Auburn's recruiting during the 2016 class has been strange to say the least. It seems we keep getting one commitment while losing another. Last Saturday saw the commitment of 4* WR Eli Stove while Tuesday saw the decommitment of 3* DE David Marshall.
Now here we are on Wednesday afternoon and the Tigers have taken the commitment of 247Sports Composite 4* Dual-Threat QB Woody Barrett from Orlando, FL. Barrett is the #5 dual-threat QB in the nation according to 247Sports, and the #6 dual-threat according to their composite of all ranking services. He's 6'2, 225lbs according to his 247Sports profile (6'3, 215 according to Hudl), so he's in the range of Sean White and Nick Marshall more so than Jeremy Johnson and Cam Newton.
Barrett's offer list is a smorgasbord of big-time college programs. Auburn, Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Texas, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Oklahoma all offered Barrett a scholarship. His primary schools were really down to between the Tigers and the Tide judging by his 247Sports profile linked above.
He is a semi-finalist for the Elite 11 QB competition. An event that Sean White attended and was named MVP of in 2013.
Woody Barrett is the first dual-threat QB to be recruited out of high school for Auburn since Malzahn returned as head coach in December of 2012. Nick Marshall was technically an "Athlete" and was a JUCO transfer. Auburn's last three QB recruits (Jeremy Johnson, Sean White, Tyler Queen) have all been Pro-Style Quarterbacks. Just how this fits into the overall scheme of things and the history of Malzahn's offensive philosophy is something we'll explore in more detail in a separate article very soon.
From the very first play you can see what Malzahn & Company like this kid. He looks like Nick Marshall with a better arm. He's quick on his feet, making a defender miss and then he's off to the races. Even his pocket presence and throwing motion remind me of Nick Marshall.
You have to take into account that this is highlight footage, so we're seeing his very best and none of the possible over-throws, under-throws, bad reads, etc. For instance, look at the play that begins around 7:20. Against an SEC defense, I have a feeling that's a pick-six.
However, just from looking at his best passes, he appears to be a much more polished passer than Nick Marshall was. He's more accurate and with greater touch on the deep balls and slant routes. He's making the passes we all wished Nick Marshall would have made with more consistency during his career. It's easy to imagine his style of play transitioning into what Auburn has been doing for the past two seasons. How will that translate against SEC defenses? I guess we'll see.
Auburn has made it a point to sign at least one true elite QB in every class since Malzahn took over. Consider it a way to counter the Gene Chizik 2012 Recipe for Disaster. Auburn never wants to be without multiple legitimate top-level talent options at quarterback. The depth for this season sits at 1) Jeremy Johnson 2) Sean White 3) Tyler Queen (freshman). You could even go 4) Jason Smith if necessary.
What will that depth look like after this season? It could look the exact same or Jeremy Johnson could go pro and Auburn would have two QBs and neither of them having major experience. Sean White has looked like the real deal according to practice reports and A-Day (and he has a red-shirt season behind him). Tyler Queen is an unknown. So, Auburn definitely needs to add a QB to this class.
Is Auburn done at QB? Maybe not. Auburn is still after Composite 4* Jawon Pass. Would Auburn take them both? Absolutely. Will Auburn get them both? Eh, I doubt it. The Tigers aren't going to stop recruiting Pass, though. He has been looking at Louisville, Auburn, and Alabama in particular. Many thought that when Louisville picked up a commitment from Tylin Oden that it would help Auburn or Alabama with Pass. Don't count the Cardinals out yet, though. Right now I would probably give the edge to Alabama, though.
As for the 2016 class as a whole, Auburn currently sits at seven commitments, once again. The Tigers fell to the 30th ranked class from the 25th ranked class with David Marshall's decommitment according to the 247Sports Team Rankings. Using their class calculator, the Tigers jump back up to 24th ahead of Louisville and just behind Maryland with Barrett's pledge. Where would the Tigers have been with Marshall still on board? 19th. Between Mississippi State and Clemson. How about if Nate Craig-Myers was still on board? All the way up to 13th between Alabama and Florida.
Why am I engaging in this hypothetical? To remind you all that it's June. We're still over half a year from National Signing Day and the Tigers have seven commitments on board. Don't get wrapped too tightly around Auburn being in the 20s in national recruiting rankings. The addition of one or two other big names will vault the Tigers up the board. One of the reason some of those schools (like Kentucky sitting at #9) are as high as they are is because they have over twice the number of recruits at Auburn. So, their "points total" for the calculator is higher.
It's a long way to go until February, but Auburn is building a solid foundation of talent for the 2016 class, and I expect they'll continue to add to it in the coming weeks and months with other strong talent.