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C&M Re-Rank: 2014 Signing Class

Malzhan’s 2nd class was in fact his highest ranked class but was it actually his best?

Arkansas State v Auburn Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

Tuesday, the brain trust here at College & Magnolia took a stab at reranking Auburn’s 2013 signing class. I had planned to post a class a day this week but it appears neither my place of employment nor my daughters got that message.... So here we are Saturday taking a look at 2014.

Take what you can get people.

The 2014 class is actually Gus Malzahn’s highest ranked class coming in at #6 overall in the country. That really shouldn’t be a huge surprise considering Auburn was coming off a national championship appearance with a brand new head coach running an exciting offense. But this class actually ranks near the bottom during Malzahn’s tenure in terms of player average coming in at 0.8878. For comparison, last year’s class which was ranked the worst in the Malzahn era at #12 overall had a player average of 0.9022. That class had four less signees though which explains the difference in rankings.

So how did this highly ranked class turn out? As you will see, it was a little deeper than the 2013 one though not as top heavy. Here’s a rundown of where the 2014 signees fell upon a 2nd look. We did not include Jakell Mitchell for obvious reasons.

Consensus Five Stars

Only one five star this go around but there could have been a strong argument for a 2nd.

#71 Braden Smith

Braden Smith was a late steal for Auburn in the 2014 class and proved to be a huge one. After working as the 6th OL as a true freshman he became arguably Auburn’s best offensive lineman over the next three seasons. He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Indianapolis Colts this past year where he was asked to bump outside and play tackle. That move out of desperation worked wonderfully and Smith now looks to be on the path towards an outstanding NFL career at right tackle.

Borderline Five Star

So confession time.... I was the only person to not vote Deshaun Davis a 5* which in hindsight was probably dumb so feel free to throw things at me online.

#57 Deshaun Davis

Davis was basically out of football for three years. He suffered a nasty leg injury his senior year of high school, spent all of his redshirt year rehabbing and then was a forgotten piece of the depth chart as a redshirt freshman. Then Travis Williams was hired and gave Davis a shot. He did not disappoint. Davis morphed from undersized LB with no chance at being a starter to a three year leader and 1st Team All-SEC linebacker. He’s been the heart & soul of this Tiger defense the past 3 seasons and I wouldn’t be shocked if he beat the odds again in the NFL. Deshaun Davis has undoubtedly become one of my favorite players in Auburn football history.

The Four Stars

While this class doesn’t have as much top end talent as 2013, it definitely had a bit more depth. The next bunch of signees all had very productive careers for the Tigers.

#14 Stephen Roberts

The Tigers flipped Roberts from the Tide that cycle and a lot of Alabama fans laughed believing Auburn was just picking up their scraps. I doubt they felt that way when Roberts cut the mighty Bo Scarborough down in the 2017 Iron Bowl.... Roberts needed time to mature but eventually became a two year starter at safety where he excelled at flying into alleys to stuff ball carriers.

#30 Tre Williams

When healthy, Tre Williams was absolutely a 5* linebacker. However, the Mobile native battled shoulder injuries his whole career as a Tiger resulting in missed games or limited action. You can’t help but wonder what his career could have looked like if he could have stayed healthy. But despite those injuries he was still extremely productive and a key piece of Kevin Steele’s defensive turnaround.

#95 Dontavius Russell

Auburn is often unpredictable and you just don’t know what you are going to get year to year. But one thing you could count on each season is that Dontavius Russell would show up to work and do his job every single Saturday. Once an UGA commit, Rodney Garner stayed after the Carrollton, GA native and was able to get Russell to flip his commitment. After redshirting, Russell played in almost every single game over the next 4 seasons. He was as steady as any player as I can remember in recent Auburn football history. Don’t be surprised if 12 years from now you look up and he’s still got a job in the NFL.

#36 Kamryn Pettway

Pettway was signed to play fullback and did so as a redshirt freshman. But after the RB rapture following the 2015 season, the Tigers just needed bodies in spring practice at the position and gave Chandler Cox and Pettway some reps. What they found was a bulldozer in Pettway. He wasn’t fully set free in 2016 until Texas A&M but once set loose, he became the engine of Auburn’s offense up until he suffered a freak injury running for what could have been a game sealing touchdown vs Vanderbilt. His story didn’t end as happy as we all would have liked but his play during the 2016 season plus his work as a fullback in 2015 more than qualifies him for 4* status.

Borderline Four Star

I think this guy might have been the hardest person to rank thus far.....

#13 Sean White

  • 247 Composite: 4* | #150 OVR | #8 QB | #23 FL
  • Career Stats: 216-351 (61.5%) 2,845 yds 10 TD 7 INT 135.0 QBR 85 carries 198 yds 2 TD
  • C&M Composite: 3.83

White was far from the best QB to play at Auburn but he was also far from the worst. With Jeremy Johnson struggling to be even decent, the Tigers turned to White in 2015. He would win the job again in 2016 and when healthy, did a good job providing Auburn with some sort of steady play at the QB spot. But injuries ended both of his campaigns early and an arrest ended his career. This one was a tough one to grade because when he actually played I think it’s fair to give him a 4* rating. But between his inability to stay healthy and how his career ended, some of us just couldn’t pull the trigger.

Three Star-ish

What’s interesting about this group is the number of JUCO signees. Auburn has actually lessened their reliance on JUCO talent with the new era of graduate transfers but early in Malzahn’s tenure they were an important component to his recruiting.

#1 Duke Williams

Duke made Auburn’s offense even more deadly in 2014 when he was healthy. His game to open the 2014 season made us all not only dream of Jeremy Johnson throwing bombs but Duke catching them. But sadly, his career would end in disappointment after off the field issues resulted in him finally being removed from the team. It appears though that Duke has learned some lessons and developed into one of the best wideouts in the CFL over the past few seasons. This offseason he signed with Buffalo and we will see if he can stick around the NFL for awhile now. Go get em Duke.

#19 Nick Ruffin

Ruffin never really became the star DB that was expected coming out of high school. But he did become a productive member of Auburn’s secondary. His biggest moment came in 2017 when he blocked a punt against Texas A&M. kickstarting an Auburn team who didn’t look all that engaged through most of the first half that day.

#6 DaVonte Lambert

Auburn’s sack leader in 2014, Lambert had a solid, not great career for the Tigers. However, he’s continued to improve since his time on the Plains and has even started some for the Tampa Bay Bucs.

#79 Andrew Williams

Williams wasn’t a stat sheet stuffer but man has been an important part of Auburn’s rotation up front. The Georgia native’s move inside was huge for his career as he became Auburn’s third DT behind Derrick Brown and Dontavius Russell. There was very little drop-off over the past couple of seasons when Williams came into the game.

#94 Devaroe Lawrence

Although Lawrence never lived up to his own lofty expectations, he was a solid performer for the Tigers. He excelled as a short yardage stuffer in 2016 and has put together a nice NFL career to date. Not bad for a former JUCO walk on.

#53 Xavier Dampeer

Dampeer was an important reserve lineman for the Tigers much of his career and even ended up a starter for four games in 2016.

The Two Stars

Injuries played a big role in who landed in this list.

#10 Stanton Truitt

If felt like every time Truitt was about to break out he got hurt. Auburn clearly wanted to use his elite speed and his biggest moment came against Arkansas in 2016. But he couldn’t stay on the field and eventually transferred out to North Carolina before the 2017 campaign. He never played a snap for the Tar Heels due to more injuries.

#9 Roc Thomas

Thomas still has some of the best HS running back tape I’ve ever seen and heading into the 2015 season everything was on schedule. He entered that year as the Tigers’ starting tailback and was looking solid vs Louisville before missing the 2nd half with an injury. He would never regain that starting spot. He transferred out the following spring to Jacksonville State where he put up some strong numbers. I can’t help but think if he had stuck around things might have ended up working out but maybe he needed the change of scenery.

#24 Derrick Moncrief

As you can see, 2014 was very JUCO heavy and for the most part they panned out pretty well. Moncrief was the exception. He was recruiting to play that “Talon” spot in Ellis Johnson’s 4-2-5 scheme but never really carved out a clear role. Frustrated, Moncrief transferred to Oklahoma State where he never contributed.

Los Unos

The least fun category of the day. There will always be a few each class that fall into this category but it still stinks to see.

#59 Raashed Kennion

Auburn took a bit of a chance on Kennion and it didn’t work out. He impressed Rodney Garner at a camp and I have to think his measurables made him an intriguing prospect for the Tigers. But Kennion was never really able to see any meaningful playing time and left for Florida A&M following the 2015 season.

#11 Markell Boston

Boston looked poised to be a starter at safety heading into the 2017 season but was dismissed before spring practice. He’s now a reserve DB for UTC.

#92 Justin Thornton

Teammates with Deshaun Davis at Vigor, it was actually Thornton who was the more highly regarded prospect. He was considered an elite pass rusher but the big question was could he put the weight on to consistently set the edge in SEC play. Turns out he couldn’t....

#41 Kalvarez Bessent

Like Roberts, Auburn flipped Bessent from Bama. Unlike Roberts, Bessent never matured and transferred following his redshirt season. He had been arrested before even arriving to campus resulting in him starting his career in the doghouse. Sadly, he never got out.

#84 Myron Burton

The king of the 2015 A-Day Game, Burton never saw the field after that strong performance. He gave up football to pursue a modeling career which is still one of the more unique storylines I think I’ve seen develop.

#46 Chris Laye

  • 247 Composite: 3* | NA OVR | #49 TE | #90 GA
  • Career Stats: N/A
  • C&M Composite: 1.00

Laye was one of Auburn’s longest committed prospects in this class but never found his way onto the field. I believe he gave up football entirely and stayed on the Plains but I’m not 100% certain if that’s true.

It is still surprising to me this is Auburn’s highest rated class. There were some real flameouts in this group with so many not even finishing their careers on the Plains. But there were some really important pieces too and guys that carved out productive roles in their careers. Hopefully Monday we can take a look at the 2015 class and see how it stacks up to Malzahn’s first two.

War Eagle!