First off, congrats to commenter Joe Blow for putting Google to work and winning our little "Where in the World is the JCCW" contest with a guess of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. (An honorable mention as well to "snowhare" for the Vancouver guess, what with the two cities sharing the same bay and yours truly and the Mrs. JCCW having actually moved on to Vancouver by the time the post went up.) The Mrs. JCCW and I are slowly making our way across America's Hat, having taken the train into the Canadian Rockies and spending the last few days in Banff National Park, Alberta. War Eagle from, uh, I think this was Moraine Lake:
Moving on, after you guys savaged (and I mean savaged) the videoblogging effort last weekend I thought I'd try to blitz through this week's developments in text.
1. OK, so SEC Media Days and all that, but for my money the biggest news to come out of Auburnland last week was still giant OT Aubrey Phillips landing at Auburn after falling out with his coaches at Florida St. in something approaching near-record time. Phillips was a four-star (to Rivals, albeit with lower ratings by the other services), hotly pursued by the new staff, and if he'd picked the Tigers in February it would have been one of the biggest coups of Signing Day given Auburn's desperate, craven need for offensive lineman. Well, now Auburn's got him, just a few months later than we'd hoped and with a possible forced redshirt if the NCAA fails to grant Phillips a waiver from his transfer year.
Of course, Auburn does get him with the baggage of departing Tallahassee so fast he barely got his bags unpacked ,but I think that's more explainable given 'Nole offensive line coach Rick Trickett's preference for the kind of smaller, quicker, more agile linemen that he used to great effect with RichRod at West Virginia. At Phillips's weight, he probably already looked like a project to Trickett, and if he showed up for summer workouts above his target weight it probably didn't help matters at all. Both sides may have just come to the decision it wasn't a marriage worth saving with a quickness, and Since Auburn's staff has made it a point to not just tolerate behemoth line prospects but welcome them with open arms, the Plains were a natural landing spot.
While Phillips could probably stand to lose a few more pounds, I'm not sure I'd automatically assume a redshirt if the waiver does come through--when you're talking about a depth chart that includes converted tight ends and defensive ends and injury cases that have never played a snap all enjoying the two-deep, it's safe to say Phillips would become a back-up overnight, at the least. (Not to mention it was just two seasons ago when three different true freshman started for this team, so even that's not out of the realm of possibility.)
2. Media Days: Gene Chizik said some things, Antonio Coleman and Tommy Trott said some things. The big news: Montez Billings should be back in uniform come fall camp. Huge sigh of relief there--someone's got to catch the ball, right?
Also got confirmation that long snapper/starpilot Dax Dellenbach has left the team. This disturbs me a bit, and not just because Dellenbach had my favorite name on the team--if you were going to look over Auburn's roster and pick one guy to get Coachbotted, you'd have to pick the scholarship third-string long snapper, right? And now, at the end of summer, he's gone? Would like to hear more from Chizik and Dellenbach (if possible) on the situation.
There's plenty more quotes to parse from the Chiznick, but most of them are of the boilerplate variety--as is his m.o--and we're in a hurry, so ...
3. Commitments, Auburn landed two more of them, the "bigger" of the two being Antonio Goodwin, the wideout from Georgia who comes bearing a consensus four-star rating and a spot in the ESPN All-America game. He's the highest-rated commitment in Auburn's 2010 class to date, and shows once again that if nothing else, the new staff can recruit them some wide receivers.
Earlier in the week Auburn landed in-state athlete D.J. Howard. Howard is a running back at Lincoln who seems potentially headed towards safety at Auburn, and like fellow recent safety commit Demetruce McNeal, Howard doesn't get too much love from the gurus--three stars all the way across the board, though Scout has him in their in-state top 15. But he's drawn plenty of attention from Auburn's coaches in recent weeks and the gurus have been evaluating him as a running back rather than a safety or athlete--meaning whatever they say, Howard should have lots and lots of upside to explore in the secondary.
Auburn should nab another commitment today when DT Kenneth Carter announces his decision.
4. Not all the recruiting news is good. Opelika's Corey Grant and Columbus's Brian Vogler both committed to Alabama, and however you might want to spin it--Auburn's coaches never seemed to make Vogler a priority, Auburn's not hurting for quick-twitch backs/slots in Grant's case--watching two legit prospects head from Auburn's backyard to Tuscaloosa is not fun.
The sting of losing Grant will fade somewhat, however, if Auburn gets a commitment from LaDarius Owens when he announces this Friday. I've been saying for a while that Owens--an Auburn legacy of a sort, a heavy Auburn lean for quite some time, a highly-rated linebacker (which, you may have noticed, we need), and perhaps most importantly a high-profile in-state prospect that both Auburn and the Tide would love to have--was as important a recruit as Auburn would have in this class. Which is why it gives me the serious screaming willies that Owens apparently set an announcement immediately after visiting Tuscaloosa and potentially dropping Auburn as his stated leader. Yikes. Owens has been to both campuses and met with both staffs enough to know what he's getting either way, and a quick look around the Interwebs shows there's still a good bit of confidence in Auburn corners for an Owens commitment. So maybe the news will be good. But there's also a much better chance it will be bad than we'd have thought a few weeks ago.
5. Really, did anything else actually happen last week? Auburn got picked fifth in the West--no surprise there--and Coleman, Ziemba, and Durst got some preseason All-SEC love, but that looks like it's about it.
'Til next time.