Markaviest Bryant (Photo by Chad Simmons)

Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag Column Features Football & Football Recruiting

A loaded edition of the Friday Auburn Mailbag puts the wraps on the 2017 recruiting class and covers a whole lot more.

Markaviest "Big Cat" Bryant (above) chose the Tigers on football's national signing day.

DozerTiger: When did you know Bryant was signing with Auburn?

We had heard that LSU was Auburn's competition more than Georgia, but Auburn had a chance because he had a really good official visit. Just before his announcement I saw a few coaches around the complex and they were buzzing so that’s when I really knew even though nobody told me.


aunatchamps: Do you think Stephen Davis, Jr. has a future on Auburn's football team?

As I mentioned recently, Davis hasn’t recovered well from his injuries and I don’t see him being in the plans at Auburn.


DozerTiger: Which player that signed today, and is not already on campus has the best chance to contribute in a significant way in 2017?

I think it’s Tadarian Moultry, at least for me. I think he’s an immediate impact player rushing the passer because of his physicality and speed off the edge. You don’t have to teach that.


Icratic: what's the outlook on the 10th coach? any more coaching changes?

I believe when the voting takes place in April that they will add a 10th coach to the staff. As for who that would be, that still remains to be seen because there are really three ways to go about it. You could either hire a dedicated special teams coach, add a defensive staff position, or a dedicated H-Backs/TE Coach. I am not sure which way that will go. As for changes on the staff, I think at a minimum there will be changes in analysts, GA’s, etc.


cAUmberlandTiger8: Did auburn reach out to parks this morning after his signing debacle? Or was that fed to the "media" by bama?

Auburn kept in touch with Parks and he was a consideration, but when the Tigers got Markaviest Bryant that was it for them. They didn’t pursue him after that. Parks was a consideration only if the Tigers got shut out, which didn’t happen.


TigerTN: Your thoughts on how the offense will do with Lindsey as OC.

I like the idea of having more passing game options in the offense, something that has been needed. I think it will be a more explosive offense than the one we’ve seen the last two years, which is obviously the difference between being okay and really good.


TexasAuburnGrad: Jason, First time I can remember that we have enough players at every position... depth everywhere. You agree?

Auburn has had good depth in most years, but I agree that it’s hard to find too many holes when you look even two-deep at this roster. That’s a pretty good position to be in prior to spring practice.


settindown: With normal attrition, It appears we go into Fall with less than 75 scholarship players. We look like we have some depth everywhere but we are barely 3 deep at most position positions. Where are we most at risk if injuries crop up?

I am not sure Auburn will lose eight guys between now and next season. I guess that’s possible, but right now the Tigers are at 83 by my count. If two of the guys that leave are quarterbacks that doesn’t change your depth. I am not sure where the others would come from, but I don’t think it will be an issue. I don’t think you can find any team in the country that is three-deep at every position--it is just not possible. Alabama has recruited as well as anybody in college football history and one injury at linebacker killed its depth in the national championship game. The Tide couldn’t find a third linebacker to get the job done.


TexasAuburnGrad: Jason, Could you put our 2017 recruits on the left... and an ex Auburn player they remind you of next to their names. It would be helpful with players like Whitlow (Sp?)

How about I keep this one and do it for a separate story sometime next week? That’s going to take some thought.


TexasAuburnGrad: Jason, for 2018 recruiting class. Do you think we go after athletic 6'4" to 6'5" WR's?

Right now that’s the focus for Kodi Burns, finding a couple of bigger receivers. Two of those guys are in the state in Justyn Ross from Central-Phenix City and Seth Williams from Paul Bryant. Both are big, physical guys.


TexasAuburnGrad: Jason, Does Markievest Bryant (sp?) have the same potential as LSU's DE Arden Key?

I think he’s got similar potential, but I think Key was more polished and ready to play than Big Cat is right now. I do think that Bryant’s frame lends him to be able to carry a little more weight, which combined with his quickness could make him a terror down the road.


TexasAuburnGrad: Jason, Where did Arizona State rank in offense in the PAC-12? How do you think that transitions into a defensive league like the SEC?

Last year the Sun Devils were sixth in the league in scoring and ninth in total offense. I don’t think there is a huge difference in terms of transitioning offenses when you have talent. They had injuries at QB, struggled on the offensive line last year and that really hurt the offense. Also, the Sun Devils had major problems stopping other offenses.


TexasAuburnGrad: Jason, I think we beat Clemson in Clemson. Can you go over who they lost from this past team and where you think they may have issues?

Clemson is going to be pretty good on defense, especially up front, but it lost a ton of skill talent on offense starting with Deshaun Watson at quarterback. That’s going to be the biggest thing for them to have to replace. They also lose Wayne Gallman at running back, receivers Mike Williams and Artavis Scott, and tight end Jordan Leggett. The O-Line will still be good, but the offense will have a whole lot to replace.


TexasAuburnGrad: Jason, Do you think we recruit 5-6 defensive lineman for 2018 recruiting class?

I don’t think the Tigers will sign six or maybe five. I’m looking more at four guys right now. They signed three this year and with Tashawn Manning that is essentially four. Still, with no seniors on the DL roster and 14 scholarship defensive linemen on the team for 2017, signing more than four doesn’t work unless one or more guys are gone.


TexasAuburnGrad: Jason, Where would you rank our offensive line and defensive line in the SEC for this upcoming season?

I haven’t looked at what other teams have returning across the league, but I think Auburn’s defensive line will again be very good. Alabama and Georgia will both be good again with LSU’s pass rushers a strength, but if Auburn can find a true pass rusher it could be as good as anyone. On the offensive line, I think, it depends on what the group looks like for me. If Prince Tega can with the job at left tackle and the Tigers can move Darius James either to right tackle or guard, then the group would be really strong. I think it’s probably top four in the league no matter what.


Tiger45: Who are the DL high school players in the state next year that we'll be recruiting?

The first guy is big Coynis Miller from Jackson-Olin. He played at 270 last year and is already up to 290 now. He’ll be a three-technique in college. Mobile Christian standout Andres Fox, Malik Langham from Lee-Huntsville, Kadarian Hill from Eufaula, Mackie McNeal from Thompson and Timaje Porter from Theodore are all guys in-state that will be SEC-type guys.


TexasAuburnGrad: Jason, Who is the top recruit you would like to see us sign this coming 2018 class?

Since we’re on the subject of defensive linemen, I’ll take this guy Robert Cooper. He's committed to Florida State already, but I think Auburn will have a shot.

wtbtiger: I know that Brown and the coaches are working hard on his shot but what is wrong? Is a confidence thing or has he developed some bad habits on his shooting form. We really need him to step up.

I think it’s straight up a confidence thing. Talking to Sonny Smith today he said he’s still expecting every shot Brown takes to go in because it looks good, but he’s just a little off. You can see him just look different when he makes one. Usually that leads to at least a few more. If he can make his first shot look out.


wtbtiger: Is a limit on how many football analyst a team can hire. Who pays their salaries? Can the booster kick in and supplement their compensation?

At the moment there’s no limit on the number of analysts a team can have. They are paid as part of the coaching staff and budgeted by the athletic department.


TigerNAggieLand: What's to keep Auburn from signing DE and bammer grayshirt, Jarez Parks?  Are grades an issue? Also, uncommitted juco DT, Jeremy Faulk, and/or WR, Stephen Guidry?

I don’t think grades are an issue for Parks and the only thing keeping Auburn from signing him is that they don’t want him. He was a guy they were interested in if they struck out on everyone on signing day, but that’s it. He was never anywhere near a slam dunk take for Auburn. As for the others, Faulk has already hired an agent and entered the NFL Draft. Guidry has more work to do in junior college.


justafanwde: When are you and Mark + staff going to take a little time off. You haven't had much, if any, down time in quite a while.

We’ve got some speaking engagements to take care of after signing day and I’m headed towards having a little girl in less than a month so that’s going to be my “down time” haha. Thankfully, we have each other to lean on so we can have a night away from the boards every once in a while.


AUPMBA: With recruiting over, do you see any position coach changes or adds to the off the field staff?

I think there will definitely be some changes on the staff, just not sure where or how many. At a minimum you’ll see some new faces in the analyst roles on offense and potentially the on-the-field staff as well. That’s something that often happens when you have a new coordinator come onboard.


aunatchamps: With Austin Troxell having 2 ACL surgeries, will he redshirt this season and what is his long term health and playing time over the next 4 to 5 years?

I think even without his second knee injury Troxell would have been headed for a redshirt season. It’s just tough to come in and play as a true freshman and I believe he’ll transition to be a guard in Auburn’s offense, a place they have some depth already. If he’s playing right tackle then that’s definitely something that will be helped by a redshirt season.


aunatchamps: Kevin Phillips was listed as a Senior on the roster. Does he have one more year? Is Ian Shannon the future punter or will we recruit another punter next year?

Kevin Phillips is done with his time at Auburn so right now Ian Shannon has to be the favorite to win the punting job heading into next season. Walk-on Beau Horn from Mobile Christian could be a guy to watch when he gets on campus in the fall.


AUpoker: Anything new on the Android app?

With Scout’s pending sale to CBS Sports Interactive, which should be finalized next week, we’re hoping that things move forward with the Android app and more enhancements with the network moving forward.

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories