With Anders Carlson and Carlito Gonzalez expected to enroll soon at Auburn, all of the 2017 class will have arrived on campus. Once again, Gus Malzhan's staff did an excellent job of getting most of the class enrolled. The only signee who will not enroll and will be taking the Junior College route is 4* RB Alaric Williams.
Now that the 2017 class is officially apart of the program, let's take a quick look back at who on the offensive side of the ball signed with Auburn this past February.
You will hear a lot of Greg Robinson comparisons when it comes to Ashley and I think it's somewhat fair. I would argue that Robinson was probably a better athlete but you see a lot of the same things on tape with Ashley as you did with Robinson. A massive human being who moves way too quickly for his size with unbelievable raw power and a nasty run blocker. Like Robinson, his pass blocking will need polish but there's no doubt in my mind that Ashley will be holding down one of the OT spots no later than 2018, possibly sooner. My bet is in 2017 he will be Auburn's 6th OL in unbalanced packages similar to Braden Smith in 2014, Robert Leff in 2015-16 & Mike Horton in 2017.
As the 2016 season went on, it became clear that Stidham was a must sign for Gus Malzahn. Auburn has struggled to find consistency at the QB spot and landing the former 5* Baylor QB gives Auburn some stability. He is still technically in a QB battle with Sean White but it would be a shock if anyone other than Stidham took the first snap against Georgia Southern.
Barrett was my Master Teague of last cycle. A guy that wasn’t super highly rated (at the time) that I thought looked like an elite player and a perfect fit for Auburn’s system. Unlike Teague, the Tigers were able to haul in the Tampa native. Tre Mason is the name you hear a lot when comparing Barrett and it makes a lot of sense. Barrett lacks elite open field speed but has incredible quickness, great vision and runs tough in traffic. I would not be shocked if he ended up Auburn’s #3 RB this year though he might need a season in the weight room. Either way, I have high hopes for Barrett in an Auburn jersey.
Brahms enrolled early but was unable to practice due to injury. More than likely he will be redshirted this season as the Tigers have plenty of depth in the interior. However, I fully expect him to compete for a starting spot in 2018 possibly at center with Kaleb Kim.
Madison Academy has been very kind to Auburn in recent years. First there was Kerryon Johnson. Then Malik Miller. Now the big man that was helping pave the way for those two has arrived. Troxell suffered two ACL injuries his last two high school seasons but should be good to go when he gets on campus. More than likely he will end up with a redshirt given Auburn’s depth up front but he’s a name that you are going to hear a lot in the coming seasons. If he can stay healthy, I think he’s a perfect bookend with Calvin Ashley in the future.
Speed is the first thing that jumps out when watching Igbinoghene’s highlights. The highlight I included shows that along with his high effort when he runs down a should be defensive TD despite the defender having a 10 yard head start. He’s a smooth router runner with solid hands that could also see time as a speed sweep guy. With Auburn’s looking loaded at WR in 2017, he might not get many opportunities this season but is a guy that could become a factor in the WR rotation down the road.
Auburn made a late push at the Junior College signing day deadline to steal Cannella away from Maryland and fellow late pursuer Texas. Lindsey prefers more multiple guys at the TE spot that he can line up all over the field and Cannella could be that type of player. He needs to improve as a run blocker to get on the field over Jalen Harris or Chandler Cox but he has elite hands and could be a redzone weapon in 2017.
The biggest surprise of spring practice might have been Malik Willis, who proved that Auburn’s late offer in January was a smart decision. He’s probably the fastest guy at the QB spot right now but displayed surprising arm ability as well. More than likely Auburn will try and redshirt the Georgia native this year but with only three true quarterbacks now on roster that might not prove possible.
Looking at Whitlow’s tape, it’s real hard to see how he was only a 3* athlete that was about to sign with Tulane before Auburn’s late offer on National Signing Day. He threw for 2292 yds and 29 TDs while also rushing for 2147 yds and 30 TDs. He will start out at wide receiver for Auburn but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if ended up at running back or defensive back. Either way, don’t be shocked if Whitlow finds a way onto the field in 2017.
Kicker has been a position of stability for Auburn for quite awhile now. Daniel Carlson will probably leave Auburn as the best ever and leave some massive shoes to fill. Why not his little brother try and fill them? Some think Anders is further along as a kicker than Daniel was at this time but he will need to prove he can do it on the big stage like his brother. But chances are really good that kicker will continue to be a position of strength in the future.
Shenker is the prototype for what type of player Lindsey is looking to recruit at the tight end position. The former Auburn baseball commit landed a late Auburn offer not long after Chip Lindsey landed at the Plains. He’s got a great combo of size, speed and hands to be a player at the tight end position.