Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Two Recruiting Q's

Before we start once again pestering the Googoracle (the Gooracle? Googlecle? Oragle? Making a portmanteau out of "Google" and "oracle" seemed like such a good idea until I actually put it into execution) about the various recruits Auburn has added to its rapidly-swelling list of verbals, it's probably time to ask some questions about the ... deeply interesting way the Tigers' recruiting season has progressed to this point.

The unfortunate part is that, as I'm the only one here, I'll have to make an attempt to answer said questions as well as ask them despite being a total novice at this whole "following recruiting" thing. I am an Auburn Blogger, though, and this is Important to Auburn, so here's two pressing ones ...

1. Dude ... 16 commitments? In June? Tubby knows Rivals doesn't actually give out a prize for getting to 25 first, right? Obviously, it's hella unlikely that all 16 players on Auburn's current verbal list are going to both live up to their commitment and get all their academics in order and enroll as part of what might ultimately be a 25-person 2009 class. But for the sake of argument, let's assume they did: Auburn would have spent just the first quarter-plus of the recruiting year signing nearly 2/3rds of the class, then taking the other three-quarters of the year just to sign nine guys. I certainly don't blame any Auburn fans who think this feels a little bit too much like plunking down $784 for an eBay Furby and overnight supershipping two days before Christmas. Was it really necessary to lock down the guy whose only other firm D-I offer was Tulsa at the very first opportunity?

This being a recruiting post, I really wish I could Photoshop "" into the corner of this.

Um ... it might have been. Maybe. Jay G. Tate had an interesting look at the current number of commitments at programs across the SEC and the country, and the evidence is that offering early is a matter of personal program taste; it's an excellent bet both Ohio St. and Illinois are going to have rock-solid classes in the Big 10, but as of now one is a verbal ahead of even Auburn's manic pace and the other has fewer commits than Vanderbilt. Somehow I doubt there's any inherent, automatic downside to offering a kid early if that's the approach Jim Tressel is taking.

Of course, Tressel essentially has his pick of any player he likes between Des Moines and New York. He can afford to rely on his "hunches" when the hunches are all chiseled 6-4 manbeasts who were All-State in the 100 dash. As Tate concludes, Auburn has to be careful, and that's where a downside does indeed come in:

If the programs scout juniors closely, it makes sense to use that advance scouting to your advantage by earning summer commitments. Then again, it'll be a mess if some of these kids bust as seniors.
So, finally, whether or not you think it's a good idea for Tubby and Co. to have held "First 50 Players Under 18 Get a Free Scholarship Offer!" promotion at their summer camp depends on how much you trust their scouting ability. Given Tubby's long track record of unearthing Sen'Derrick Marks-es in the great unwashed, guru-unapproved masses, I believe this is generally a good idea--though I can't quiet the little (admittedly uninformed) whisper in my head that says 16 commits at this stage really might be a bridge one or two offers too far.

Caveat: It's probably an outright bait-and-switch to even discuss "25" as a guesstimate at the class size, since recent Auburn recruiting history of course shows that Tubby will sign several more players than that*, and that a handful fewer will actually make it to campus. Combine that with any potential decommits (obviously a huge issue with Signing Day still a galaxy far, far away in football time) and Tubby's still got a goodly number of offers to play around with.

2. What's with all the, you know, short dudes? What inquiring minds want to know this week is the last time Auburn received three commitments in two-day span from guys listed at 5-9, 5-10, and 5-10. Early commit Brandon Heavens also checks in at 5-10. You know all those stories about how football players have to stick extra furniture at the end of their hotel-room bed so their feet don't hang over? Yeah, not a problem here. Anyone who thought Tubby was going to tie Franklin's hands is now more-or-less officially wrong, because this kind of jitterbug philosophy couldn't scream "SPREAD! SPREAD! SPREAD! SPREAD!" any louder if you handed it a bullhorn.

There's some understandable apprehension out there amongst Auburn fans about how wise a strategy this really is--watching four guys spread across the field who are all shorter and smaller than the corners covering them won't exactly give Auburn a look of physical intimidation, it's fair to say--but the JCCW casts its vote in favor. I would much, much rather have coaches who draw up a blueprint for the team and work to build that particular blueprint than ones who collect the best spare parts they can find and weld them together. Even if the directions Mapquest gave you don't take you where you want to go, it's better than just driving around hoping you see something familiar, right? Citing something as motivational poster-esque as "Vision" feels all kinds of wrong, but I don't think you can get around the fact that no coach in the SEC has a clearer vision of what he wants his offense to look like than Urban Meyer. And for all the Gators' struggles against Auburn, the truth is that if all the Spread Eagle becomes is a poor man's version of the machine Meyer's created, that's still going to be pretty damned good.

Every football fan on the planet likes to talk about aggression: aggressive defense, aggressive play-calls, aggressive running. The flood of early commitments and the devotion to what Franklin wants for his offense strikes yours truly, at least, as aggressive coaching.

Not that it's a guarantee or anything.

One last note: Auburn is far from alone these days in chasing what MGo calls the "electron-sized" class of athlete. (You'll note on that link that Auburn wanted that kid, too; you can console yourself that ESPN seems to like LaVoyd James better.) Skepticize all you like, but even three or four years ago there were no Noel Devines starting for the likes of West Virginia, no Percy Harvins terrorizing the SEC, no Trindon Hollidays skipping track world championships to return kicks. Obviously whether any of Auburn's pick-ups are even remotely in that class is very much TBD, but regardless, this is the trend, and it's probably a good thing that Auburn seems to be closer to the forefront of it than most.

The other pressing question is, of course How good are these guys? We'll do some more Googling soon in a pointless effort to "answer" that as well.

*Though Auburn hasn't yet come too close to being the subject of posts like this one, I remain opposed to oversigning and really wish--to invoke Tressel again--the SEC would adopt the Big 10's "no more than three over the limit, and you gotta have a reason" regulation as outlined at the bottom of the potentially familiar post here. Bloodlettings or not, having signed a ton of extra dudes was not what made the difference for Florida/LSU against Ohio St. Michigan has enjoyed all the bowl success against the SEC it could possibly want for years. I certainly don't have a problem with going over by a non-qualifier or two or three every other year, but if the Buckeyes and Wolverines can win without signing annual 30-kid classes, I don't see why SEC teams can't, too.


Anthony C said...


Anonymous said...

waka waka... im so sick of people belittling auburn and this just proves you always want more. bitch and moan - you're never going to be happy. and your white text is still dreadful for reading on the black background.

Anonymous said...

How good are these guys? I guess you missed the video of LaDarius Perkins that has been circulating around the past week.

Anonymous said...

Oh well, link got cut off. Just search "LaDarius Perkins" on you tube. It looks like those early Noel Devine videos that hit the web. Check out how fast he hits the hole in the run that starts at 2:28.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Thanks, Anon 12:34. The next "Google surveys ..." post will likely cover a couple of those guys.

AUBIGJOE said...