Photo by Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell Answers Questions About Auburn Football, Basketball And Baseball

Jason Caldwell of Inside the Auburn Tigers answers questions from readers about Auburn football, basketball and baseball in this edition of his Friday Mailbag column.

Carl Lawson (above) is a redshirt junior defensive end for Gus Malzahn's football team.

MSandPHDatAU: I've always wondered how you guys go about getting phone numbers for all the prospects every year.

We get them a variety of different ways such as when we meet them at camps, games and from our contacts around the country as members of the Scout network.

Alcar7: What was the biggest positive surprise in your opinion coming out of spring? What is your biggest concern coming out of spring?

Probably the biggest surprise for me was Marlon Davidson. I knew he was a good player and would be a threat for playing time, but I had no idea he would be as good as he was this spring. He has always had the talent and also the size to get the job done, but his level of play and skills were far superior to just about any freshman defensive lineman I can remember. There is no question his brother’s influence has a lot to do with that. If he can continue that through the summer I think he’s someone that could be a freshman All-American this year.

As for the biggest concern coming out of the spring I’ll skip over the quarterback position because that’s an obvious one. I do think there is talent there, but the Tigers have to figure out which guy has the most potential to give the team to best chance to win.

Other than quarterback I would go with the wide receivers. Marcus Davis is a winner and will be a player they can count on as a senior. After that it’s just question marks. I think Jason Smith is going to have a bigger impact and Ryan Davis will make some plays. Tony Stevens and Darius Slayton need to become much more consistent if they’re going to help as big-play threats. With four freshmen expected to challenge for playing time, too, there a lot of questions about this group heading into the summer.


AUpoker: Is basketball recruiting done for the 2016 year or is there a chance we may still add a grad transfer/juco for this year?

I believe the Tigers will add at least one more player in this class and may take two. A point guard and a power forward type player are the positions the Tigers are targetting. The coaches have been looking at graduate transfers for both spots. They have had one visitor already, University of Houston point guard Ronnie Johnson.


wtbtiger: We lost some very good recruiters from last year's staff. How do you think this group of coaches will do this year?  What are our biggest needs for next year?

No question Auburn lost a good group of recruiters, but Wesley McGriff is one of the top recruiters in college football and was a big part of Ole Miss’ monster recruiting class three years ago. Herb Hand is a strong recruiter as well with Kevin Steele no slouch in that category. As for the two young guys, I have no doubt that Travis Williams and Kodi Burns will both do well recruiting for their alma mater.


Rosebud: Over the last 5 years there is an impression that AU has not gotten a very good return on its investment for Football, Basketball, and Baseball. Do you agree? If so, do you think it is just cyclical, or is it a trend downward?

Football had a down year last season, but playing for a national championship in 2013 and winning an SEC Championship is still something nobody else in the entire league can say they did except Alabama during that span. I would say overall the football program has still been pretty good compared to the rest of the country. The 2012 season was terrible, but playing for two national titles in the last six years is strong. Basketball is just going to take time and the same is true for baseball. When you have the wrong coach in place it sets you back as a program, which is what both sports had the last few years.


Gtwstock: Any idea why Cole Lipscomb seems to be struggling this year? How would you handle the catcher situation going forward?

I think part of Cole’s problems have been that he’s pitching too much in the middle of the plate. Unfortunately for him some of that has been after shaky defense when he has lost focus. Lipscomb has pitched better than his numbers indicate in SEC play. As for the catcher spot, I’m just not sure. I still like Jonathan Foster a little better than Blake Logan at the moment and without Daniel Robert available you still have a DH spot open.


ATLtiger07: Any names to keep an eye on to replace Todd Golden?

With former Auburn standout Mamadou N’diaye part of a Georgia Tech staff that was just let go, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him get a very long look at joining Bruce Pearl’s staff. That would be a very good addition in my book.


tigerpi: Can you guess what our top 6 DE's would be after spring practice and give a little info on their strengths.

The first few are easy in my book. Carl Lawson is at the top of the list and he’s strong in just about every area. As long as he stays healthy I think he’ll have a huge year. Behind him is Jeff Holland, who compares favorably in my opinion to what Cassanova McKinzy brought to the table near the end of last season. Holland is physical, but is probably more of a true pass rusher which should help him get on the field. The third guy on that side is probably Raashed Kennion. He continues to improve, but still has to get bigger and stronger.

On the other side Marlon Davidson was the most consistent of the guys on the strong side. He is physical and knows what it takes to succeed on this level. His maturity may be his biggest asset and makes him a candidate to start as a true freshman. Behind him Paul James and Byron Cowart will battle for playing time. James is the most explosive of the two in terms of a pass rusher and has experience on this level. Cowart is more physical and may be a guy that gets more work against run-first teams.


Tcb4au: how many q.b.s do we take this year?

Right now Auburn plans to take one quarterback in this year’s class. They had an early commitment from Lowell Narcisse and that’s still a guy the Tigers are recruiting, but it’s going ot be tough to get him out of Louisiana in the end. A guy to keep an eye on is Kellen Mond from IMG Academy. He’s currently committed to Baylor, but would be a great fit for what Auburn does as well.

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