Talented Group Of Underclassmen Expected

Tyler Queen is one of several top underclassmen expected to be on the Auburn campus Saturday.

While the 2014 recruiting class is just days away from signing on the dotted line, Coach Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers have already gotten a head start on next year's group with offers out all across the country. Several of those prospects will be on hand Saturday to check out the campus and facilities while also sitting down with the coaches.

One of those players is already very familiar with the Tigers and the coaching staff.

Committing to Auburn in July over Alabama, Clemson, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina and several others, talented quarterback Tyler Queen has been all in with the Tigers since making his decision. Seeing what the Tigers were able to accomplish this season on the field only backed up his thoughts that the program was headed in the right direction and he's excited to be part of things moving forward.

"I saw the hard work the coaches were putting in," Queen tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "They weren't afraid to get their hands dirty and get down there with the players. That showed they believed in what they were trying to do and the hard work they were putting in during the offseason. That's what I like about the coaching staff. I saw almost a hunger in their eyes when I was down there. They were working as hard as they could. I just like the mentality the coaches were installing in the players that they were going to be the best. It turned out they were just a couple of plays short of doing that."

While it didn't take a 12-2 record and an SEC Championship to get a commitment from Queen, there is no question it helps the Tigers moving forward with 2015 and 2016 prospects because it was proof this staff and program could get the job done.

"Obviously it helps a lot," Queen says. "Being a competitive athlete you want to win games. Knowing that the guys in front of you are winning and that the coaches are doing something right is just motivating. You want to be a part of that. That's what I saw in the team preparing for the year when I was going down there this summer. That's why I just jumped on board with what Coach Malzahn was doing down there. I'm just really excited to be a part of it."

In addition to Queen on the offensive side of the ball Auburn is expecting to have several top prospects on hand Saturday including a pair of speedy running backs from the Peach State. A 5-9, 170-pounder with sub 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, Taj Griffin is one of the fastest players in the country for the 2015 class. Already with offers from all over the country including Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon and several others, Griffin is rated the number six running back in his class.

Taj Griffin

Already familiar with Auburn after taking several visits to the Plains, four-star Eric Swinney has offers from the Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and several others in addition to Malzahn's Tigers. At 5-10, 190, he is a combination of power and quickness. In the last two seasons he has 2,500 yards rushing and 43 touchdowns.

Getting an offer from Michigan this week, four-star tight end Jalen Wilkerson is a player that should continue to see his stock rise as teams get to see more of him in action as a junior. The 6-4, 220-pounder is a physical tight end prospect that has the athleticism to also stretch the field. Should Auburn extend an offer while Wilkerson is on his visit it wouldn't be surprising to see him pull the trigger and become the second commitment in the class for the Tigers.

Signing a small offensive line class this year, Auburn will try to add four and possibly five players up front in the 2015 group. Three of the guys high on the board are expected to be in on Saturday with athletic tackle Chuma Edoga one of them. A 6-4, 275-pounder and teammate of Griffin at McEachern in Powder Springs, Ga., Edoga has offers from all over but prefers a spread offense similar to the one he plays in now. Also expected in are Garrett Thomas from Many, La. and Alabama commitment Dallas Warmack from Mays High in Atlanta.

Chuma Edoga

Also expected to visit from Mays High is talented defensive end Natrez Patrick. A four-star prospect and the number nine player at his position in the country, the 6-4, 235 Patrick already has offers from Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Florida, State, Georgia, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Texas and others.

Another defensive end from the Atlanta area already receiving lots of attention is speedy D'Andre Walker from Langston Hughes High. Also expected to visit, 6-3, 210-pounder is reminiscent of Auburn standout Dee Ford off the edge and has 40 sacks in the last two years. That has brought offers from all over the country including Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Louisville, Miami, Tennessee, USC and others.

D'Andre Walker

In the middle one of the best in the country is 6-3, 280 Albert Huggins from Orangeburg, S.C. Finishing his junior year with 65 tackles, 13 tackles for losses, and four forced fumbles, "Big Bert" is rated the number seven defensive tackle in the country by Scout.com. Expected to take his first trip to Auburn this weekend, Huggins has offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, South Carolina and others in addition to the Tigers.

Always in the need for a top linebacker, Auburn is expected to have three of the best on campus Saturday including the nation's #5 middle linebacker Roquan Smith from Montezuma, Ga. With over 220 tackles his last two seasons at Macon County High with 40 tackles for losses and nine interceptions, Smith is also a talented receiver with over 700 yards and 11 touchdowns this year. On hand for Auburn's win over Georgia, Smith says the Tigers will be one of his top eight or nine schools when he comes out with a top group later this spring.

Roquan Smith

A 6-3, 200 outside linebacker that could also play safety, athletic Jordan Colbert from Griffin (Ga.) High has made several trips to Auburn in the past and has the Tigers high on his list along with North Carolina, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville and others. He's expected to make a return trip to the Plains this weekend as is talented 2016 prospect Stephen Davis Jr. from Dutch Fork High in Irmo, S.C. The son of a former Auburn and NFL running back, he's got early offers from the Tigers along with Clemson, Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Athletic enough to play safety, Davis Jr. plays linebacker for his team at 6-3, 200 pounds.

The group will be around Queen for much of the day and he knows it's his chance to help the coaches begin to form another top class. While he says he'll enjoy getting to help recruiting, Queen says for him it's about getting back on campus and just enjoying himself.

"It's real exciting," Queen says. "I'm just happy to get back on campus and hang out more with the coaches. I just want to spend more quality time with those guys and help get the word in recruits' ears about the great things going on in Auburn."


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