Saturday, January 31, 2009

Auburn picks up another commitment reports the Tigers received another commitment on Saturday when Demond Washington, a three-star athlete, chose Auburn over Ole Miss.
Washington was previously committed to Ole Miss, but has been wavering on that commitment for several weeks now.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Coaching salaries

A source with familiarity of the football coaching contracts confirmed their basic yearly payouts on Thursday.

As expected, Auburn coach Gene Chizik will make a basic salary of $2 million per season. In a surprise move, though, defensive coordinator Ted Roof pocketed the biggest yearly earning.

Remember, Roof is a former head coach and can probably demand a higher pricetag.

Here are the salaries (per year):

Ted Roof, defensive coordinator: $370,000
Gus Malzahn, offensive coordinator: $350,000
Trooper Taylor, receivers coach: $320,000
Tracy Rocker, defensive line coach: $300,000
Jeff Grimes, offensive line coach: $290,000
Curtis Luper, running backs coach: $260,000
Jay Boulware, tight ends coach/special teams coach: $180,000

Open records requests for the contracts have not yet been returned -- that is likely partly because they haven't been finalized yet.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Auburn recruiting news

The Tigers landed more defensive help Monday when a pair of defensive linemen committed to Auburn, according to

Jamar Travis, a four-star defensive tackle from W.S. Neal, switched his commitment from Southern Mississippi to Auburn.

Travis said Sunday that he planned to reevaluate his decision to attend USM. As he said, he reached his final answer on Monday morning.

Auburn also landed defensive end Nosa Eguae, a 6-foot-3, 244-pound defensive end from Mansfield-Summit High School in Texas.

Chizik visited Eguae at his home on Monday, when the three-star defensive end committed to join the Auburn program.

Auburn didn’t offer either player until Gene Chizik took over as coach.

Auburn’s recruiting class is now up to 21 members. The Tigers are expected to host several highly sought prospects this weekend, the final visit weekend of the current recruiting season.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Funny note

I'm here at the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum for today's Auburn-Tennessee women's basketball game.
Auburn leads 31-26 at halftime and the Volunteers have yet to attempt a free throw.
Think Pat Summit is angry?
Here's what she said to a security guard while walking into the locker room:

"How do you get to the free throw line in this place? We're Tennessee. It's B.S."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Walk-on starting punter walks away

Evan Woodbery of The Mobile Press-Register reported today that Clinton Durst has decided to leave the football program after a dispute with the new staff over his scholarship status.

According to the story, Durst does not plan to return to the program.

Durst, who had never previously played organized football before last year, beat out preseason all-SEC punter Ryan Shoemker for the starting spot.

Shoemaker appears to be the frontrunner for the starting punter spot with both Durst and another backup punter, Patrick Tatum, no longer in the mix.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Goodbye again, Willis

Less than three weeks after Gene Chizik rehired James Willis to the Auburn staff, Willis is again no longer a Tigers coach.

This time, there won't be a reunion -- at least not any time soon.

That's because on Wednesday, Alabama hired Willis to coach linebackers.

Willis' rehiring marked the first coach officially hired to Chizik's new staff. Some think Chizik rehired Willis in attempt to regain some of the recruits that were leaving. Willis leaves after one of his prized recruits, quarterback Raymond Cotton, apparently has decided on another option (Ole Miss).

Willis was considered one of the former coaching regime's strongest recruiters. He focused mostly on south Alabama and, specifically, Mobile. He coached Tray Blackmon to Freshman All-America honors and Spencer Pybus to Freshman All-SEC honors.

While surprising, the move is logical in some ways. Alabama knows Willis' track record and he has strong in-state connections. The Crimson Tide, by the way, needed a linebackers coach. Alabama knows it's getting a good coach with strong recruiting background.

Auburn, on the other hand, had yet to even name a position for Willis to coach. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof has primarily coached linebackers and he had no official position to coach either. This move could mean Roof would simply move into the linebackers coach role.

It also means Auburn's 2009 staff will almost certainly be entirely composed of new coaches and no holdovers from Tommy Tuberville's staff.

Knox lands with Bulldogs

Another former Auburn coach found new employment on Wednesday, when former receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Greg Knox accepted a job with Mississippi State.

Knox will coach running backs with the Bulldogs.

With Knox now employed, only Tommy Tuberville and Don Dunn have yet to line up new gigs. Dunn said before Gene Chizik was hired that he would like to stay in the Auburn area. Tuberville has told other publications he plans to take the year off.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Running backs

What do you know? Here comes good news for Auburn's offense.

The tailback position was already solid, even with the departure of Brad Lester, and seems to be growing stronger in recruiting.

Quick sidebar on Lester: There might be an NFL team that takes a flyer on him. After all, he showed superstar potential during his sophomore season when he was Mr. Touchdown. Spelling Kenny Irons, Lester was spectacular. He was the home run hitter Auburn needed. That seemingly only set up two major disappointments of seasons.

Lester, who is one of the nicest and happiest people you could ever meet, was suspended for his the start of his junior season and was often injured during his senior season. A two-play sequence against Alabama will serve as my -- and probably several others' -- lasting memory of Lester. On one play, he took a nice gain and then sprinted to the sideline instead of trying to pick up the first down and extra yardage. It was an obvious attempt to avoid contact. On the next play, he lost a fumble that Alabama turned into a touchdown and the rout was on.

Maybe it's not fair, but it's true.

One good thing came out of Lester's disappointing senior season. When he needed replaced in the starting lineup, Auburn found a potential star in Mario Fannin. He showed his potential during Auburn's near-miss against Georgia, rushing for 59 yards on only eight attempts and also turning in a 52-yard reception. He accounted for both of the Tigers' touchdowns.

That's what coaches had been waiting to see from Fannin. Then again, the end of the Georgia game was a microcosm for the insanity of it all. Here was Fannin, having the best game of his career, and he's nowhere to be found during the final drive. Coaches gave an excuse that Ben Tate (who had gained 37 yards on 14 carries) was a better blocker. I don't make a habit of watching tailbacks block, but it seems very likely. However, why take your biggest offensive threat out of the game in the final minutes? It just doesn't make sense. That brings us to Fannin's career as a whole: For whatever reason, the coaches didn't trust him.

They had some reasons. There was the two-fumble game against South Florida in 2007 and the third-down play against West Virginia last year where he ran the wrong direction -- and directly into Kodi Burns -- forcing a loss on the play. Don't forget about the idea of moving him to receiver that failed miserably. (Auburn fans can rightly pin that one on Tony Franklin).

The new staff does have a historical tie with Tate (Curtis Luper recruited him while at Oklahoma State), but Fannin seems to be the most explosive player on Auburn's offense.

That's where Gus Malzahn comes in. His offense is predicated on establishing the run and setting up the downfield pass -- excellent news for Auburn's stable of running backs. It should also give ample opportunities for Fannin and Tate to shine in their own ways.

Tate is a more physical back, though Fannin doesn't shy away from contact either. He doesn't have the breakaway speed or the moves that Fannin possesses, but Tate owns a strong overall skill set. He can do all the little things -- catch passes, pick up blitzes, gain key yards. Malzahn's offense has also shown that power backs can flourish, which is especially good news for Tate.

Eric Smith earned the nickname "Little Rudi," referencing former Auburn back Rudi Johnson, early last year. He showed promise in limited action, but did show a propensity to fumble. Smith is a bigger back than Tate, but needs to be just as physical to succeed. How quickly his other skills -- blocking, pass-catching, etc. -- come along could determine his role on the 2009 team.

Beyond Fannin, Tate and Smith, Auburn will rely on newcomers for both depth and contributions. Onterio McCalebb, who played last year at Hargrave Military Academy, could be game-ready immediately. The question is whether or not he possesses SEC breakaway speed. That should be answered during spring practice since McCalebb (6-0, 175 pounds) is already enrolled in school.

As of now, the Tigers have another tailback commit -- Brandon Jacobs (not that one). However, that could be in jeopardy now that Eddie Gran has accepted a job at Tennessee. Gran has contacted Jacobs and might pursue him for the Volunteers. There's nothing "dirty" about what Gran is doing and Auburn, especially, can't complain since its coaches are targeting players they recruited while at their former posts.

If Jacobs goes to Auburn, it would give the Tigers another big, physical back. He is listed at 6-1, 230 pounds.

Far-too-early projections: Fannin starts and splits reps with Tate.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bad reception

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 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'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.

Super Bowl connections

Think there are some defensive backs placing wagers (the legal ones, of course) on Super Bowl XLIII?

Two cornerbacks have very good reasons to pay attention on Feb. 1. D'Antoine Hood and Walt McFadden both have family to cheer for.

Hood's cousin, Roderick Hood, is a starting cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals. McFadden's older brother, Bryant McFadden, is a starting cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

There are two other Auburn connections to the Super Bowl. Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby starts, as did Steelers offensive lineman Kendall Simmons, who is now on injured reserve with torn Achilles.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Alabama's Mr. Football signs with Auburn

The Tigers received a commitment from Alabama’s Mr. Football, Clint Moseley of Leroy.

Moseley, a dual-threat quarterback, threw for 3,749 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior in 2008. He was considering offers from Marshall, Arkansas State, UAB and South Alabama.

Moseley’s commitment likely means the coaching staff has conceded former Auburn quarterback commit Raymond Cotton. Auburn had not previously offered Moseley, hoping to get a straight answer from Cotton, who has since become enamored by Ole Miss. Cotton might have given a silent commitment to the Rebels, prompting Auburn to offer Moseley.

Busy Sunday morning

I got up early this morning to interview Auburn's weekend recruiting visitors.
Here are some of the highlights:
  • Auburn HS OL John Sullen switched his commitment from Southern Mississippi to Auburn. That's very good for a team that desperately needs offensive linemen. “War Eagle. Yes sir,” Sullen said when asked if he committed to Auburn. “They said I can come in and compete early. I was planning on competing anyway, so it’s great, to have a chance to play early as a starter in the SEC. So you really can’t beat it.”
  • Brantley RB Anthony Gulley said he plans to commit to Auburn after he visits Troy next weekend. Gulley would likely play slot receiver at Auburn.
  • reported that Auburn is "the team to beat" for DE Nosa Eguae. The Texas product apparently likes the idea of playing for Tracy Rocker.
  • The website also reported that four-star WR Emory Blake enjoyed his visit and will choose between Texas Tech, Auburn and Colorado. Blake told the website that the three teams are even right now.
  • LB Tana Patrick seemed happy with his visit, but not overwhelmed. He has not publicly declared a leader, but many believe Alabama is the team to beat. He will also visit USC and Miami and said Tennessee is another option.
  • DE Dee Ford seemed very happy with his commitment to Auburn. He even said he tried to recruit Eguae.
  • (EDIT:) DL DeQuinta Jones remains committed to Michigan, but seemed to enjoy his visit to the Plains. He will also visit Arkansas.
  • ATH Demond Williams said he remains committed to Ole Miss, but would consider Auburn until National Signing Day. Whatever that means...

Also of major note: Auburn has hired another coach. The University announced Sunday that Jeff Grimes would coach the offensive line. Grimes comes to Auburn from Colorado and has previously worked at BYU, Arizona State and Boise State.

“I’m very excited about coming to Auburn, working for coach Chizik and joining the tremendous staff that he has put together,” Grimes said. “As coaches, we are competitive and love challenges and I’m looking forward to coaching with, and against, some of the best players in the country. I can’t express enough, how excited I am about coming to Auburn right now at this time. I’m thrilled about the opportunity and excited to help build something great.”

Auburn now has one position available, likely a defensive backs coach.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Familiar faces in new places

A pair of former Auburn coaches found new workplaces on Friday.

Eddie Gran has accepted a job at Tennessee and Terry Price is moving from Iowa State, where he had been for just a matter of weeks, to Ole Miss.

Here's an overview at where Auburn's former coaches are right now:

Tommy Tuberville -- Said he is taking a year off.
Tony Franklin -- Willing to listen to coaching offers, but will likely buy back into his offensive consutling business.
Paul Rhoads -- Head coach, Iowa State.
Eddie Gran -- Assistant coach, Tennessee (position not yet announced).
Steve Ensminger -- My colleague Andrew Gribble reported Ensminger will coach at Smiths Station High School, where he will also teach PE.
Hugh Nall -- Left the business to become a COO for a trucking company.
Greg Knox -- Reportedly talked with Southern Mississippi about a job opening. Hasn't agreed anywhere.
Don Dunn -- Talked with Ole Miss about a job opening. Could be a candidate to replace Price at Iowa State.
Terry Price -- Took a job as Iowa State's defensive line coach, but accepted the same position at Ole Miss a few weeks later.
James Willis -- Rehired by Auburn coach Gene Chizik.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Offensive line trouble

One of the positions Auburn coach Gene Chizik said his team needs to address most is offensive line.
The question is: Does he know how badly his team needs offensive linemen? Is it possible for someone who wasn't around the team last year to fully comprehend?

Last year's bunch was supposed to be one of the team's greatest strengths. Instead, it underachieved terribly.
Part of the problem was the offensive philosophy change. Auburn went from being a hard-nosed, run-first offense to a two-point stance, shotgun spread offense. The linemen did not adjust well because that's not what they were recruited to do.
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will likely require the line to run some of the same schemes that it employed last year. It's the players' jobs to execute better.

LT Lee Ziemba struggled with penalties and ineffectiveness during his sophomore slump. The move from right tackle to left tackle, I think, is overrated because Ziemba covered Brandon Cox' blindside last year, as he was for Chris Todd and Kodi Burns this year. Ziemba's struggles might emphasize how good former tight end Cole Bennett was as a blocker. It should also be noted that Ziemba played through injury all year and had surgery shortly after the season. Ziemba shouldn't shoulder all the blame for his mediocre season. It's not his fault he was still the best option despite clearly playing through pain. I still think Ziemba, when healthy, can be one of the elite tackles in the SEC.

Center Jason Bosley also played through pain for much of the season. RG Byron Isom suffered a concussion midway through the season and subsequently lost his job to Mike Berry.

LG Tyronne Green was heralded as an all-conference player before the year began but never lived up to the hype. Ryan Pugh, a natural center, played out of position most of the year, though he probably had the best season.

Here's the thing: Green and Bosley are gone now. Auburn doesn't exactly have players waiting in the wings (or they would have played last year).

Remember, the Tigers didn't have any true freshman scholarship linemen last year because Jermaine Johnson couldn't qualify academically.
Since Auburn has yet to hire an offensive line coach, it's impossible to get a true feel as to which players will emerge as starters. The player to watch, though, might be A.J. Greene, who spent the 2007 season and two-a-days in 2008 at defensive end -- where he received daily doses of tough love from DE coach Terry Price. Former OL coach Hugh Nall said last year that he liked Greene's progress, but still wanted him to add some weight.
If Greene doesn't emerge as a starter, Andrew McCain could be considered a leader for the position with Pugh moving inside to center, where he is more natural.
Berry and Isom seem to be frontrunners for the two guard positions, but there is no doubt that incoming freshmen could challenge for playing time immediately.
My far-too-early projection:
LT Ziemba
LG Isom
C Pugh
RG Berry
RT Greene

Looking ahead to the 2009 team

The Decatur Daily asked me to submit a projected two-deep chart for the 2009 Auburn team.
You can check it out in today's paper.
When I put it together, I found myself with far more questions than answers, so I thought you might enjoy taking a look at the biggest questions entering spring practice. Many of these questions will likely linger into two-a-days and possibly even into the season.

The first question is obvious: Who's the 2009 starting quarterback? The former coaching staff considered Kodi Burns to be the future of the program. He has done little through the first two years to justify that title. To be fair, Gus Malzahn will be his fourth (FOURTH!)offensive coordinator in three seasons. Burns is intelligent and has seemingly learned the offenses. Still, Burns hasn't done anything to solidify his starting spot and the starting quarterback spot seems as open as ever.

Something to consider: Malzahn has a previous relationship with Burns, but doesn't seem enamored by him. Malzahn coached at Springdale (Ark.) High School while Burns played at Northside High School in Springdale, Ark. When Malzahn ran the offense at Arkansas (or, as some believe, "ran the offense" at Arkansas), he did recruit Burns.

Here are some positives about Burns: His running ability and strong arm would be a good fit in Malzahn's offense.

The case against Burns: He's still erratic and has not shown the ability to consistently throw accurate touch passes.

Many think redshirt freshman Barrett Trotter could provide Burns with the greatest competition. I don't know much about Trotter, except that he had great numbers at Briarwood Christian Academy as a high school quarterback. He should get some serious looks during spring practice.

Chris Todd had offseason shoulder surgery. Since he had surgery last year as well, it's safe to say he's a significant question mark right now. Todd seemed hesitant to make certain throws last year. He was never healthy in 2008 and it's not certain he will get back to full strength in 2009. We don't really know how good Todd could be if he is, in fact, healthy.

Neil Caudle will benefit from a fresh start with a new coaching staff in that he will get an opportunity to show the former staff overlooked him. It would behoove him to get off to a quick start since there are several candidates for the job and the previous staff buried him on the depth chart.

My far-too-early projection: Burns opens the season as a starter with Trotter as the backup.

Tomorrow's topic: Offensive line depth

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday conversations

Here's our rundown today:

In regard to Ramsey: One thing that isn't addressed in the story is Ramsey's possibly non-existent relationship with teammates. One fellow offensive lineman during the season said "I haven't talked to Chaz in a long time." While Ramsey could get a new start with the new coaching staff, he might have major repairwork to do with teammates.

Campbell has previous served as Mississippi State's offensive line coach and has also worked as Middle Tennessee's offensive coordinator. He's a former Troy player and has won national championships at the Division II level and the junior college level. Campbell won his JUCO title in 2007 with MGCCC and won his Division II title with Delta State in 2000.

The news on Randle is not pleasant for Auburn. The reports that the Tigers had landed a visit were a major coup. Even if Randle never stepped foot on campus, it still would have been a victory that Randle considered a trip. The quote from Randle's father is bad news for Auburn because it now seems the Tigers were never in the running for the top prospect. I guess there was a reason Emmit Randle couldn't "get off work."

Monday, January 12, 2009

McCalebb to join Tigers

Auburn gained a potentially valuable playmaker at the tailback position on Monday when Onterio McCalebb was ruled eligible to enroll at the university. reported the news late Monday. McCalebb told the web site he would enroll at school Wednesday.
McCalebb gives Auburn more depth at tailback, where the Tigers had just three scholarship players. McCalebb joins Ben Tate, Mario Fannin and Eric Smith.
Fannin and Tate are expected to compete for the starting spot, but coaches have declared a new slate.
McCalebb joins linebacker Eltoro Freeman and defensive lineman Nick Fairley as mid-year enrollees.
McCalebb signed with Auburn last year, but failed to qualify academically.
He spent the year at Hargrave Military Academy where he rushed for 755 yards and four touchdowns in eight games.

Picture courtesy:

A-Day moves

Auburn announced Monday that it would move its annual spring game from March 28 to April 18 at 1 p.m.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik hinted about the move last week when he met with beat reporters.
Tommy Tuberville held one of the nation's earliest spring practices. Chizik said he wanted to routinely hold practice later, but especially this year.
The extra time, Chizik said, will allowed assistant coches time to evaluate every player on the roster.
Spring practice is tentatively scheduled to begin on March 24, immediately following Auburn's spring break.

Rocker expected to come to Auburn

Tracy Rocker is expected to make his return to Auburn, a source close to the situation confirmed Monday afternoon, though the deal is not yet finalized.
The former Auburn star would work with defensive linemen and, according to, could make upwards of $400,000 per year.
Rocker was a two-time all-America and a three-time all-SEC player while at Auburn. He also won the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Trophy as a senior in 1988.
Rocker has worked under Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt for the last six years – five at Arkansas and last year at Ole Miss.
So far, Auburn coach Gene Chizik has hired six of nine assistant coaches.
An official announcement on Rocker could be released today.

UPDATE: The Jackson Clarion-Ledger has reported Rocker to Auburn is a done deal.
The report included a quote from Nutt:
"It was a tough decision for him because we’ve had a great working relationship for six years," Nutt said to the newspaper. "But it’s his alma mater and he’s got family less than an hour away, so it was something he felt like he needed to do. It’s a tough loss, but I understand why he did it."

The Birmingham News is also reporting that Auburn is looking at former SEC defensive coordinator John Thompson to coach the secondary.
Thompson has served as a coordinator for Florida, South Carolina and Ole Miss.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Reports: Rocker negotiating potential return

Both and The Birmingham News are reporting that Auburn is currently in talks with Tracy Rocker.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik is interested in bringing Rocker onboard as the Tigers defensive line coach.
If Rocker accepts a position, it would mean a return to his alma mater. Rocker was a two-time all-America and a three-time all-SEC player. He also won the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Trophy as a senior in 1988.
Rocker has worked under Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt for the last six years -- five at Arkansas and last year at Ole Miss.
Chizik has hired six of nine assistant coaches.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Chizik speaks

Here are a few items Auburn coach Gene Chizik addressed while speaking with beat reporters on Friday morning:

His family has moved into town.

Spring football will be pushed back, though no starting date has been set.

This is a big recruiting weekend. Chizik and staff are focusing on some high-profile recruits.

It's leaning toward Tray Blackmon, Chris Slaughter, Ryan Williams and Raven Gray no longer playing football at Auburn.

The biggest needs for Auburn: Receivers, offensive linemen and a "great" quarterback.

Auburn is trying to be "respectful" about recruiting prospects assistant coaches recruited at their former schools before coming to Auburn.

Four players not enrolled in classes

Receiver Chris Slaughter, cornerback Ryan Williams, linebacker Tray Blackmon and defensive end Raven Gray are all not enrolled at Auburn for the spring semester.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik said he has not spoken to any of the four players.
He said none of the players have officially left the program yet, but wouldn’t be surprised if they did.
“That’s probably where it’s leaning,” Chizik said Friday morning while meeting with reporters. “Without shutting the door complete on all of the issues, I’d say that’s where you could lean and be pretty correct.”
Slaughter told on Thursday night that his playing career at Auburn was finished. He caught 15 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown in 2008 despite being suspended for three games and also missing the Alabama game.
Williams, who spent his season in Tommy Tuberville’s doghouse, has enrolled at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Miss.
Several news outlets have indicated Blackmon is no longer enrolled in class so he can attempt a career in the Canadian Football League. Blackmon, a former five-star recruit, never put together a full year at Auburn because of various injuries and suspensions. He started just five games this year, recording 21 tackles.
Gray, a five-star recruit last year coming from junior college, never played a game at Auburn. He missed the season while trying to regain strength in his surgically repaired knee.
His career has apparently ended before he will ever take the field for a game at Auburn.
Offensive lineman Chaz Ramsey, on the other hand, is still enrolled in classes at Auburn. The program granted Ramsey a release during the fall that would have allowed him to play for a couple SEC schools as well as out of the conference. It was not immediately clear if Ramsey’s back would ever be healthy enough to resume his playing career.
Ramsey’s tenuous relationship with the former coaching staff could have played a role in his decision to get away from the football program. He was still considering staying for academic reasons during the fall.
Chizik said he has not yet spoken with Ramsey either.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Departing Tigers has reported that receiver Chris Slaughter and cornerback Ryan Williams have left the team and will not return for the 2009 season. quoted Slaughter and his mother, Glenda, saying that he would not return next season.
The web site also cited Copiah-Lincoln Community College football coach Glenn Davis as its source for Williams' departure. Williams, Davis told, has joined the JUCO team in Wesson, Miss.
University officials have not yet confirmed that either player is no longer on the team.

UPDATE: is now also reporting that Tray Blackmon has left school and will attempt a career in the Candian Football League.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Roof on as Auburn defensive coordinator

Ted Roof will be the next defensive coordinator at Auburn.

Minnesota announced the hire at approximately 3:30 p.m. Auburn decided to allow the move to soak in for four-plus hours before unveiling its own press release.

Roof, Duke’s head coach from 2003-07, would come to Auburn after serving as Minnesota’s defensive coordinator for one season. He went 6-45 at Duke.

Roof began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Alabama after playing for Georgia Tech.

His coaching stops also include Georgia Tech, Western Carolina, Massachusetts and West Georgia.

Gene Chizik said in a statement that he and Chizik share defensive philosophies.

Roof, 45, is a Lawrenceville, Ga. native.

Powers turning pro

The Anniston Star has learned that cornerback Jerraud Powers will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.

Powers, a Decatur native, finished the season with two interceptions and 47 tackles.

He started the year strong, but suffered a hamstring injury that limited him throughout the second half of the season.

Powers' decision means the defense will lose two junior starters from the 2008 team. Sen'Derrick Marks announced last week that he would also enter the NFL Draft.
UPDATE: Auburn has confirmed that Powers has declared himself for the NFL Draft.
“I want to thank the Auburn nation for their support during my career,” Powers said through a press release. “It was a very tough decision, but I did what God wanted me to do and what was best for my family and me. I’m thankful for my time at Auburn and will have nothing but fond memories.”
Several calls to Powers have not been returned.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Taylor officially announced

For the second time in a week, Auburn raided the Oklahoma State coaching staff – this time by hiring co-offensive coordinator Trooper Taylor.

He will serve as Auburn’s receivers coach and assistant head coach.

“This is a great opportunity to join coach (Gene) Chizik at Auburn and be a part of a dynamic offensive staff that he has put together,” Taylor said. “I’m excited to be coaching at a program like Auburn and return to the Southeastern Conference.”

Taylor served with Luper as a member of the Cowboys staff this year after spending four years with Tennessee. Luper said they are close friends and seemed excited about the opportunity to continue coaching alongside Taylor.

At Oklahoma State, Taylor coached all-America receiver Dez Bryant, who finished with 87 receptions for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns. Bryant was a Biletnikoff finalist.

Taylor is known as a strong recruiter. has named him a top-25 recruiter twice since 2005. He has also coached at Baylor, New Mexico and Tulane.

“Trooper is an outstanding wide receivers coach and has had a long line of players that have flourished under his direction,” Chizik said. “He’s been successful at every stop as a coach, has a strong knowledge of the Southeastern Conference and is a tremendous recruiter.”

Taylor spent most of Sunday in meetings with Auburn coaches and was seen at the Auburn athletic complex.


Auburn also announced that Jay Boulware will coach tight ends in addition to his special teams duties.

Report: Taylor on board at Auburn

AUBURN – Trooper Taylor will follow Curtis Luper from Oklahoma State to Auburn, is reporting.
Taylor, the co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach at Oklahoma State, served with Luper as a member of the Cowboys staff this year after spending four years with Tennessee.
Taylor is known as a strong recruiter. has named him a top-25 recruiter twice since 2005. He has also coached at Baylor, New Mexico and Tulane.
Luper said he and Taylor have a strong friendship and he wanted Taylor to follow him after he signed with Auburn on Friday.
The report cited a single, unnamed source familiar with the situation. An Auburn official said there was no announcement forthcoming as of 10:45 a.m.

UPDATE: There is an Auburn University plane scheduled to fly from Stillwater, Okla. (where OSU is located) to Auburn, landing shortly after 1 p.m.
An official announcement could follow shortly thereafter.

UPDATE: The Oklahoman, also citing an unnamed source familiar with the situation, has also confirmed that Taylor has accepted a position at Auburn.

UPDATE: The plane from Stillwater did not have any passengers today. No official confirmation that Taylor has agreed to terms with Auburn.

UDPATE: The Oklahoma State athletics web site had taken down Taylor's bio earlier in the day. Within the last few minutes, OSU put his bio back on the web site.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Boulware to join staff

UPDATE: The Anniston Star has learned that Jay Boulware will join the Auburn coaching staff.
An announcement is expected to be made tonight.

Boulware was in the Auburn athletic complex introducing himself to coaches.
Boulware coached running backs and special teams at Iowa State last season under Chizik. He has also coached tight ends. Boulware’s previous stops include Utah, Stanford, Arizona and Northern Illinois.

At Northern Illinois, Boulware recruited Michael Turner.
Boulware’s role on the new staff has not yet been defined.

UPDATE: Oklahoma State co-offensive coordinator coach Trooper Taylor was also in the Auburn athletic complex on Sunday afternoon. Taylor coaches receivers at Oklahoma State.
Curtis Luper said he and Taylor are close friends, but wants Taylor to explore his options.
Photo credit: Iowa State

Reports: Chizik interested in OSU's Taylor

Curtis Luper has already jumped from Oklahoma State to Auburn.
Could OSU receivers coach Trooper Taylor be next?
Auburn coach Gene Chizik has requested and received permission to speak with Taylor about a job opening, likely as Auburn's receivers coach.
Two factors could complicate matters: 1) Taylor has a co-offensive coordinator title at OSU. Would Auburn coordinator Gus Malzahn be willing to split his title with Taylor to bring him onboard? 2) Tennessee is also apparently in the running for Taylor's services. Taylor coached at Tennessee before going to Oklahoma State.
An Auburn plane flew in and out of Stillwater, Okla. today. That could be Taylor, but it could also be Luper moving into town or any number of other scenarios.

UPDATE: According to several blogs, including these fine products: and, Taylor is in town as he was spotted at the airport. Luper was also there.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Coleman returning for senior season

MOBILE – Antonio Coleman is returning to Auburn for his senior season, the defensive end told a crowd of family and friends Saturday afternoon.
The news comes as a relief to an Auburn defense that lost defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks to the NFL Draft just four days ago.
Coleman made his announcement at Williamson High School, where he graduated in 2005.
Coleman finished with six sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss despite playing through several injuries the 2008 season. He made a name for himself in 2007 when he recorded 8.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore.
Coleman said he has recovered from the various injuries that hampered him late in the year.

Here are some highlights from Coleman's press conference and subsequent interview:

“I feel really specialy that coach Tuberville came down and offered me a scholarship to play for Auburn University, which is very rich in tradition.”

“With all due respect, I want to thank all my coaches, but my mind is pretty much made up right now and my decision is that I’m going to return to Auburn University and play my last year of college football.”

“I talked with coach Chizik. I went up a couple days ago and met with him and he instilled a lot of thought and a lot of pride into what he’s going to do at Auburn University and I think he’s going to do something special. I want to be that guy (to) come back and help turn that program around and get it back to where it’s supposed to be. Me and coach Chizik and coach Whitt sat down and talked for about an hour and every word out of coach Chizik’s mouth, I believed. He talked about if I come back I could be a first-round draft pick next year.”

“I also want to thank coach Willis who just got his job back not too long ago, which played a big part in it also. He’s like a father figure to me. Anything I go through, I call him and he has a way for me to get through what I’m going through.”

“I’d like to thank my mom and my family for coming. I knew they were going to be happy either way I go, which decision I make. I want to thank them for coming.”

“I look forward to playing for the Auburn Tigers next year.”
(Was there ever a point where you were leaning toward leaving?)
Definitely. There’s been a lot of thought coming in with a new coaching staff. When I came in, coach Price was the only coach I played for at defensive end. I called and talked to him and talked to coach Muschamp and (they) said just make the best decision for me. None of them told me what to do – to stay or go.
(Conversation with Chizik help make you feel comfortable about returning?)
Definitely. When he first got here, I met with him after we had our first team meeting. Then he came down and met with me again and I went up and met with him a couple days ago (Jan. 1). I just wanted to get with him and feel him out and see what direction this program is going in. I want to be the guy to help turn it around and get things working in the right way.
(Thoughts after Tubs resigned)
When coach Tuberville resigned, I didn’t know too much about it. I actually thought he had got fired at first. That really hurt me. I was thinking about leaving because that’s the only coach I played under in college football and I love him to death. He’s like a father to me. Anything that I went through, I would talk to him and he would make it all better. I went and sat down to talk to him right after it happened and he said if I needed any advice, if I needed anything, just come and talk to him and he’ll let me know.
(NFL evaluations)
I got my evaluation back and it was calling for 2-3. It really didn’t play a factor in me going or coming back. I had my mind made up that it would be best for me to come back and play my senior year. I want to go out with a bang and turn this program around. We have a new coach. It’s hard for you to go undefeated in the SEC or any caliber D-I football and coach Chizik did it at Auburn – he went undefeated – and then he went to Texas and went undefeated, so I mean that’s a blessing that he’s a great coach and I’m thankful to have an opportunity to play for him.
(Potential of playing with nephew, Terrance Coleman)
It’s great. It’s going to be a blessing. I stay on him even when I was young and he was playing under me, I still stayed on him. It will be great to play with him and (signee) Nick Fairley and we’ve got (commit) LaVoyd (James) coming up, so it’ll feel like a big, happy family with Williamson guys. That’s what we’re trying to make it up there – a Williamson tradition.
(Did you talk with Sen’Derrick Marks?)
I talk to Sen’Derrick almost every day. We’ll set up and talk and he’ll tell me what’s going on and I’ll tell him what’s going on. I didn’t really talk too much about what I was going to do. I was leaning toward coming out, that’s what I always tell him because that was what was in the top of my head, but I just sat down and talked about it and prayed about it and the best thing for me and my family is I would come back for another year of football. I have already graduated and got my degree, so hopefully I can start on my Master’s (criminal sociology) and just get more education and get bigger, stronger, faster.
(On Chizik:)
He's the real deal. He's not just a salesman. He said I could be the face of Auburn. I hope to do big things and probably be remembered forever at Auburn University. That's something that I've wanted to do.
(On Jerraud Powers)
Talked to him 2, 3 days ago. He just called to see where my minds at. Hopefully, I hope he's coming back. I'm going to try to call and get him to come back.

(On coming back)
We've just got to get back to the old Auburn football, just staying on people, hard. They're going to look at me as a leader and I'm going to try to lead the best I can, try to be one of the best leaders in the country. If you have a great leader, then everybody behind you will follow.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Luper on board as new RB coach

AUBURN – Oklahoma State running backs Curtis Luper coach will join the Auburn coaching staff in the same capacity. Luper, who was stationed at Fort McClellan when he served in the Army, worked with Auburn coach Gene Chizik at Stephen F. Austin from 1995-97.
“The opportunity to reconnect with my mentor in Coach Chizik and have the chance coach at a program known as ‘Running Back U.’, was something that I could not pass up,” said Luper, who served as a secondary coach at Stephen F. Austin. “My coaching philosophy and foundation was established with Coach Chizik 13 years ago at Stephen F. Austin, where we took our initial jobs, and arm in arm helped the program to the national semifinals.
“I’m excited to be reunited with Coach Chizik and join Gus Malzahn, who is nationally known as one of the innovators offensively. Those aspects combined with the chance to coach at a tradition-rich program like Auburn, is a dream come true.”Luper served on the Oklahoma State coaching staff for four years.Currently, Gus Malzahn is the only offensive coach on Auburn’s staff. Malzahn will coach quarterbacks, meaning the running backs coach position remains available.Under Luper, the Cowboys rushed for 3,191 yards in 2008, helping them finish seventh in the nation. Tailback Kendall Hunter rushed for 1,555 yards and 16 touchdowns during the season.
Luper has also coached at New Mexico, Stephen F. Austin and Texas A&M-Commerce.
“Curtis Luper is a tremendous coach, who I’ve had the pleasure of watching blossom from a player to the successful individual that he is today,” Chizik said. “I had a great amount of respect for him as a player and while mentoring him in the beginning of his coaching career. Curtis has done an outstanding job coaching running backs and I am excited to coach with him again.”