Auburn Football Recruiting: 2002 Signee Class

Auburn, Ala.--Ends and tackles are the major areas of attention on defense for the Auburn football Tigers for the 2002 signee class. On offense, priorities include linemen, wide receivers and quarterback.

The Tigers have a strong start on filling those needs with more than a dozen commitments/signees who are expected to be a part of next year's team. The national signing day is Feb. 6th.

The following is a look at Auburn's recruiting needs:


Priority: High.

Sophomore-to-be Jason Campbell and senior-to-be Jeff Klein could be the only returning scholarship QBs returning if Daniel Cobb is not back. Cobb would be a rare sixth year senior if he receives a special hardship exemption from the NCAA due to serious medical problems while a student at the University of Georgia. Cobb has applied for the hardship and plans to sit down and discuss his status with Tommy Tuberville if the extra year of eligibility is granted. Having the opportunity to play for new offensive coordinator Bob Petrino would obviously be intriguing to the veteran QB.

Prospect To Watch: Hewitt-Trussville High's Brandon Cox, the state's Mr. Football, is expected to choose from a short list that includes Auburn, Florida, LSU and North Carolina State. The stunning resignation of Steve Spurrier as head coach of the Gators is an interesting development because the Gators look to be Auburn's major competition. The 6-3, 190-pound lefthander has a great touch. He passed for 2,887 yards as a senior, completing 233-329 passes. Cox passed for a career total of 5,417 yards and passed for 50 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions. It doesn't hurt Auburn's cause that offensive coordinator and QB coach Petrino coached a left-handed quarterback with the Jacksonville Jaguars and a star lefty at Idaho, Doug Nussmeier.

Running Backs:

Priority Level: Moderate.

With the exception of injured freshman Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, none of the Tiger running backs has proven to be a consistent big-play threat. There are no seniors among the scholarship running backs, but there is a possibility that there could be position changes. Casinious Moore is a candidate to move to wide receiver. Tailback Ronnie Brown, who played some fullback this season, may be moved there on a permanent basis. Brandon Johnson gets the job done at fullback and his backup, Michael Owens, will be a senior in 2002. There is a good possibility that the Tigers might sign just one running back this year.

Prospect To Watch: Venice High star Tre Smith, the Class 5A Player of the Year in Florida this past season, is a 5-11, 195-pounder with 4.45 speed. He rushed for 1,664 yards and 20 touchdowns yards as a senior and 1,854 yards as a junior as his team reached the state championship game. Nebraska and Florida look to be the toughest competition for a player who has offers from a large number of colleges.


Priority Level: High.

The Tigers lose All-SEC performer Kendall Simmons and Mike Pucillo, a potential NFL draft pick, plus a third starter in guard Hart McGarry. The backups played so little this past season it is difficult to get a good read on how well they will perform in 2002. Getting the reserves extra attention was a priority area in bowl practices on campus before breaking for Christmas. Simmons will be missed. Big Kendall is expected to be a first round draft pick.

Marcus McNeil is considered one of the top prospects in Georgia. <

Prospect to Watch: Marcus McNeil from Cedar Grove High in Ellenwood, Ga., is the kind of prospect who excites college coaches. He is big, has great feet, is smart and a good leader. McNeil, a 6-8, 315-pounder, is All-State on the football field and was named Mr. Cedar Grove High. He has had offers from around the country, but Auburn is definitely in the picture. He is scheduled to visit North Carolina this weekend, the Tigers on the 18th and Miami the following week.

Tight Ends:

Priority Level: Moderate.

The Tigers look to be in good shape at the position even though injuries took a toll in 2001 with senior-to-be Lorenzo Diamond and junior-to-be Robert Johnson being less than full speed physically and backup sophomore-to-be Jimmy St. Louis going down for the season with a serious knee injury.

Prospects to Watch: Justin Bruce from Pepperell High in Lindale, Ga., and Lawrence Lilly from Montevallo have already verbally committed to the Tigers. Lilly is 6-4 1/2, 250 and runs a 4.8 40. Bruce is 6-9, 250 and has surprising speed. He runs a 4.6.


Priority Level: Very high.

The Tigers lose speedster Tim Carter and there is no guarantee that suspended junior-to-be Deandre Green will be back next fall. Overall, this group was very disappointing this past season. Injuries slowed junior-to-be Jeris McIntyre and senior-to-be Marcel Willis. The Tigers are expected to sign at least four wideouts and definitely need a big-play threat in that group. There is ample opportunities for newcomers to make a splash in 2002.

Benmain Obomanu has size, speed, excellent hands and is an honor student.

Prospects to Watch: Selma High star Benjamin Obomanu is one of the top high school wide receivers in the nation and is an honor student, too. Auburn, Alabama, Florida, LSU and many others would love to see his name on scholarship papers in February. Devin Aromashodu, a 6-2, 185-pounder with 4.4 speed from Miami Springs, Fla., is an exciting prospect who is considered one of the top prospects in the South this year. He has already visited AU and has the Tigers high on his list.

Field Goal Kickers:

Priority Level: Very low.

Damon Duval was one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top field goal kicker despite a late season slump. His backup, Philip Yost, is a former prep All-American who has the talent to be a strong college kicker.

Recruit to Watch: None.

Defensive Ends

Priority Level: Very high.

The Tigers lose both starters, Javor Mills and James Callier, plus second stringer Alton Moore. The only proven returning player is Reggie Torbor.

Prospect to Watch: Early high school graduate Brian Kuhn from Crescent City, Fla., High is an All-State starter who will get a head start on the competition. He starts classes this week at Auburn and will be participating in winter workouts and spring training. Seante Williams, who originally signed with the Tigers two years ago as a senior at Pine Forest High in Pensacola, Fla., was expected to challenge for early playing time as a transfer from Coffeyville, Kan., Community College, however, he was not accepted by Auburn for academic reasons. He is expected to play for Southern Mississippi.

Defensive Tackles:

Priority Level: Very high.

Auburn went into the bowl game with no completely healthy defensive tackles and played shorthanded at those two spots throughout the season. A knee injury robbed junior-to-be DeMarco McNeil of his quickness and led to a disappointing season. Junior-to-be Spencer Johnson has battled through injuries to both knees this season. Junior-to-be Marcus White was lost for the season last month with a neck problem and undersized junior-to-be Dexter Murphy, who has battled through a variety of injuries, has not shown he is ready for a starting assignment. The last healthy defensive tackle, juco transfer Dante Booker, suffered a knee sprain in practice for the bowl game, but he has the potential to play a larger role as a senior. The Tigers have just one defensive tackle redshirted--freshman Wayne Dickens. Depth at the position was hurt when freshman Marcus Johnson quit the team near the start of the season.

T.J. Jackson is a big, quick and talented defensive tackle.

Prospect to Watch: Opelika High's Tommy "T.J." Jackson is the state of Alabama's top defensive tackle prospect and has the Tigers high on his list. Jackson is a quick player who will remind Auburn fans of a healthy version of DeMarco McNeil if he picks the Tigers from a long list of suitors that includes Tiger rivals Georgia, Alabama, Georgia Tech and others.

Inside Linebackers:

Priority Level: Moderate.

The Tigers will miss senior Tavarreus Pounds, who played extremely well in the bowl game after recovering from injuries that slowed him earlier in the season. There is a question about junior-to-be Phillip Pate's health after suffering two major injuries. There are proven players returning in senior-to-be Mark Brown and junior-to-be Dontarrious Thomas. Young linebackers such as sophomore-to-be Mayo Sowell and true freshman Lemarcus Rowell will likely challenge for playing time.

Prospects to Watch: Auburn's first public verbal commitment for the 2002 class, 6-2, 230-pound, 4.6 Kevis Burnam from Macon County High in Montezuma, Ga., is a good all-around athlete who was impressive as a senior. He led his team to a strong showing in the state playoffs. However, he is still taking visits so this is definitely still a recruiting battle. Burnam is scheduled to visit the Georgia Bulldogs this weekend. Tyrone Martin, a 6-1, 214, 4.5 linebacker from Benjamin Russell High, Alexander City, Ala., had as good a senior season as any Auburn recruit in helping his team win the Class 5A state title.

Tyrone Martin is a speedy and sure-tackling linebacker from Alexander City.

Defensive Backs

Priority Level: Moderate.

Injuries plagued the secondary early in the season, but when healthy the overall group had some solid performances in 2001. Roderick Hood, Horace Willis and Stanford Simmons will be seniors next season so the Tigers will be looking for players to fill their shoes in this signee class. Junior-to-be whip Karlos Dansby showed signs of developing into a star before he leaves AU. Look for 2001 freshmen corners Carlos Rogers and Junior Rosegreen to be improved in 2002 with a year of season under their belts. The same is true of sophomore-to-be free safety Donnay Young.

Prospect to Watch: Speedy Shaw High of Columbus, Ga., star Brandon Williams is an early commitment who has the whole package. He has the potential to play cornerback or safety at the SEC level at 6-1, 195 with sub 4.5 speed.


Priority Level: Low.

Duval had a hot and cold season as a punter. The fifth-year-senior-to-be has a very strong leg, but had a tendency to hit some line drive punts. He finished with an impressive performance in the Peach Bowl. The backup is junior-to-be walk-on Taylor Mosley, who has not seriously challenged for the starting job.

Prospect to Watch: It is possible that Auburn will take a look at walk-ons, but it would be a surprise to see the Tigers sign a punter.

Auburn Public Commitments:

Christopher Browder, a 6-5, 215, 4.7 defensive end from Wilcox-Central, Camden, Ala.

*Justin Bruce, a 6-9, 250, 4.6 tight end from Pepperell High, Lindale, Ga.

*Kevis Burnam, a 6-2, 230, 4.6 linebacker from Macon County High, Montezuma, Ga.

*Karibi Dede, a 6-0, 192, 4.4, safety from Hylton High, Dumfries, Va., and Hargrave Military Academy.

*Antwarn Franklin, a 6-5, 315, 4.9 defensive and offensive lineman from Woodlawn High in Birmingham.

*Wesley Hill, a 6-3, 215, 4.8, Quarterback/Athlete from Crisp County High, Cordele, Ga. He is an early high school graduate who is expected to enroll at Auburn in January.

*Oliver King, a 6-2, 215, 4.5 linebacker from North Surry High, Mount Airy, N.C.

*DE Brian Kuhn, a 6-5, 250, 4.6 from Crescent City, Fla., High. He is an early high school graduate who is expected to enroll for Auburn classes in January.

*Lawrence Lilly, a 6-4 1/2, 250, 4.8 tight end from Montevallo, Ala., High.

*Tyrone Martin, a 6-1, 214, 4.5 linebacker from Benjamin Russell High, Alexander City, Ala.

*Anthony Mix, a 6-5, 225, 4.45 wide receiver from Hargrave Military Academy and Baldwin County High. Mix is expected to re-sign with the Tigers in February unless he obtains a qualifying college board test score and enrolls for the second semester. He originally signed with the Tigers last February and signed again in December.

*Kevin Sears, a 6-4 1/2, 217, 4.6 defensive back from Russellville, Ala., High.

*Forrest Tucker, a 6-4, 235, 4.6 defensive end from Western Harnett High, Lillington, N.C., and Hargrave Military Academy.

*William Ward, a 6-2, 250, 4.9 center from Prattville High.

*Greg Wilkerson, a 6-2, 230, 4.6 athlete from Bowdon, Ga., High.

Speedy defensive back Brandon Williams was an early commitment to the Tigers.

*Brandon Williams, a 6-1, 195, 4.4, defensive back from Shaw High, Columbus, Ga.

*Toby Zeigler, a 6-1, 185, 4.5, WR, Neville High, Monroe, La.

* * *

Subscribe to Inside the Auburn Tigers Magazine and Football Newsletter

copyright Inside the Auburn Tigers 2002.

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories