MALIK WILLIS AND JARRETT STIDHAM (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag: Closing Out Football Recruiting For The Auburn Tigers

Looking at the finish in recruiting for the Auburn footballTigers, basketball and a whole lot more in a packed edition of the Friday Auburn Mailbag.

m5guy: Jason, as would be the case with any hire, I've read good things & bad things about Lindsey. I've seen some offensive categories that were better than the same category with our offense last year & some that were worse. With that being said - do you feel like with the coaches & athletes we have at Auburn vs Arizona State those categories will improve. Also what's your feeling on the hire - were you excited or thought "could be worse"!

I believe Auburn’s offense is set up to be pretty good at a minimum in 2017 because of the talent on that side of the ball. I like the addition of Chip Lindsey because of the passing game elements he can bring to the table. If this team becomes a more dynami throwing the football then it will be better equipped to do major damage to opposing defenses.

 

WSlay: Why would we sign a JC OG? Are Chandler and Jalen/TE on the field together as much in 2017 as they were in 2016?

I’m not really sure why the Tigers would sign a junior college guard who has two seasons left. Obviously, the coaches believe there is a need, but at the moment I think it’s going to be tough to unseat Mike Horton or Marquel Harrell for a job in 2018. I guess it’s always important to have insurance at every position so that could be the reason. As for Chandler Cox and Jalen Harris, I expect we’ll see Auburn use the tight end/H-Back plenty in terms of being on the field. It will be interesting to see how quickly Sal Cannella can get into the picture.

 

fredl: How do you feel overall about the 2017 FB class so far and do you expect us to meet our major needs?

I think this class is very solid. If you had told me at a minimum that Auburn would sign a QB the caliber of Jarrett Stidham I would have said that goes a long way towards making it a success. The offensive line group should be really good as should the running backs and linebackers. I think the missing link is on the defensive line. The Tigers need to get either Markaviest Bryant or Ryan Johnson at a minimum, and it would be good to get both.

 

auhomeplate: How does Kevin Davis's arm look now? Do you think he will be able to help us this year?

It i still a struggle for Davis. He finally had shoulder surgery last year so I think he’s a guy the Tigers are hoping to provide some depth down the line in the bullpen.

 

auchamps: How do you personally feel about this year's recruiting class? Better than you expected, about the same, or worse? Why?

It’s about what I expected in terms of overall ranking. I think the Tigers could end up somewhere between 8-10 with a good finish. With Alabama doing what they do and Georgia’s excitement surrounding the new staff, Auburn’s struggles the last few years were going to make it tough to be a Top 5 type class.

 

tunicatiger: In the early softball reports there has been much information about Alyssa Rivera, yet she was in a select few for junior national team tryout.  Does she factor in playing rotation this year and if so what position?  What was the main factor for her getting the national team tryout?

I think she’ll have a chance to get into the mix in the outfield and possibly as a DH this year. She is talented and can swing the bat, but this team has a lot of good players on the roster.

 

gtwstock: Do you expect this offense to change significantly in the percentage of passing plays, especially on 1st down?

I don’t know if it qualifies as a significant change, but I believe Auburn will throw the ball more on first down under Lindsey. I think getting closer to 60/40 would be about as much as you could expect. That would be a welcome change in my opinion.

 

seahud: How many Aubie uniforms are there in a given year? Is it technically possible for Aubie to be at two events at one time... He is amazing you know.

The official word is that Auburn is just one Tiger and therefore doesn’t have “uniforms.” While a lot of folks believe Aubie is special the Auburn mascot can only be in one place at one time.

 

ware12: Are you concerned that Lindsey's offenses have performed so poorly running the ball, which has always been a strength at AU?

The Sun Devils ran for just 1,578 net yards, but they did have 27 touchdowns on the ground with an offensive line that had a ton of turnover. His last season at Southern Miss he had two 1,000-yard rushers and they ran for 2,517 yards and 31 touchdowns. That first year they were coming off being a totally spread offense and obviously had issues on the ground. In the end I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about for the 2017 season. Auburn is going to run the football with Gus Malzahn as the coach, but the Tigers are definitely planning to add more to the passing game.

 

tigerpi: Jason what is your honest opinion on Woody Barrett! I hear things like "he's immature", "he's not attending classes", "he's not a competitor" "he's not a leader". I'm certainly not trying to stir up anything but would like for you to tell us about this young man as a person and as a QB. Can we depend on him?

I think Woody has a lot of talent and as for all of the other stuff I take things with a grain of salt when a kid is redshirting and away from home for the first time. I don’t know the particulars on his “issues,, but he’s a guy who now has the chance to step up and show what he can do. Lots of guys suddenly grow up when they know they have a chance to play.

 

justafanwde: What is the story on Sean's shoulders? Seems like a little tightening up might have been the after season path since these are recurring problems.

He’s only had one shoulder injury and it was a matter of rest and healing for that this season. He hurt the same shoulder against Georgia, but it wasn’t close to 100 percent at the time. He had a knee and ankle injury in 2016 and then in the Sugar Bowl he broke his forearm. The only recurring part of his injury was getting it hurt again in Athens.

 

Icratic: do you have any insight onto how well Stidham is fitting in? are the players receptive to him?

So far he seems to be fitting in well with his teammates. I watched him interact with several of the freshmen receivers and they seemed to be getting along quite well.

 

wtbtiger: Who do you see as leaders on the 2017 football team?

Chandler Cox is absolutely one of those guys for this team and I believe Austin Golson will step into that role as well. Just being around Jarrett Stidham I see those types of qualities in his personality so if he wins the job I think he’ll step into that role. On defense it’s Tre Williams and DeShaun Davis, hands down.

 

wtbtiger: Do you see us getting at least to the NIT this basketball season?

I think it’s still a possibility. The issue is where does this team finish in the SEC. There aren’t a whole lot of spots in the NIT any longer because regular season league champions that don’t make the NCAA Tournament get an automatic bid into that tournament. Because of that I think Auburn needs to be 8-10 league wins, at a minimum, to have any chance to make the field. The SEC is probably going to get Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida and maybe Arkansas in the Big Dance. That leaves a lot of teams fighting for one or two spots.

 

MSandPHDatAU: Is there anyone on the defense you see pulling an Andrew Williams by coming out of nowhere and producing?

I don’t know that I see someone coming as far as Andrew Williams did last season, but I’m expecting to see Nick Coe make an impact on the defensive line after being redshirted this season. I think the defensive end is going to be a fun player to watch as he continues to develop physically.

 

AUtigeritaville: Between Wiley, Heron, and Purifoy, which player(s) could possibly stay through their senior year and why?

I would say of those three Mustapha would probably be the most likely to stay because of his strong academic background, but even that I would say is a stretch. I like the chances that Anfernee McLemore and Jared Harper are around for four years. Those two combined with Chuma Okeke, Davion Mitchell, E.J. Montgomery and Jared Jones makes for a pretty good nucleus not to mention the other guys they add in 2018 and 2019.

 

auburnNC89: If I am not mistaken we have had 3 straight football recruiting class where all signees have academically qualified. In the past we have had issues getting everyone qualified. I am very proud of the staff for being able to do this. Does this staff do a better job in doing their due diligence in making sure everyone qualifies or are they just not taking chances on higher risk players? Also can any other SEC schools say that they have had 3 straight years of everyone qualifying?

There is no question that Gus Malzahn takes it very seriously to sign guys who will qualify. Losing a scholarship is a big hit for a class so they do a lot of background work to make sure the guys are good to go. I would have to do some research to find out, but I think it would be a short list of SEC teams that could say that.


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