Jason Caldwell

Why This Week's Big Haul In Football Recruiting Was So Important For The Auburn Tigers

Looking at why this week in recruiting was so important for the Auburn football Tigers is the theme of Jason Caldwell's Friday Mailbag column.

Marlon Davidson (above) is scheduled to be an early arrival after graduating from Greenville High School.

When Will Muschamp decided to leave the Auburn Tigers and head to South Carolina as the head coach of the Gamecocks it looked like the defensive recruiting had a chance to fall apart for the Tigers. That looked even more the case when Travaris Robinson followed Muschamp to Columbia, but as three days into the early signing period for mid-year enrollees the Tigers are still rolling along and that speaks volumes to the work of Gus Malzahn and his staff in the last two weeks.

With Rodney Garner and Lance Thompson the only two full-time defensive assistants and former Auburn linebacker/defensive analyst Travis Williams also on the road recruiting for the Tigers, guys like Marlon Davidson and John Broussard stuck with the program after getting a strong push from other SEC schools down the stretch.

Keeping Davidson in the fold was particularly important, not only because he is one of the top defensive linemen in the country, but because of his strong connections to the Auburn program. The younger brother of former Auburn defensive lineman and current staff member Ken Carter, Davidson has been around the program since junior high school and has built a strong relationship with Garner after camping at Auburn early in his high school career.

Keeping Davidson in the fold seemed to give a boost to Auburn as Broussard followed suit by spurning Mississippi State to stick with the Tigers as well. That was another important guy to keep in the class because Central-Phenix City is loaded with young talent and having a direct link to the program could be a big boost in the coming years for Auburn.

Adding quality junior college players like John Franklin on offense and Paul James on defense gives Auburn guys who should be able to make an early impact on the program, something that defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson brings to the table as well after he chose the Tigers on Saturday over Ohio State and Georgia.

While everyone else who signed with Auburn this week was already committed to the program, Jackson made his decision following a visit to the Plains last weekend. A frequent visitor to Auburn since his sophomore year, Jackson’s bond with the coaching staff and the fact that Auburn is close to home for him may have been the thing that pushed the Tigers over the top.

What happens from this point forward is anybody’s guess. With Malzahn still needing to hire a new defensive coordinator and having to fill out the rest of the staff on that side of the ball, the recruiting board could change dramatically on that side of the ball between now and signing day in early February.

While some names may surface and others may drop off, one thing is for sure right now and that is the Tigers have already helped themselves in a big way for 2016 by adding quality players on both sides of the ball this week.

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