Bluechip Prospects Making Late Decisions

Although Auburn picked up more early verbal commitments than usual, several highly-regarded football prospects are still undeclared on their college choice.

Auburn, Ala.--With national signing day set for Wednesday, most of Auburn's recruiting battles will have long been decided when it is time for prospects to officially sign scholarship papers.

However, there should be some late drama for Tiger fans on several fronts.

Antone Smith, a tailback from Pahokee, Fla., High, is considered one of the nation's top running back prospects with an unusual combination of power and speed in a muscular, compact body. He was the fastest prospect at the Miami MSL Combine last spring with a rigidly-timed 4.41 40.

Smith took his official recruiting visit to Auburn while the Tigers were having on-campus bowl practices before Christmas preparing for their Sugar bowl victory over Virginia Tech. He came away from that trip to AU with the Tigers high on his list.

This past weekend he wrapped up his official visit schedule with a trip to FSU. His other finalists are Miami and Florida.

Smith is doing a good job of keeping coaches and fans at all four colleges guessing on his destination. That should be the case all the way until signing day when the tailback says he will announce his decision.

Another top target for the Tigers down the stretch is cornerback Walter McFadden from Ely High in Pompano Beach, Fla. A fall visitor to the Plains, the Tigers look to be the team to beat for the defensive back who took a final official visit to the University of Illinois over the weekend after originally being scheduled to check out the Florida Gators.

McFadden, who is 6-0, 175 pounds with exceptional quickness, has also visited another Big 10 school, Michigan State, along with the University of South Florida. He is expected to make his announcement on Wednesday morning at Ely High School.

McFadden was one of the most impressive prospects in this signing class to attend one of the AU summer football camps.

Bobby Greenwood

The most heavily recruited still uncommitted in-state prospect, defensive end Bobby Greenwood from Prattville High, has yet to announce his college choice. Auburn coaches made an in-home visit on Thursday after getting an official visit from the 6-6, 248-pound All-State player the previous weekend.

Greenwood, who is originally from the state of Florida, says FSU and Alabama are the other two colleges he is considering. He also took an official visit to Vanderbilt prior to Christmas, but the Commodores are not in the picture.

Greenwood's father said on Sunday that the Prattville High standout was still trying to make a decision, but could have one as early as Monday.

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville says he is pleased with the crop of prospects already scheduled to sign this week after early verbal commitments. With prospects coming in for official visits to the Arkansas and Georgia football games, as well as a December weekend when the Tigers were practicing for the Sugar Bowl, the Tigers were well on their way to filling the recruiting class before bringing prospects in during the traditional January visit weekends.

After bringing in prospects the two previous weeks, Auburn didn't have a player on campus this past weekend for a visit, which is not the norm for AU recruiting on the third official visit weekend in January.

Headliners in the 2005 class include the state of Alabama's top ranked prospect by Scout.com, tight end Tommy Trott, and linebacker Tray Blackmon, the state of Georgia's top-ranked prospect.

Trott, of Trinity Presbyterian in Montgomery, is picking Auburn over Alabama and Miami. Blackmon, who is from LaGrange, Ga., High, is selecting the Tigers over Georgia. Both were summer camp standouts at Auburn last year.

Tommy Trott (35) celebrates a big play for Trinity Presbyterian as a senior.

Trott is a 6-4, 240-pounder with wide receiver skills. Blackmon, who is 6-0, 192, led his team to a state championship last season with exceptional quickness, a nose for the football and lots of big hits.

Among the defensive prospects the Tigers are expected to sign this week are end Alonzo Horton from Abramson Marion High in New Orleans, La. (Auburn over Ole Miss); cornerback Jonathan Wilhite from Butler County Community College in El Dorado, Kan., (Auburn over Oklahoma State); tackle Sen'Derrick Marks from Vigor High in Prichard (Auburn over Louisville); end Antonio Coleman from Williamson High in Mobile (Auburn over Alabama); tackle Brian West from Ozen High in Beaumont, Tex. (Auburn over Texas Tech); cornerback Jerraud Powers from Decatur High (Auburn over Alabama); safety/linebacker Patrick Trahan from St. Augustine High in New Orleans, La. (Auburn over Florida); defensive lineman Rudy Odum from Fontainebleau High in Mandeville, La. (Auburn over LSU); linebacker Rex Sharpe from Fairfield High (Auburn over LSU) and cornerback Aairon Sharpe from Westover High in Albany, Ga., a summer commitment who notes that Auburn was the only college he seriously considered after getting an early offer following a strong performance at an AU camp.

On offense, the Tigers are expected to sign tight end Gabe McKenzie from Davidson High in Mobile (Auburn over Alabama); tight end Tommy Trott from Trinity Presbyterian in Montgomery (Auburn over Alabama); wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez from Coffeyville, Kan., Community College (Auburn over FSU); wide receiver Montez Billings from Pelham High (Auburn over Alabama); tight end Andrew McCain from Briarwood Christian in Birmingham (Auburn over Florida); offensive lineman Oscar Gonzalez from Hialeah, Fla., High (Auburn over Florida) and offensive lineman Michael Harness from Pacelli High in Columbus, Ga. (Auburn over Florida).

The Tigers also are scheduled to sign kicker Zach Kutch from Milton, Fla., High (Auburn over West Virginia).


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