Under The Radar Prospect Visiting Auburn

Olive Branch, Miss.—A pair of Olive Branch High School seniors are scheduled to take an official visit to Auburn this weekend.

One of those is offensive tackle prospect Aubrey Phillips, who was an Army All-American selection and is currently committed to Tennessee.

The other is defensive back Daren Bates, who hasn't gotten much recruiting attention until lately.

"Daren came to our school in July of last year," explains Olive Branch High School head coach Scott Samsel. "At this day in time the way recruiting goes he was a little bit behind as far as that is concerned. It was hard for me to get his name out until I saw him actually have a few games under his belt and see what exactly what he was going to do.

"He's a great player," Samsel adds. "I've been lucky over the years to have seven or eight Division I defensive backs and he's certainly in their league. He's probably in the top four or five out of those that I've had. He's a competitor. He's 6-0, 195. And to be quite honest with you, if he had been with us all along he would be just as valuable as a recruit as (Alabama commitment) Rod Woodson, and I think the world of Rod."

Bates has four scholarship offers despite not having his name out until many colleges were getting full of commitments for the class of 2009.

Samsel says that coaches anywhere from Oklahoma State to the West, Michigan to the North, Virginia to the East and Florida State to the South have come by to recruit his players, including four Auburn coaches recently.

"Coach (Trooper) Taylor has this area," Samsel explains. "I had a nice visit with Coach (Gene) Chizik (last Thursday) and the offensive line coach (Jeff Grimes) was by (on Monday), as well as the defensive coordinator (Ted Roof)."

Auburn is the first official visit for Bates, who has dedicated his time to the Olive Branch basketball team since the end of football season. "The basketball team wrapped up their region championship last Friday, so he doesn't feel bad about missing this Friday's basketball game," Samsel notes. "He took a lot of unofficial visits back during football season, plus we travel a lot during the summer going to camps and passing tournaments. We were in Auburn last summer at a little seven-on-seven tournament. He's had plenty of opportunities to see the campuses and all.

"Daren is a very physical player," Samsel adds. "He's just an enjoyable kid to coach, he's very competitive in nature, a hard worker, and even when it's 112 heat index he's got a smile on his face and he's trying to work hard to get better. He was a tremendous asset to our team. Personally I feel like he was kind of the most underrated player in the state just simply by the fact that people get such a head start on recruiting now-a-days. You get a kid in that late and you don't really have time to get his name out. He's kind of behind. I think he's the catch of the state to be honest with you that was an under the radar kind of guy."

Click here for the list of official visitors this weekend.

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