Now that the dust has settled it’s clear that Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers did a good job of filling needs in the 2017 class. While the overall class might not have the star power of some recent Auburn groups, when you talk about adding quality players at every level that’s the main goal heading into each year on the recruiting trail and the Tigers accomplished that.
When you begin to break things down and talk about players to watch, sleepers and more it shows this class could be a good one when you look back in four years.
Top Offensive Impact Signee: Might as well go ahead and get quarterback Jarrett Stidham out of the way with this one. A talented signal-caller and a player with the talent level to not only play right away but to also take the Auburn offense to another level, bringing in Stidham gives the Tigers instant firepower at the position.
Top Defensive Impact Signee: While Markaviest Bryant was important, I think Tadarian Moultry is going to be on the field on third downs very early in his career. With a lethal combination of strength and speed, Moultry is around 230 now and at 240 in August he could become the pass rusher the Tigers are looking for.
Most Important Offensive Signee: Stidham could probably be answered across the board on offense, so we’ll go with five-star OT Calvin Ashley in this spot because of what he brings to the future of Auburn’s offensive line. Gus Malzahn compared him to Greg Robinson, a guy Auburn redshirted his first season and only got two years out of before going to the NFL. I don’t think
Most Important Defensive Signee: That has to go to Bryant if for no other reason than his upside at perhaps the most important position on defense nowadays. Long and athletic, once Big Cat fills out he’s going to be a terror as a pass rusher for the Tigers. He’ll likely have a chance to do some of that early, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg for what he’s going to be capable of doing.
Offensive Sleeper: There are plenty of candidates for this one, but after watching JaTarvious Whitlow in action at least three times over the last two seasons I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t become an impact player for the Tigers in the very near future. At 6-0, 207, Whitlow has made plays on raw ability and has yet to put in work in a strength and conditioning program. Once that happens I expect a quicker and more explosive Whitlow, and combine that with a guy that has the “it” factor and you’ve got something to work with.
Defensive Sleeper: Mature physically for a cornerback, Traivon Leonard has good ball skills and the body to be able to push for playing time early in Auburn’s defense. With the talent to jump into the rotation and used to playing against very good skill players after living in the Miami area, Leonard won’t be intimidated when he steps on campus.
Most Likely Offensive Leader: When you talk with Nick Brahms it’s not hard to see that he’s a guy his teammates are going to be drawn to in the locker room and on the field. With a great personality and backing that up by being a physical player that lets his play do the talking, Brahms is going to be a great locker room guy for Auburn from day one.
Most Likely Defensive Leader: There are some good options in this defensive class, but for me it has to be linebacker K.J. Britt. Since the first time I saw him in person at a camp he’s been a player that takes over command of the huddle on the field. Always first in drills and encouraging other players, Britt exudes confidence in himself but in a way that makes others want to join his energy. That’s the guy of guy that can lead a defense from the linebacker position.