put to the test this year. I won't sunshine pump and tell you that we're going sign all of the 5-stars. But, I won't tell stories of doom and gloom either, because, well ... it's just not accurate.
Here is another breakdown as we head into the final week from friend of the blog, Kyle Kolumbus.
National Signing Day has become somewhat of a holiday for diehard college football fans in recent years. Depending on how this one turns out, it could have Auburn fans celebrating, or it could leave the fans feeling a little disappointed.