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.
“Florence is a big-time hitter and that is what first jumps out about him as a player. He not only hits, but he hits with good form. He closes on the ball well, he shows good instincts in the secondary, and he makes plays on the ball. He can still work on his bursts out of his breaks when in coverage, his speed when changing direction, and adding more strength. He is a future strong safety.” - Chad Simmons, 247 Sports
Playing his high school ball in Auburn’s back yard, Florence was at the top of Gene Chizik and Auburn’s wish list in the 2011 recruiting cycle. A top 100 player and top 5 defensive back, Florence even switched to play quarterback during his senior year of high school. He was always going to be a safety at the next level, though, and with his 4.47-40 time and 6’2” frame, he had the tools to succeed. Florence signed with Auburn over USC.
Florence came to Auburn ready to play. Auburn graduated its top three safeties from the national championship team, and Florence’s talent shone through in camp. As Neiko Thorpe’s primary backup, Florence picked up 23 tackles and a sack, and a forced fumble in the Mississippi State game in 2011. The true freshman played in all 13 games, and generally had a strong campaign that should have put him in line for more playing time in 2012.
There it is again. 2012. Florence fell out of favor with the coaching staff in 2012, though it’s not known publicly exactly what the issue was. Playing in just eight games, Florence only recorded stats in three, and totaled 8 tackles.
By the end of Malzahn and co.’s first spring, Florence had left the team due to “personal reasons”. He had reportedly transferred to Troy, but no stats are found on him there, and it seems whatever the case was, he was not on the roster the next season. It’s a shame when a recruit washes out with little to show for their college career, especially so when it’s a kid who grew up around Auburn.