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.
“Ashley is an offensive tackle who can be that left tackle and protect a quarterback’s blindside on the next level. Athletic with a great frame. Has good feet and keeps his feet moving well when driving guys off the ball. Has very good reach at tackle. Solid agility and mobility for a guy his size. Has shown the ability to run the speed rush guys out and stone the bigger ones. Can really improve his pad level and his leverage. Relies more on his big body right now, so needs to work on his sets and playing lower. He has real potential and he loves to finish his blocks.” - 247 Sports
Calvin Ashley was the first player to commit to Auburn’s 2017 class. Having committed to Coach J.B. Grimes during Big Cat Weekend in 2015, Ashley would see almost the entire offensive coaching staff turn over before he got to Auburn.
To go along with that change, the 5* talent at tackle bounced around different high schools, as well. Growing up in Orlando, Ashley started at Dr. Phillips High School as a freshman. As many rising football stars do, though, Ashley transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton. While IMG certainly helped get him on the map in terms of recruiting, Ashley decided he would be better served back in Orlando at Dr. Phillips. After his junior season there (while he was committed to Auburn), Ashley moved up to Maryland and attended St. John’s High school in DC. I’m not sure if the move to DC was a family decision or if it was for football purposes, but Maryland emerged as a top contender to get him to flip. Ultimately, though, Auburn secured Ashley’s NLI on signing day.
Calvin Ashley was the highest rated recruit in Auburn’s 2017 class, and the second highest rated offensive lineman to ever sign with Auburn.
A combination of a veteran offensive line and an eye injury caused the Orlando native to redshirt in 2017, and nobody really thought anything of it. Almost every offensive lineman redshirts, even some of the most dominant ones in Auburn history like Greg Robinson.
With several departures from the ‘17 line, though, it was common thought that Ashley would be able to take one of the open jobs. Austin Golson, Casey Dunn, Braden Smith, Wilson Bell, and Darius James all fell off the two deep, leaving just two returning starters and half of last years two deep still around in 2018.
The competition didn’t seem to be going well, though, because Auburn had to go out and add a grad transfer (Jack Driscoll) out of UMass to take over the starting RT job. Driscoll was solid though unspectacular. With the offensive line a mess early in the season, there was a panic around trying different combinations of guys out, including getting Ashley some playing time. It came to a head when Ashley replaced an injured Driscoll, who had been trying to play through the injury, against Mississippi State.
Montez Sweat, one of the best pass rushers in the country last year, abused Calvin Ashley to the tune of three sacks. I think this was the last time we saw Calvin play for Auburn last season.
As the season rolled on, rumors swirled about an undisclosed injury, and that the former 5* talent was looking to transfer. Nobody would talk about the injury except for stating that it was a private matter, which only added fuel to the fire. Shortly into the offseason, Ashley transferred, landing with Lane Kiffin at FAU, significantly closer to home. The marriage only lasted a few months before Ashley was on the move again, this time to FCS team FAMU.
Time isn’t up for Calvin Ashley. He wouldn’t be the first player to struggle on a big stage in college, find himself at a smaller school or league, and then re-emerge as a top tier talent. I hope he’s able to sort himself out at FAMU.