Tigers Looking for Help From D-Line Signees

Defensive linemen look to be a key part of Auburn's 2008 football signee class.

Auburn, Ala.--Signing defensive linemen was a priority for the 2008 Auburn football signee class and head coach Tommy Tuberville says he likes the potential of the players heading to Auburn.

Defensive end Raven Gray may be the gem of the class, but he is joined by several other talented players. Gray, a five-star junior college transfer from Copiah-Lincoln junior college in Mississippi, is a 6-5, 263-pounder who looks to make an immediate impact. Gray, an early juco graduate, is already taking classes at Auburn.

"Raven Gray is as good a defensive Lineman as we've ever signed," Tuberville says. "He was a guy that went to junior college and even though we put him there, a lot of people continued to recruit him. He stuck with us, and we are proud of that.

"He has a lot of quicks and a lot of speed," the coach says. "He's a guy that is going to be an impact player for us. Sometimes you sign guys that you know are going to be good football players, but you don't know how far they can go. Raven is going to be an impact player. He is a guy that can make plays, run people down from behind and bull rush offensive linemen, but he has a lot of speed to go with it."

Raven Gray, who played at Enterprise HIgh, was a sign-to-place prospect for the Tigers who has two years of eligibility at AU after playing juco ball.

Gray, who had surgery to repair a knee problem suffered during his sophomore season at Copiah-Lincoln, won't be allowed to have contact in spring drills that are tentatively scheduled to begin on Feb. 28th.

Another defensive line signee who Tuberville mentions as a player to watch is 6-5, 305 Freddie Smooth.

"I don't like to sign guys that are 300-pounds that come in and think they are going to play early," Tuberville says. "Sometimes they have a lot of work to do in terms of getting in shape. Freddie is not one of those guys. He can carry 300 pounds--actually 305. He has tremendous quicks. I was just talking to his coaches that coached him and the ones that played against him and he has a great first step, and that's what you are looking for in a defensive tackle. I think there is no doubt with us losing Pat Sims in the draft and Josh Thompson graduating, I think he will have a definite chance to play early."

Freddie Smooth

Auburn also received a letter of intent from athletic Jomarcus Savage from J.O. Johnson of Huntsville. Savage, can play both end and tackle, and Auburn may let him do just that. He also had enough quickness to line up at linebacker in high school.

"Jomarcus Savage is a guy that can play inside and outside," Tuberville said. "We are going to try to play him both. I think playing defensive end for him is only going to help him because we are losing a couple of guys and the way he plays with his hands, he is a very good hands player, he knows how to use his hands to get off blocks. I think he can help."

Auburn's head coach notes that he is also excited about signing Andre Wadley from Hernando, Miss., who is rated as the 22nd-ranked defensive end in the nation by Scout.com.

"He reminds me of a bigger Quentin Groves," Tuberville says. "He was one of the top D-linemen in the state of Mississippi and is a great young man. We recruited him for two years in terms of just watching him and evaluating him. Knowing the coaches that coached him, I've known them now for 14 years, and they are really high on him. His brother is (Johnny Wadey), who played at Mississippi State, so he comes from a very good background. He knows football, knows high school football, knows college football and he understands what he is getting into."

The Tigers also signed another promising defensive line prospect in Cameron Henderson from Shades Valley High in Irondale, Ala. A 6-6, 215-pound player, he had 10 sacks in his senior year.

"We are excited about our D-linemen," Tuberville says. "Cameron Henderson is one, too. He reminds me of a younger Raven Gray. Cameron is tall--6-6. Those guys are hard to find. They are hard to find in terms of being the size that you are willing to be in high school that you are going to need to be in college and will be beneficial in terms of playing defensive lineman in this league."

The class includes another in-state defensive end, Derrick Lykes from Chilton County High, who showed lots of promise in Auburn camps in recent years. Lykes had his senior season cut short by an ankle injury, but should be ready for action. "Derrick is a big, strong defensive lineman that will have a chance to play end or tackle," the coach says. "He's very athletic and he kind of reminds me of former Auburn offensive lineman Ben Grubbs."

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