AU Signee Group Heavy On Linemen

A look at the Auburn football signees is featured with comments from Tommy Tuberville.

Auburn, Ala.--Tommy Tuberville said he was pleased with how the Tigers finished the stretch run in recruiting as the Tigers wrapped National Signing Day 2004.

The Auburn football coach said, "This was a great day for us, and a very suspenseful day for the few players left to sign. However, that is what makes recruiting interesting, especially on the last day.

"It was a good year for us. There were a lot of things we had to fight through the last months. We had to answer a lot more questions than you would like to answer in a recruiting situation. I believe our coaches did a great job with their backs against the wall."

The Tigers signed 11 linemen with the addition of William Sullivan and Tuberville said he hopes that will be a strength of the 2004 class. The coach said he is disappointed there wasn't a tight end in the mix after Darrell Strong jumped from Auburn to Pitt at the last minute so he could play quarterback. Auburn was also looking to sign a pair of wide receivers, but added just one.

Fullback Michael McLaughlin

"We signed two quarterbacks, three defensive backs, three linebackers and three running backs," Tuberville said. "Some areas I thought that we would have liked to have one more in was tight end and wide receiver, but with all the young guys we have on the team it was tough.

"Overall this was a good class. I"m proud of the coaches and what they have fought through over the last couple of months. This is a successful class and we can win a lot of games with them.

"We will not know a lot about this class until three or four years down the road. There are some players that we did sign that will have an opportunity to help the team next year win some games. We have a couple of pieces of the puzzle, specifically offensive linemen and defensive backs, that we need to help us win next year and get to the next level, which is where we have been trying to get to in the past couple of years."

Tuberville had these comments on the signees:

Octavius Balkcom--"Octavius can play either linebacker or tight end. He's a great athlete."

Tony Bell--"Tony is very athletic and he has tremendous speed and quickness. He'll have a chance to be our starter at safety next year."

Calvin Booker--"Calvin was one of the best athletes we had in our camp last year. He can be a dropback passer and a threat outside the pocket."

Jason Bosley--"Jason could play guard or tackle. He was one of the better offensive linemen in our camp. He has good upper body strength."

Chris Browder--"Chris has an extremely quick first two or three steps. He is very comparable to Stanley McClover. He is a great athlete who will be a tremendous pass rusher."

Neil Brown--"Neil could play offensive or defensive line. He came on strong his senior season. We're looking for him to play defensive tackle."

Anthony Campbell--"Anthony could play defensive back, running back or wide receiver. He has good speed and elusiveness."

Antowin Daniels--"Antowin will play tackle for us. He has good feet. He is a good basketball player. He has a chance to help us next year on the offensive line."

Tristan Davis--"Tristan will probably play safety or corner. He will have a chance to play early because of his quickness and speed. He is a great special teams player."

Chris Evans--"Chris was one of the most impressive linebackers we saw on film. He's a hard hitter and has a nose for the football. He is very instinctive and will probably play inside linebacker."

Blake Field--"Blake has a strong arm and is an accurate passer. He's good in and outside the pocket. He's a coach's son and knows the game."

Steve Gandy--"Steve has excellent lateral movement. He has tremendous instincts to play defense. He was the top defensive player in Mississippi."

Tyronne Green--"Tyronne has great upper body strength and good lateral movement. He will have an opportunity to play inside at tackle and possibly defensive end."

Courtney Harden--"Courtney was slowed his senior season with a knee injury. He has really bounced back from it through surgery and rehabilitation. He was one the best linebackers we saw in camps and films this past season. He's very athletic and instinctive."

Leon Hart--"Leon was the Player of the Year in South Carolina. He will have an opportunity to come in and compete for a starting position at offensive tackle. He's very quick and athletic."

Kenny Irons--"Kenny transferred from South Carolina. He could play a lot of different positions. He's very athletic and has tremendous speed and quickness. David, his brother, is with us now playing cornerback. We recruited Kenny very hard out of high school."

Merrill Johnson--"Merrill will continue to grow and get bigger and faster. He's projected to be an inside or outside linebacker. He was the leading tackler on his team the last couple of years."

Brad Lester--"Brad has speed, quickness which will make him a very versatile player for us. He could play a lot of positions. He has tremendous hands and will also be able to play special teams."

Michael McLaughlin--"Mike is a fullback with tailback skills. He has speed and quickness. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He will be very important to our offense because of lack of depth at that position."

Korey Raymond--"Korey has the size that will enable him to play early in our defense. He will play defensive tackle. He is very quick off the ball and has good hand-eye coordination. He is a tremendous pass rusher in high school."

Pat Sims--"Pat was one of the MVPs of our camps the past few years. He comes from a school that has great football tradition. He is a hard worker. He is a tough, physical player that loves to play defense."

Greg Smith--"Greg is very quick and agile. He has tremendous upper body strength. He could play guard or tackle next year."

James Swinton--"James runs very good routes. He impressed the coaches in camp. He has great hands and he can make plays after the catch."

Jerald Watson--"Jerald is one of the fastest players in the country. He ran a 10.36 100-meters last year in a national track meet. He's a good inside and outside runner. He'll give us a weapon as a returner on special teams."

John Watts--"John will continue to grow and gain weight. He's very athletic and the prototype offensive lineman for our offense. He's a good pass blocker."

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