It's no secret that Auburn is in need of at least a pair of top-flight running backs for the 2011 class and for the second-straight week one of its top targets will take an official visit to check things out as Manatee (Bradenton) standout Mike Blakely is expected to be in for the weekend. Several times a visitor to the campus in the past year, including for a summer camp, Blakely is one of the biggest risers in the Scout system this year.
Ranked a four-star prospect and the #25 running back in the country, the 5-9, 190-pounder had a huge start to his season on national television with a four-touchdown performance in a blasting of Plant (Tampa). He hasn't let up since then as he rushed for 201 yards the last time out in yet another big win for Manatee.
Favoring Auburn and Florida throughout the process, Blakely could also look at South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia but it's expected to come down to the Tigers and Gators for him when the time comes.
Another player that has favored Auburn throughout the process is talented defensive back Marcus Roberson from St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale. A physical defensive back capable of playing cornerback or safety on the next level, Roberson is the nephew of former Auburn player Otis Mounds and had had the Tigers very high since traveling to the Plains for a summer camp in July where he was one of the top players in attendance regardless of position.
A 6-0, 175 headhunter for the Raiders, Roberson took an official visit to Georgia last weekend and now the Bulldogs have jumped into the fray along with Auburn and the Florida Gators. With the Tigers still holding a slight lead before his expected visit this weekend, Roberson could be even stronger on Auburn following his trip for the South Carolina game.
In addition to the pair of official visitors Auburn is also expecting a large group of unofficials as well. Included in that is athlete Quan Bray from Troup County in LaGrange, Ga. A talented player capable of playing a number of different positions on the next level, Bray is the cousin of former Auburn player Jason Bray. Another top athlete expected in is running back/cornerback Chaz Elder from Banneker High in Georgia. He's expected to be one of the top players in the Peach State for 2012.
Another top junior that is expected to be in is athlete Kordel Arrington from Prattville. A small wide receiver with blazing speed, he'll be one to watch next season as will top junior defensive end Jordan Jenkins from Harris County High in Hamilton, Ga. A four-star prospect he already has offers from top schools across the country.
Continuing the theme of top juniors is Mario Lanier from Gordo. The younger brother of Auburn commitment Izauea Lanier, he'll have a chance to earn his own way next season. Another relative of a familiar name is defensive lineman Tyler Nero from Escambia County in Atmore. The son of former Arkansas player Norman Nero, he's a physical lineman that could be one of the state's top defensive players next season.
This year that honor is one that belongs to Auburn High's Jamichael Payne. The massive defensive tackle is a run stopper that can eat up blockers at the point of attack for the Tigers. With offers from Colorado State, Western Kentucky and several more smaller schools, he has a chance to move up the list if he continues his strong play this fall.
The offensive line is always a high priority and two of the South's top players are expected to take unofficial visits this Saturday. A former Auburn commitment, Spencer Region hasn't gotten much attention from the Tigers since he backed off his choice during the summer. He's expected in to see the game this weekend as is big offensive tackle Antonio Richardson from Ensworth High in Nashville, Tenn. He is rated the #12 tackle in the nation by Scout.com.
Expected back for the second consecutive week is defensive lineman Gabe Wright from Carver High in Columbus, Ga. Rated the nation's #7 defensive tackle in the country, Wright has offers from all over but has consistently had the Tigers in the lead for his services.
Other outstanding players expected in are 2012 DE Mitchell Roland from Auburn High, 2012 wide receiver Shamir Jeffery from Calhoun County High in St. Matthews, S.C. He is the younger brother of Gamecock big play wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. 2011 linebacker Detorrious Shipley from Huffman (Birmingham), 2011 defensive lineman Diaheem Watkins from Bibb County and Ole Miss commitments wide receivers Collins Moore from Bob Jones and T.J. Worthy from Gadsden City.