Where no Auburn coach has gone before. Writing as much as I have about Chizik and Co.'s recruiting efforts the last few weeks sometimes seems like so much useless creepy blithering ... but then again, as K-Scar points out today, we are talking about some unprecedented developments for Auburn in the, uh, "modern" era for recruiting:
Look at the biggest of the big cats who visited Auburn over the weekend. Rivals.com ranks running back Lache Seastrunk, running back Marcus Lattimore and wide receiver Trovon Reed as the Nos. 2, 4 and 15 players in the nation in the class of 2010.Scarbinsky points out that the "highest-ranked" record holder for the Tubby era was Tray Blackmon at No. 17, which isn't going to do much to win over any Auburn fans dedicated to their skepticism of recruiting rankings. But when gauging the impact of what landing a Seastrunk or Lattimore might be, it might be more instructional--painful as it might be--to look at the Tide, who saw Andre Smith (No. 2 overall) and No. 4 Julio Jones live up to the hype and then some. K-Scar also mentions Cadillac, ranked No. 24 in his class, as evidence that the gurus can underrate players sometimes ... but I think that only undermines that point, since it hardly seems a coincidence that the highest-rated running back Tubby ever signed wound up being every bit the stud he was supposed to be. (And before you say "Ronnie Brown," I'll respond that the other architects of 2004 were mostly of the guru-approved variety: Jason Campbell was viewed as a huge recruiting coup for Tubby, Marcus McNeill was a four-star, and both Ben Obamanu and Devin Aromashadu came in for similar praise.)
If just one of them inks with Auburn next February, he'll be ranked higher than any recruit who signed during the entire Tommy Tuberville era.
The point is this: getting the attention of the likes of Seastrunk, Lattimore, and Reed is a big deal. Getting a commitment from them obviously would be a much bigger deal, and I don't blame any Auburn fan who just wants to ignore the whole thing, but when we're talking about recruits the caliber of those guys or going head-to-head with the Tide for the likes of LaDarius Owens or Jeremy Richardson, I also don't think you can blame the Auburn fan who gets a bit obsessive about it.
(One other note about that Scarbinsky column, which I thought hit the target squarely: he's absolutely right that as much as we remember Dye as a dogged old Southern throwback of a coach and Tubby for how closely he played it to the vest in his final years, both arrived on campus more than willing to ruffle the necessary feathers and maintained that edge through their best years. Chizik doesn't seem to have quite that same edge, but perhaps he's made up for it by hiring a staff that sure as hell does.)
Seastrunk. We mentioned yesterday that Seastrunk's coachbot-taunting was a positive sign, since you wouldn't think he'd say things like "wait 'til we get here," if, you know, he wasn't at least considering getting to here in the first place. But even that tidbit probably isn't as encouraging as the following quote, dropped by Bruce Feldman in his blog:
"I can't reveal all the information, but you guys will be surprised when I commit [in early January]. And I think y'all might like where I choose," he told Auburnundercover.com. "This is the best ever," Seastrunk continued. "They just welcome you in. I feel the warmth of everyone. I love the environment here and I feel at home."I'll just come right out and say this: I think if Seastrunk had to commit today, he'd be on his way to Auburn. I'm not the only one who feels that way, either. ESPN guru J.C. Shurbutt says Seastrunk "should be classified as a heavy Auburn lean." Seriously plugged-in Texas blog and Seastrunk coveters Burnt Orange Nation admit that "Auburn may now lead for Seastrunk."
That BON post drops the knowledge that Seastrunk's mother came to Auburn with him--another good omen, that--but is also an interesting (and, OK, fun) read from the Auburn perspective, thanks to the writer's concessions that what he once referred to as a "dalliance" for Seastrunk has reached this point. But he also sagely reminds us all that 1. Seastrunk immediately followed the above comments with "I don't have a favorite" qualifications and disclaimers 2. it's a long way to January 3. Seastrunk is "known for playing it coy with his real thoughts." The Trovon Reed situation complicates things--while Auburn fans are lovin' the dream of Seastrunk bringing his good buddy with him to the Plains, it's also possible that Reed could help Seastrunk settle on LSU. So while, yes, he's a 'Bama fan commenting on a guy who just made enemies all over Tuscaloosa, I'm not dismissing OTS's contention that Seastrunk will end up in Baton Rouge out of hand.
So: I think we've reached the point where Auburn fans can feel good about our chances. But anything more than that is counting chickens.
Lattimore. Not long after declaring .. wait, you know what? There's no point in me paraphrasing what Lattimore wrote in a public blog post when you can read what he said yourself:
Auburn is no longer my leader. After the visit I thought about it. I have no leader right now, but I have narrowed it down to eight schools. My final eight schools are Auburn, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida State, Alabama, Penn State, Clemson and Maryland.Wow, dude, even I happen to think Athens is a hell of a town (don't excommunicate me, please), but good to hear. Less good to hear that he's backed off of the "Auburn leads" talk, but hey, it's early June: for a prospect of Lattimore's stature, there's nothing wrong with playing it slow. Auburn's still the last known leader, Rivals's Jamie Newberg has predicted Lattimore ends up at Auburn, so things are still much more positive than not.
It was hard to cut schools. It really was, but I needed to start. Georgia was one of my leaders, but they didn’t make it. When I went down there I just couldn’t see myself living there.
Steel yourself, Auburn fans. Later this week, we'll have the pleasure of a wide round of "While Auburn's busy clowning around, Alabama's getting the results"-type articles and trash talk, because all signs are that when Demarcus Milliner announces his college choice Thursday afternoon, the state's top prospect is going to choose the Tide. There's not much drama when you read this ...
“He is just tired of the process already. He is tired of the calls and the hoopla surrounding his recruitment,” Foshee told BamaOnLine.com. “He has made his decision and he doesn’t want to waste anyone else’s time by dragging it out longer.”... and realize you're reading a high school coach who played for 'Bama talking to a 'Bama recruiting site about a player who's been considered a heavy 'Bama lean for weeks. Seriously, if you can find a bookie who'll give you odds on Schmaul Schmineschmaum writing a column along the lines of "Chizik can rent all the limos he wants, but Saban's still got the keys to the state" or some such, bet the mortgage.
Etc. Any positive news on upright, breathing offensive linemen is most welcome, so this header claiming that Springville's Chase Hughes shares teammate Jeremy Richardson's enthusiasm for Auburn was, well, welcome ... other assorted tidbits here, here, and here.