Auburn, Ala.--With one of the country's top recruiting classes in the books Auburn's Tommy Tuberville and his staff were all smiles Wednesday as the Tigers put together a class filled with quality players at need positions. All total Auburn signed 30 players on national signing day with several already designated for a prep school or junior college beginning. Tuberville says that taking in the class as a whole he can't help but be pleased with the players the Tigers are bringing in.
"It has been a big day here at Auburn for us," Tuberville says. "It is always the accumulation of a lot of hard work on this one day. In about four or five hours you kind of figure out if your work has paid off for the past three or four years. It's not a week long process, it's not a month, it's a long process that you go through. I'm real proud of our coaches and our players for what they've done in recruiting and how they've sold our program to the players that have come on campus and also their parents. They did it the right way letting them know what to expect and what Auburn is about."
At the top of the need list for the Tigers was the offensive line position where seniors Joe Cope, Tim Duckworth, Ben Grubbs and Jonathan Palmer are gone off last year's team. That leaves a hole front that could get plugged by one or more of this year's signing class.
Chaz Ramsey is an outstanding talent that could play guard or center for the Tigers.
It's a big group," Tuberville says. "There is a lot of offensive and defensive linemen and that's how I always evaluate our class. If you can get good linemen to come and be part of your program, that's where it all starts, on the defensive and offensive lines. This year we signed five offensive linemen that we feel like are some of the best potential athletes in the country. I think it's really going to enhance what we're doing here at Auburn and we needed that. As we all know we graduated a lot of our offensive linemen from last year. We do have some coming back but there were some holes to fill there. We feel like the guys we signed up today are going to be a great addition to our program."
In addition to the guys up front on offense the Tigers added talent in the backfield with Kodi Burns and Enrique Davis both among the best at their position in the country. Receivers Chris Slaughter and Quindarius Carr give the Tigers two more young weapons on the outside while Brent Slusher and Bailey Woods provide depth at tight end.
Defensively the biggest need was at the safety position where the Tigers grabbed Alabama's top prospect Michael McNeil away from Florida State, Tennessee and Alabama. Fellow Mobile standout Ryan Williams should get a chance for early playing time at the cornerback position as well. At linebacker the group can stand up to anyone as Eltoro Freeman and Josh Bynes headline a very good class rounded out by Adam Herring and Carlton Johnson. Up front defensively the signing day announcement of Antoine Carter put a cap to Auburn's best signing class during the Tuberville era on the Plains.
"We are very excited about this group because of the character and attitude we feel like they'll bring to this university along with the players we all ready have here," Tuberville says. "It has been a fun group to recruit but again it has been a long process. All of these guys have come from the Southeast and most wanted to play in the SEC and wanted to play at Auburn. They wanted to be a part of a program that has won a lot of games the last few years. The key to recruiting as I have found out over my 30 years of coaching and recruiting is winning games and having a great product here at Auburn.
"We've got a great academic institution and our football program going the way it is, it hasn't been easy because of the competition out there but it has been very fruitful for us to be able to sign the kind of player that is going to come here and represent our university in academics and athletics. We're excited about that. We think it's a very good group. We won't know until they get here on campus and in the next few years to see how it pans out but I'm really excited about the attitude and the character and what they represent."
Overall Top Player:Kodi Burns
Biggest Immediate Impact Player:Michael McNeil
First To Start A Game:Wes Byrum
Biggest Hitter:Eltoro Freeman
Nastiest On The Field Disposition:Kyle Coulahan
Lineman Most Ready To PlayRyan Pugh
Lineman With The Best Feet:Chaz Ramsey
Most Instinctive Player:Adam Herring
Biggest Sleeper:Nick Fairley
The One That Got Away:Eric Berry
The One That Auburn Got That Hurts Someone Else The Most:Lee Ziemba