Enrolling early is a major advantage for recruits who are mentally ready to skip their final semester of high school and begin a college curriculum and weight training program. Additionally, enrolling early allows the recruit to become acclimated with the program and participate in spring practice -- a major leg up on the other incoming players who must wait until the summer to start school.
Auburn is welcoming five early enrollees for the 2014 recruiting class, which consists of 21 prospects, including 14 four- or five-star players.
D'haquille Williams, a five-star wide receiver recruit out of Mississippi Gulf Coast CC, has a short time to play at Auburn because of the time he spent at junior college, so enrolling early will be a big help in his quest to earn a starting position. Williams hose the Tigers over offers from several other top schools, including Alabama, Florida State, LSU and Miami and should provide an immediate outside threat in Gus Malzahn's offense. Williams is rated as the top JUCO prospect in the nation. At College and Magnolia, SB Nation's Auburn site, Tigers fans are excited about the prospect of Wiliams adding a new dimension to the attack.
Auburn doesn't have a pass-heavy offense, but he should be able to step in and contribute immediately, and if nothing else, his size should be advantageous in the outside-blocking game. With Sammie Coates and Ricardo Louis back, and Marcus Davis and Tony Stevens likely pushing for bigger roles, the addition of Williams should make wide receiver a position of strength in 2014.
Williams will be joined on the Plains by his JUCO teammate Derrick Moncrief. Moncrief is an impressive safety recruit out of Mississippi Gulf Coast CC. He's rated as a four-star prospect by the 247sports composite -- a combination of the four major recruit rating services, and is rated the No. 1 JUCO safety recruit nationally. He also held offers from Oklahoma State and Kentucky.
Stanton Truitt, out of Monroe (Ga.) Area High School, is a three-star athlete, expected to fill a wide receiver/speed back role for the Tigers. He's rated as the No. 30 player at his position and chose Auburn over Arizona State, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, South Carolina and a number of other schools. Another early high school graduate, Chris Laye from Suwanee (Ga.) Lambert High, will be on campus for spring ball. Laye is a three-star tight end prospect, ranked No. 52 at his position.
Auburn also has JUCO center Xavier Dampeer enrolled early. Out of Copiah-Lincoln CC in Wesson, Miss., Wesson is ranked No. 2 at center among all JUCO players, per 247sports composite, and some recruiting services have him listed at No. 1.
Still to come
Auburn also holds non-binding verbal commitments from several star recruits it hopes to sign on Feb. 5, National Signing Day.
The best of the unsigned commitments for the Tigers is Roc Thomas a five-star running back recruit out of Oxford (Ala.) High School. Thomas chose Auburn over offers from many schools around the country, including Alabama, Arkansas, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Oregon and USC. He ranks as the third-best running back in the Class of 2014 and No. 2 prospect from the state of Alabama. The folks at College and Magnolia are understandably excited about Thomas.
By all accounts, this is a home run for Auburn. Thomas, out of Oxford High, is rated as a five-star prospect by 247Composite and is ranked as the No. 4 running back in the class. He's listed at 5'11 and between 196 and 204 pounds by the four major recruiting services, and he runs a reported 4.48-second 40-yard dash. He was one of 161 prospects to participate in Nike's elite camp The Opening earlier this summer.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers have a verbal from inside linebacker prospect Tre Williams. Williams, out of St. Paul Episcopal in Mobile, Ala., is rated as a four-star player, is the second-best player at his position and the third best from his home state. He carries offers from several other prominent schools, including Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, LSU and USC.
Remaining targets -- Bud Elliott, National Recruiting Analyst
One of Auburn's top remaining targets is Andrew Williams, a four-star defensive end out of McDonough (Ga.) Eagles Landing Christian. Auburn currently seems to have the lead over Clemson for Williams, but he does have remaining visits to see both Tigers.