We’re one day away from national signing day for 2017 and while it may not be the finish the Auburn Tigers were looking for, it doesn’t diminish the fact that the group that signs on Wednesday along with the early enrollees is one that should meet a variety needs for Coach Malzahn’s football team.
That starts at the quarterback position where five-star Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham and four-star Malik Willis give Auburn a very good one-two punch to join the likes of Sean White, John Franklin and Woody Barrett. There is no question that you have to be good at quarterback to win and Auburn is better now at that position than it was at the end of last season.
Depth at the running back spot was tested last year with the Tigers getting Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson dealing with injuries during the year and reserve Stanton Truitt also injured against Georgia. Truitt is now gone, heading to North Carolina as a grad transfer, but adding four-stars Devan Barrett and Alaric Williams to go along with speedy Kamryn Martin and Malik Miller should leave Auburn in good shape at the position.
Noah Igbinoghene is expected to compete for playing time this fall.
At wide receiver the Tigers signed four players a year ago and losing just two seniors with only a pair of juniors on the roster allowed Kodi Burns to be very selective in his recruiting. Adding just four-star Noah in the class, a big-time athlete and one of the most explosive recruits in Alabama, Burns is pointing towards a loaded 2018 wide receiver group that he hopes will provide a good haul for the Tigers.
Another one of the key areas for Auburn in the class was at tight end where Jalen Harris was the only scholarship player on the roster in 2016. Adding juco Sal Cannella in the early signing period, a player who should allow the Tigers to spread the field even more, the Tigers picked up versatile addition John Samuel Shenker over the weekend. He’s a player that new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey expects to play a key role in the future for Auburn because he can line up in multiple positions in the offense.
Rounding out the offense, up front the Tigers picked up three talented players--five-star Calvin Ashley and four-stars Nick Brahms and Austin Troxell. One of the keys in the class along with Stidham, Ashley could play early for Auburn because of his size and ability while Troxell and Brahms will both likely redshirt to allow them to recover fully from high school injuries. The good news is that they won’t be needed this coming season with Coach Herb Hand having plenty of depth to work with from returning starters and backups.
One of the disappointing areas for the class is up front on defense where Alec Jackson is the only commitment for the Tigers. Losing out on Mobile’s Ryan Johnson, who committed to Stanford on Monday night, Auburn has put a lot of time and effort into adding Markaviest Bryant on signing day.
A big pass rusher off the edge, “Big Cat” is down to Auburn, Georgia and LSU for his final three schools. Getting him would take some of the sting off the end of the cycle for the Tigers.
Part of a linebacker class that includes early enrollees K.J. Britt and Chandler Wooten, Tadarian Moultry could easily stay in linebacker coach Travis Williams’ room, but also has the skill set to play the buck defensive end position for Auburn and do it very early in his career. That’s something that gives Auburn a little cushion in this class.
A possible late addition to the class could be three-star defensive tackle Tyrone Truesdell from Laney High in Augusta, Ga. Visiting last weekend, Truesdell is waiting on an Auburn offer and would jump at the chance to sign with the Tigers on Wednesday. That could happen and would give the Tigers some additional firepower up front in this class, but that's still to be determined.
Not the deepest of defensive line classes, Coach Rodney Garner will likely do what he did in 2016 and sign a big class in 2018 in order to offset the numbers up front. The good news is that Auburn doesn’t have a senior among the 12 defensive linemen on scholarship heading into 2017.
The Tigers might not be done at linebacker either with four-star Tyler Taylor choosing between Auburn, LSU and Oklahoma on Wednesday morning. A big-time talent and a former teammate of Auburn freshman Derrick Brown at Lanier High in Buford, Ga., Taylor is similar to Moultry in that he could play inside, but he also has the range to come off the edge and rush the passer if needed.
A wildcard at linebacker is four-star Alabama commitment Markail Benton out of Central-Phenix City. He's a player the Tigers have been in contact with recently and actually had on campus for a while on Saturday, but unless something changes he is still expected to sign with the Crimson Tide on Wednesday.
Rounding out the defense in the secondary, Auburn is bringing in four players starting with early enrollee Malcolm Askew. Joining him will be safety Carlito Gonzalez, big cornerback Traivon Leonard and hybrid Jordyn Peters. Looking for length and athleticism, the Tigers are bringing in four guys who all have those qualities in this year’s class.
Last but not least is kicker Anders Carlson from The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.. The brother of Auburn’s Daniel Carlson, he has a strong leg and will have a year to learn from one of the best kickers in the history of the Southeastern Conference. That should put him in good position to make a run at the starting job in 2018.