National Signing Day 2015 is tomorrow, teams are putting the finishing touches on their classes and looking to add the final remaining pieces to complete their puzzles. Now would be a good time to recap Auburn's team needs.
Remember, these are just the minimum needs for this class as we head toward the 2015 season. With a new defensive coaching staff in place, and a new schemes to plan for on that side of the ball, needs may have changed from last year when the recruitment for this class took off. Anything beyond minimum needs is always up to the discretion of the coaches. Best available talent may outweigh team needs, . Relationships must be forged quickly, and filling gaps with quality talent may be of more importance than getting a given position to a certain number. It takes on a quality over quantity approach in this respect.
These numbers are purely estimation. They are sure to prove inaccurate as the offseason progresses and possible attrition occurs.
Quarterback: With the departure of Nick Marshall, Auburn will return three scholarship quarterbacks for the 2015 season, with Jonathan Wallace being a senior. Therefore, taking a quarterback is definitely a need and a priority. Most schools prefer to carry at least three or four QBs on scholarship. Auburn currently has commitments from Tyler Queen and Jason Smith for the 2015 class. Smith, listed as an athlete, will get a look at QB, but may project as a WR. Even though the position need has been filled, it will likely be a priority once again next year.
Skill (RB/WR/TE/H-Back): The minimum here is generally considered to be 20. Auburn expects to return 13 skill position players for the 2015 season barring further offseason attrition. Thus, a minimum of seven skill recruits should be brought in. But within this, a look at specific positions is also needed. Gus Malzahn's offense relies on a solid running game to open up the passing game. His version of the spread will utilize a number of receivers and runningbacks. Therefore, Auburn needs to have at least six runningbacks/fullbacks on scholarship. Malzahn does not use a true tight end often, opting more for an H-back role combining the traditional fullback and TE roles, so four tight ends are a reasonable requirement. For most spread offenses, ten receivers is the bare minimum. Auburn currently has four offensive skill players committed. The Tigers grabbed a big back, Jovon Robinson, from the JUCO ranks and Kerryon Johnson to fill the need at runningback. Chandler Cox and Jalen Harris will come in and fill the fullback/H-Back role. Auburn does not currently have a WR committed. Going by the numbers, they need to sign two to fill needs. Running back and receiver will likely both be priority positions next year.
Offensive Line: 15 is the minimum here under most circumstances. Auburn needs to bring in five to reach this number. So, offensive line is a big need for Auburn this year. Breaking down the specific position needs a little trickier along the O-line because of the versatility of some players on the current roster. The Tigers have four offenive linemen committed and two already enrolled. Tyler Carr and Bailey Sharp both enrolled early to get a head start on the transition to college. Marquel Harrell and Kaleb Kim are both expected to slot in as interior linemen. Based on the numbers, they may consider adding one more to fill out the class.
Defensive Line: 15 is typically the minimum here for a four man base front, evenly distributed among ends and tackles, and Auburn will return 11 defensive linemen in 2015. Defensive line play is part of what sets the SEC apart from other conferences, so this is a key area of focus. Auburn needs to bring in four defensive lineman in this class. The current roster suggests that defensive tackle is the primary position of need along the line. However, the possibility of a couple of current ends bulking up and sliding inside over the offseason, coupled with an anemic pass rush from last season, the Tigers are looking for an impact defensive end. The Tigers have
two three already committed (Maurice Swain, Juantavious Johnson, and Prince Tega Wanogho Jr.) and are in the mix for a couple more. Swain, a JuCo defensive tackle, is already enrolled for the spring semester and will go through spring practice. While it is a priority this year, it will most certainly be again in the 2016 recruiting cycle.
Linebacker: The minimum here is generally eight in a 4-3 defense, but new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp likes to run out of multiple bases, depending on the situation. Because of this, the minimum number may get bumped up to 10. Auburn will return nine players listed as linebackers, with five of them being rising seniors. The minimum here should be just one, but with the number of seniors, the coaches may plan ahead. Auburn has four currently committed, and are in the mix for one more.
Defensive Back: A minimum of 14 defensive backs is typically desired and Auburn looks to return 13, including 5 rising seniors. However, with offenses trending toward a more wide open style, spreading the field with multiple receivers, carrying more defensive backs has become necessary. The bare minimum Auburn will need to bring in looks to be just one, but expect the coaches to look for more. The Tigers currently have three committed for the 2015 class consisting of one corner (Jeremiah Dinson) and two safeties (Tim Irvin and Jordan Colbert). The Tigers are in the mix for a couple of DB prospects to help round out the class.
Special Teams: Teams generally want to have a kicker and punter on scholarship at all times. Matchups are won and lost with the kicking game, so these positions have become increasingly more valuable. This is not an immediate need at the moment; however, the inconsistencies in the punting game was somewhat of a concern last season. The Tigers have secured a commitment from one of the top punters (Ian Shannon) to help shore up the position.
Below is Auburn's current commitment list. Ratings used in this list are from247Sports's composite rankings*. Auburn is currently sitting at 21 commitments, including the early enrollees. It is possible with some expected attrition in the spring that the Tigers could bring in as many as 28 or 29 in this class, leaving open seven or eight spots to fill on Wednesday, assuming no defections.