Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ten to Remember: No. 4

Spring ball is little more than a month away. With so many players returning from last year’s team, the faces and names will largely remain the same. Here is a look at the 10 under-the-radar players fans should know/remember going into spring practice.

No. 10
LB Jessel Curry

No. 9
RB Dontae Aycock

No. 8
DE Craig Sanders

No. 7
QBs Tyrik Rollison and Clint Moseley

No. 6
TE Philip Lutzenkirchen

No. 5
DE Nosa Eguae

No. 4
S Mike McNeil & Aairon Savage

Both of these should be names Auburn fans already know. However, McNeil hasn’t played since breaking his leg during a spring scrimmage last year. Savage hasn’t seen full-contact action since tearing knee ligaments early in preseason camp in 2008.

This year, they could be full-time starters.

The coaching staff expects S Zac Etheridge to be able to resume his football career, but Auburn coach Gene Chizik said contact drills are almost certainly not in the cards. With Daren Bates moving to strong-side linebacker to compete with LB Eltoro Freeman, that leaves McNeil and Savage as the likely starters heading into spring.

Safeties Mike Slade, Drew Cole and T’Sharvan Bell provide depth, but look for McNeil and Savage to get the first cracks at the safety spots.

Savage was a two-year starter before then-coach Tommy Tuberville moved him to cornerback in hopes of keeping him on the field more. The move backfired when Savage tore up his knee, costing him his junior season. Savage returned last year only to tear his Achilles heel during summer workouts. The day after National Signing Day, Auburn announced that the NCAA granted Savage a sixth-year of eligibility.

McNeil missed all last year with a broken leg despite coaches originally saying he could be back early in the season. He instead wasn’t ready for practice again until November, at which point the coaches decided to keep him on the sideline and use his redshirt season.

McNeil started at free safety the previous season, playing opposite Etheridge.

Regardless of who mans the safety spots, it is imperative that they start creating more turnovers for a defense that thrives off the takeaways. The position has had its hand in just seven total takeaways over the last three seasons combined – three in 2009, two in ’08 and two in ’07. Remember that Junior Rosegreen had four interceptions by himself during the regular season Tennessee game in 2004.

For Auburn’s attacking defense to be its best, the safeties need to make the most of turnover opportunities. Savage and McNeil will get first crack at showing the unit has the game-changing abilities necessary.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ten to Remember: No. 5

Spring ball is little more than a month away. With so many players returning from last year’s team, the faces and names will largely remain the same. Here is a look at the 10 under-the-radar players fans should know/remember going into spring practice.

No. 10
LB Jessel Curry

No. 9
RB Dontae Aycock

No. 8
DE Craig Sanders

No. 7
QBs Tyrik Rollison and Clint Moseley

No. 6
TE Philip Lutzenkirchen

No. 5
DE Nosa Eguae

Were it not for an unfortunate injury just days before the start of the season, Eguae’s name would be one already familiar with Auburn fans. He had done enough as a true freshman to impress the coaches enough to put him in the rotation.

That injury, though, sidelined him for several weeks – enough to convince the coaches just to give him a redshirt.

Size isn’t an issue for Eguae at defensive end. He was listed last year at 6-foot-2, 244 pounds, but seemed to be bigger than that when he spoke with reporters in December. His frame seems big enough that he could potentially be a ‘tweener ala former Auburn lineman Sen’Derrick Marks.

For now, Eguae will pursue the starting strong-side defensive end spot, where he could start opposite Antoine Carter. If Eguae wins the position, it would show that he’s ready to be a factor at the collegiate level. That’s because two-year starter Michael Goggans is Eguae’s biggest competition entering the spring.

Even if Eguae doesn’t win the job, he will still probably be a primary player in the rotation. His spring will be important simply to confirm to coaches that he is as good as they thought he was after four weeks of practice.

If he does, look for Eguae to be a big part of the Auburn defense in 2010.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

ESPNU to televise A-Day

Auburn announced today that ESPNU has chosen to televise the Tigers' annual spring game.

The game will be played at 1 p.m. on April 17 in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rollison reportedly transferring out of AU

Auburn QB Tyrik Rollison is reportedly leaving the program. Several media outlets are confirming that Rollison's father, Michael Kelly, is saying his son will leave Auburn for Sam Houston State.

In an interview with, Kelly said Rollison made his decision to be closer to home.

Rollison was considered one of Auburn's biggest signees during Auburn coach Gene Chizik's first recruiting class. He competed for the backup quarterback job well into August before ultimately losing the battle to Neil Caudle. Rollison still worked with the varsity offense all year instead of practicing with the scout team, as most redshirt players do.

He had a misstep in December when Chizik suspended him for the Outback Bowl because of an unspecified violation of team rules. That move immediately preceded Auburn's decision to recruit and ultimately sign JUCO QB Cam Newton, who is largely considered the favorite to win the starting job.

Kelly did not mention Newton or the quarterback race during his interview with, nor did he say anything about it to ESPN's Joe Schad.

Auburn has not yet confirmed that Rollison has or will leave the program.

EDIT (2:59 p.m.): I finally reached Kelly myself. He said he didn't wish to comment on Rollison's situation at the current time, instead saying he wanted to wait "until things blow over." He also said, "I've got to talk to Ty." That is a sudden change of tune from the interview he did with on Wednesday night.

Auburn sports information director Kirk Sampson said he can not confirm that Rollison has left the team.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ten to Remember: No. 6

Spring ball is little more than a month away. With so many players returning from last year’s team, the faces and names will largely remain the same. Here is a look at the 10 under-the-radar players fans should know/remember going into spring practice.

No. 10
LB Jessel Curry

No. 9
RB Dontae Aycock

No. 8
DE Craig Sanders

No. 7
QBs Tyrik Rollison and Clint Moseley

No. 6
TE Philip Lutzenkirchen

Despite coming to Auburn with lofty expectations, it would be easy to overlook Lutzenkirchen right now. Like receivers Emory Blake and DeAngelo Benton, Lutzenkirchen drew plenty of press, but played just a minimal role in the offense as a true freshman.

Lutzenkirchen is the favor to replace Tommy Trott as the tight end/slot receiver. Auburn fans have waited for someone to break out in that position for a long, long time. Trott never turned in the all-SEC-type season some expected from him. Cole Bennett was underappreciated because of his blocking ability, but offered little in the passing game.

Cooper Wallace had a consistent career, but never tallied more than 20 receptions in a season. Robert Johnson might have been the last major pass-catching threat for Auburn. Johnson had 30 catches for 365 yards and four touchdowns in 2002 – his final year at Auburn.

Though high-school tape doesn’t often translate well into the college level, Lutzenkirchen certainly showed he is capable of the spectacular.

Still, there are some concerns. Coaches – particularly Trooper Taylor – sometimes grumbled a bit about Lutzenkirchen’s size, hoping he would shed some weight. Taylor once joked Lutzenkirchen was a few meals away from joining offensive line coach Jeff Grimes’ position meetings, implying Lutzenkirchen could move to tackle.

It should also be noted that coaches apparently felt more comfortable with Trott – and the bad penalties and occasional drops that came with him – than Lutzenkirchen. He was also supposed to be in the mix for the H-back position when Eric Smith was suspended for the Outback Bowl. The position instead largely vanished during the game.

Not many people doubt Lutzenkirchen’s ability, but with an open position, this is the time he needs to make his move and prove capable of a breakout year. That process begins this spring.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chizik meets with the media

We'll get back to the Ten to Remember series tomorrow. For today, here is what Auburn coach Gene Chizik had to say when meeting with reporters earlier this afternoon:

(Spring practice plans)
Right now, the tentative plan, and as we get closer we’re going to solidify everything. But the tentative plan is to go the first Wednesday after spring break. Typically, I’d like to make it a Monday, Wednesday, Friday during the week practice schedule and Saturday being, if we’re ready, being a scrimmage day. That’s always subject to change with weather and other issues. That’s how we want to start it and as we get moving through it just go from there.

(Any difference between first and second spring?)
It’s much easier at this point in time. Don’t try to read into that. It’s just easier for everybody. There’s a lot of variables in there that a year ago we didn’t know. Personalities of players and players trying to figure out the personalities of coaches. The new terminology of offense and defense, you’re second go-around is so much easier for everybody.

I think it’s been smooth since we’ve come back from the bowl game. They’ve done a great job. We’re going into our seventh or eighth week since they’ve come back. It’s been smooth and it’s been much easier for everybody.

(What's different from last year?)
Really, nothing new in terms of what we’re doing with coach (Kevin Yoxall) in the weight room. They’re doing their semester pretty much like they did last year. The difference is we went to a bowl game this year and when we came back there’s discretionary periods in there you have to adhere to.

The other thing that’s been really different in a good way is their class schedules are a little different this semester than they’ve been, which is going to allow us to, as we talk about spring practice, allow us to practice in the mornings.

It’s been a different schedule. They get over here in the morning and get everything knocked out early. Then they have the rest of the day to go to school and attend the study halls if needed.

Other than that, the scheduling, nothing is really different. It’s just our second time around.

(How important was a strong recruiting class?)
I think it was huge. I think for us to get Auburn back to where I envision it being, which we’re certainly not there; I think it’s going to take those type of recruiting class one on top of the other. Our next year’s recruiting class, our goal is to make it better than the one the year before. Every year try to improve upon what you do.

It was important to us. It was important to our team to bring in good teammates. It was important to our fan base to see that we’re going to work on the recruiting trail. I think it was important to our whole program.

(What the raises means to Chizik and the staff)
It’s not about me. The administration has been phenomenal for me. It was really important that there was a vote of confidence there in our administration that they see and understand the importance in the continuity of our coaching staff. If you just look around the league, there’s been a lot changes. Of course we’ve only been here one year but when you have very talented guys as assistant coaches there’s going to be a lot of people that are interested in hiring them.

It was very important and huge administratively that we made that step forward to say, ‘Hey look, we want to be proactive on the front end of trying to keep everything intact.’ Really important to our coaches and what that means to our coaches but also don’t forget the huge impact that has on your players when they don’t have to change coaches. I think that’s big.

(Thoughts on escalating coaching salaries)
I think it's a little bit of everything. It's a little bit of the trickle-down effect. It's supply and demand. It all starts with the coordinators. People understand the importance of the leaders of your offense or the leaders of your defense and the impact they can have on your football team.

This profession, in general, especially at this level pays a lot of money. It's definitely gotten bigger over the last few years. The supply and the demand and the importance of winning is coming through loud and clear. People are willing to pay that money to get the best people at their trade.

(Does the coaching continuity help with recruiting?)
I hope it was an advantage. They guys we had recruiting a guy a year ago is the same guy we had recruiting him on Feb. 2 before signing day. I think that's a huge impact. Anytime you don't have change, that's a big deal. That just ties into the huge impact all the way around of not having any changes in your staff. That's a huge deal -- including recruiting.

(Do the increased salaries mean less patience?)
In this world of coaching, there always are very, very high expectations. The patience level of fans, the patience out there period, when when you get paid a lot of money is shorter. To a certain degree, yes, the patience runs low fast. When you make large amounts of money, people expect things. That's never going to change. I don't think that's changes from 10, 15 years ago. People can justify it more in their minds now: They make x amount of money, they should be delivering.

(Thoughts on Aairon Savage's return)
I'm really, really proud of having him back on our football team. It's not always easy to get a sixth year. That's not a gimme. I'm really, really happy to have him -- not just for what kind of player he has been but what he brings to the table in terms of leadership and maturity. He's going to finish him master's degree before he starts his last season. It's big to have him on the team. Where are we going to play him? He's been at some different places. Wherever he can help our team best. I don't know that I could give you a definitive. I know he can play either or because he's done it.

(How has Zac Etheridge bounced back from his injury?)
Really good. He's a day-by-day progression of getting to the point where he can play again. I don't want to over-step my boundary; I'm not a doctor. I feel very encouraged about the progress that's been made here in the last couple of months.

(Will any other players miss spring?)
I can't just throw any out there.

(Will Daren Bates practice in the spring?)
That will be questionable. When you talk about being ready for spring, ready for what? That's the issue. Are some of them going to be able to have contact? Off the top of my head, anyone I think is totally going to miss spring, nobody I can think about that can’t at least do something for us. I feel good about most of our guys being able to do something.

(Will Etheridge practice?)
That's going to be day by day. He's making some good progress. We have to wait. As we get closer, you think contact certainly won't be in the cards for him right now. What's he going to be able to do otherwise? I don't know.

(What has QB Cam Newton showed during his first month-plus?)
Cam is, in my opinion, been very focused on what he wants to accomplish. As a staff, we're not going to place any expectations on him that's any different than anybody else. That's not fair. There'll be a battle at the quarterback position. He's going to be part of that battle. May the best man win. Expectation-wise, he's not going to be in a different boat. It won't be any different.

(With Ben Tate gone, who will work at tailback this spring?)
Well, obviously Mario (Fannin) is somebody we're looking at that, again, we feel like can do that because he's done it. We feel like Eric Smith can do it because he's done it. Onterio (McCalebb), those are the guys that we're going to look at. They've all got some sort of, one way or the other, they've all got experience at that position in this offense, one time or another, even dating back to the last spring, so they've all three done it at some point.

(Where will Dontae Aycock work?)
Yeah, Dontae's a guy we can move around and do different things with. We're going to look at him at different spots. Obviously, he was a quarterback in high school so he's talented. I think he can bring some different options to the table, whether it be a guy playing in the slot type option, whether it's a guy that kind of did what Mario did last year, being able to stretch the field vertically, being able to run some wheels out of the backfield. He's very talented and athletic in that regard. Whether he can play tailback or not, he can be in that mix as well. I think he can do a few different things but we're going to try and look to see where the best fit for him depending on what way the tailback situation unfolds.

(Will he work at tailback?)
Just kind of feeling him out. He'll definitely get some reps there too, again, to see if that's what he brings to the table for us that helps our team win. Again, with those types of players, I know they're different body types and things, but they've all got a chance to play more than one role on the team.

(Chizik has signed a lot of former high-school quarterbacks. Is that something he tries to do?)
I do. I like quarterbacks. I like guys that are very athletic that bring a knowledge of the game right now. That's whether he's on offense or defense. Sometimes they have a different way of seeing the game simply because of what they were doing in high school. That could be for a defensive back, a wideout, can be a tailback. I've recruited them as corners, safeties and linebackers as well. I think, again, when they've done that in high school they have a great feel for the game for maybe a different perspective than other guys have had.

(Will Kodi Burns be involved in the quarterback competition?)
He's a wide receiver. He'll still play Wildcat, but his predominant position is wide receiver.

(On how Auburn will get five different quarterbacks enough practice time)
We'll see. We'll see. Again, we'll figure out a way to rep them the right way but it'll be a really good competition. Right now it's a healthy one. We've just got to figure out how we're going to do that and split up the reps, but we'll find a way to do it.

(How important was it to show a commitment to offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn?)
I'm going to say that with everybody first. I want to be proactive with everybody to keep them here. Some guys on our staff got offered potentially other assistant coaches jobs, some guys potentially got offered head jobs. And again, we wanted to do what we felt we needed to do to keep everything together. And that's kind of what the whole salary structure was based on. We just kept everything in tact as best as we could, to the best of our ability, and did what we needed to do to do that. With some of our guys being sought after, again, we did what we felt like we needed to do.

(Clarify "potentially' interested)
It means people were interested in them.

(Has anyone left the team?)
Off the top of my head, no. Nobody that you guys wouldn't no about.

(How important are the five early enrollees from a depth standpoint?)
Again, three of those five that came in January were junior college guys. Two of them were high school guys. And just for the depth of our team, I think it's really, really big. And I think for high school guys to come in here, it's kind of a whole new world for them. But surely that is going to be really good for us down the road in terms of building depth for young guys. And they are all fighting for jobs, but the junior college guys that you bring in here, typically you're bringing them in because there is a dire need at one of those positions and what-not. And those guys are going to come in here and really battle it out for potential starting playing time. And again, not that the high school guys are not, but they're still coming in two different type worlds. But it's good to have them all here and it's been excellent. It's been a great transition for the fight. They've really been on top of their stuff. It's really good for our team.

(What has Chizik seen in Roszell Gayden?)
My initial impressions have been really good. Roszell has come in here and really done everything we ask him to do, which we figured he would. He's a great young man and he's working really, really hard to get into the swing of what we do. At the tackle position right now, there will be some young guys that we're going to potentially play out there. It may be a mix and match. Sometimes it could be a guard-type guy who could move out to tackle. Obviously Andrew graduated, and that's the hole we're trying to fill, but you've still got Brandon Mosley that's competing for potentially an offensive line/tight end job. He's very athletic and he can do both. Again, with our own football team, there's still some young guys that we may try out there. Maybe it's a John Sullen. It really depends. We feel like we're pretty good right now from left tackle to right guard. But again, that's going to be the one that's open, and people have to challenge it for you.

(Does Chizik foresee any quarterbacks transferring positions or schools if they don't win the starting spot?)
I don't see anybody going to another position. The way I envision it, I don't see it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ten to Remember: No. 7

Spring ball is little more than a month away. With so many players returning from last year’s team, the faces and names will largely remain the same. Here is a look at the 10 under-the-radar players fans should know/remember going into spring practice.

No. 10
LB Jessel Curry

No. 9
RB Dontae Aycock

No. 8
DE Craig Sanders

No. 7
QBs Tyrik Rollison and Clint Moseley

The paths to starting quarterback became much tougher to travel for both redshirt freshmen the day Cameron Newton signed with Auburn. That said, this spring is still pivotal for the pair.

Both players need to put themselves in a position to be the backup if they don’t win the starting job. Newton will be probably be around for two years. That means Moseley and Rollison are battling not only for the backup spot, but also the right to become the heir apparent.

Neil Caudle winning the position for a second consecutive year – especially when Auburn went the junior-college route to find a probable starter – would send up a red flag that Moseley and Rollison aren’t ready.

Moseley drew rave reviews from offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. He also apparently received praise from defensive coordinator Ted Roof behind closed doors because of the work he did for the scout team.

So what is my opinion of Moseley? The same as that of Rollison – none. I haven’t seen either throw one pass in a game situation – not even in a scrimmage.

Rollison entered Auburn as a more-heralded recruit. He was one of the Tigers' biggest gets in the 2009 recruiting class and the highest-rated dual-threat quarterback. He was also in the mix for the backup job this year until the last few weeks.

I do know this about Rollison: There are questions about him stemming from his bowl game suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules. Whether the suspension came from grades or disciplinary reasons, it raises an alert about his maturity or lack thereof.

Though Newton is considered the favorite for the spot, it would be foolish to rule anyone out before he throws his first pass in the spring. Moseley and Rollison need to compete during spring practice for the starting position because even if it isn’t a starting competition for this year, it might very well be for the 2011 or 2012 season.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Trooper Towels Donate to Miracle League

Receivers coach Trooper Taylor made an appearance at halftime of the Auburn-Arkansas basketball game Saturday night to promote the Miracle League, a baseball league for disabled children.

Taylor, who celebrated his 40th birthday Saturday, was on hand for a check ceremony. The money raised from "Trooper towels," the white towels fans purchased at football games this year, went to the Miracle League.

The check was for more than $3,500.

For more on the Miracle League, readers can go here.

Ten to Remember: No. 8

Spring ball is little more than a month away. With so many players returning from last year’s team, the faces and names will largely remain the same. Here is a look at the 10 under-the-radar players fans should know/remember going into spring practice.

No. 10
LB Jessel Curry

No. 9
RB Dontae Aycock

No. 8
DE Craig Sanders

Auburn proved early on that it had a chance to put together a strong recruiting class. The lingering question centered on the program’s ability to compete against Alabama for in-state prospects.

Craig Sanders helped the Tigers provide an answer when he switched his commitment from the Crimson Tide to Auburn on Sept. 30.

Sanders should be more than just a recruiting pawn. He has a chance to make an immediate impact since he enrolled early and is already on campus. Sanders, along with LB Jessel Curry, are the only two early enrollee high-school prospects.

With Sanders coming from Class A Ariton, there were some doubt about his ability. He responded by posting a solid week during the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game practices.

Here’s what’s Barry Every said:

“Sanders was one of the prettiest prospects on the Alabama squad. He may only be from a Class A school, but he possesses excellent overall athletic ability and a frame that may allow him to grow into a defensive end that could play weak side or strong side. He finished the game with three total tackles, a TFL, and a pass breakup. With him graduating early, do not be surprised if he ends up having an impact for Auburn as a true freshman.”

Auburn will enter the spring in search of a new starter at defensive end. Antonio Coleman graduated and Antoine Carter is expected to move to weak-side end. Sanders will have steep competition, but could work his way into the playing rotation as one of the top four ends.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ten to Remember: No. 9

Spring ball is little more than a month away. With so many players returning from last year’s team, the faces and names will largely remain the same. Here is a look at the 10 under-the-radar players fans should know/remember going into spring practice.

No. 10
LB Jessel Curry

No. 9
RB Dontae Aycock

No more Ben Tate means Auburn’s remaining true tailbacks will have opportunities to impress coaches this spring.

The likely contenders are Onterio McCalebb, Mario Fannin, Eric Smith and redshirt freshman Dontae Aycock. All have plenty to prove – Fannin needs to dispel the ball-security issues he has struggled with off and on, Smith must show he can stay out of trouble and is quick enough to be a feature back and McCalebb needs to show increased durability.

Aycock seemingly has the most to prove, however, because the other three players have at least shown particular skill sets at the collegiate level. Not only has Aycock not done anything in college yet, he hasn’t even played the position regularly.

Aycock was a high school quarterback, though he ran an option offense. He rushed for 1,406 yards and 28 touchdowns as a high school senior and finished with 6,000 total yards in his high-school career.

Running backs coach Curtis Luper has no doubt Aycock can be successful at tailback, but he will only have a limited time to prove himself. That’s because RB Michael Dyer will arrive this summer. He is the most highly anticipated tailback to come to Auburn since Carnell Williams and one of the most highly anticipated in the last decade.

Dyer can’t prove himself at the college level before he arrives on campus, though. That’s where Aycock’s advantage comes. With a strong spring, he could put himself in position to earn carries in the fall. A poor spring, however, might leave him as an outsider looking in. With Dyer as a freshman and McCalebb already entrenched in a niche role as a sophomore, Aycock could find himself behind at least two players his entire Auburn career.

In other words, few players have as much to gain – or lose – as Aycock this spring.

Coaching raises

A three-win improvement over the 2008 total has netted Auburn’s coaches raises for the 2010 season.

Every member of Auburn’s coaching staff has received a raise, The Star confirmed Friday.

The Birmingham News first reported the news Friday morning.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn received the biggest bump, going from $350,000 to $500,000. Malzahn had an opportunity to interview for at least one head coaching job – with Louisiana Tech – but declined the chance.

Head coach Gene Chizik saw his salary jump from $1.9 million to $2.1 million. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof’s salary increased from $370,000 to $407,000.

Receivers coach Trooper Taylor remains the highest-paid assistant, making $352,000 after making $320,000 in 2009. Tracy Rocker will make $330,000; Jeff Grimes will make $319,000; Curtis Luper will make $286,000; Tommy Thigpen will make $275,000; and Phillip Lolley and Jay Boulware will make $231,000.

The entire staff will collectively make $5.031 million in 2010.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ten to Remember: No. 10

Auburn's spring practice is little more than a month away. With so many players returning from last year’s team, the faces and names will largely remain the same. Here is a look at the 10 under-the-radar players fans should know/remember going into spring practice.

No. 10
LB Jessel Curry

The three-star signee enrolled in classes for the spring semester so he could go through spring practice with the team.

That’s a huge relief for Auburn’s defensive coaching staff – most notably, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Ted Roof. The Tigers went through a good portion of last season with only four scholarship linebackers and lost Adam Herring and Spencer Pybus to career-ending injuries.

Curry isn’t supposed to be the type of linebacker to come in and immediately dominate the SEC. He is supposed to come in and immediately provide depth at a position that desperately needs it. That Curry will get a spring of practice under his belt will better prepare him for the collegiate adjustment and could put him in a better place than more heralded linebackers such as Jake Holland and LaDarius Owens.

It also doesn’t hurt that Curry has NFL bloodlines. His father, Buddy Curry, played eight seasons at linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Luper, Taylor honored by

A pair of Auburn assistants earned accolades Monday for their strong recruiting years.

Curtis Luper and Trooper Taylor were named to the 2010 list of’s top 25 recruiters. The two offensive coaches helped Auburn land a consensus top-5 class.

Rivals considered Luper the lead recruiter on four Auburn signees this year, including five-star recruits RB Michael Dyer and QB Cameron Newton. Luper also played a role in getting ATH Trovon Reed to sign.

“Luper was also the primary mastermind behind ‘Tiger Prowl’ and ‘Big Cat Weekend,’” the story said. “Those two recruiting events helped create a great buzz for Auburn.”

Taylor helped Auburn secure eight recruits – seven from out of state. OT Shon Coleman headlined the group of players Taylor helped recruit, along with others, such as DE Corey Lemonier.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Savage back for sixth year

Aairon Savage received a sixth year of eligibility, Auburn announced Thursday, potentially bolstering its safety depth for the 2010 season.

The Albany, Ga. native missed the last two seasons with different season-ending injuries.

“We’re very happy for Aairon that he has received a sixth year of eligibility,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. “The last few years have been difficult for him, but Aairon has worked extremely hard and shown a tremendous amount of determination to get to where he is today. We look forward to seeing him in an Auburn uniform this fall.”

Savage spent the entire 2008 season battling back from a season-ending knee injury he suffered early in summer practice.

He returned in time for spring practice, but was limited throughout practices. During summer workouts, he tore his Achilles heel, ending his 2009 season.

Savage was a part-time starter as a freshman and as a sophomore. He has seen more time as a cornerback but has practiced the last two years at safety when he has been healthy.

Even when Savage played, injuries still kept him on the sideline at times. Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville moved Savage to cornerback thinking it would help him stay healthy.

Savage has 79 career tackles. He graduated in December 2008.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Here Come the Letters

First two in are from K Cody Parkey and WR Antonio Goodwin. Whoever had Parkey in the first-one-in pool wins.

Cody Parkey
Position: Kicker
Height, weight: 6-2, 195
School: Jupiter, FL
Notes: Three-star prospect is ranked as the No. 6 kicker in the nation… Previously considered to be the top kicker before a rough week at the UnderArmour All-American Game.

Antonio Goodwin
Position: WR
Height, weight: 6-2, 170
School: Atlanta, GA
Notes: Four-star receiver is ranked the No. 39 at his position… Might have briefly wavered in early December, but ultimately decided to stay with Auburn.

UPDATE: 7:24 a.m.
Steven Clark
Position: K
Height, weight: 6-5, 230
School: Park Hill HS; Kansas City, MO
Notes: Clark will be the only Missouri native on Auburn’s roster next year… He is rated as the No. 20 kicker in the country... Clark will be a punter at Auburn and could compete with Ryan Shoemaker for the starting job.

UPDATE: 7:36 a.m.
Jeremy Richardson
Position: WR
Height, weight: 6-4, 220
School: Springville
Notes: Had 36 catches or 554 yards and six touchdowns as a senior, but 61 catches for 1,228 yards and 18 scores as a junior. … Played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.

Kenneth Carter
Position: DT
Height, weight: 6-5, 267
School: Greenville
Notes: Chose Auburn over Alabama, Kentucky and Ole Miss… The Rivals four-star recruit is ranked as the 23rd defensive tackle and the No. 8 in-state prospect in Alabama.

Update: 7:44 a.m.
Eric Mack
Position: Offensive line
Height, weight: 6-4, 315
School: St. Matthews, SC
Notes: Former South Carolina commit switched his allegiance to Auburn in late January… Mack, a four-star recruit, is the No. 6 offensive tackle in the nation and the 10th-best prospect in South Carolina... Mack should provide immediate depth along the offensive line.

Jonathon Mincy
Position: Defensive back
Height, weight: 5-10, 175
School: Decatur, Ga.
Notes: Three-star cornerback runs a 4.4 40… Chose Auburn in late June… Mincy is one of at least 10 players expected to sign with Auburn after visiting campus for Big Cat Weekend.

Update: 7:56 a.m.
Ed Christian
Position: OL
Height, weight: 6-5, 280
School: Valdosta, Ga.
Notes: Former Florida State commit is rated as a three-star offensive tackle… USC offered Christian a scholarship late in the process, but he said he plans to sign with Auburn.

Ladarious Phillips
Position: ATH
Height, weight: 6-1, 275
School: Handley
Notes: Phillips is one of the final commitments of Auburn's class. He received an offer from the Tigers late Tuesday night and made his decision quickly... Phillips played tailback and defensive tackle at Handley, but is expected to play more along the defensive line in college... Size will not be an issue for Phillips, nor will athleticism. He might not have been heavily recruited, but he was a standout at Handley and could contribute at Auburn.

Update: 8:39 a.m.
Ryan Smith
Position: Athlete
Height, weight: 6-2, 208
School: Cordova
Notes: Auburn turned Smith late after he had been committed to Kentucky since mid-October… Smith did not receive an offer until the Tigers officially withdrew a scholarship offer from D.J. Howard… The three-star recruit is projected to play safety at Auburn.

Demetruce McNeal
Position: Defensive back
Height, weight: 6-0, 176
School: Banneker HS; College Park, Ga.
Notes: McNeal is a high school teammate of Kitchens’… The three-star recruit is projected as a safety.

Shaun Kitchens
Position: Athlete
Height, weight: 6-3, 211
School: College Park, GA
Notes: Three-star athlete could play receiver or linebacker at the next level… One of six players expected to sign from Georgia… Became the second player to commit to Auburn when he did so in early April.

Shon Coleman
Position: OT
Height, weight: 6-7, 285
School: Olive Branch, Miss.
Notes: The five-star recruit gave Auburn a brief scare late in the process by taking visits to Miami and Alabama, but said all along he was 100 percent committed to Auburn… He was a high school teammate with current safety Daren Bates… Coleman should offer immediate depth along the offensive line... This is obviously huge news for Auburn, which held off a strong charge from Alabama. Signing Corey Lemonier would probably all but clinch a top-5 finish for Auburn's class.

Update: 8:51 a.m.
Jeffrey Whitaker
Position: Defensive tackle
Height, weight: 6-3, 295
School: Warner Robins, Ga.
Notes: Four-star defensive tackle selected Auburn over Miami and in-state Georgia… Whitaker is considered the No. 5 defensive tackle and the No. 5 prospect in Georgia.

Jawara White
Position: Linebacker
Height, weight: 6-2, 220
School: Charles Henderson HS; Troy
Notes: Was a Birmingham News Super Senior and a selection for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic… Tallied 65 tackles, 40 solo, one interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

Update: 9:14 a.m.
Michael Dyer
Position: RB
Height, weight: 5-8, 201
School: Little Rock Christian, AR
Notes: Arguably the biggest jewel in Auburn’s recruiting class, Dyer is considered the second-best tailback in the nation. He is also the No. 1 prospect in Arkansas… The five-star recruit runs a 4.4.

Update: 9:19 a.m.
Dakota Mosley
Position: TE
Height, weight: 6-4, 252
School: Little Rock, Ark.
Notes: Potential gray-shirt made his decision in late November… The three-star prospect attended high school with Dyer. He is considered the No. 11 recruit in Arkansas.

Update: 9:26 a.m.
Chris Davis
Position: ATH
Height, weight: 5-11, 175
School: Birmingham
Notes: Three-star athlete is expected to play defensive back – probably cornerback – at Auburn… Davis committed to Auburn within the first week of receiving the offer.

Update: 9:37 a.m.
Justin Delaine
Position: DE
Height, weight: 6-5, 225
School: Linden
Notes: Three-star defensive end runs a 4.58 40-yard dash… Grades could be an issue for Delaine.

Update: 10:05 a.m.
LaDarius Owens
Position: Linebacker
Height, weight: 6-2, 225
School: Bessemer
Notes: Four-star linebacker is the highest rated in-state product Auburn is expected to sign today… He is the No. 4 prospect in Alabama… One of three top 11 prospects in Alabama expected to sign with the Tigers.

Update: 10:59 a.m.
Jake Holland
Position: LB
Height, weight: 6-1, 228
School: Pelham
Notes: Four-star linebacker runs a 4.58 in the 40. Holland saw his stock rise after a strong performance in the UnderArmour All-American Game… Rated as the No. 8 linebacker prospect and the No. 10 prospect in Alabama… First player to commit to Auburn.

Update: 11:07 a.m.
Ryan White
Position: Athlete
Height, weight: 6-0, 185
School: Tallahassee, FL
Notes: Honorable mention all-state quarterback after accounting for more than 2,200 yards of total offense… Will likely play either defensive back or wide receiver.

Chad Slade
Position: Offensive line
Height, weight: 6-6, 316
School: Moody
Notes: One of at least three offensive linemen expected to sign with Auburn today… Rated as a three-star offensive tackle.

Update: 11:52 a.m.
Corey Lemonier (Committed, not signed officially yet)
Position: DE
Height, weight: 6-5, 223
School: Hialeah, Fla.
Notes: The No. 3 defensive end doubles as the No. 4 prospect in Florida… The four-star recruit is rated as the No. 35 prospect in the nation… He was the last big commitment for Auburn this year, choosing the Tigers live on national television on ESPNU.

Update: 12:28 p.m.
Tunde Fariyike
Position: C
Height, weight: 6-3, 295
School: Upson Lee in Thomaston, Ga.
Notes: Late commit could push to become Auburn’s backup center as early as this year… Rated as a two-star recruit.

Update: 12:52 p.m.
Trovon Reed
Position: Athlete
Height, weight: 6-0, 173
School: Thibodaux, LA
Notes: In-state product chose Auburn despite heavy in-state pressure to sign with LSU… The four-star recruit is expected to play receiver at the next level and is ranked in Rivals’ top 100 prospects.

Update: 1:44 p.m.
Joel Bonomolo
Position: Defensive end
Height, weight: 6-3, 245
School: Fullerton, CA
Notes: Junior college defensive end has two more seasons of eligibility. He will not be enrolled at Auburn until the summer… Had rotator cuff surgery in November but is expected to be fully healthy… Rated by as a four-star prospect.

Be sure to check in throughout the day.

Update: 10:19 a.m.
Former Auburn commit D.J. Howard has signed with Clemson. Howard was going to be an athlete at Auburn, but was considered a safety prospect by the coaching staff. He will play tailback at Clemson.

The Bonomolo signing wraps up the day and a consensus top-5 signing class. We'll talk to Gene Chizik in 15 minutes and get comments.

Enough can't be said about the job Chizik and his staff did this year. Not only did Auburn land an unbelievable class, the Tigers addressed every need they had. Auburn fans should feel good today about where the program is headed.

National Signing Day

Welcome to Signing Day.

Nothing to report as of yet, but remember Auburn already has five newcomers enrolled in classes -- QB Cameron Newton, OL Roszell Gayden, OL/TE Brandon Mosley, LB Jessel Curry and DE Craig Sanders.

We'll keep you covered as the National Letters of Intent start rolling in.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

National Signing Day is almost here

Here is my story in today's Anniston Star:

Any remaining dreams Auburn had of winning a mythical recruiting championship slipped away Tuesday.

Five-star tailback Marcus Lattimore, largely considered the top running back in the nation, announced his intentions to sign with in-state school South Carolina.

With the help of former Auburn tailback Stephen Davis, Lattimore first pulled on an Auburn hat during his press conference before swapping it out for a South Carolina hat.

Lattimore would have been a crown jewel for Auburn’s current top-5 recruiting class.

Though Auburn’s class is already a significant success, a cold finish could shift perception of the job Gene Chizik and his staff have done this year.

Lattimore’s decision launched that potential slide.

Now Auburn is more concerned with landing a National Letter of Intent from defensive end Corey Lemonier and – more importantly – offensive tackle Shon Coleman. Both players are considered as top-35 prospects nationally by

For more, read tomorrow's Star.

I will be in the complex at 6 a.m. tomorrow, when National Letters of Intent are expected to start rolling in. I will provide updates all day on the expected signings as well as all the National Signing Day surprises as Auburn attempts to finalize a top-5 class.