Neil Caudle was directly involved in the most important snap for Auburn football in the 21st century. On that alone, you have to say he was a net positive as a player.
Caudle was a composite 4-star pro-style quarterback and the #5 prospect in the state of Alabama for the class of 2006. He was the #7 pro-style QB in the 2006 class. He was also the first major prospect to come out of Spain Park High School, which was first finished for the class of 2004. He committed in July of 2005 and never wavered in his commitment. He held offers from Clemson, Louisville, and Michigan. Given Auburn’s offense at the time, the Tigers led the SEC in total offense in both 2004 and 2005, Caudle seemed to be the perfect successor to Brandon Cox.
So I said Caudle was directly involved in the biggest play in Auburn football of the 21st century. That is a fact upon which we can agree. If I had told that to you in 2006 after he signed, you might have been excited as to just what he would become. Well....
I mean, I told you he was involved!
After a redshirt year in 2006, Caudle was still behind Brandon Cox when the Kodi Burns sensation hit campus in the fall of 2007. Stuck behind Cox and Burns, Caudle didn’t see the field until the Homecoming game against Tennessee Tech, when he managed an 8 yard carry. Those were his only stats for 2007.
In 2008, partially due to injury, Caudle was stuck behind Burns and Chris Todd. He would take snaps against ULM, but he didn’t register a stat. His only stats came against UT-Martin when he was 4 of 5 passing for 32 yards along with 1 carry for 4 yards.
Caudle’s junior season would end up as the most productive of his career. He ended the season 15 of 20 with 170 yards passing and 1 TD with 2 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown rushing. I can’t decide what is the better highlight here. On one hand, we have leading the only TD drive against LSU in Baton Rouge, when Caudle hit Philip Lutzenkirchen for a short TD after LSU put the defensive starters back in the game to attempt to hold the shutout, or this romp against Ball State:
In the end, I don’t think you can go wrong with either.
In his senior season, Caudle managed a 42-yard completion on opening night against Arkansas State on a trick play (the Wildcat handoff pitch-back to the backup QB then throw deep on the post play; this is an old Gus staple that he always runs with the backup quarterback for some reason), then never threw a pass the rest of the season. He did have a 35-yard run against Chattanooga, but that was all. However, he did register as a participant in every game since he was the starting holder.
All in all, Caudle could be considered somewhat of a bust, but if he hadn’t been there to hold Wes Byrum’s championship winning field goal, who would have?
Tomorrow, we’re going to take a look at two offensive lineman.