Auburn Looks To Make Strong Signee Class Stronger

Auburn, Ala.--Former Auburn University coach Pat Dye was fond of saying that the big dogs often walk late when it comes to football recruiting.

Dye was pointing out that many blue chip prospects wait until late in the recruiting process before making their pick. With lots of offers, they can normally afford to take their time without worrying about getting shut out with no scholarship offers on national signing day.

For the 2003 class, national signing day is here and the Tigers are continuing the trend since Coach Tommy Tuberville arrived for the 1999 season of bringing in talented signee classes to the Plains. Unless there is some last-minute bad news with early verbal commitments to the Tigers heading elsewhere, Tuberville and his staff have already rounded up another strong group. Just how talented this group will be remains to be seen because even though it is late--very late--there are still uncommitted big dogs walking with Auburn and a variety of other colleges in the hunt.

Physically, the biggest of the big dogs still out there for the Tigers among the high school seniors is Kevin Williams, a 6-7, 272-pound defensive lineman from Sebastian River, Fla., High. He has narrowed his picks to Auburn and Miami. A three-sport star who could play multiple positions in college, Williams is expected to announce his college choice on Wednesday.

Ernie Sims took official visits to Auburn and four other colleges.

Reputation-wise, no recruit is bigger than Ernie Sims, a 5-11, 225, 4.48 two-way standout for North Florida Christian in Tallahassee, Fla. Rated the No. 1 prospect in the country by theinsiders.com network, Sims has Auburn on his not-so-short short list that includes hometown FSU, Georgia, Miami and Florida. Sims, who plays tailback on offense and linebacker on defense, has done a good job of keeping coaches and fans guessing about his college destination.

Another big recruiting battle has been taking place a few miles away from North Florida Christian, where Parade All-American cornerback/wide receiver Antonio Cromartie has received lots of attention. This big dog recruit has great size for a cornerback at 6-3, 195 to go with sub 4.5 speed in the 40 and the ability to make plays when needed. Auburn will have to beat the hometown FSU Seminoles and the home-state Gators of Florida to sign Cromartie.

The top uncommitted prospect in the state of Alabama is walking late. Very late. In fact, Aaron Sears might take the process into overtime before he picks from a list of favorites that includes the Tigers along with Tennessee and Miami. He also visited Ohio State. At 6-3, 300 pounds with 5.1 speed in the 40, the Russellville High star is considered one of the top offensive line prospects in the state and is the only in-state offensive lineman offered a scholarship by Auburn this year.

Prospects can officially sign scholarship papers starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday in the time zone where attend high school. Inside the Auburn Tigers will have updates throughout the day on who has actually signed with Tuberville's Tigers.


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