Photo by Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell's Monday Morning QB Column: The Under Armour Game, Kevin Steele Impact, Big Basketball Wins

In his Monday Morning Quarterback column, Jason Caldwell writes about Auburn football recruiting, the new defensive coordinator as well as men's and women's basketball.

Under Armour Thoughts

Once again I had the pleasure of seeing some of the top high school prospects in the country in person on Saturday at the Under Armour All-American Game and I left even more sure that Rashan Gary (pictured above) is the top recruit in the country after seeing him dominate the game and earn MVP honors.

Capable of playing inside or outside, Gary is a force to be reckoned with no matter where he ends up on the next level. There is no question Auburn is in the mix for him and it would be a massive get for the Tigers considering the immediate need on the defensive line. If you add him to the roster along with Marlon Davidson, Antwuan Jackson and junior college signee Paul James and you have four players who have the chance to play right away in 2016 on the defensive front.

I was really impressed by the play of Landon Rice at tight end, both his ability to set the edge in the run game as well as catching the ball. There is no question the tight end position is a huge area of need, maybe the biggest on the offensive side of the ball with the exception of quarterback. With his size and athleticism and the fact that he starts school next week. Rice is someone who has a chance to help Auburn’s offense right away.

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Landon Rice is an early graduate from Calhoun, Ga., High School.

Another need area is offensive tackle and the Tigers have a very realistic shot with big Willie Allen from Louisiana. A player who has excelled in a Wing-T offense in high school at John Curtis, Allen feels comfortable in Auburn’s offensive scheme and that could be huge for him after seeing Greg Robinson make a similar move and end up being a first round selection. Very close with Davidson, Rice, Tre Threat and the rest of Auburn’s commitments in the game, Allen is someone to keep an eye on in January when he visits the Tigers.

Auburn’s need at wide receiver is also a pretty big one and four-star Elijah Stove had a strong week of practice in Orlando and should be a playmaker for the Tigers. Even though he couldn’t participate after having shoulder surgery, wide receiver signee Kyle Davis was also in the game and was around the guys all week. Another impressive player was five-star Nate Craig. A former Auburn commitment, Craig will visit in January and the Tigers are absolutely still in the mix for him and his brother Jayvaughn Myers.

A name that popped up on Auburn’s list last week was four-star cornerback Eric Cuffee from Texas. While he’s a player that is looking to take some visits with Auburn one of the schools he would like to see, Cuffee appears headed for Texas..


Steele A Good Fit

Just based on the response I got from recruits at the Under Armour game I think Kevin Steele is going to be a very good addition for the Tigers in terms of recruiting. Davidson’s face lit up talking about Steele because the two have been connected for the last two years. The same with Ben Davis, Gary and others.

Now the biggest question is can Steele have the same impact on Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams? While there are some very big names still on the Auburn’s board, the two biggest recruits in this class for Steele will be Lawson and Adams. If he can keep both around it would be huge start to his 2016 defense.


Great Start On The Hardwood

It’s hard to have a much better weekend than Auburn’s men’s and women’s teams did as Coach Bruce Pearl’s Tigers took down Tennessee to open SEC play on Saturday and Coach Flo’s Tigers did the same on Sunday with a victory over No. 7 Kentucky.

Dealing with more injuries than any basketball team should ever have to endure, Pearl’s team battled tooth and nail on Saturday to get a win over the Vols thanks in large part to a strong performance by freshman Bryce Brown.

Photography: Marvin Gentry

Bryce Brown scored 20 points vs. the Tennessee Vols.

A player who we first saw in Auburn’s summer camps heading into his senior year, Brown was a very confident shooter and that has obviously carried over to his freshman season. With the ability to score from anywhere on the court, his emergence could be huge for Auburn as the SEC schedule hits full stride.

For Coach Flo’s team it was another big step as they surprised the previously unbeaten and No. 7 ranked Wildcats to improve to 11-3 on the season. It was the 15th win in the last 19 games for Auburn’s women dating back to last season and shows they have the ability to challenge for postseason play this season. It won’t be easy with road games at Mississippi State, Tennessee and Kentucky, all nationally ranked teams, in the next two weeks before playing host to No. 1 South Carolina on Jan. 21. We should know a lot more about his group of Tigers following that challenging schedule of January games, but if they can just keep their heads above water during that stretch it would give them a chance to make some noise this year.

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