Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Krootin' 7/14

Grant. If you haven't seen this, well, Corey Grant is fast (and the audio, as always, is NSFW):

Grant's made a whole series of unofficial visits to the Plains recently, and if he makes one more to Auburn's big senior camp this weekend, RBR's OTS says that could bode very well for us:
At this point I imagine it could go either way and he may still be undecided at this point. Hopefully he will commit to the Tide sometime this week, but if he delays his decision until this weekend, he may be tipping his hand by which camp he attends. Alabama has a big camp this weekend, as does Auburn, and if he shows up at one of those two, that ought to tell you where he is headed.
Also worth noting: Grant has apparently said he would prefer to operate out of the slot rather than line up in the backfield, and while I have no doubt 'Bama will accommodate him, this has to work in Auburn's favor, doesn't it? We're talking about two offenses, one of them that virtually always has a slot receiver on the field, and the other that goes without it in the base offense (and easily more than half the time) in favor of a fullback or extra tight end. For comparison's sake, check out the highlights of Auburn's spring game (in which a third receiver is on the field for every offensive play in the clip) vs. this selection of 2008 Alabama highlights, in which of the 8 or 9 plays that aren't goal-line sets (and where you can see the Tide formation) there's a slot receiver featured in 2 of them. I'm not saying this gives Auburn any kind of definitive advantage, but I do think it might explain why Auburn's got as decent a shot with Grant as they seem to have.

As for what Grant might mean to the class, well, if he's serious about sticking to receiver he would potentially give Auburn a huge boost at that position. And of course it would be an awfully nice statement--stop me if you've heard this before--about Auburn's ability to at least occasionally beat out the Tide in-state. Likewise, if both Grant and Brian Vogler leave Auburn's backyard to enroll across the state (as is expected in Vogler's case), that's not going to look so good. (The optimistic Auburn fan would point out that running back and tight end aren't the two biggest positions of need for Auburn ... but still. It won't look good.)

Speaking of this weekend ... Charles Goldberg is reporting that Auburn is "prepar(ing) to blend some big-time recruits with a high-profile high school senior camp next weekend," in what ought to be the long-awaited major July event Luper and Trooper have been promising basically ever since the end of Big Cat Weekend. Right now that's about all that isn't rumor, speculation, expectation, etc. but a visit from Lache Seastrunk's been hinted at for a while and Beaver has a list of other potential visitors. I'd say for an event as big as this is supposed to be we're not hearing much, but then again we didn't find out Big Cat was happening until the day it began, so with any luck it'll live up to expectations.

K-Scar wrote today that the only way to do that is with a boatload of commitments, but geez, acknowledging that we're SO FAR BEHIND and all, it's still July. If Auburn can add another couple of guys to the list on the same level with the first eight, is anyone really going to be disappointed? (And as for that piece-of-trash AP reworking of Evan Woodbery's recent "selective" recruiting piece, yes, Auburn would like to have 15-plus commitments of Texas or 'Bama's caliber, but just because Tubby racked up umpteen commitments last year doesn't mean last year was "better" when the average quality of those recruits just wasn't what this year's is to this point. Ohio St. currently has only eight commitments; should they be worried too?)

And hey, speaking of Seastrunk ... Via Auburntron, everyone's favorite fun-loving top-ranked Texas running back had a little more fun with the recruitniks and the fans who obsess over them at the big Texas 7-on-7 tournament:
On Friday, the first day he and his teammates competed in the Texas 7-on-7 state championships, Seastrunk showed up wearing an LSU shirt and Southern California armbands and socks. He also wore a pair of Auburn shorts during the event.

"It's just clothes, man," he said. "It's just the clothes I wear."
I know a big chunk of college football fans will frown on anything any recruit does to draw attention to himself, but ... a recruit who knows his every move is being watched to determine if he's going to USC, LSU, or Auburn showing up wearing articles of clothing representing USC, LSU, and Auburn? Sorry, I think that's pretty funny. And as Burnt Orange Nation pointed out, the joke's on all of us. I'll say it: well-played, sir.

But, yeah, there's also this:
Seastrunk, who also told at least one reporter that he plans to visit Texas again unofficially, offers no hints at even when he may decide.

"I've got a plan and all I can tell you is it's super funny," he said.
Cue the howls of the Fall of Western Civilization and all that. (Me? I'm curious. I can't help it.)

More of those running back-type guys we seem so fond of. Lattimore and Dyer make it 3-for-3 this week on Auburn's top-five running back recruits getting a media report worth linking up. Lattimore is profiled by Carolina paper The State here and Dyer by the ArkansasSports360.com here. Neither article provides much insight into where either is headed, but they're about as in-depth as recruit profiles get and I'd recommend reading both.

Hmmmmmm. So, after multiple reports--one of them mainstream--that Joel Bonomolo had already committed and multiple other reports--from guys like Phillip Marshall--that Bonomolo was likely to make it official on Monday, there's still no word from the latest Auburn JUCO hottness. It makes Sunday's post look awfully silly (hey, P-Marsh, I'd appreciate it if you stopped handing me guns to jump, please, since apparently I can't help myself) and you have to wonder what's holding Bonomolo up when every indicator we had showed an impending commitment ... but at the same time, in all likelihood this is just delaying the inevitable. I think.


OTS said...

Just to update a bit on Grant, the publisher at the Auburn Rivals site today came out and said that while Auburn has made a late, strong push for Grant, Alabama still leads. With both Andrew Bone and a prominent Auburn publisher saying Alabama leads for Grant, I feel a good bit more confident about him than I did when I wrote that blurb on Grant on Sunday night.

Furthermore, without trying to needlessly criticize, I think you have it backwards on the slot position bit. We will not "accommodate" Grant by letting him play slot receiver... in fact, we have recruited him since day one as a slot receiver. To the best of my knowledge, at no point have we ever recruited Grant to play tailback. On the other hand, however, it is my understanding that for a long period of time Auburn did recruit Grant to play tailback, and if anything they would be the ones accommodating his position preference later in the process, not the other way around. Now, of course, that alone does not mean Grant is coming to Tuscaloosa, and if Malzahn promises that he can play slot receiver (which I imagine he has) then the Alabama advantage from that is probably, for the most part, nullified.

Furthermore, I don't think we're running into any scheme issues here. Grant can start at wide receiver, essentially play every snap, and then move inside into the slot position when we add more than two wide receivers. In fact, Marquis Maze is likely to do just that in 2009. Furthermore, while we did run the football at historically high levels in 2008 -- we probably had a higher run / pass split than any SEC team in years -- no one expects that to continue into the future. We'll throw the football more in 2009 than we did in 2008, and in the years that follow we should be very balanced. We aren't signing all of those highly-touted quarterbacks and receivers so they can hand the ball off to a tailback and run block, that much is sure.

And one final point, here's my question to you... with Auburn promising a million carries to umpteen five-star tailbacks, exactly how do they plan on spreading the field and throwing the football more than we do in the future? Especially considering that quarterback play is likely to struggle for at least a couple of more years, and continued struggles in recruiting high quality tackle prospects? Again, I'm not trying to needlessly criticize, but I just do not see the strength of that argument.

Jerry Hinnen said...

OTS, first, I don't blame you for feeling confident.

As for the argument that Grant would be more at home in Auburn's offense than 'Bama's, look, maybe "Accomodate" was an iffy choice of words but the bottom line for me is that one team's base offense uses a slot receiver and the other's doesn't. When you think of offenses that put an emphasis on jet-quick, undersized slot receivers, you think of spreads and four-wides and not those that employ fullbacks and a second tight end. I'm not saying that 'Bama wouldn't find plenty of use for Grant, that they won't line up three or four-wide more often this year than last, or that how touches get spread (heh) around in Auburn's offense might not be an issue ... but if you're straight-up asking me which offensive scheme better suits a player looking to play the role of "slot receiver," it's got to be Auburn's.