Courtesy the Pigskin Pathos, because references to Big Cats are still valid a week-plus after the event itself, right?
Even outside of the Richardson commitment, there's been a lot of Auburn recruiting news to trickle out over the last week or so. Most of it's been the unambiguously positive kind of news ... but not quite all of it. Still, the steps forward have outnumbered the steps backward, starting with ...
White's announcing. I suppose we could all receive a major shock at 5:30 today, but given that Jawara White a) sounded like a kid who'd already made up his mind in the wake of Big Cat b) spent last weekend on Auburn's campus c) hasn't been prominently connected with any other school that I'm aware of, it seems highly, highly unlikely that Auburn won't receive its sixth 2010 commitment this afternoon.
White would be a solid pick-up for Auburn, with his ranking in both Rivals' and Scouts' national top 30 for outside linebackers. Although ESPN doesn't have their position rankings finished yet, their low four-star/high three-starish grade of 79 should have White right in that same tier. In short: White would be a nice addition even if Auburn wasn't desperate for linebackers. Which they are, making this (probably) a big, big get for the Tigers.
More on the impact of White's commitment on Auburn's budding class after he actually, you know, commits.
Things that make you go Hmmmmmm. The hullabaloo surrounding Big Cat weekend focused primarily on two things: the favorable reaction from the recruits in attendance, and the potential-secondary-violations-and-their-impact-or-lack-thereof flap. So it was probably a useful bucket of cold water Jay Coulter threw at us last week, especially since I think he's dead on here:
By limiting the invitee list, Auburn has shown its hand and told everyone who they covet the most. If you were left off the invitee list how do you feel now? Chizik has clearly rolled the dice on this event and he may win big. All of those visiting seemed to be having a blast. There were video game tournaments, watermelon eating contests and the now infamous Toomer's Corner celebration. What was there not to like?Earlier in the post, Jay relates a first-hand example of this phenomenon in action:
Plenty if you were left off the list.
Like they say, with big risks come big rewards. Or do they? The fallout from last weekend is quietly being felt by Auburn coaches this week. They have spent much of their time taking calls from other recruits who were not invited to the event or in some cases, just ignoring them.First off: Yikes. "They didn't bother to answer the phone" sounds a lot more like the kind of anecdote we'd hear about the Tubby regime's late-era recruiting efforts than the current staff's. Second, it's not like the staff could have been caught off guard by the griping from the uninvited and their parents--they're smart enough guys to know that the kids who weren't there wouldn't be happy about it. Making sure there weren't any bridges burned should have been a priority, not (as it seems to be in this case) an afterthought.
I talked to a four-star recruit's father yesterday who's looking for answers as to why his son was not invited. The kid has offers from virtually every big school in the country including Auburn. Phone calls to assistants Tracy Rocker and Jay Boulware have gone unanswered. Meanwhile, Alabama has pounced on the opportunity and the kid now appears to be leaning toward Bama and LSU.
Now, here's the other thing ... I think we can make an educated guess at the recruit Jay's referring to. Now, this is just idle speculation and is not confirmed by anything other than my silly Internettin' suspicions ... but 1. It's never been a secret Jay lives in the Phenix City/Columbus area (his Dad's the mayor, you'll recall) 2. You'd have to think, then, that the recruit is from the same area 3. A search of Rivals' database for Phenix City and Columbus turns up several college prospects, but only one kid boasting offers from Auburn, Alabama, and LSU ... namely, Brian Vogler.
Again, this is just a guess. But Vogler wasn't on the Big Cat invite list and the last time he talked to the recruiting press, it was about the Tide. So he fits the description, certainly better than any other recruit in the Phenix/Columbus area. And if the disappointed mystery recruit is Vogler--hell, even if he isn't--you have to ask: why wasn't he at Big Cat? For all of the talk of the importance of in-state recruiting, Columbus is a ton more important for Auburn's recruiting purposes than, say, Muscle Shoals. And even if Vogler wasn't almost a "hometown kid," geez, he's got solid Alabama and LSU offers--seems pretty awful unlikely he can't play. It's also not like Auburn's stacked at tight end, not when the preliminary 2010 depth chart reads 1. Phil Lutzenkirchen 2. Bailey Woods 3. No one at all, assuming Vance Smith stays at tackle. When you look at all of those factors, it seems like Vogler should be the kind of recruit Auburn's all over, rather than a guy--I'm guessing--whose Dad has to ask for attention.
Now, with all that said, I'm sure Auburn's staff have their reasons for not inviting Vogler--or any other recruit--to Big Cat, and if they were able to come right out and offer them, they might even be convincing ones. But I also have a hard time figuring out what they might be in this particular case, and whether my suspicions about the identity of the mystery recruit are right or not, Jay's absolutely right that the pros of the event also came with some pretty serious cons.
Now, on the other hand ... As I said in its immediate wake, it was apparent from the Big Cat guest list that the two primary goals were 1. snagging the attention of some big-time recruits from out-of-state 2. firming up potential commitments from in-state kids that were on the verge of, uh, committing. Goal 1 was accomplished. And assuming White commits, Goal 2 will have seen Auburn grab two legit Alabama prospects in the space of a week afterwards.
So whatever the negatives might be, from a recruiting perspective the Big Cat glass is still very much past the half-full point. But don't just take my word for it ... ask nationally-renowned recruiting expert Tom Luginbill! (Actually, if you're a plugged-in Auburn fan, I think you could probably skip that column, which just rehashes the "Whoa, Gene Chizik is taking fox-approved crazy pills!" fluff that's been all over the place the last few weeks. Still, national press, no complaints.) You could also look over this free helpful wrap-up from Rivals. It's a little out-of-date with the Richardson commitment, but the optimism regarding Seastrunk, Lattimore, and especially LaDarius Owens is always fun to read. And then there's this ...
July, July. That Rivals link includes this little tidbit:
The coaches are also planning another big recruiting event in July, although details have yet to be disclosed.Luper's already made a couple of veiled references to this. While I still kind of wish Big Cat hadn't been quite so out-of-hand, you can still consider my curiosity piqued.
Oh, and about Owens ... Auburn leads, as expected. Very nice to hear. Positive vibes on Seastrunk and Corey Grant at that link as well.
In the interest of accuracy. I stand by my claim from Friday that Jeremy Richardson was Auburn's biggest in-state recruit since the 2007 class--the closest contenders are guys like Cameron Henderson and Terrance Coleman, solid prospects but with nothing like Richardson's offer sheet or attention--but I probably should have made a note that Rivals' ranking and top-30 evaluation of him are something of an outlier. Scout has him rated a run-of-the-mill three-star, and while ESPN's grade of 78 is a little kinder, their scouting report suggests Richardson is "a great athlete that may need to switch positions for the next level to maximize his upside as a football player." Because both Rivals and the Auburn coaches--who by all accounts have made Richardson a priority from early on--seem to believe so strongly in him, I'm not sure it's something to worry about. But it does mean Richardson probably shouldn't be portrayed as a consensus slam dunk, not when there's that much dissent about him.
Money where their mouth is? A lot of coaches make noise about valuing academics, but Auburn's appear to actually be walking this particular walk. Their first commit for the 2010 class was Duke-and-Vandy-offered Jake Holland, their second was on-track-to-graduate early Shaun Kitchens, and one of their most recent offers went out to Florida's Tim Jackson, who boasts offers from virtually every academically-stringent school in the country: Northwestern, Wake Forest, Tulane, Vandy, Stanford. Me, I think this is a great development--if you're going to be taking on a sleeper, might as well make it a high-character guy who's not going to screw with your APR and who you know doesn't have a problem with dedicating himself. Yet another reason to give Auburn's staff a thumbs-up for their work so far this recruiting period.
Etc. Tyrone Cornileus is likely going to either Georgia Tech or Miami ... ESPN's J.C. Shurbutt reaffirms the Lache Seatrunk optimism, saying "it's hard to imagine the Temple (Texas) standout ending up anywhere else at this point" ... JUCO corner Dequan Minzie said that Big Cat wasn't any better than his experience in Hattiesburg.