Tigers Get The Job Done In Recruiting

Auburn has put together one of the top football recruiting classes in the country.

Auburn, Ala.--No matter what happens with the nation's number one rated offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio the 2011 signing class for Coach Gene Chizik and the Auburn Tigers will go down as one of the best in school history.

Signing four of the top six players in Alabama according to Scout.com as well as five-star offensive guard Christian Westerman from Arizona five-star quarterback Kiehl Frazier from Arkansas, there is no question that Wednesday was a roaring success for Chizik and company.

In just two years and a few months with Chizik on the job, Auburn has already put together a pair of Top 10 recruiting classes, won two bowl victories, an SEC Championship and the school's first national football championship in 53 seasons.

Much of the reason for that has been because of Chizik and his staff and their tireless efforts both on the recruiting trail and on the football field. Staying intact as a staff for a third season, Auburn now has stability that few programs can match in this day and age of coaches jumping from program to program.

"I'm happy for our fans," Chizik said. "I'm just happy for the Auburn Family. One of the great things about having a coaching staff that you've been able to keep together for three years is that it allows you to have the ability to go out and recruit these types of classes. Whether these classes are ranked one, or three or five, I don't know all that, but I know that they are needed.

"My hat is off to all those nine guys on the road that were just relentless to get what we needed. We won't know what these classes are for years to come, but I will say that I'm happy, not because someone ranked us one, or three, or five, but because we got what we felt like we needed."

That paid off on National Signing Day as the Tigers filled needs with quality players across the board. One of the biggest needs came on the defensive line where Auburn must replace seniors Zach Clayton, Mike Blanc and Antoine Carter as well as junior All-American Nick Fairley.

Needing immediate help, particularly in the middle, Auburn signed the nation's 11th-ranked defensive tackle in Carver of Columbus, Ga., standout Gabe Wright. Choosing Auburn over Alabama and Tennessee, Wright has the ability to give the Tigers some help right away. Along with Wright the Tigers added big Angelo Blackson and possibly a pair of future tackles in Mobile standouts Jabrian Niles and Devaunte Sigler.

Jabrian Niles will come to Auburn as a defensive tackle, a major position of need for the 2011 team.

Up front on offense Westerman leads the way but he's far from the only standout in Auburn's class. Four-star center Reese Dismukes and guard Greg Robinson as well as three-star guard Thomas O'Reilly give coach Jeff Grimes a very good haul up front. Both Westerman and Robinson have the ability to play inside or outside once they get to Auburn.

Sticking with the offense one of the needs was at the running back position. With just Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb back and two positions to fill Auburn needed a playmaker. That's exactly what the Tigers got in Tre Mason. Rushing for nearly 5,000 yards at Park Vista High in Lake Worth, Fla., Mason is a combination of speed and power that should complement both Dyer and McFadden very well. The Tigers certainly need to sign another running back, but that did not happen.

Rounding out the offense are two talented wide receivers with Hoover's Jaylon Denson and Leroy's Sammie Coates both capable of making the big play while also going over the middle.

Big C.J. Uzomah is capable of playing outside as a wide receiver but could also play as a H-Back if needed. The same is true of four-star C.J. Frost. Rated as a linebacker by Scout.com, he is expected to get his first shot at wide receiver, but could also play defense if needed. The tight end position looks to be in good hands with four-star talent Brandon Fulse coming in to challenge Philip Lutzenkirchen for playing time.

C.J. Uzomah chose Auburn over LSU and many others.

While maybe not the largest need on this Auburn team, the secondary struggles during parts of the 2010 season sent a signal to Chizik and his staff that a serious upgrade in talent was needed. They accomplished that goal on Wednesday with five quality players signing with the Tigers led by four-star safety Erique Florence. Four-star cornerbacks Jonathan Rose, Robenson Therezie and Jermaine Whitehead plus three-star Anthony Swain make up one of the strongest secondary groups in the country this year.

With limited depth at the linebacker position it was important to add quality and that's exactly what Auburn did with four-star talent Justin Garrett from Tucker (Ga.) High and three-star Chris Landrum from Sweet Water. A physical player despite being just over 200 pounds, Garrett has the speed to become a weapon outside for the Tigers in a similar position to the one Daren Bates played last season. At just over 230 pounds, Landrum is expected to work in the middle for the Tigers.

Currently rated the nation's number one class by Scout.com with Kouandjio still on the board, Auburn should have a top five class when the dust settles no matter where the tackle signs. With 16 of the 24 signees a four-star prospect or better, Chizik and his staff have gone from "Good To Great" not only on the field but also in the recruiting world.

We're just happy for the Auburn Football Family because we really believe that this is another brick in the foundation of what we're trying to build," Chizik said. "We're still not there yet, we are definitely not there, we have not arrived by any stretch of the imagination, but we do feel like this is going to put us in the right direction of where we would like this program to head as we move down the road."

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