Sunday, June 22, 2008

Google surveys the recruits: the o-linemen

Because someone needs to do the work of plugging in a given Auburn recruit's name into Google and synthesizing the tidbits of information that trickle out. Previous entries in the series here.

Tony Franklin's Spread Eagle might indeed be sculpting the demographics of Auburn's, uh, burgeoning 2009 recruiting class, but not every current member of it is shorter than Tim Carter and has a "quick change of direction." Some are, in fact, ginormous gentlemen physically incapable of "darting."

Two of them are offensive linemen Andre Harris

and Auburn's most recent verbal, Aaron Moore.

We'll do this one as a two-fer.

Basics: Harris is an out-and-out behemoth from Lovejoy HS in Hampton, Ga. He checks in at 6-4 and probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 310 to 340 pounds--he's listed anywhere from 327 by Rivals to 342 by ESPN, but recent reports have him lighter than that. (I will admit to wondering what on earth it would be like to have 30 pounds be something of an irrelevance when considering my total body weight.) Despite Harris's size, he seems to be considered more of a road-grading, steamroller guard prospect than he is a tackle.

Moore might not be quite in Harris's range as far as bulk goes (probably a good thing) but he's not exactly small: 6-5, 255 pounds, and Scout at least describes him as "athletic." He's a tackle at Centennial High in Frisco, Texas, which is apparently an actual city and not, say, the setting for a syndicated late-night television program named "Texas Heat" in which three busty lady sheriff's deputies fight crime. Moore just so happens to be a teammate of Centennial's Ryan Mossakowski, a four-star QB with offers from Auburn, Alabama, and a half-dozen other BCS schools.

Both players committed after Auburn's senior camp.

Recruitnik hoo-ha: Harris is seen by the gurus as the better prospect of this particular (arbitrary) pairing, but that's hardly surprising given they barely see Moore at all yet. Rivals hasn't rated him, Scout doesn't even have a picture of him on his "main" page, and ESPN gave him their catch-all "Well, someone offered you, have a '40'" treatment. The Scout page does offer a quote from his coach which implies he played more defense as a junior than offense, so the JCCW will give him the benefit of the doubt and say that's why the gurus aren't as informed about as him as they should be. And hell, it's not like Auburn was the only school you'd ever heard of from whom Moore had drawn interest: Texas Tech and TCU had also offered.

Harris is the No. 20 guard and a three-star to Scout, the No. 35 guard and also a three-star to Rivals. ESPN gives him an "eh, whatever" 70 and seems to focus more on his problems with his "flexibility" and weight that his success at "bulldozing downfield." They do say Harris "will crush you if you get in his way," which gives him something in common with pulp-novel mafia bosses--probably a good thing, right? Despite those misgivings, Harris has one of the more impressive offer lists of any of Auburn's recruits-to-date: Rutgers, Tennessee, Virginia, Miss. St., Georgia Tech. Being the size of a cement mixer will do that for you, I guess.

Links of Potential Interest: Aaron Moore's actually on YouTube (for now), which I'm sure was the result of some hard-working fan of the Centennial program and definitely not someone just ripping off one of the recruiting services:

As you can see, he is tall.

Harris also has some combine video available, thanks to Rivals: the video labeled "AMP:Auburn on a roll" (underneath his ranking info at that link) seems like the sort of thing that they'd usually rope off behind the paywall, but for now, like your local state Congressman, it's working for the people. (There's also some nice highlights of LaVoyd James and Travante Stallworth included on the back end.) As you can see, Harris is, in fact, gigantic.

It might be worth noting that Auburn got Harris despite the fact that the Vols had both offered and have enjoyed a mini-pipeline coming out of Lovejoy. FWIW (not much if you ask me, given that every football coach in the history of football coaching has declared the very good player in front of them to be "the best he's ever coached"), Lovejoy's coach said Harris was the program's best product yet back in October. Handful more coach's quotes of debatable value here. Lovejoy himself went on the record early this month here, noting that he was down to 310 at the time, which I suppose would be a good thing if he stayed there. (He also mentions that Georgia Tech was the first team to offer him, which, like, duh--you think Paul Johnson wouldn't mind having an Atlanta-area plowhorse like Harris to run his option behind?)

Free text info on Moore is much tougher to come by. He blocked a punt last October. At some undetermined point he scored a touchdown. That seems to be about it. Sorry.

One last thing that might be worth noting: neither Harris's nor Moore's immediate post-commitment statements to the gurus made them sound like flight risks. Moore said "I'm done ... Auburn is the place for me"; Harris told ESPN his Dad's at Fort Benning and that he's glad to have the "hectic" recruiting process over. Take with as many grains of salt as needed.

What conclusions, if any, we might draw: Pretty much none. Everything I've read suggests that the gurus are at their least reliable when evaluating the offensive line, so if the Auburn coaches are sold on these guys, there's zero reason for the likes of orange-and-blue rabble out here to not buy in as well. And if Moore's commitment gives us the tiniest bit of an in with a legit talent like Mossakowski, so much the better.

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