Heading To The Finish Line
Recruiting is such a different game than it was when I first got into this business almost 20 years ago and definitely from when I first started paying attention to it as a young kid in the early 80’s. It used to be rare when there were large numbers of players that had announced a decision before signing day.
In the 1990’s Texas and Penn State started the trend of picking up commitments earlier and earlier, getting us to where we are now.
The Auburn Tigers head into the final weekend with just a few names left on the board and that is the case with just about every other big-time program in the country. Just 18 of the Top 100 players on Scout for the 2017 class remain uncommitted with just two days left before signing day.
Now classes are done months in advance, leaving just a handful of guys to focus on as teams get ready to put the finishing touches on another year of recruiting.
Also like Auburn, many colleges already have a big chunk of their classes on campus because of the trend of guys wanting to get a head start. Defensive back Malcolm Askew, offensive lineman Nick Brahms, linebacker K.J. Britt, tight end Sal Cannella, defensive lineman Tashawn Manning, quarterbacks Jarrett Stidham and Malik Willis along with linebacker Chandler Wooten are already in classes and ready to go through spring practice.
No matter what happens down the stretch or even on signing day, Auburn’s class will be a good one that answered a lot of needs with the biggest being at quarterback and running back on offense and at linebacker on defense. Getting more help rushing the passer is the final piece of the puzzle, something that “Big Cat” Markaviest Bryant could help with and early if he chooses the Tigers.
It’s hard to find a better way to finish your college playing days than what Montravius Adams did on Saturday in the Senior Bowl in Mobile. Showing his playmaking ability with six tackles, one tackle for loss while adding a fumble recovery, the game only backed up what the Auburn senior defensive tackle had shown during the week of practices and this year as a whole.
What that means for him heading into the NFL Combine and private workouts is that he is now high on the radar of more teams following his impressive week. Always talented, Adams has continued to get better and better and as a senior he became the consistent guy Rodney Garner has been looking for at tackle.
The thing that Adams needs to do now is be himself, which is going to allow him to shine in the interviews he will have with teams over the course of the next few months leading up to the draft. A guy who won't get in trouble and will be great in the locker room, Adams could make a move when teams start looking for value picks late in the first round or into the second.
It was a tough early part of the week for both the Auburn men’s and women’s basketball teams with double-digit road losses to South Carolina and Missouri, respectively, but both bounced back over the weekend to get wins and put themselves in strong postseason position heading towards the second half of the SEC schedule.
Playing horribly in a blowout loss at South Carolina, Bruce Pearl's team continued the rollercoaster ride that is this season by coming out and playing well in a win against a solid TCU club on the road Saturday. Freshmen centers Austin Wiley and Anfernee McLemore continue to give Pearl’s team quality play in the middle and that allowed the Tigers to take on a new personality against the Horned Frogs.
Relying on driving the lane and letting Wiley and McLemore clean up things inside, Auburn’s offense was very efficient and the Tigers took control in the second half for their fourth true road win of the year.
Now the question remains, can they build onto what they have done and keep moving forward?
There is no doubt this team has the ability to play well and compete with anyone. With the schedule remaining there is not a game that this team can’t win. Unfortunately, they’ve also shown they can lose to anyone as well.
With an overall record of 14-7 and 3-5 in SEC play, just winning the remaining home games would put the Tigers at 19 victories. That’s definitely possible, even with some quality opponents remaining, beginning with Tennessee on Tuesday night.
Currently 15-7 overall and 5-3 in SEC play, Coach Flo’s Tigers have everything in front of them, but it’s a very tough stretch of games ahead beginning this week with a home contest against Top 5 Mississippi State on Thursday night. Going to Texas A&M on Sunday and then at another Top 5 team South Carolina the following Sunday, if the Tigers do well against that schedule they’ll be a shoo-in for the NCAA Tournament. With a favorable finish to the conference schedule, Auburn has a chance for a good postseason NCAA seeding if the Tigers can steal any of the next three.