Big Cat Weekend Attracting Bluechip Prospects

A report on Auburn's second Big Cat Weekend is featured as the Tigers are bringing in outstanding football recruits this weekend for unofficial visits.

One of the top defensive line prospects in the country, Ray Drew, has heard plenty about Auburn's Big Cat Weekend. Drew and several dozen football prospects will get their chance to see what it's all about when they travel to the Plains see it first-hand this weekend.

A visitor to Auburn already this spring, Drew says he's anxious to get back to AU and see what the Big Cat is all about this weekend. The event proved to be popular with recruits last year who were able to spend a weekend on campus, with their families in some cases, getting to know Coach Gene Chizik and his assistant coaches.

"It's just a matter of what I'm expecting," Drew tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I've heard a lot of good things about the weekend. I just want to experience it first hand. I don't know if it's all hype or if I'm really going to see what I've heard about it.

"I know it's a chance for the recruits to meet with the coaches and their families and that type of thing," Drew says. "It's a chance to get a feel for one another and that's really what I've heard a lot about. I want to see it for myself."

Mike Blakely

Among the other prospects expected to visit for the Big Cat Weekend are running back Javorius "Buck" Allen from Lincoln High in Tallahassee, Fla., running back Mike Blakely from Manatee High in Bradenton, Fla., wide receiver Alex Chisum from Sandy Creek High in Tyrone, Ga., and running back Rodney Coe from Edwardsville, Ill., High.

Rodney Coe is a highly regarded running back from Illinois.

Also expected to visit is offensive tackle Watts Dantzler from Dalton, Ga., High, committed center Reese Dismukes from Spanish Fort, defensive end Xzavier Dickson from Griffin, Ga., High, cornerback Bruce Dukes from Sandy Creek, safety Erique Florence from Valley High, quarterback Kiehl Frazier from Shiloh Christian High in Springdale, Ark., tight end Brandon Fulse from Fort Meade, Fla., High and cornerback Chris Jones from Minor High in Adamsville.

Xzavier Ward is a big offensive tackle from Colquitt County High in Moultrie, Ga., who is visiting AU for the Big Cat Weekend.

Other visitors could include defensive end Keymiya Harrell from Dallas County, cornerback Akeem Hunt from Newton High in Covington, Ga., defensive lineman Ricky Hunter from Loachapoka, committed linebacker Chris Landrum from Sweet Water High, safety Kadetrix Marcus from Stephenson High in Stone Mountain, Ga., wide receiver Pat Milliner from Stanhope-Elmore, defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez from Central High in Phenix City, committed offensive lineman Thomas O'Reilly from Pope High in Marietta, Ga., defensive lineman Jamichael Payne from Auburn High, defensive end Gavin Rocker from Sandy Creek, cornerback Jonathan Rose from Leeds, offensive lineman Mitch Smothers from Springdale, Ark., High, committed safety Anthony Swain from Gadsden City High School, defensive lineman Gabe Wright from Carver of Columbus, Ga., offensive lineman Quincy McKinney from Carver, 2012 cornerback Deion Bonner from Carver, defensive tackle Jabrian Niles from Davidson High in Mobile, 2012 offensive tackle Caleb Peterson from Auburn High, offensive lineman Xzavier Ward from Colquitt County High in Moultrie, Ga., and safety Malcolm Mitchell from Valdosta, Ga., High.

Gabe Wright is a standout defender from Carver High in Columbus, Ga.

Other prospects expected in for the weekend include defensive lineman Diahmme Watkins from Bibb County High, wide receiver/defensive back Jeremaine Whitehead from Elzy High in Greenwood, Miss., defensive end LaMichael Fanning from Auburn and outside linebacker Justin Garrett from Tucker, Ga., High.

At 6-5, 248 pounds four-star defensive end prospect Drew is already familiar with Auburn and says that his one visit gave him a chance to meet the coaching staff and players. That is something that is very important to Drew and has given him a good feeling about the Tigers.

"Auburn is a pretty good program," Drew says. "I like coach (Tracy) Rocker. He's a down-to-Earth type of guy. He won the Lombardi Award back in 1988. They say in order to be the best you have to be coached by the best. It's also the family feel I got when I was up there.

"Coach (Gene) Chizik is a very nice guy," Drew says. "All the coaches are family men. They know how to connect with the players. The players got along well. I got a chance to watch practices and there wasn't any harsh language being used and wasn't anybody wanting to fight a teammate. Everybody got along well. Those are some of the things that stood out."

Auburn is far from the only college on Drew's radar though as dozens of schools are on his list and made visits to Thomas County Central during the spring. In fact he says so many colleges are recruiting him he can't keep them straight at times.

"It has been very busy," Drew notes. "I've had quite a few visitors come by the school. I know Georgia Tech, Georgia, Florida State, Florida, California, Notre Dame, South Carolina, LSU, Purdue, Auburn, Illinois and a number of others have been by. It is a lot to remember. Those are some of the few that have been by."

In addition to the colleges that are recruiting him, Drew says the process has even forced him to stay off Facebook for much of the time because of the questions that come at him almost constantly.

"I told my mom that on Facebook people chat with you and try to talk with you," Drew says. "I was just checking my messages and I wasn't on but for about two minutes and got three messages asking me where I'm going and who I'm leaning to. It's why I now check Facebook from my phone. I don't like getting all those questions because I'll try to end a conversation and another one will pop up."

With so many options Drew has a tough choice to make when he finally chooses a school. When he does it's going to impact a great deal of programs though because he doesn't plan to narrow his list, at least publicly, before making a commitment.

"I have started looking at a few schools pretty hard," Drew says. ""I haven't come out and said anything publicly and I probably won't. At the beginning I said I would probably be the jerk that had everybody sitting around waiting on pins and needles. I will have a top three or top five soon with my parents, but I won't come out and say anything in public."

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