Auburn struggled to get to the passer in 2014 after Dee Ford left and Carl Lawson went down with a knee injury. Auburn again struggled to get to the passer and stop the run in 2015 after Carl Lawson, the anchor and focal point of Will Muschamp's defense went down with what we were told was a hip injury in the first half of the first game. Even before Lawson's injury, Gus and his coaching staff knew they were thin across the front line of the defense, already targeting big time defensive lineman, and a lot of them for the Class of 2016.
Auburn has commitments from Marlon Davidson, the #3 ranked SDE in the country*, Paul James III, the top ranked JUCO WDE in the country, Nick Coe, the #12 ranked SDE, David Marshall, the #21 ranked SDE, Daquan Newkirk, the #25 ranked WDE and Tayshawn Manning**, the #49 ranked DT. Auburn is hoping to add a commitment from #8 ranked DT Antwuan Jackson today, and most think Auburn is the leader going into today's announcement.
If Jackson does indeed choose the Tigers, that would give Auburn 7 players across the defensive front in this class and add much needed depth to a position group that could be depleted in 2016, but most definitely in 2017. If Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams decide to stay, and Byron Cowart matures as we all expect, Auburn could have a formidable front line next year with those 3 as the anchors along with the experience and talent coming back. However, if Lawson and Adams decide to leave, the situation will completely change.
The good news is that Auburn has addressed the defensive line for the Class of 2016 better than I may have ever seen in any other year. Auburn has recruited guys in this class who can contribute significantly if needed in 2016, or be brought along a little slowerand groomed to dominate in 2017.
Auburn badly needed to bolster it's depth and talent along the defensive line and the coaching staff gets an A+ for how they addressed that need this year, especially if Auburn picks up Jackson's commitment today. Winning in the SEC starts at the line of scrimmage and Auburn is primed to be talented and deep for years to come, and it starts with this class.
*All recruiting rankings reflect the ranks of the players in the 24/7 Sports Composite Rankings
**Manning has been diagnosed with cancer and his playing future hinges upon his recover from that. Auburn has stated it will honor his offer and scholarship even if he is unable to play.