Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Six-pack o' goodness

So, yes, Jawara White committed yesterday--committed quickly, at that, so as to make his 6 p.m. workout in what we can all hope is a good sign for his future work ethic--to become Auburn's sixth pledge for the class of 2010. As I mentioned in yesterday's recruiting post, both major services list White in the top 30 for outside linebackers nationally. White is Auburn's second straight in-state commitment to have generated at least some level of interest from Alabama*, while both services report offers from Florida St., Ole Miss, and Kentucky.

Add those tidbits of info in with ESPN's solid grade of 79, and it's fair to say that despite being a "three star," White has a better consensus profile with the recruiting gurus than Jeremy Richardson. Add on top of that White plays on the two Chizik-identified must-recruit positions (offensive line, of course, being the other) and this a big, big addition to Auburn's class.

Speaking of which: if you haven't noticed, this class is shaping up more nicely than you might think. While the flash of the Limo Gambit and Big Cat Weekend grab headlines and star-struck Auburn fans daydream about the likes of Seastrunk, Lattimore, and Reed, Auburn's coaches have quietly put together the foundation for a top-notch class. True, there's no Demarcus Milliner-type crown jewel just yet, and it's true that thus far Richardson is the only commitment to have received a four-star evaluation from any service (though Shaun Kitchens should receive a similar grade from ESPN once they move him off the "ESPNU 150 Watch List" or whatever).

But even if they're "just" three-stars, there's degrees of three-stars. Looking back at the class of 2008, both Drew Cole and Neiko Thorpe nee Lipscomb were three-star recruits according to Rivals. But Lipscomb had a grade of 81 from ESPN, offers from Georgia, Michigan St., and Virginia Tech, and a Rivals ranking in their top 40 safeties; Cole had an offer from Miss. St., a grade from ESPN to make the 14-year-olds in our audience giggle, and a position rank in the 60s. So while Cole may still prove to be a productive member of the Auburn secondary and special teams, it's not surprising that Thorpe was the guy who took over as a starting corner for most of his true freshman year and looked like a potential All-SEC player while Cole registered his last tackle of the season in the Southern Miss game.

I don't make the comparison to demean Cole, of course. (That he found his way onto the field in 11 of Auburn's 12 games as a true freshman speaks really well of him, actually.) I make it to point out that all six of Auburn's commitments so far, regardless of that "three-star" shorthand, are much closer to the Lipscomb end of the three-star scale than the Cole end. Consider:

--At Rivals, all five non-kicker commitments rank inside the top 35 at their respective position and none of the five received less than a 5.7 of their grading scale, Rivals' highest mark for three-stars.

--Scout's less enthusiastic, but nonetheless four of the five rank in the top 50 at their respective positions with Richardson the exception.

--None of the five have received a grade lower than 78 from ESPN. For comparison's sake, ESPN graded more than half of Auburn's 2009 non-JUCO commits at 77 or lower.

--All five have at least three or four--and usually more--offers from BCS-conference schools. Florida St. and Alabama both appear on the lists of three of the five.

--As for that sixth commitment, Copy Parkey is generally recognized as one of the best kicking prospects in the nation and was the first kicker selected to the roster of ESPN's All-American game.

--Auburn's three biggest areas of need are offensive line, linebacker, and wide receiver. All five non-kicker commitments play one of those three positions (and Kitchens, of course, could play WR or LB).

Now, it's true that an entire class of players like these would be a mild disappointment--Auburn will probably need to add some Benton/Rollison/Lutzenkirchen/McCalebb-style consensus four-stars at some point--and that at some point, particularly along the offensive line, Auburn will have to accept some commitments from players more along the low-end of the three-star spectrum. But right now? Looking solely at the six players committed to Auburn's 2010 class, I don't think Auburn fans could ask for anything more from our coaching staff.

p.s. I swear this is the last post solely devoted to krootin' for a few days.

*Tide fans will tell you players like Richardson and White only had "conditional" offers from Alabama and that the Tide would have only been interested if they'd whiffed a long list of other prospects at that position ... and, eh, that's probably true to some extent. Lord knows their roster is plenty overstuffed already, especially at linebacker. I don't care, frankly. Some level of attention from a staff like Saban's is a better sign than no attention, and we really shouldn't be so desperate that we have to claim head-to-head "victories" in situations like these, right? Whatever.

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