National Signing Day 2014 is here, and the Auburn Tigers, America's most resurgent program under head coach Gus Malzahn, is continuing to build toward future success. Auburn is signing a solid class of prospects, and together the group is one of the best in the country.
|Total commits||Five-star prospects||Four-star prospects|
Update, Feb. 5: The Tigers have picked up a commitment from four-star offensive guard Braden Smith, beating out TCU and Texas A&M.
Auburn is bringing in five early enrollees for the 2014 recruiting class.
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.
Expected Signing Day highlights
The best of the unsigned commitments for Auburn is Roc Thomas, a five-star running back out of Oxford (Ala.) High School. Thomas chose the Tigers over offers from 15 other major programs around the country, including Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Oregon, UCLA and USC. He is the 23rd-best player in the country for this recruiting cycle, per the 247 Sports composite, and No. 4 running back. Auburn fans at College and Magnolia are excited about Thomas, who should fit right in Malzahn's attack.
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.
Auburn also has a commitment from five-star linebacker Tre Williams, out of St. Paul's Episcopal in Mobile, Ala. Another highly sought-after recruit, Williams has offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, LSU and USC, among others. The 247 composite lists him as the No. 29 player in America and second-best inside linebacker. Another outstanding defensive prospect for the Tigers is cornerback Nick Ruffin, who hails from St. Pius X in Atlanta, Ga. Ruffin is a four-star recruit, the 116th-best in the country and 10th-best at his position. He picked Auburn over schools like Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan State and Ohio State.
All together, Auburn's recruiting class is impressive. And while the Tigers are stockpiling talent for the future, they could be setting the stage for immediate impact from new faces. As College and Magnolia points out, when JUCO prospects were officially allowed to sign National Letters of Intent in December, Auburn brought in the best haul in the nation.
On the first day Class of 2014 junior college players could sign with major universities, Auburn made a big splash with four major signings. D'haquille Williams, Derrick Moncrief, Xavier Dampeer and DaVonte Lambert all inked National Letters of Intent, giving the Tigers the class' No. 1-ranked JUCO wide receiver, safety, center and strong-side defensive end.
Malzahn and his coaching staff have done an excellent job during the 2014 recruiting cycle, not just because they're signing several top prospects, but because they're filling positions of need and getting players who will fit in the program well. One of Auburn's biggest weaknesses during its incredible run to the SEC title in 2013 was the secondary, and that unit is adding a four-star JUCO safety and three four-star high school cornerbacks. At linebacker, another position that had its ups and downs during Malzahn's first year, the Tigers are adding one of the best high schoolers in the country.
The offensive side of the ball is what Malzahn is known for, and he's adding elite talent at the skill positions. Williams could have a huge impact on the offense and really open up the passing game in 2014. Thomas is the perfect specimen for Malzahn's system, will be a playmaker in the future, and could see snaps during his freshman campaign. At quarterback, Sean White, a four-star who earned MVP honors at the Under Armour All-America Game, is joining an already incredibly talented group on the Plains.
Biggest remaining need
Five-star linebacker Rashaan Evans is the 15th-best player in the country, according to the 247 composite, and he's the No. 1 target left on Auburn's big board. Evans is listed at outside linebacker, but the Tigers want him for their "star" position -- a hybrid safety/linebacker -- in Ellis Johnson's 4-2-5 defense. It's a key spot that demands a versatile, physical athlete, and it can turn a player into a household name. As a sophomore defensive back in 2012, Robenson Therezie didn't make much of an impact, compiling just three tackles and one tackle for loss in 10 games. But given the opportunity to roam from the star position in 2013, he shined. In Auburn's run to an SEC championship No. 2 final ranking, he finished sixth on the team with 57 tackles and added three tackles for loss, one quarterback hurry, one pass breakup and a team-best four interceptions.
Evans has all the necessary attributes to be a standout at star. He stands 6'3 and weighs in at 220 pounds, and he runs a reported 4.5-second 40-yard dash. That combination of size and speed should allow him to provide good support against the run and in coverage. Alabama is the other leading candidate to land Evans' services, so if he isn't wreaking havoc for the Tigers, he'll likely be doing it for the arch rival Crimson Tide. That makes landing the five-star all the more important for Malzahn's team.
He commits around 11:45 a.m. ET on Signing Day.