Closing In On The Class Of 2002

The Tigers are still in the hunt for heavlly football prospects in the South as the final weekend of recruiting 2002 gets underway.

Auburn, Ala.--Heading into the final days of this whirlwind known as a recruiting season, the Auburn Tigers are looking for a strong finish to what has the potential to be a strong 2002 signee class.

With key verbal commitments already in hand, the Tigers still have around a half dozen slots left before they call it quits this season. The following is a look at prospects to watch in the final week leading up to Wednesday's National Signing Day.

Derrick Bush is a 6-1, 195, 4.5 running back/defensive back prospect from Hargrave Military Academy. Originally from Miller County High in Colquitt, Ga., he is expected to choose between Auburn, Georgia and Clemson.

Lewis Carter, a 6-1, 180-pound athlete from Richwood High in Monroe, La., is one of the faster players the Tigers are recruiting this season and is expected in for a visit this weekend. Finishing his senior year with 1,248 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground, he could play running back on the collegiate level, but is expected to get his first shot at wide receiver or defensive back.

Defensive end Taurean Charles visited Auburn last weekend.

Taurean Charles is a 6-2 ½, 227-pound sack machine from Northwestern High in Miami. A visitor to Auburn last weekend, he says the Tigers have everything he's looking for in a school but he will likely commit to Florida on his upcoming visit. If that doesn't happen, he will likely choose between Auburn, Florida and N.C. State with Rutgers also in the picture.

Tim Duckworth visited Auburn the weekend of January 11 and the Tigers are definitely in the running for the big 6-4, 295-pound defensive tackle. Also considering Ole Miss, Southern Miss and Mississippi State, this former high school teammate of Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell says the Tigers are in the thick of things for his services heading into the final week. He is expected to keep everybody guessing until close to signing day.

Ray Gant committed to the Georgia Bulldogs earlier in the month, but don't count out the Tigers just yet. The 6-4, 287-pound defensive tackle from Hargrave Military Academy and Chapel Hill, N.C., is still a possibility although a longshot.

Michael Gibson, a two-time All-State punter from Mooreville, Miss., High School, is expected to be in Auburn this weekend for a visit. The 6-2, 195-pounder averaged 46.5 yards per punt as a senior and 44.7 as a junior. He also started the final four games of the season at quarterback and led the team to wins in all four.

Memphis star LaRon Harris says he is still considering the Tigers.

LaRon Harris, 6-2, 305 from Kingsbury High in Memphis, Tenn., is considered one of the top defensive tackle prospects in the South this year. Despite committing to the Tennessee Vols earlier in January, he has continued to express interest in the Tigers and this is another battle to watch for this week. Auburn coaches made an in-home visit to see him this week.

Big Marcus McNeill is an offensive tackle.

Marcus McNeill is one of the biggest and more highly regarded offensive line prospects in the state of Georgia this season. At 6-8, 316 pounds, he is a sight that you won't soon forget when you see him. Considering several schools at the moment, Tennessee and Georgia Tech look to be the leaders, but Auburn is also still in the running along with North Carolina. Both the Tigers and Tar Heels have been at the top of his ever-changing list. He is expected to visit Georgia this weekend after originally being scheduled for a trip to Miami.

Ben Obomanu is the highest-profile prospect in the state of Alabama yet to make a decision. A 6-2, 182-pound receiver with 4.45 speed in the 40 yard dash, Obomanu has colleges from all over the country trying to get his signature on the dotted line next week, but it appears to be a three-team race between in-state rivals Auburn and Alabama and LSU, where he visited last weekend. Notre Dame, where he visited midweek, is the darkhorse in this race. Florida, one of the early favorites, has fallen off the pace. He is expected to announce his pick on Monday at 4 p.m.

Jonathan Palmer from Cedar Grove High in Ellenwood, Ga., is the teammate of McNeil and perhaps the biggest sleeper in the South this year. Being recruited nationally, Auburn and Georgia Tech look to be his leaders with North Carolina and Clemson trying to gain ground. Palmer will likely make a decision before the end of the weekend. The 6-5, 312-pound offensive lineman is also considering North Carolina and Clemson.

Big Kurt Quarterman is the two-time state champ in the discus and shot put in addition to being an outstanding lineman.

Troy Reddick, along with teammate Kurt Quarterman, helped Westover High in Albany to one of the more productive offensive outputs in recent memory. Being recruited by heavy hitters in the South, the 6-6, 285 Reddick says that he doesn't have a leader and will choose between Auburn, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Florida.

Quarterman, a 6-4, 300-pounder who could play guard or tackle, says Auburn is one of his final three and he'll choose between the Tigers, Louisville and Middle Tennessee State. The Cardinals and MTSU can take Quarterman without sending him to prep school, which is the route he might have to take if he signs with Auburn.

Northside High standout Chansi Stuckey has lots of options as a three-sport star. He wants to play football and basketball in college.

Chansi Stuckey, a talented three-sport athlete from Northside High in Warner Robins, Ga., is considered one of the top playmakers in Georgia this year. The 6-0, 175-pound quarterback is alos a prospect as a wide receiver/defensive back. He is being recruited by many schools as a point guard in basketball, including AU. He will choose from Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Clemson and FSU, where his final visit is scheduled for this weekend.

Miami prep star John Wood will likely stay close to home.

John Wood, a 6-3, 225-pound defensive end from American High in Hialeah, Fla., visited Auburn back on November 11 and at that time he said the Tigers were his leader. Now several months and several visits later, hometown Miami and Florida and the leaders.

Tiger Ticket Extra: The expected visit from defensive end Warren Young from Mary Montgomery High in Semmes is off. He is now expected to sign with West Virginia on Wednesday...The Tigers got some bad news on Friday as tight end Lawrence Lilly from Montevallo changed his commitment from Auburn to Ole Miss, his mother told Inside the Auburn Tigers. It appears the lack of depth at tight end for the Rebels was the draw for Lilly. With starter Lorenzo Diamond back as well as Robert Johnson, Jay Ratliff and Cooper Wallace along with the verbal commitment of big 6-9 Justin Bruce, that is not the case with the Tigers...Greg McLain, who was expected to take a visit to Auburn this weekend, did not make the trip and is expected to sign with Alabama, where he committed earlier this year.

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