Good News, Bad News for AU Recruits

A weekly update on the senior seasons of AU's football commitments for the class of 2006 is featured.

Auburn, Ala.—The commitments that currently make up the Tigers' football recruiting class for 2006 continue to shine on the high school gridiron week after week as they churn out big performances and lead their teams to major wins.

However, not all news is always good news, and for one of Auburn's commitments that is certainly the case this week.

Benjamin Tate has been putting on a show in Maryland High School football over the first weeks of his senior season, gashing opposing defenses at a rate of over 20-yards per carry. However, the talented back will now be on the shelf for a few weeks with a high ankle sprain that he suffered in the first quarter of a 13-12 loss to Poolesville.

With less than five minutes to go in the opening quarter, Tate injured his ankle and was forced out of the game until very late in the third quarter, but was unable to do much in limited action after his return. According to his father, Ben Tate Jr., the 5-10 1/2, 210-pounder will be out for at least three weeks, which could seriously hurt his runs at both the state all-time rushing record and the state's all-time scoring record.

Benjamin Tate

The big back, who has now rushed for 898 yards with 120 in last weekend's game, needs 1,935 total yards for the season to set the rushing record and 33 total TDs for the scoring mark.

On the other side of the injured reserve list is Lovejoy High's Mario Fannin, who was able to return to action against Union Grove after having to sit out the previous week's game with an ankle sprain he suffered two weeks ago vs. Starr's Mill.

Mario Fannin says he was excited to get back into the action following an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for a week.

The 5-11, 207 prospect, who plays QB for the Wildcats, says he did not have his mobility back due to the injury, and was forced to rely on his arm because of that, but adds that he is almost back to 100 percent early in the week.

In a 27-24 loss, Fannin hit on 27-34 passes for 373 yards and two TDs, but was limited in the running game due to his ankle and only had 10 yards on the ground.

Quarterback commitment Steven Ensminger also put up strong numbers in the passing game over the weekend. West Monroe High used Ensminger's best passing performance of the year to record a 45-14 win over district rival Byrd. The 6-2, 199-pounder hit on 14-24 passes for 233 yards. He had two passing touchdowns called back because of penalties, but added a pair of scores on the ground in the Rebels' fifth straight win.

In the receiving game, Peach County's Chris Slaughter continues to shine week after week. The talented receiver has led the Trojans on a four-game winning streak after starting the season at 0-3. Now, they have put themselves in position for a huge match-up this weekend with cross-town rival Perry for the division title, on homecoming.

In this weekend's 38-6 win over Spalding, Slaughter caught six passes for 149 yards and two TDs in only three quarters of action. He also added two punt returns for 56 yards in the kicking game.

One of the Tigers' newest commitments, DL prospect Zach Clayton, had a big game on Friday night for Opelika High as the Bulldogs ran their record to 7-0 with a 14-7 win over Central-Phenix City.

The 6-3, 257 defensive tackle recorded six tackles, forced a fumble and laid a vicious sack on Central QB Earl Alexander in the important region win. As has been the case in earlier games, opponents ran most of their plays away from Clayton's side of the field.

Zach Clayton was a big part of an Opelika defense that held a dangerous Central offense to only one score on Friday night.

Another of the Tigers' defensive tackle commitments had a strange week to say the least. Bart Eddins recorded four tackles in the Wildcats 39-8 win over Opp on Friday night. However, it was what happened during the week of practice that was hard to believe.

During a practice session, Eddins somehow had a problem with his helmet and it caught a small piece of the bottom of his earlobe and somehow managed to cut it off. His father, Liston Eddins said that his teammates first noticed that he was bleeding and then noticed that a small piece of his earlobe had fallen on his shoulder pad. The big tackle was able to get it stitched back up and is no worse for the wear, but the incident certainly caused a bit of a scare.

Godby High defensive tackle Kareem Crowell had a strong game for the Cougars in a 38-13 win over Chiles High. The big lineman recorded five tackles, four solo stops, two tackles for a loss, a sack and a quarterback hurry.

For the season, the 6-3, 290-pounder has 36 tackles, 19 solos, seven tackles for a loss, five sacks, two QB hurries and a batted pass. Also, on the offensive line he has been grading out at around 75 percent in each game and has nine pancake blocks.

Zaccheus Etheridge has been a big part of his team's offense at running back this season, and on Friday night he helped the Trojans get back on the winning track in a 28-12 win over Russell County on homecoming. Etheridge capped off the drive that put the Trojans ahead 14-6 midway through he second quarter with a three-yard TD run, and also pulled down a key 17-yard screen pass in the same drive.

The three other AU commitments who were in action over the weekend helped lead their teams to big wins to stay undefeated for the season. Terrell Zachery and his Wadley Bulldogs punished Jacksonville Christian 71-20 on Friday night to move to 7-0 on hold on to their spot as the top ranked team in Alabama's 1-A classification.

Hendrick Leverette helped lead his Oak Grove team to a 5-0 mark, 2-0 in region play, with a 28-6 win over region foe Natchez, and big Greg Smith and his NE Mississippi Community College team drilled Mississippi Delta 42-0 to move to 3-0 on the year.

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