Monday, February 02, 2009


So the big final weekend came and went, unlike the always-elusive, potentially-mythical Rueben Randle, who apparently was instructed by Ramgod to drop even the pretense of visiting Auburn and neither came nor went.

As Randle would have been sight-seeing at the most, this ended up only about the eighth-most important development of the weekend. The others, in point-by-point form:

Washington. Auburn got commitment No. 25/24 when JUCO athlete Demond Washington gave Ole Miss the stiff-arm and said he'd come to Auburn. He'll have three years to play two. Washington is yet another sub-6-foot burner, and like Eltoro Freeman has a rare disconnect between his two guru ratings: Rivals sez three stars, but Scout projects him as a lockdown corner and gives him five stars. Regardless of which service has him better pegged, pinning down a guy who has the potential to walk into the two-deep at corner from Day 1 is huge get for the secondary.

Oku. As both Auburntron and the Pigskin Pathos have detailed (the latter with some not-entirely-inappropriate indignation), the No. 1 "all-purpose" back in the country got the incoming savior treatment from the fans at the Auburn-Vandy basketball game Saturday. Who knows, maybe it made a difference: Oku now says he's going to decide after Signing Day so as to not rush a decision he's weighing carefully. Between that and his glowing comments about Malzahn's offense, it's safe to say Oku's at least giving Auburn a long, hard look. Oku won't make or break the class--Onterio McCalebb is a similar RB and is rated just about as highly, and of course Fannin's the likely No. 1 for two more seasons--but landing another guy with a serious chance at becoming the next Auburn running back superduperstar would obviously be very, very nice.

Phillips, Farms. Auburn hosted two committed-elsewhere offensive linemen over the weekend, Aubrey Phillips and Johnnie Farms. Frankly, Auburn really, really needs to land one of these guys: finishing the class with only two offensive linemen, both of which are expected to need a redshirt, a year after taking on zero offensive linemen is begging for trouble down the road. Sorry, Auburn students, but I wish you'd brought some signs that said "AUBurn for AUBrey" or something like that instead of spreading the Oku love.

At least in the world of free information, I don't know if anyone knows what Farms thought of his visit; he didn't leave comments with either Tate or Bitter onsite. Phillips appears to be plenty ready to abandon his Tennessee commitment (unless his idea of "shocking" everyone with his decision is staying with the Vols) and seems genuinely warm to the possibility of following his high school teammate (Daren Bates) to the Plains. But: ESPN is reporting that Phillips is also very, very interested in Florida St. and my extremely-inexperienced reading of the tea leaves is that he wasn't as impressed with his visit as we might hope. Fingers crossed, but the guess here (for whatever that's worth) is that he's a Nole. UPDATE: Courtesy EDSBS, Farms has had one very interesting recruitment process to date. UNC has to be the favorite, but if Farms enjoys changing his mind so much, maybe he'd be willing to change it one last time?

Gaines. The other four-star weekend visitor at Auburn, Corey Gaines says his trip to the Plains and talks with Tracy Rocker "confused" him after he'd essentially decided on Ole Miss. That's good news, but whether it's good enough news for Auburn, we'll have to wait. With Jamar Travis, Jamontay Pilson, Terrence Coleman, and Nick Fairley already in the fold, Gaines would give Auburn a heck of a class at defensive tackle.

Others. Amongst those with offers, Georgia Tech QB/RB commitment Dontae Aycock showed up, as did Okie St. WR/TE commit Tracy Moore and Memphis linebacker Greg King, who's apparently choosing between Auburn and Tennessee. In the "not offered" category, there's former Minnesota (i.e. Roof) CB commit Taikwon Paige, long snapper Charlie Knipper, and Scranton's own Mike Eargle, an athlete from Lackawanna Community College. I wonder if he ever heard Michael Scott give a guest lecture?

Aycock looks like a potential steal--he's a four-star at Rivals and fits the short-but-with-speed-to-burn profile of Malzahn's RBs--but I wonder if there'd be room in the class for him, Oku, and McCalebb. King would add some nice depth at linebacker. I'm guessing the other guys (save maybe Moore, who seems mostly committed to Okie St. anyway) are fallback options.

Heavens. Jay Tate wrote the following this morning:
A trio of Auburn commitments -- LB Harris Gaston, CB Izauea Lanier and ATH Brandon Heavens -- took official visits to Mississippi State last weekend. Lanier and Gaston told that they're still completely faithful to the Tigers. Heavens could not be reached for comment. Are you see a recurring theme here? Heavens twice missed scheduled official visits to Auburn. I don't think he's in the Tigers' plans any longer.
One of those visits was supposedly missed because Heavens's coach wanted him to focus on some academic issues, so there's potential grade hiccups here as well. Losing Heavens would be a blow, as he carries more consensus guru-approval than any other wide receiver currently in the class, but hardly a devastating one when Stallworth and James and Gulley and a hopefully-healthy Pierre-Louis all share much of the same skill set. Then again, unless Auburn lands Emory Blake--who's been running silent the last couple of weeks--this receiving class is going to look awfully thin on paper.

Finally, the numbers. First, since Tyler Knight's a sign-and-place prospect, Auburn's really only at 24 commitments presently. Since it seems likely that either Heavens or at least one other prospect currently committed signs somewhere else--one of the Tennessee-visiting contingent?--that's probably got us down to 22 or 23, and then grades will unfortunately, probably cut another guy or two. Bottom line: Auburn can probably take three or four more commitments and not have to pull the ol' grayshirt switcheroo on anyone. But if 29 or 30 guys fax in their LOIs on Wednesday, it's going to make for a nervous summer.

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