“I’m very excited about this class,” Malzahn said. “I’m very proud of our staff. Our staff worked extremely hard. We added some coaches on the defensive side. Our staff really worked great together, and we ended up having a great class. We signed eight players from the state of Alabama, including Mr. Football, which is the third year in a row. One of our main goals is to win the state of Alabama, and we feel like we did that this year. We also signed 10 so far from the state of Georgia, which is also very important to us.
“And then we signed eight from Florida; those are the three states that we really hang our hat on, and I thought that was good balance. I really feel like we addressed our needs. We needed some guys who can rush the passer, and we really feel like we did that. We also need some guys who can cover, and we addressed that. We needed a few wide receivers and then we needed some O-line depth, so I feel very good about that.”
The key to the class was up front where Auburn got signatures from the powerful Cowart as well as talented young defensive end Prince Tega Wanogho. Adding defensive tackles Maurice Swain and Jauntavius Johnson was very important as well for the Tigers, but beefing up the pass rush was the first priority. While Tega has NFL written all over him from a physical standpoint, his production is more about the future. For Cowart, Malzahn said the time is now.
We feel very good about him being able to come in immediately and help us, obviously, rushing the passer,” Malzahn said. “Our defensive staff did an excellent job recruiting that young man.”
Prince Tega Wanogho
While Cowart is physically ready to challenge for early playing time, Wanogho may take a little more time to develop but that’s not a problem for Malzahn. A player with tremendous upside, worth ethic and character, he’s someone the Tigers have high hopes for down the road.
“You see him and he has the “wow” factor,” Malzahn said. ‘He is 6’7” or 6’8” and 250 pounds. It is his first year to play football, but you turn the film on and you see great potential. Coach Garner and Coach Muschamp have seen that. He is a driven young man and a focused young man. There are very few, if any, that have his skill set. I think he has a really good chance to be something after he gets more experience learning the game and everything that goes with it.”
Outside on offense Auburn got better from a talent standpoint at wide receiver with the additions of four-stars Darius Slayton and Ryan Davis. Two different types of players, Slayton is the classic outside receiver that can stretch the field while Davis is a playmaker that will likely start in the slot. Malzahn said both were big additions for the offense in an area of need..
“We thought it was important,” Malzahn said of adding talent at wide receiver. “We lost a few guys right there, especially with Sammie Coates leaving early. Darius Slayton is a big, long guy that can run -- he can really run -- and he attacks the ball. Ryan Davis is a guy that played quarterback. We’ve had numerous guys -- the Quan Brays, Darvin Adams, Kodi Burns – that have played quarterback that came in our system and really flourished. There are a lot of guys that have transitioned well in our offense.”