Offensive lineman Alex Kozan is still out there somewhere, mulling his college decision, but the College and Magnolia staff decided it was time to go ahead and take a look at Auburn's 2012 recruiting class. After a slow start on signing day, Auburn closed strong and put together a very nice class. Who was Auburn's biggest hit? What about the Tigers' biggest miss? We give our picks:
Biggest hit: CB Joshua Holsey -- I'm not a recruitnik by any definition, but I do have a lot of respect for guys who stick to their verbal commitments. We had several, but Holsey has become my favorite. He's just a good guy. If you follow Holsey on Twitter (@ HeyItsJholsey ), you already know that he has a great personality, and he's had nothing but love for Auburn. That's what I want to see: guys who are excited to be Tigers and who will have a positive impact on the players around him. I can't wait to see how he develops. War Damn Defense!
Biggest miss: WR Cordarelle Patterson -- I'm not going to spend too much time grieving about it, but it would have been nice to sign him. War Eagle anyway.
Biggest hit: LB Cassanova McKinzy -- If you know me, then you know it's any kid we get out of Woodlawn. I can't explain it. I just am always excited to see AU scouting talent there. Karlos Dansby hails from there and of course, my current favorite player, Chris Davis, is from there. Second: AU needs linebackers. Third: He loves Auburn. He grew up an Auburn fan and always said if they offered, he would take it. He was the first commit for the class and he stood by his verbal. I got a little nervous when he visited Clemson, but looking back, I am glad he did. If he ever had second thoughts or even if he just wanted to see what some other place had to offer, I feel like he can look back and know he made the best choice for him.
Biggest miss: The reincarnation of Josh Bynes -- I am going to break from the staff a little and go out on a limb for this one. I don't like to compare current players to past players but the one person I think the defensive could really use is Josh Bynes 2.0. He may have been slightly undersized for a middle linebacker but I haven't seen a kid come through with his football acumen in quite a while. He was the heart of the defense -- he could look over the opposing offense and immediately know how to reset the guys if he saw something he didn't like. He was well-liked by his teammates, his coaches and even awarded the "Good Guy Award" by the beat writers for being the most helpful and polite. He is also, if you remember, the one person at SEC Media Days that announced AU would win the West. We may never get another Josh, but it certainly won't stop me from wishing.
Biggest hit: FB Jay Prosch (transfer) -- My favorite recruit? The question is hard to answer. There are several. You can't help but like Gimel President, if for no other reason but for the name. But how often do you get a Parade All-American that every "expert" recruiting service ranks as a 3-star? Maybe Javiie Mitchell. I've wanted Auburn to sign him since I first saw film on Jonathan Rose. He's a stud. But, the biggest get for this class may not be a recruit at all, but a transfer. He wasn't rated, but an All-American fullback transfer is as good as a 5-star. Philip Lutzenkirchen probably benefits the most from adding Jay Prosch, and by extension, the entire offense benefits. Prosch will allow offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler to run multiple sets, use a lead blocker and still leave Lutz free to do what he does best ... catch passes -- hopefully, lots and lots of passes. Over the course of Lutz's career, he has caught a touchdown roughly one out of every three receptions (44 career receptions, 14 career touchdowns). Now, imagine expanding his role to catch 45 passes. Yeah.
Biggest miss: DT Eddie Goldman -- I'd like to take a page out of Chizik's Book of Coach Speak and say I'm only concerned with the ones we got. But, we all know better. Truth is, I really wanted Eddie Goldman. We all know that big, nasty defensive tackles is what sets the SEC apart. Adding him to the rotation would have been nice.
Biggest hit: FB Jay Prosch (transfer) -- Sure he's not a high school recruit, but the coaches still recruited him to come to Auburn. The great thing about Prosch that makes him the biggest get? Pick one: He's proven, coming off of an All-American 2011 season; He's mature; He fills an immediate need at a crucial position for what we presume to be the next offensive system at Auburn; He'll be a Junior, so we hope he will be a great leader as an upperclassman.
Biggest miss: DT Eddie Goldman -- Why? You can never have enough blue chip defensive tackles. Auburn has recruited well at the position over the past couple of years, but nothing inspires upperclassmen to perform to the fullest extent of their abilities more than a true freshman that could very well be better than them. Sure, Goldman could be a bust waiting to happen, but a 5-star DT addition would have been the cherry on top of this very solid 2012 class.
Biggest hit: ALL THE O-LINEMEN -- I feel that Auburn's class has received undeserved criticism. I believe that Auburn had a great recruiting class that met the needs of the team. The objective isn't always stars. It hurt to come in a close second to many top-tier players but I would have been much more hurt had we not met the needs of our team. An offense only goes as the offensive line goes. Having said that, I'm not excited about just one particular recruit. I'm excited for that entire group of "big nasties". If they all pan out as they should -- who knows if that will happen -- this offensive line class should rival the 2010 offensive line when it matures.
Biggest miss: RB T.J. Yeldon -- I have to go with Yeldon. I know we have a great running back in Jovon Robinson. Landing both of those guys would have been absolutely huge. I have heard a lot of AU fans say that we won't miss him but I believe he's on the same level as Lattimore and Dyer when they came out of high school. A close second is Jordan Moore. I think he would have been a great addition to our defensive backfield with his explosive speed and raw talent.
Biggest hit: WR JaQuay Williams -- I am most excited about signing WR JaQuay Williams. He is big (6-foot-4 200 pounds), physical receiver and has the potential to play early. It has been a while since Auburn has had a dominate wide out, and it will be nice to see him develop into that.
Biggest miss: DT Eddie Goldman -- I know in the end it was sort of a long shot, but I hate Auburn missed out on Goldman. He also had the right size to play early and have an immediate impact on the D-line. He has a great nose for the football and is awesome getting off blocks. Goldman was a really good pick up for FSU.
Biggest hit: WR JaQuay Williams -- JaQuay is the big, physical receiver (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) that Auburn has been missing the past few years. He's a guy that is very physical and catches the ball with his hands with the way he high-points the ball and maximizes his size over smaller corners. He will see playing time his freshman year and could really push guys like Sammie Coates and Trovon Reed. Also: Avery Young, Jovon Robinson, Ricardo Louis.
Biggest miss: DT Eddie Goldman -- A lot of people in the recruiting circles picked T.J. Yeldon here but I see that as more a mental loss than a football loss. Auburn is loaded at running back and still brought in a stud with Jovon Robinson. When it comes to defensive line, however, you can never have enough good ones in this league, and Goldman has all the makings of a great one. Auburn, especially coach Tommy Thigpen did a great job recruiting Goldman, but in the end, his relationship with FSU D-line coach Odell Haggins prevailed for the 'Noles. Also: Kwon Alexander, Ronald Darby, Leonard Williams
Biggest hit: FB Jay Prosch (transfer) -- Prosch isn't a sexy name, and he probably won't score a ton of touchdowns in his time on the Plains, but the Illinois transfer might be the most important cog in Auburn's offensive machine over the next two years. Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler would like to shift the offense from Gus Malzahn's spread to a more pro-style look. That can be difficult because of the mismatched personnel (see Florida in 2011). Adding an All-American full back will make Loeffler's transition much easier and allow tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen to spend more time running routes. Prosch might not show up much on the stat sheet, but he'll be a big reason for any offensive success Auburn has.
Biggest miss: CB Jordan Moore -- Sure, Moore was just a 3-star, but he's destined for stardom. Moore got his first play at safety during his high school team's playoffs, and he immediately impressed. After not getting much attention at wide receiver, Moore's brief appearance at safety earned him offers from a number of big schools around the country. LSU and Alabama showed last season how important a great secondary is, and Moore (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) could have become the anchor of a great Auburn secondary.