As we continue our march to kickoff, we take a look at the top 100 recruits to sign with Auburn of all-time*. The rankings are based on 247’s composite recruit rankings, which unfortunately only date back to 2000.
Long and athletic, Tony Stevens was a big name on the Tigers’ board in the 2013 class. Out of Evans HS in Orlando, Stevens had one of those recruitments that had to have driven coaches insane. Stevens had committed to Florida State during his junior year, but come October of his senior year, he decommitted... only to re-commit to the Noles six days later. This verbal commitment held until the Army All-American game, when Stevens chose Texas A&M over FSU and Ohio State.
However, despite not even being in the final three with a month to go, Auburn’s new receivers coach Dameyune Craig was able to leverage his prior relationship recruiting Stevens to convince the Florida native to come to Auburn. This was a huge coup for the Tigers, as new head coach Gus Malzahn was capping off his first recruiting class with a ton of noise. Stevens was the top ranked offense player in Auburn’s 2013 signing class.
It would be easy for me to tell you that Stevens’s career was a disappointment, as is the case for so many highly ranked wide receiver recruits at Auburn. Stevens was overshadowed by namely Sammie Coates on depth chart his first two seasons on the Plains, only recording 6 catches for 90 yards and a touchdown.
With Coates on to the NFL after 2015, it should have been the junior’s time to shine. However, he continued to have trouble getting onto the field, sitting behind big-play Melvin Ray in the depth chart. He was able to add another 13 catches for 174 yards and a touchdown in 2015, but any contribution he might have been able to make was cut down due to the quarterback play on the Plains.
Finally, by 2016, with the depth chart clear and some semblance of a quarterback, Stevens was able to break out as Auburn’s leading receiver for the season in every category! Now that I’ve got you excited, I have to remind you that the October 2016 steamroller offense was almost all through running the ball. Stevens ended the season with 31 catches, 487 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Again, all team highs. Gross.
Ultimately, Stevens was never really to pull it all together for Auburn. Even though he ended up being the biggest fish in a very small pond in 2016, it always felt like a guy with his size and speed could have been so much better.