Infielder Brandon Monk is one of the three high school players who have given a verbal commitment to the Tigers and he says that in his heart Auburn was always the place he wanted to be.
"I think it's going to be a great place to play," Monk tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I met Coach Slater at a Florida camp and I really liked Florida at the time because of him. When he got the job at Auburn I was thrilled because I like him a lot. I think they are going to work really well together. It's going to be a real good situation for the whole team."
A 5-10, 180-pounder with good speed and power, Monk had his choice of just about any baseball school in the South after a strong junior season and a continuation of that in summer baseball tournaments around the country. Despite the interest from all over, it wasn't until recently that Auburn came through with the offer he was looking for to convince him to sign on with the Tigers.
"It started about last Christmas," Monk says. "I knew I liked Auburn and I knew I liked a lot of schools around the South like Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Alabama, Mississippi State and all them. Last Christmas Florida State offered me. I thought about it for a while, but I just wanted to wait. I was waiting on Auburn the whole time."
As a junior the soon to be four-year starter at shortstop hit .412 with six home runs and 33 runs batted in. At Auburn he could play second base, shortstop or third base or even see some time on the mound.
"Last week I pitched in Wilmington and they said they would like me to pitch here," Monk says. "Hopefully, they'll use me some innings on the mound.
"That would probably be in their best interest," Monk says of the Auburn staff. "If you have guys that can pitch and play a position you don't have to go after another pitcher or another position player. I think they'll do that."
Monk will be joining two longtime friends in Auburn when he arrives in August of 2005. Pitcher/outfielder Colby Rasmus from Russell County High along with pitcher Evan Crawford from Prattville both have a history with Monk and he says that makes his decision that much better in the long run.
"That's going to be real exciting playing with Colby again," Monk says. "He's a real good pitcher. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm really glad he committed to Auburn. I have known Evan since we were 14. We played against them. He's a real good pitcher and I think he'll get to play some, too."
Monk and Rasmus were once a part of one of the most widely known Little League teams in the southern part of the United States. Five years ago the duo played for Phenix City when the team won the United States Championship before losing in the final game to a team from the Far East. Monk was a member of the team despite not living in Phenix City.
"I lived in Lanett all my life and Phenix City was the closest Little League to me, so they let me go up there and play Little League," he says. "Then I moved from Lanett to LaGrange in the eighth grade and have been there ever since."
Monk now turns his attention to his senior year, but not before he goes to work for Auburn on the recruiting trail. Playing on Team Florida USA for the summer, Monk teamed up with outstanding players from the East Coast. Two of the biggest names on TFUSA were shortstop/pitcher Justin Bristow and center fielder Andrew McCutcheon. Both are looking at Auburn, andut Monk says that Bristow was impressed by his visit to the Plains and is considering joining Monk and company to give the Tigers one of the top recruiting classes in school history.
"I have been talking to Bristow," Monk says. "He really likes Auburn and Coach Slater. Hopefully, he'll be up here, too. I think we're going to be in Omaha in a couple of years."
In addition to Monk, Rasmus and Crawford, the Tigers have also added talented transfers who are available to play this coming season. Both Phillip Stringer (shortstop) from Tulane and Josh Blake (LH pitcher) from Arizona State will be joining Auburn's squad this fall and can play right away.