A Look Back: How Top-Rated Recruits Performed

A look back at the top recruits for Auburn the last decade and how they fared for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Every year colleges try to sign the best football players possible in an effort to improve the talent level of the program. The Auburn Tigers they have been fortunate enough to land some of the top players in the land over the course of the last 10 years, but that doesn’t always equal success. With signing day less than a week we decided to take a look back at the last decade for the Tigers and see how the top players in each class turned out.

In 2005 Auburn landed a player who many predicted would be the ultimate playmaker on defense, Tray Blackmon out of LaGrange, Ga. Rated the nation’s No. 1 middle linebacker, he had the physical tools to be a dominant player for the Tigers. While he showed some flashes of that ability, he never came close to living up to the hype. Also that year tight end Tommy Trott came in as the No. 4 player at his position in the country. Even though he had a solid four years for the Tigers, Trott never emerged as the dominating receiver Auburn was looking for at the tight end position.

Tray Blackmon

Coming out in 2006, Bart Eddins was rated the nation’s No. 7 defensive tackle. Injuries kept him from ever reaching his potential on the football field, but Eddins battled all the way to the end for the Tigers. Playing offensive line, he was a key part of the BCS National title game in 2010. Also that season wide receiver Tim Hawthorne was thought to be the guy to bring the big-play threat to the offense, but he was never able to find his groove in Auburn’s offense and ended up transferring to North Alabama.

It is hard to imagine two guys having more impact on a program than No. 5 quarterback Kodi Burns and No. 5 offensive tackle Lee Ziemba did in the 2007 class. Even though he moved to wide receiver for the Tigers, Burns was one of the team leaders in 2010 and became a fan favorite for his team-first attitude. A four-year starter at tackle, Ziemba started more games than any player in Auburn history.

Kodi Burns and Lee Ziemba with Gus and Kristi Malzahn following a game in 2010.

As good as the 2007 duo was, the next year’s twosome of Raven Gray and Andre Wadley never made an impact for the Tigers with injuries derailing both of their careers. While Gray left Auburn early, Wadley worked with the strength and conditioning coaches until graduation. After a season of being a graduate assistant with the Tigers he is now at West Virginia as a strength and conditioning coach.

Even though he didn’t live up to the immense expectations created for him, top junior college linebacker Eltoro Freeman was another fan favorite by the time he stepped on the field in 2009. In and out of the lineup, there was no question Freeman was one of the emotional leaders for the Tigers his two years on the Plains. Expected to be the next quarterback for the Tigers, Tyrik Rollison redshirted his first season before transferring back to a junior college in Texas. After one season at Sam Houston State, Rollison finished his career at Texas A&M-Commerce last season.

Eltoro Freeman

It’s hard to have more of an impact than Michael Dyer did in 2010 for the Tigers. Rated the nation’s No. 2 running back, Dyer ran for 1,093 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman and earned MVP honors in the BCS title game. After rushing for 1,242 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore, Dyer’s career at Auburn was done. He finished his playing days at Louisville with Bobby Petrino.

Rated the No. 7 wide receiver in the 2010 class, Trovon Reed battled shoulder problems and was never able to make much noise at the position before moving to defensive back as a senior. Playing cornerback in 2013, Reed finished with 12 tackles and three interceptions and was one of the top cover guys on the team.

Making the trip across the country to play for Auburn after signing in the 2011 class, top-rated offensive guard Christian Westerman redshirted his first year on the Plains and played sparingly as a redshirt freshman before deciding to transfer to Arizona State. He is now a starter for the Sun Devils.

Ranked as the nation’s No. 4 quarterback, Kiehl Frazier played in all 13 games as a freshman and was used mostly as a wildcat quarterback. Finishing third on the team with 327 yards rushing and three touchdowns, Frazier was the starter heading into 2012, but threw just two touchdowns with eight interceptions as a sophomore. Losing the QB battle to Nick Marshall in 2013, Frazier played defensive back and wide receiver as a junior. He transferred to Ouachita Baptist for the 2014 season where he had a good finish to his college career at quarterback.

Avery Young has become one of the best offensive linemen in the SEC.

Coming out of high school as the No. 5 offensive tackle in the country for 2012, Avery Young has proven he was as good as expected during the last two seasons. After playing early as a true freshman before an injury cut short his year, Young has played both guard and tackle for Auburn and should be one of the top linemen in the SEC heading into 2015. The number eight ranked offensive tackle that same year, Jordan Diamond’s career has not followed suit. Dealing with injuries each of his first three years, Diamond is hoping to stay healthy and give it a shot at guard for the Tigers this season.

One of the top defensive tackles in the country, Montravius Adams was rated the No. 3 player at his position and has showed why his first two seasons at Auburn. After making 20 tackles as a freshman, he had 43 stops with three sacks and eight tackles for losses last year. Forced to sit out last season after suffering a knee injury, Carl Lawson is on the road to recovery and that is good news for the Tigers. Rated the No. 7 defensive end in the country coming out of high school, Lawson had 20 tackles, four sacks and seven and a half tackles for losses as a freshman.

Carl Lawson

Rated as the nation’s No. 3 running back in the 2014 signee class, Roc Thomas backed up Cameron Artis-Payne last season and carried the ball just 43 times for 214 yards as a freshman. He is expected to see his role increase in 2015, but will have a battle on his hands from Peyton Barber, Jovon Robinson and Kerryon Johnson. Ranked as the number one guard in the country, Braden Smith saw action on special teams and in a reserve role for the Tigers at tackle and tight end. Smith, who started in the bowl game at tackle, will be one of the players who will get a serious look to start at right tackle for the 2015 team.

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