Today, let's take a look at Auburn's receiving corps. If you're an Auburn fan, read but tread carefully.
This position is not in great shape, which is kind of like saying Peter Griffin is not in great shape.
Part of the problem last year was a lack of playmaker in the group of receivers. Rod Smith was a good receiver and a remarkable overachiever, but didn't prove himself as a home-run threat, nor did he strike fear into opposing defenses. The fact that he's gone -- and is a remarkably big loss -- doesn't bode well for Auburn.
So, that said, what does Auburn have coming back? Well, Montez Billings is a returning starter. So is Tommy Trott, though he did undergo major knee surgery after the season. Both have proven decent possession options, but neither has emerged as the big-play target needed for Gus Malzahn's offense.
Truth is, these starting positions would have likely been wide open even if the entire Auburn staff would have returned. This is another place where newcomers could easily find themselves in the mix quickly. The key is landing one of the newcomers. More on that later.
Since Chris Slaughter transferred, let's take a quick look at who's returning for the 2009 season, shall we?
Tim Hawthorne made a few big plays last year. The former five-star recruit hasn't quite lived up to those projections, but he could break out in a new offense.
Terrell Zachery is a physical receiver who could emerge as another good possession option.
Quindarius Carr has always impressed me when I've seen him practice, but he has yet to translate that into success in games. Part of that might be because he hasn't played much. Is this a case of The Man holding Carr down or are there reasons he hasn't played a bigger role?
Of the true freshmen last year, Philip Pierre-Louis offered the most promise. We don't know how good he really is because he suffered a season-ending injury on the season's opening kickoff. He impressed Auburn coaches in every summer scrimmage. Of course, I can't attest to his performances because the scrimmages were closed to the media. With the way Malzahn uses slot receivers -- bubble screens, short routes and reverses -- Pierre-Louis could be a major player in this new offense.
I haven't seen enough of Derek Winter or Darvin Adams to provide a useful evaluation, but they both played at key moments late in the season.
Now, getting to recruiting: Apparently, you can forget about Cameron Kenney. He has decommitted from Auburn and will likely choose between Georgia and Oklahoma. Consider this a coaching change casualty. In fact, our buddies at AuburnSports.com report that Kenney claims the new staff hasn't contacted him.
With that said, Auburn is still targeting some major receiver prospects.
Emory Blake visited this weekend. Kodi Burns hosted Blake, who said his decision would come down to Auburn, Texas Tech and Colorado. Blake said all three are currently even. I'm just sayin', though... If I could play for Texas Tech's offense as a receiver, I just might take the school up on its offer. Then again, perhaps the appeal of playing right away is too much to pass on.
Auburn is apparently also pushing for Rivals.com's No. 2 recruit Rueben Randle as well as Gadsden City's Kendall Kelly and Cobi Hamilton.
Any of those four players could potentially see significant playing time as true freshmen. After all, the Tigers need to find both depth and playmakers or Malzahn's offense will lack the deep threat that made is so dangerous at Tulsa.