Tuesday, July 07, 2009

James goes JUCO

The biggest development of Auburn's week so far: signee LaVoyd James is, as has long been expected, off to junior college. James was a slot jitterbug recruited during the Franklin era and a middle-of-the-road recruit to everyone but ESPN (where, to be fair, James was a low four-star/high three-star type who they felt could particularly excel in the spread), and with his academic iffyness one of the worst-kept secrets of the Auburn Internet over the past few months, it's hard to call this much of a blow.

That said, at this time last year the class of 2009 boasted an entire fleet of potential sub-6-foot assassins--James, LaDarius Perkins, Brandon Heavens, and Travante Stallworth--ready to join Frenchy in turning slot receiver into a position of actual strength. Now, that group has dwindled to Stallworth and ... well, there's possible running back converts Demond Washington and Anthony Gulley, if they don't end up elsewhere. And of course Frenchy hasn't gotten off to the greatest start with the new staff. But compared to what Auburn had last summer, that's not much.

The slot's not quite as important to Malzahn's Spread Eagle as the Franklin version--at least, I don't think it is--but still, any offense that puts four wideouts on the field is probably going to want a little shake-and-shimmy versatility amongst those four. And unless Washington moves over from running back with a quickness, Stallworth now likely stands alone as the class of 2009's candidate to provide that versatility this season.

-- Updating the "did they make it?" tote board, of Auburn's 28 signees ...

Enrolled: 19 (Aycock, Benton, Blake, Cooper, Eguae, Evans, Ford, Gaston, Gulley, Harris, Lutzenkirchen, Moseley, Rollison, Stallworth, Sullen, Travis, Farley, Freeman, McCalebb)
Failed to qualify: 2 (Taylor, James)
TBD: 7 (Bates, Coleman, Jackson, Jacobs, Lanier, Paige, Washington)

Those remaining seven guys on the Clearinghouse fence are going to have a lot to say about how successful Chizik and Co. were at turning around Tubby's tide of non-qualifiers. Bring in 24 or even 25 recruits and that's a solid class of players to build on ... bring in 20 or 21 and it starts to look distressingly similar to the thinness of the last couple of Auburn classes.

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