Auburn recruiting 2013: Tigers using on-field momentum to build strong class

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

With the Tigers headed to play for the national championship, Gus Malzahn and the AU coaching staff have been able to parlay that into a top-10 recruiting class.

It's all about momentum in the college football recruiting world, and no team in the country has more of it right now than the Auburn Tigers. They're located in the heart of SEC country, they've got a motivated coaching staff, and to top it all off, they're playing for the BCS National Championship next month.

As National Signing Day approaches, the Tigers currently hold the 7th-best recruiting class for 2014, according to 24/7Sports' composite team rankings. That gives them the 4th-best class among SEC schools right now, behind the likes of Alabama, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

On Dec. 18, junior college recruits were eligible to sign early. After a long recruitment, D'haquille Williams, who most view as the No. 1 junior college recruit in the country, signed his letter of intent on Wednesday morning. Williams will be headed to Auburn after spending some time at Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C., and at 6'3 and 215 pounds, he could see a lot of early playing time with the Tigers in 2014. Derrick Moncrief, a four-star safety and a teammate of Williams, signed his LOI on Wednesday, as did four-star defensive end DaVonte Lambert. Three-star offensive lineman Xavier Dampeer out of Copiah-Lincoln Community College also signed early.

Outside of the junior college ranks, the two most recent players to commit to Auburn were once Alabama recruits. That would be Kalvaraz Bessent and Stephen Roberts, a couple of four-star cornerbacks. Bessent committed to the Tigers on Dec. 9, and most view him as a top-100 prospect and one of the better cornerbacks in the class. Roberts flipped from Tuscaloosa to Auburn on Nov. 20, just a few days before, well, you know what happened.

Other than D'haquille Williams, most view Racean Thomas as the gem of the class. A five-star running back, Thomas chose AU over programs from all over the country. He's a sturdy 5'11 and 200 pounds, and his terrific balance and vision in the open field should make him a candidate for lots of early playing time in the Tigers' run-first, run-second, run-third offensive attack.

On the defensive side of the ball, Tre' Williams is a four-star inside linebacker that gave his pledge back in May. Williams is from right down the road in Mobile and checks in 6'2 and 230 pounds. Once he spends some time in a college weight room, he could be a real force in the SEC. Justin Thornton is another prospect out of Mobile who committed to Auburn in May. At 6'5 and 222 pounds, his quickness as a weak-side defensive end could give some of the beefier linemen he faces some real problems. Thornton is viewed by most as a four-star recruit.

Tigers focused on adding more big men -- Bud Elliott, National Recruiting Analyst

Auburn is doing great on the recruiting trail, but things could get even better if the Tigers bring in three more top targets along the line of scrimmage.

  1. Rashaan Evans, defensive end/outside linebacker, four-stars, Auburn (Ala.): Evans is a tremendous player and he happens to play at Auburn High School. At 6'3 and 220 pounds, Evans is a terror off the edge but he has enough athleticism to play good pass defense even as he adds size.
  2. Dontavius Russell, defensive tackle, four-stars, Carrollton (Ga.): Russell is a very athletic big man at 6'3 and 300 pounds and should immediately fit in to the rotation. Russell is a former Georgia commitment.
  3. Jordan Prestwood, offensive tackle, four-stars, Arizona Western CC: Prestwood is a former Florida State and Notre Dame player who is now ready to again play BCS football after a year in junior college. Prestwood will offer badly-needed depth on the offensive line. He is all the more important is left tackle Greg Robinson leaves early for the NFL Draft.
If Auburn can add those three prospects, and it looks like the odds-on favorite to do so, and a few more, it could very easily have a top-five class in 2014, with 25 commitments, and more than half being rated four or five-stars. That is what champions are made of.

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