Auburn, Ala.--While much of the nation is focused on what some of the top players in the country will do on National Signing Day, the Auburn Tigers already have a huge jump on their 2016 class and beyond with nine players already on campus and in classes. Highlighted by a junior college quarterback, one of the nation’s top wide receivers, a potential starter at tight end,and loads of help on the defensive line, Auburn’s early enrollees are a big reason why this class should go a long way towards making the Tigers better beginning next season.
John Broussard-- Four-star cornerback and early enrollee John Broussard of Central High School signed on the dotted line for Auburn and is now getting adjusted to like in college as part of the early group for the Tigers. The speedy, aggressive corner most likens his style of play to Arizona Cardinals and former LSU Tiger defensive back Patrick Peterson, which would be great news for the Tigers’ secondary.
“I want to come in and just work hard and try to get some early playing time,” Broussard said,” and hopefully I’ll be fortunate enough to do that and play or start or whatever. I can play wherever (the coaches) want me to play. I really like to play nickel because they get to hit, too.”
Broussard posted a senior stat line of 22 solo tackles and 10 assists for 32 total tackles, one interception and nine passes defensed with most teams choosing to stay away from him in the passing game.
Marlon Davidson--Four-star defensive lineman Marlon Davidson was one of the focal points of the class for the Auburn coaches with his older brother Kenneth Carter a former player for the Tigers and now part of the coaching staff. Davidson has been one of the most frequent visitors to the Plains during this recruiting class so it came as no surprise when he chose Auburn over Alabama, Georgia, LSU and others.
Davidson did not waver even after the overhaul on the defensive coaching staff and said he is excited to build his relationship with new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
“I’m glad Kevin Steele came over (to Auburn) as one of our coaches,” Davidson said. “LSU was in my top list. They are a great school but Auburn is the best to me. He’s laid back. He’s not really an outspoken coach or a coach that gets up in your face and everything. The way he
keeps his cool and is around you, he’s a great people person.”
Davidson had a monster senior season where he tallied 56 tackles including ten for losses, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions with one of those being returned for a touchdown.
Kyle Davis--Ga. -- The Tigers added another stalwart to their receiving class with the signing of four-star Kyle Davis from Archer High School. The 6-3, 217 playmaker chose Auburn over Tennessee and Georgia and is expected to get lots of early playing time. Davis caught 54 passes for 805 yards and six touchdowns this season while always being the focus of opposing defenses, and he was honored for his total performance with an invitation to the Under Armour All-American Game.
“Here’s what I did, I wrote it down, wrote down my top three and I did pros and cons for all three and everything weighed out in Auburn’s favor and that’s how I made my decision.,” Davis said.
With openings available in Auburn’s receiving corps Davis will have his chance to shine although he will receive competition from his recruiting classmates at wideout. Recovering from shoulder surgery, Davis is hoping to be ready to go for spring practice with the Tigers but should be full speed in plenty of time for practice in August.
John Franklin-- Auburn has had success in recent memory recruiting Junior College quarterbacks to the Plains with 2010 Heisman Trophy winner and national champion Cam Newton and two-year starter and current NFL cornerback Nick Marshall. Head Coach Gus Malzahn will hope that he can replicate some of those successes with John Franklin III.
A talented dual-threat quarterback with legit 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, Franklin threw for 733 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for 451 yards and nine touchdowns in his last season at East Mississippi Community College while splitting time with a returning starter.
“I think everything played out the way it was supposed to play out for me,” Franklin said of his route from high school to Auburn. “I’m looking forward to really taking advantage of the pportunity and showing the world who I am and what I’ve got.”
With Auburn’s quarterback situation very much up in the air heading into spring practice, Franklin will have every opportunity to win the job heading into next season.
Antwuan Jackson--In this recruiting battle of the SEC vs. the Pac 12 vs. the Big 10, the SEC and Auburn came out triumphant when four-star defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson decided to sign with the Tigers ahead of USC, Georgia and Ohio State.
Looking to make an early impact for Auburn at a big position of need for the Tigers, the 6-2 1/2, 294 Jackson is coming off one of the most impressive seasons ever for a defensive tackle in Georgia prep football. Despite facing constant double teams he recorded an astonishing 96 total tackles with 52 of those for losses.
A frequent visitor to Auburn and a player that should help immediately in the middle of the defense, Jackson said for him it was all his comfort level with the Tigers that led him to the Plains.
“I have known Auburn for a long time and been there so many times,” Jackson said. “I learn something different every time I’m there and I just enjoy myself.”
Paul James--For the last two seasons Auburn has struggled to generate much of a pass rush. With the players already on the roster and the addition of JuCo transfer and former Illinois defensive end Paul James the Tigers are hoping to change that.
James has the potential to wreak havoc in opposing SEC backfields with his combination of size and quickness off the edge. The 6-4, 255 Miami, Fla. native accumulated 47 total tackles with 22 coming for loss, 14 sacks and one fumble recovery for Copiah-Lincoln Community College this past fall.
Already on campus and recovering nicely from minor stress fracture surgery on his foot,the NJCAA All-American will now see if he can continue his success in the SEC.
“It’s just pretty much the love they showed and the opportunity I have there,” James said of why he chose Auburn. “It’s an opportunity to pretty much better myself and my life.”
Malik Miller--Miller is the lone running back of Auburn’s 2016 recruiting class and becomes the second-straight back to sign with the TIgers in as many years out of Madison Academy, joining 2015 Alabama Mr. Football Kerryon Johnson.
The 6-0, 229 rusher is a versatile athlete who could line up at a few positions for Gus Malzahn’s offense, but his first look will probably be at running back with the departure of Peyton Barber leaving the Tigers thin at the position.
“(Coach Malzahn) definitely wants to put me in that tailback mode,” said Miller. “I think that’s how he plans to use me.”
Miller was injured throughout most of his senior season, but still managed to rush for 713 yards and five touchdowns in parts of just seven games. As a junior while splitting time with Johnson, Miller rushed for 1200 yards and 21 touchdowns in helping the Mustangs to the last of three consecutive state titles.
Landon Rice--The Tigers landed a big time recruit when the four-star tight end inked his signature with Auburn. The 6-6, 259 Rice has been a long time commitment for Head Coach Gus Malzahn, and the Under Armour All-American is excited to finally get settled into his new home for the next four years. Athletic and already with the size to be a dominant blocker on the edge, Rice said he’s just ready to get things going.
“This is a long time coming,” Rice said. “I have been committed for a long time now. I’m just finally ready for it to be my day. I’m excited about that. It’s showtime now and I’m ready to get down there and get to work.”
Auburn’s tight ends didn’t record a single reception last season so Rice has a great chance to make an immediate impact for the Tigers. In his senior season at Calhoun High Rice played on both offense and defense, recording 20 receptions for 309 yards and three touchdowns
while also making 48 tackles, four for losses and three sacks.
Tre Threat--With very little experience returning at linebacker Threat is a player that could see the field early for the Tigers. The 6-2, 238 Spanish Fort player standout was a longtime commitment before enrolling early on the Plains.
Playing through an ankle injury that hindered him for much of his senior season, Threat was at his best late in the year as he helped his team to Alabama’s Class 5A State title. In his 5 playoff games Threat totaled 44 tackles. He continued that play by earning a starting spot in the Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando.
One of Auburn’s nine early enrollees Threat will hope to have a good showing through spring practice and potentially get in the playing rotation at linebacker, a position at which Auburn is seriously lacking depth.
“Me and Coach (Kevin Steele have a good relationship,” Threat said. “He’s been recruiting me for about two years now. Every school he’s been at he’s tried to recruit me. I know his defense really well and I’m excited to go play for him.”