Malzahn Says Class Is Talented And Tough

Auburn's head football coach talks about why he likes his 2014 signee class that features 23 players.

Auburn, Ala.--Gus Malzahn was upbeat on Thursday discussing Auburn's 2014 football signee class, noting the Tigers filled their needs with talented and tough football players.

With a class ranked in the national Top 10 by, Auburn's head coach and his staff signed 23 players, which includes five prospects who enrolled for classes in January.

"I am very excited about this class," Malzahn said.

"We had eight from the state of Alabama, which is very important to us and nine from the state of Georgia. I really feel like we filled our needs. I?am proud of our staff. They worked extremely hard building relationships.

"I really felt they worked hard to bring the right type of guys for Auburn--hard-nosed, high character, very talented young men.

"One of the big things for me, too, is I really appreciate the loyalty of our commitments," said Malzahn, who had lined up many of the members of his first full year's worth of recruiting prior to the start of Auburn's 2013 SEC Championship season.

The coach noted those players not only stayed with their commitments, they helped recruit other members of the class. "I am just very excited about that," he said. "That will go a long way in the future."

The Tigers did not lose any of their commitments on national signing day and added five-star offensive lineman Braden Smith and four-star defensive Andrew Williams. Smith chose the Tigers over Texas A&M?and TCU while Williams picked Auburn over Georgia and Clemson.

Braden Smith

The only negative was losing an in-state battle to Alabama for five-star linebacker Rashaan Evans. Asked about that subject, Malzahn said, "You recruit guys year-round and all that, but we're very excited about the guys we have and we couldn't be happier. Like I said earlier, we have got some outstanding guys that will help us win a whole lot of games and the future is very bright."

Malzahn said that there is a good chance that most members of the 2014 class will have the opportunity to play and contribute like the 2013 signees did.

"Overall we are very excited about this class," Malzahn said. "We did fill our needs. We got guys that can help us immediately, and also help us with depth. We had some depth issues this past year, and when you think about depth it definitely carries over to special teams so we are very excited about this class. It has been a very good day."

A point of emphasis was adding help in the secondary on the defensive front. The class features five defensive backs and six defensive linemen.

"We definitely needed some help in the defensive backfield," Malzahn said. "We lost three seniors. We were fairly thin anyway. We felt like we needed to get some guys that had a chance to help us this year and we definitely got that."

Two of the guys who are gone in the secondary, 2013 seniors cornerback Chris Davis and safety Ryan Smith, were starters. "We feel like we have guys that can cover, and also if you look at this group they are long," Malzahn said. "Their length is very good. They all can run. They are good tacklers. They have got very good ball skills and give us some versatility."

Up front the Tigers must replace starting end Dee Ford and starting tackle Nosa Eguae. Kenneth Carter and Craig Sanders also started games on the defensive line.

"On the defensive line that was a strength of ours last year," the coach added. "We lost some seniors. We really feel like we have filled our needs there. We got some outstanding impact players that Coach (Rodney) Garner is really excited about."

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