Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The fences and recruiting

Even in a track uniform, many of you probably recognize this gentleman already (particularly with his high school's name across his chest). But for those of you don't, this is Lache Seastrunk. Even if you don't know him on sight, you probably know who Seastrunk is: the nation's No. 1 running back recruit and current No. 2 overall, a five-star can't-miss stud, and as you've no doubt heard, a member of the same church where Curtis Luper's pastor preaches.

That last bit of information probably helps explain why Auburn has their foot in the door with a recruit of this caliber (and, yeah, probably doesn't hurt Auburn's chances going forward, though I genuinely believe there's nothing illicit happening here ... and even if Rev. Gibson was pushing Seastrunk towards Auburn, since when have various community members not been able to give a kid advice?), but it doesn't mean this Auburn staff isn't doing everything they can with their chance. Jay Coulter on Seastrunk's visit last weekend:
From listening to Seastrunk, it's apparent that Chizik and Luper pulled out all the stops. "I don't know if they planned it, but when I got to Auburn they had everything listed for me about how they will use me, how they will work with me and I have never experienced this anywhere else," Seastrunk said. "I have been to USC and a lot of other places and I can tell you the experience in Auburn is amazing.

"They haven't lied to me or my mom," he adds. "They have been straight honest with me. Auburn has an offensive coordinator (Gus Malzahn) who has worked with Darren McFadden. Auburn is a college that produced runners like Bo Jackson. They know their stuff. They know exactly what they need to do to get you where you need to be."

Seastrunk said he was also impressed by his meeting with Chizik. "It was amazing talking to him," he says. "He knows that they have a great chance at me. I enjoyed myself at Auburn and I could see myself going to college there."
(emphasis mine--ed.)
By the time it was done, Seastrunk would call it "the best visit I've had in my entire life."

Now, Signing Day is an awful, awful long ways away, and as Jay points out, programs currently more established than ours (if you want to say "bigger," I won't stop you) are sure to come calling--repeatedly--on Seastrunk's door. The odds of him actually landing on the Plains remain long. But at least Auburn has his attention.

And when was the last time Auburn had the attention of a recruit like this? When was the last time the Tuberville regime made a serious (and at least semi-successful) effort to reel in a player who wasn't one of the better players in the state, or the region, but the nation? When was the last time you heard a recruit talk about his visit and got the sense--as emphasized above--that there was a well laid-out plan in place, a concentrated effort to show a kid exactly what he'll be missing out on if he chooses another school? When was the last time there were even rumors about a recruit like Seastrunk committing to the Tigers?

Maybe I'm engaging in some revisionist history, and I'll freely admit I haven't followed recruiting for all that long (to the extent I "follow it" now, which compared to many fans, I don't). But I don't think these things have happened for some time.

A cynical viewpoint might say that the fortunate, once-in-a-decade Luper connection is the only reason Auburn is on Seastrunk's radar ... but that viewpoint misses that Seastrunk isn't the only top-notch recruit that's at least paying Auburn lip service. No. 2 WR and top-15 overall prospect Trovon Reed was also on campus last week and by all accounts came away impressed. Auburn has its hat in the ring, at least, on five-star Arkansas RB Michael Dyer. Several of Alabama's better prospects, guys like Jeremy Richardson and LaDarius Owens, have some level of genuine interest in Auburn.

So it's not just a one-player thing. Auburn's staff is swinging for the fences this year. They're shooting for the moon. And while I'm not a subscriber that you always end up amongst the stars, as the old yearbook quote goes, with that plan, I prefer it immensely to the old one. It's certainly possible--to extend the fences metaphor--that Auburn strikes out on every one of these guys. But if you take enough cuts, you're going to make contact at some point, I would think, even if it's years down the line.

So kudos to Gene Chizik and his staff for their boldness, preparation, and energy thus far on the recruiting trail. At the very least, it's a lot more fun than this stuff used to be.

Caveat. There are sea urchins that could tell you that no position is more important to Auburn's recruiting efforts this year than the offensive line. And as cool as it's been to hear guys like Seastrunk and Richardson say nice things about Auburn, and of course how nice it was to see two solid prospects like Jake Holland and Shaun Kitchens already move into the committed column, it would even cooler, even nicer, to see some movement on some offensive linemen. I have no doubt the staff will find their fair share by the time everything is said and done, but the few o-line names that have popped up haven't seemed quite as impressed as the skill position or defensive guys (or they've already gone elsewhere). I'm far, far from being worried about it, but it's something to keep an eye on. Also, I'd like a pony.

1 comment:

easyedwin said...

I would like a pony on a boat.