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Caldwell's Monday Morning QB Column: Monday Morning Thoughts On Win Over Kentucky, Big Recruiting Weekend

Thoughts from a busy weekend are featured that included a huge basketball win over Kentucky and a big recruiting weekend for the Tigers.

Canty Leads Tigers To Important Victory

Entering Saturday’s basketball game at Auburn Arena, Kentucky had beaten Auburn 32 of the last 33 times they faced each other on the court and for a long time it looked like yet another loss for the Tigers, but Kareem Canty would have none of that. While it took a total team effort to get the victory with Tyler Harris contributing a double-double and Cinmeon Bowers playing with the effort and intensity on the defensive end that makes this team a different group, it was Canty’s play that was once again the catalyst for Bruce Pearl’s team.

Struggling early on to make his shots, Canty didn’t stop playing his game and that meant being aggressive on the offensive end. When the shots finally started falling it changed the dynamics of the game as Kentucky put even more defensive pressure on him and that left Harris, Bryce Brown and others open to make shots.

What people have seen from Canty is what we saw last year in practices and what gave people close to the program hope that this group of Tigers would be the one to turn things around. While the injury situation may keep that from happening this year, Saturday was a sign that Auburn basketball is on the rise under Pearl’s guidance.

Speaking of Bowers, that was the kind of play the power forward is capable of and it’s something that makes him such an enigma at times. If the senior rebounds with the vengeance he did against Kentucky and continues to pass the ball to the open man on offense, Auburn’s fortunes could be much better the rest of the year.

A deafening sellout crowd that was into the game from start to finish set the scene for big-time prospects such as Austin Wiley, Alex Reese and Garrison Brooks to see what Auburn basketball is capable of. Even though it may not happen with regularity the rest of this season, Auburn’s days of winning big basketball games are just getting started under Pearl.

Big Recruiting Weekend

Even though Auburn didn’t get any commitments from the group of visitors that made the trip to the Plains, the Tigers definitely made an impact on several guys including Stephen Davis Jr.. A former Auburn commitment, Davis Jr. is a true athlete who could play a number of different positions on the next level. With strong ties to the Auburn program because of his father and also a bond with Rodney Garner, who recruited Stephen Sr. to Auburn, the prospect from Irmo, S.C., could end up with the Tigers by the time the dust settles.

The same is true of talented wide receiver Nate Craig. Visiting along with his brother Jayvaughn Myers, Craig is definitely intrigued by Ole Miss and will visit the Rebels before signing day, but Auburn’s strong interest in Myers could be the difference in this one. The brothers want to play together and right now the school that is in the strongest position for both is Auburn. Don’t discount that come signing day.

Maybe the most important visitor for the weekend was five-star defensive tackle Derrick Brown. A guy thatwhokeeps things close to the vest, Brown is a big and physical player who definitely likes the Tigers and Garner, something that could be huge when the time comes for him to make a decision. Wanting to play early is something important to him and that opportunity to play alongside good friend Antwuan Jackson may be the key for the Tigers.

Steele, Staff Getting Settled In

I had the chance to talk with Kevin Steele informally for the first time since he arrived at Auburn and you can definitely see why he’s known as being a great recruiter. What strikes you about the defensive coordinator is his genuine love for people and the game of football as well. That is something that should work well with Auburn looking for a strong finish to the 2016 recruiting class.

The same thing is true of assistant Wesley McGriff. Known as Coach Crimedog on twitter, that’s something that’s more than just a twitter name, however, because that’s how he’s known to his players. Talking with former Auburn and New Orleans Saints player Will Herring, he said he didn’t know who McGriff was until Coach Crimedog clicked with him. Herring says Auburn is getting a very good football coach in McGriff and with his history of bringing in top talent wherever he’s been the Tigers look like they added two top-notch assistants on the defensive side of the ball.

Looking Ahead

The search for an offensive tackle continues and the next guy up may be junior college All-American Breontae Matthews from Fullerton Junior College in California. Originally from Washington, D.C., the 6-6, 315 Matthews got an in-home visit from new Auburn offensive line coach Herb Hand on Sunday night and could be getting an offer from the Tigers before signing day. With an immediate need at the position he could be a guy to keep an eye on down the stretch if he decides to visit Auburn. With an offer from Missouri already and plans to visit there this weekend, if Auburn decides to make a move it would probably be soon.

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