Chizik Says Tigers Addressed Needs

Comments from Gene Chizik and Curtis Luper are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Gene Chizik and his coaching staff signed 27 players on Wednesday to go with five who had previously come on board. The Auburn head coach says he hopes the class that is ranked fifth nationally by Scout.com will be the foundation of success for years to come at Auburn.

Chizik said the Tigers met their major needs by bolstering the team's overall depth and specific shortages of players at the linebacker, offensive line and defensive line spots.

The Auburn coach noted that his team also helped itself at other areas, too, with signees such as five-star running back Michael Dyer, talented wide receiver Trovon Reed, punter Steven Clark and kicker Cody Parkey. He said in the secondary, an area where the Tigers also had depth issues during the 2009 season, that this class should help alleviate that problem.

The Tigers finished on a strong note on Wednesday in picking up a commitment from five-star defensive end Corey Lemonier from Hialeah, Fla., High, who chose the Tigers over Florida State. Auburn coaches went into signing day unsure if he would pick the Tigers or the Seminoles.

Another plus on signing day was the signing of Scout's top-rated prospect in Mississippi, offensive lineman Shon Coleman, who told Inside the Auburn Tigers he decided late Tuesday night that he was going to sign with Auburn over Alabama, one of three other colleges he visited in the past two weeks.

The Tigers added a pair of new commitments to their signing list on Wednesday when safety Ryan Smith of Cordova switched from Kentucky to Auburn and running back/defensive lineman Ladarious Phillips signed with the Tigers after being offered a scholarship on Tuesday night.

Ladarious Phillips was a two-way standout at Handley High in Roanoke, Ala.

From out of state the Tigers signed previously uncommitted offensive line prospect Tunde Fariyike from Upson-Lee High in Thomaston, Ga. He is expected to be a center at Auburn.

The Tigers signed 11 players from the state of Alabama and there were 10 players signed from the state of Georgia. Chizik said both will continue to be high priority areas for the Tigers.

"I think overall, top to bottom, I think we addressed our needs," the coach said.

The Tigers entered the 2009 season particularly short on offensive line depth. On Wednesday the Auburn signed six players who are expected to play those positions.

"Right now, offensive line is the first thing that jumps out at me, simply because we know that after this year, we're going to graduate four across our line of five," Chizik says. "It was imperative that the offensive line was, in numbers, what we needed to address. Same with the defensive line in a lot of ways. Those two and linebacker are probably the three areas that were glaring on our football team where just simply numbers were the issue.

"Obviously, our goal is always to upgrade athletic ability and speed across the whole football team," Chizik says. "That's always at the forefront of what we're trying to do, but in terms of numbers on our football team, which we know were somewhat of an issue at times this year, those numbers at those three positions were very important for us to address.

"I think we did that, but I think overall, again, when you look at the quarterback position and the tailback position, we need upgrades everywhere on our football team," Chizik says. "Wide receiver, defensive back, we need it everywhere, and that's going to be our goal every year.

"Overall from top to bottom, I think we addressed the needs, even in special teams with a kicker and a punter. I'm willing to spend scholarships on guys who can change field position, and I'll always be willing to do that. We feel great about the punter and kicker situation in terms of affecting our special teams.

"The same thing goes with return men. There are guys in this class that we're hoping are going to be able to be effective return guys, and I think anybody that watched us play this year knows that that's something that we certainly need to upgrade."

Auburn's coaches watch Corey Lemonier's announcement on TV that he will play for the Auburn Tigers.

The other good news for the Tigers on Wednesday was that there were no defections from the group of verbal commitments.

Curtis Luper

Auburn running backs coach Curtis Luper said the staff is "excited" about its 2010 class, but adds, "We are not content. We are already working on 2011. We know how this class was developed was through hard work.

"A lot of critical thought went into these players and deals like the Tiger Prowl and Big Cat Weekend," he adds. "We are going to go back and do it again and try to do it better."


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories