Offensive lineman Michael Harness from Pacelli High didn't pass a core class needed for freshman eligibility and is expected to attend Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia this fall.
The 6-3, 300-pounder was recruited by colleges from around the country. He received a qualifying SAT score during his junior year and looked to be in good shape with his grade point average, but came up an English class credit short of qualifying. Under NCAA rules, he cannot retake that class in the summer and then enroll at Auburn in August with the rest of the scholarship freshmen.
Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville said that Harness was likely to redshirt this fall, but should be able to enroll at AU as a true freshman in January and participate in winter workouts and spring practice.
Harness had 35 pancake blocks as a senior and graded 92 percent as a junior and senior. He had 32 pancake blocks as junior and was an All-State selection as a senior. He was named one of the country's Top 75 offensive line prospects by Scout.com. He also considered Oklahoma, Florida and Georgia Tech.
"I just found out that my English grade for the year wasn't high enough for me to qualify so I am planning to go to Hargrave this fall," Harness told Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I am mad at myself for letting it happen. I never should have let it happen and I feel like I Iet down the coaches at Auburn and I let down my father.
"I should be going to Auburn this fall trying to help the team get better instead of going to prep school," he said. "I am going to get to Auburn as soon as I can and try to be successful like Carlos Rogers and Jay Ratliff, two former Auburn players who went to Hargrave before they came to Auburn."
Rogers, who was named the top defensive back in the country last season, is a rookie with the Washington Redskins. Ratliff, a starting defensive tackle for the 13-0 Tigers last year, is a rookie with the Dallas Cowboys.
With an extra spot available for an incoming freshman in Auburn's 2005 signee class, there is a possibility that the Tigers will bring in wide receiver Robert Dunn from Laney High in Augusta, Ga., if he can qualify, which didn't appear to be likely when Auburn added him as a late signee.
Tuberville said that Dunn was taken as a sign-to-place prospect and AU intended to place him in prep school at Hargrave this fall. However, Dunn has made significant progress on his grade point average and has a chance of getting qualified in time to enroll at AU this year.
Auburn's other high school wide receiver signee, 6-3, 175 Montez Billings from Pelham High, is expected to qualify, Tuberville noted.
Wide receiver was the one position where the Tigers didn't get as many players as they wanted on signing day. In addition to Billings, the Tigers picked up junior college signee Prechae Rodriguez, who is expected to report to AU for classes in late June. Originally, Tuberville and his staff were planning on three wideout signees for the 2005 class.
Auburn's other junior college signee, cornerback Jonathan Wilhite, is on campus and is starting classes this week. He will join the team for summer workouts with conditioning and strength coach Kevin Yoxall and his staff on Wednesday.
There is a possibility that another Auburn signee could be joining Harness in prep school this fall. Rex Sharpe, an All-State linebacker from Fairfield High School, could be headed to Hargrave, too, if he comes up short on meeting freshman academic standards.
Unless there are any late last minute surprises, the rest of the signee class is expected to be on campus this summer with many of them coming in early for one of the mini-semester sessions like highly regarded tight end Tommy Trott from Trinity Presbyterian in Montgomery, who starts classes this week.
The Tigers willopen the 2005 season at home vs. Georgia Tech. Auburn has won 15 consecutive games.