Friday, February 5, 2010

The 2010 AU Football Recruiting Class...

February 3rd, 2010 won’t go down in infamy and be written about in Auburn University record books. You probably won’t ever see that date in an Auburn media guide to be recorded and treasured throughout Auburn history. But the fact of the matter is, Gene Chizik and his assistant coaches made history on this date. On February 3rd, 2010 Auburn signed arguably the best and highest rated recruiting class in its rich history.

There have been numerous great coaches at Auburn. Pat Dye, Shug Jordan, Tommy Tuberville and Terry Bowden all won a lot of games at Auburn and they all recruited great players to Auburn. Between those four men are countless hours on the recruiting trail that brought in dozens of All-Americans, All-Conference players and Auburn legends. Yet in all that history, none of them, including the other great coaches AU has had, can say they signed a better recruiting class top to bottom, than Gene Chizik has in 2010.

What makes this class so special is the depth. The 2010 recruiting class fills every need on Auburn’s immediate roster and gives next year’s football team a chance to compete for a title immediately. The first need was offensive line and linebacker. If Auburn didn’t hit a home run at these two positions, depth would have been atrocious and the 2010 squad would be in serious trouble. To say that Auburn hit a homerun in these two areas would be an understatement. They hit a walk-off, grand-slam in the World Series!

Auburn filled its need at linebacker by bringing in four of the nation’s best in Ladarius Owens, Jake Holland, Jawara White and Jessell Curry. All four should see playing time early and often on the Auburn defense and on special teams. All four are prospects with tons of potential and upside. On the offensive line, Auburn signed six of the nation’s top players, all of which could see the field early in their careers as well. Eric Mack, Roszell Gayden, Shon Coleman and Ed Christian headline this group as some of the best linemen in the country and all are big time talents.

Auburn could have just filled those two needs and done a lot for themselves, but Gene Chizik and the Auburn coaching staff certainly didn’t stop there. They went out and brought in some of the best talent in the country at the skill positions. Quarterback Cameron Newton is the #1 Juco player and QB in the country and expects to seriously battle for the starting QB job in the fall. Running back Michael Dyer is arguably the top running back in the nation and could be a future All-American. Wide-outs Trovon Reed, Antonio Goodwin and Jeremy Richardson are three of the best receivers in the country and have nothing but upside. The AU staff signed a big All-American TE, in Dakota Mosley. The staff signed four DB’s including three CB prospects, all of which they believe can be big time players for Auburn. They secured the signatures of some of the best defensive linemen in the country in Kenneth Carter, Jeff Whitaker, Joel Bonomolo and Corey Lemonier. The Auburn coaches even went out and signed two of the top kickers in the country in Cody Parkey and Steven Clark. Cody’s a kicker and Steven’s a punter….got that covered too.

From top to bottom, from QB to K, this Auburn coaching staff signed arguably the best recruiting class in AU history and filled all of its needs for the upcoming year. It doesn’t matter where the pundits actually rank this class in the end against Florida and Alabama and Texas. You’ll be hard pressed to find an Auburn fan anywhere that would trade classes with anybody. Will it pan out on the football field? Only time will tell. But Auburn fans can rest easy knowing that plenty of talent and help is on the way to the plains. Below is the breakdown. War Eagle!

The 2010 AU Football Recruiting Class

Cameron Newton – QB - 6’6” – 245 – 4.5 forty – 335 bench – 455 squat – 38 inch vertical – Blinn CC, Brenham, TX - Highest Star Rating - ***** - Cameron Newton is the nation’s #1 ranked Junior College player and QB prospect. Originally Newton signed with Florida out of Westlake High School in Atlanta, GA but found playing time tough under superstar Tim Tebow. Consequently, he transferred to Blinn Community College in Texas where he tore defenses apart scoring 38 touchdowns and leading his team to a Junior College National Championship. In the end, Newton chose AU over Miss St. and Oklahoma to continue his college football career. Curtis Luper, Gus Malzahn and Gene Chizik say they compare Cameron most to a young Donavan McNabb and believe he can have the same kind of career the NFL star has had. Newton is currently enrolled in classes at AU and has 2 years to play 2. Look for Newton to seriously challenge for the vacant QB position left by Chris Todd and he is probably the early front runner for the job. Known as a player with a great arm, unbelievable running ability and leadership, he will be tough to beat out. He gives Gus Malzahn many options in that he can run the Wildcat and other quarterback draws and run plays without having to substitute. Newton could make the offense run a lot faster and smoother in 2010 and help Auburn be one of the top offenses in college football. For your viewing pleasure, I have added an awsome Cam Newton highlight film.

Michael Dyer – RB – 5’8” – 201 – 4.39 forty – 350 bench – 475 squat - Little Rock, Ark. – Highest Star Rating - ***** - Dyer is ranked as ESPN’s #1 RB nationally, Rivals #2 ranked RB and Scout’s #2 RB. He was selected as Arkansas’ Gatorade Player of the Year. Dyer is ranked as the #1 overall player in Arkansas and as a senior broke the Arkansas high school record for career rushing yards, adding 2,484 yards and bringing his career total to over 8000. He’s an Under Armour All-American, Parade All-American, and a U.S. Army All-American invitee. During the Under-Armour All-Star week he won the award for best vision. He is teammates with fellow AU commit Dakota Mosley and Dyer is also a great student with a 3.4 GPA. Dyer has been compared by most recruiting analysts to Joe Morris, Maurice Jones-Drew and Barry Sanders and it’s easy to see why. He’s got everything you look for in a RB. He’s got great speed, great moves and incredible balance to go along with a low center of gravity, which makes him impossible to arm tackle. One cannot understate his maturity level and leadership abilities either. He’s one of those special people that are leaders everywhere they go and he volunteers to speak at elementary schools in Arkansas and at youth camps. In other words, Michael Dyer is the total package. Look for Dyer to play early and often in his Auburn career as the coaches should try and find a role for him immediately. As a matter of fact, don’t count him out to be the starter in the vacant spot left by Ben Tate. Michael chose Auburn over offers from a who’s who of college football programs across the country, including ARK, AL, FL, Neb, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and others. Dyer has been given his old high-school number and will wear #5. The first video is Dyers signing day video. If you haven't seen it you need to. It's a really good speech by his coach and him. The second video is a nice highlight film on Dyer.

Trovon Reed – WR – 6’0” – 175 – 4.4 forty – 35 inch vertical - Thibodaux, LA – Highest Star Rating - ***** - Reed is ranked as the 4th best ATH in the country by Rivals. He’s ranked at #6 ATH by ESPN and the #7 WR by Scout which is where he got his 5th star. Reed is ranked as the #1 overall player in LA regardless of position and was a U.S. Army All-American. Trovon has already scored a 23 on the ACT and is on track to qualify. Even though he’s listed as an ATH by some of the services, he’ll get his first shot at WR at AU. Trovon is extremely fast and can get deep on anybody. He’s also got tremendous quickness and dazzling moves which has drawn some comparisons to Percy Harvin of Florida. Auburn fans should expect Trovon to compete immediately for playing time in the WR rotation and should also look for him to get a shot at returning punts and kicks his first year, due to his speed and quickness. Trovon held of recruiters from everywhere and chose Auburn because of the family atmosphere and the offense being run under offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. He chose AU over offers from just about every major Div I college, including LSU, AL, FL, FSU, ARK, Clem, UGA, Oklahoma and others. Here's one of my favorite Trovon Reed highlight videos.

Jeremy Richardson – WR - 6’4” – 220 – 4.5 forty – Springville, AL – Highest Star Rating - **** - Another player who has cited the family atmosphere shown by the players and coaches as the reason he fell in love with AU. Richardson is ranked as the 27th best WR by Rivals. He’s ranked #61 by ESPN and #64 by Scout. Richardson is ranked as the #7 overall prospect in AL and chose AU over offers from AL, LSU and TN. Richardson is one of the few players in this recruiting class that is rumored to have some work to do to get qualified. If he does make it in, look for Richardson to make a strong push for early playing time. At 6’4” and 220 lbs with good hands, he is a dream target for any QB. He’s not the burner type, but he’s certainly not slow with a 4.5 forty and his size makes him an automatic mismatch any tie he steps on the field. Here is Richardson putting on a show in high school.

Antonio Goodwin – WR – 6’2” – 175 – 4.4 forty – Atlanta, GA – Highest Star Rating - **** - Goodwin is ranked as the 8th best athlete in the country by ESPN. He’s ranked as the #30 overall WR by Scout and the #39 overall WR by Rivals. Goodwin is also ranked as one of the top 25 players in the state of GA and is an Under-Armour All-American. Goodwin chose AU over offers from virtually every major southern school including UGA, FL, FSU, TN, MS and AL. Although Goodwin needs to spend some time bulking up for the SEC, he could very well see early playing time with his ability to get behind the defense as a deep threat. Goodwin is known as being one of the fastest WR prospects in the country and also has incredible leaping ability. If Antonio can put on a little weight to go with his good size and burning speed, he could be a beast before he leaves Auburn.

Shaun Kitchens – WR - 6’3” – 211 – 4.6 forty – 245 bench – 405 squat – 35 inch vertical – College Park, GA – Highest Star Rating - **** - Kitchens is ranked as the 10th best ATH by ESPN. He’s ranked as the #48 ATH by Rivals. None of the services have him ranked as a WR which is where he’ll start his career at Auburn. Kitchens dominated at AU camps and quickly gained a reputation for being a very physical and athletic WR and showed surprisingly good hands. In the process, Kitchens has garnered comparisons to guys like former Tiger Frank Sanders and what he lacks in pure speed, he makes up for with great hands, great leaping ability and being too physical for most corners to handle. Shaun chose AU over offers from Ole Miss, WVU, GA Tech and others. It’s hard to say if Kitchens will get a lot of playing time as a freshman. One would think he might redshirt since the depth-chart appears to have several receivers that could be playmakers this year. So far however, every time someone has counted Shaun out, he’s dominated. He will definitely be one to watch when the freshmen report this fall. Here's a Shaun Kitchens highlight reel.

Dakota Mosley – TE – 6’4” – 255 – 4.8 forty – 295 bench – 470 squat – Little Rock, Ark. – Highest Star Rating - *** - Mosley is the #14th ranked TE according to ESPN and 33rd by Rivals. He’s also the #13 overall player in the state of Arkansas. Many thought when Mosley committed to Auburn that he would play OL. He may end up there, but it appears he will get his first shot at TE as the AU staff likes his soft hands, quick feet and agility to go with being a big target for any QB. If that doesn’t work out, Mosley has a reputation as a very good run blocker and could end up being an outstanding offensive lineman. Either way, Dakota has all the tools necessary to find a home in the Auburn offense because he does so many things so well and is so coachable. Mosley is an Under Armour All-American and handled long snapping for both teams in the All-American game. Mosley is a teammate of Michael Dyer. He chose AU over offers from TN and FSU. Dakota says one thing most people don’t know about him is that he is an avid chess player and plays every chance he gets. Here's Dakota Mosley's commitment speech. It's very good.

Shon Coleman – OL - 6’7” – 285 – Olive Branch, MS – Highest Star Rating - ***** - Coleman is ranked as the #3 OT by Rivals, #7 by Scout and #31 by ESPN. Shon is the #1 overall player in the state of MS regardless of position and is a U.S. Army All-American. During the All-Star week the coaches said he was the most consistent of all the offensive linemen there and raved about his quick feet. Shon held off a frenzied recruiting battle all the way to the end and chose AU over offers from AL, LSU, TN, Ole Miss, Ark and others. Although there were constantly rumors about AU losing Shon, the Auburn staff made him a priority early in the process and never let up. Shon, like many of the other commitments, listed the family atmosphere and the way he was treated by AU players and coaches as his reason for becoming a Tiger. A 5 star offensive line prospect, Shon has nothing but upside. He fits the mold exactly of what Jeff Grimes is looking for in a lineman. Tall, rangy with long arms and plenty of room to grow and great footwork. Shon has an excellent chance at playing immediately and should be a likely starter in his second year.

Eric Mack – OL – 6’4” – 318 – 355 bench – 475 squat – St. Matthews, South Carolina – Highest Star Rating - **** - Mack is ranked as one of the best offensive linemen in the country. ESPN ranks Mack as their #2 overall Guard. Rivals has him ranked as the #6 overall Guard and Scout has him at #10. Mack was an Under-Armour All-American and won the award for the strongest player during the All-Star week. As one of the top offensive line prospects in the country, Mack had offers from just about everybody. However, the battle for his signature was a close one between Auburn and the in state S. Carolina Gamecocks. In the end, Mack chose AU because of the way he said he was treated when he visited. He listed the family atmosphere, by not only the coaches but the players as well in helping him chose AU and said every time he visited they treated him like he was already a part of the family. Big, extremely strong and known for his physicality at the point of attack, Mack should see the field early and often at AU and he should be a strong candidate to start in 2011. A player with all the tools, the sky is truly the limit for Eric Mack.

Ed Christian – OL - 6’5” – 290 – Valdosta, GA – Highest Star Rating - **** - Christian is ranked as the #18 OT by ESPN, the #21 OG by Scout and the 34th best OT by Rivals. Christian is also ranked as the 22nd overall best player in the GA top 50. Christian is listed as an OT by some and an OG by others. His outstanding athletic ability should allow him to play either at AU and allow AU coaches to use him in more than one OL position. In his senior year, Christian also gained a reputation of having that mean streak that coaches love to see in an offensive lineman and he is very physical. Those attributes should help Ed see the field early and often in his AU career and he’s another player in the 2010 class that the sky is truly the limit for. Christian chose AU over offers from AL, TN, S. Car., Clemson and others. Ed says that something most people don’t know about him is he loves art and he is a shoe fanatic.

Roszell Gayden – OL – 6’7” – 310 – Visalia, CA – Highest Star Rating - **** - Gayden is ranked as a 4 star offensive lineman by Rivals and Scout and is ranked as #11 in the Juco top 50. Gayden is certainly highly thought of by the AU coaches. In fact, they believe Gayden is the best junior college OL prospect in the country and expect him to compete right away for the vacant RT position vacated by Andrew McCain. Gayden is a December grad and will count towards the 2009 recruiting class. He’ll have 3 years to play 2 and go through spring practice with the Tigers. Gayden chose AU over offers from Oklahoma, Cal and Arizona St., though it came down to a close AU/Cal battle in the end. Gayden says when he visited AU for the Iron Bowl, he saw that Auburn had the best fans of any team he visited and the atmosphere weighed heavily in his decision. That and the relationship he built with Jeff Grimes, which Gayden says he highly respects and Gene Chizik was enough to get him to AU. Gayden played Juco ball in Visalia, CA but is originally from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. His Juco coach Curtis Allen says he has no doubts that Gayden will play well at Auburn and in a couple of years be a first round draft pick. Here's a highlight video of Gayden.

Brandon Mosley – OL – 6’6” – 285 – 4.9 forty – Coffeyville, KS – Highest Star Rating - **** - Rated by Rivals as a 4 star and by Scout as a 3 star, Brandon Mosley is an outstanding OL prospect. Mosley was All-Conference as a TE for Coffeyville Community College and he played DE as well. However, AU coaches like Mosley’s quick feet and agility to go with his size and think he can thrive in the SEC on the OL. Mosley thinks AU is the perfect situation for him and lists Gene Chizik and the opportunity for early playing time as the reason he chose AU over offers from FSU, MS, ARK and others. Originally from Jefferson, GA getting back closer to home also helped. Mosley signed with AU in the early period, counts towards the 2009 class and will go through spring practice. He has 3 years to play 2.

Chad Slade – OL – 6’6” – 316 – 335 bench – 525 squat – Moody, AL – Highest Star Rating - *** - Slade is ranked by ESPN as the #58 guard and by Scout as the #62 OG. Slade chose AU over Miss ST and others. AU coaches like his mammoth size and incredible strength but most of all the quickness he shows to be such a big man. Slade could end up being the steal of the class because of his unreal athletic ability to go with his size. It cannot be understated how much potential Jeff Grimes and Gene Chizik see in Slade. Prognosticators close to Auburn compare Slade to a young Kendall Simmons. If Slade works hard, they expect him to be in the two deep very early in his career. He should have no trouble qualifying with a 3.0 GPA. Here's a Chad Slade highlight video.

Tunde Fariyike – OL – 6’3” – 295 - Thomaston, GA - Fariyike is a player that got a late offer from the Tigers on signing day. He had been considering offers to East Carolina and Duke but an offer by the Auburn Tigers was the best fit for him. Tunde is an excellent student with a 3.9 GPA and a 27 on the ACT. Considered to be a raw prospect, but he does have a lot of upside. He's only been playing football for three years but has gotten better every year. Tunde plays with a lot of passion and intensity, something the Auburn coaches look for in all of their players and given time and teaching from Jeff Grimes he could turn out to be a very solid player for AU. The Tiger coaches think he probably projects as a center in college. Here's a Tunde highlight video.

Joel Bonomolo – DE – 6’3” – 245 – 4.6 forty – Fullerton County C.C. Fullerton, CA. – Highest Star Rating - **** - Joel is one of the top Juco DE’s in the country. Rated by Rivals as the 3rd best DE and the 17th best overall player in junior college. Bonomolo has a great first step and is deceptively strong and very physical. His teammate John Cullen calls Bonomolo the best DE in the Juco ranks and says he’s blocked them all. As a freshman, Bonomolo racked up 10 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. His sophomore year was cut short due to surgery on a torn labrum in November. Bonomolo has since had a full recovery, is back to 100% and the AU coaches expect him to seriously compete for the vacated DE spot left by Antonio Coleman. He played at Fullerton County C.C. in California, but is originally from New Orleans, LA. Joel will have 3 years to play 2 and he chose Auburn over offers from Iowa St., Arizona, Arizona St., Washington, Utah and others. Look for Bonomolo to contribute early in his Auburn career. He may not be able to crack the starting line-up as soon as he steps on campus, but many prognosticators believe he will at the very least be a beast of a pass rusher which would get him on the field in passing situations early. Some have gone as far as to compare him to another former Auburn great, Kevin Green. Joel rarely, if ever eats fast food, is a neat freak and a weight room warrior. Joel Bonomolo has an awsome highlight tape.

Craig Sanders – DE – 6’4” – 230 – 4.6 forty – 405 bench – 500 squat – Ariton, AL. – Highest Star Rating - **** - Sanders is rated as the #12 DE in the country by Rivals, #23 by Scout and #41 by ESPN. He’s also rated as the 6th best overall player in AL. Sanders is a December Grad counts toward 2009 class and will be going through spring ball. Sanders is an extremely versatile athlete with great athleticism to go with tremendous strength and a motor that never stops. He’s also got a great frame to add weight with Yoxercise and he’s getting a jump on that by already being enrolled. Craig could very well turn out to be one of the more important signees in AU’s class. He’s got everything going for him to succeed. Sanders is not only a great athlete with tons of potential, but he’s very smart, was his student body President, and a leader in his school and community. The sky is the limit for Craig Sanders and he was recruited by schools from across the country. Craig chose AU over AL, FL, FSU, TN and Clemson. One thing most people don’t know about Craig is when he’s alone in his dorm and bored, he likes to crank Michael Jackson and try and perfect his Moon Walk. Here's a Craig Sanders highlight tape from his junior year.

Justin Delaine – DE – 6’5” – 225 – 4.5 forty – 315 bench – 450 squat – Linden, AL. – Highest Star Rating - *** - Delaine is the 31st overall player in the state of AL. He’s ranked as the #105 DE by ESPN. Delaine chose AU over offers from Miss St. and Southern Miss, although in his senior year he did draw interest from FL, UGA, TN and Ole Miss. Their interest could have been squashed because of Delaine’s love for Auburn. He says he’s always wanted to play in the SEC and especially at AU. When AU offered, he accepted and shut his recruiting down. Despite his low ranking, Delaine has pretty much dominated high school competition. As a junior, Delaine played for Sumter County where he had 12 sacks. He transferred to Linden because they had special tutors there to help him get his GPA up. In just 8 games at Linden, Delaine had 56 tackles, 20 for loss and 10.5 sacks. Delaine is big, strong and fast and if he can put on weight in the gym, he could be a beast at DE. It’s still up in the air if Delaine will have the grades to enroll at Auburn when it’s time for freshmen to report, he’s working extremely hard to try and get qualified in the classroom and he still has a chance. Justin Delaine talks about his Auburn commitment in the following video.

Corey Lemonier – DE – 6’5” – 225 – 4.8 forty – 33 inch vertical – Hialeah, FL – Highest Star Rating - ***** - Lemonier is ranked as the 3rd best weak side DE in the nation. Scout ranks him as a 5 star and the 7th best overall DE and ESPN has him 9th. He’s also ranked as the 4th best player in Florida and was an Under-Armour All-American. Corey Lemonier is pretty much everything a coach could ask for in a DE prospect. Three things immediately jump out at you when you look at Corey; Size, speed and athleticism. He has great size and a frame for room to put on weight. He’s also deceptively strong and he gives you everything he’s got on the field. He’s also known as very football smart and coachable. Don’t let his forty time fool you, to go with everything else, Lemonier also has an unbelievable first step and can leave offensive tackles in the dust. He also does a good job showing great athleticism when he’s moving laterally and he’s really good in pursuit. The only immediate weakness Lemonier has is overall weight and strength which will be taken care of once he gets on campus. Corey chose Auburn over offers from virtually every major program in college football including FSU, AL, FL, LSU, Miami, TN and others. In case you missed it, the first video is the Corey Lemonier commitment, courtesy of ESPN. The second video is a highlight tape of his Jr. year.

Jeffrey Whitaker - DT – 6’3” – 295 – 405 bench – 565 squat – 27 inch vertical – Warner Robbins, GA – Highest Star Rating - **** - Whitaker is ranked as the nation’s 5th best DT by Rivals. Scout ranks him at #11 and ESPN has him as the 17th best DT. Whitaker is also ranked #5 on the Georgia top 50 list and is a U.S. Army All-American. Jeffrey Whitaker is a run stopper extraordinaire. Whitaker’s big, strong and physical and plugs the middle with authority. Known to have tremendous strength, he was constantly double teamed in high-school, but he showed great ability dealing with double teams and shedding blockers. Whitaker also gained a great reputation in his senior year for being a very smart football player, showing a knack for diagnosing plays and a nose for the football. With Jeffrey being a true DT with tremendous strength and a nose for the ball, Auburn fans shouldn’t be surprised if they see Whitaker play in his first year. He could very well be a special player for the Auburn Tigers before he leaves and is another player in this recruiting class that the sky is the limit for. Prognosticators don’t see many holes in his game and most say if he can improve his pass rushing skills he’ll be an all conference player at AU. Whitaker chose Auburn over offers from around the country including UGA, Miami, TN, UNC, S. Carolina Georgia Tech and others. He listed the family atmosphere at Auburn, the bond he’s developed with the other commitments and the relationship he’s built with all of the coaches, especially defensive line coach Tracy Rocker as the reason for choosing AU.

Kenneth Carter – DT – 6’5” – 270 – 4.8 forty – 325 bench – 420 squat - Greenville, AL. – Highest Star Rating - **** - Carter is ranked as the 17th overall DT by Scout, the 23rd by Rivals and 35th by ESPN. He’s also rated as the 8th best overall player in AL. His stock rose after a strong showing in the AL/MS High-School All-Star game. During that event he showed tremendous strength, agility and athletic ability and drew high praises from all of the AL squad coaches. As a senior Carter had 76 tackles, 16 for loss, 5 forced fumbles and 2 sacks. Carter chose AU over Ole Miss, KY and Southern Miss. A huge Auburn fan from an early age and coming from an Auburn family, he should take wearing the orange and blue to heart and give college football at AU everything he’s got. Some have said Carter may not qualify, however he has been busting his tail the last two years to make sure he does, including taking summer classes to get everything straight. Assuming he does make it in, Kenneth Carter could be a beast at DT that AU fans will enjoy watching for years to come.

LaDarius Owens – LB – 6’2” – 225 – 4.49 forty – 285 bench – 475 squat – Bessemer, AL. – Highest Star Rating - **** - Owens is an Under Armour All-American. He’s ranked as the 8th best OLB by Rivals. The 17th best OLB by Scout and the #14 DE by ESPN. Owens is also ranked as the #4 overall player in Alabama. Ladarius has played some with his hand on the ground at DE, but at AU he’s slated for LB to take advantage of his speed. In fact, he could be the next great AU linebacker if he meets his potential. Owens already looks the part and appears physically, to be SEC ready. He’s known as a very physical football player who likes to hit and has a motor that never stops running. He’s also developed a reputation for being a leader on the field and does a good job of leading his unit, diagnosing plays and getting everybody lined up correctly. Owens finished his monster senior season with 85 tackles, including 15 sacks as well as strong showings in the All-Star games. Ladarius already has his number and he’ll wear #10 like one of his favorite former players, Tray Blackmon. Owens is also the nephew of Auburn’s first ever black player, James Owens. Here's a nice highlight video of Ladarius in high-school.

Jake Holland – LB – 6’1” – 230 – 4.5 forty – 350 bench – Pelham AL. – Highest Star Rating - **** - Holland is an Under Armour All-American. ESPN ranks him as the #8 best Inside LB and Rivals does as well. Scout has him listed at #12. He is also ranked as the 10th best player in Alabama and is on track to qualify with a 3.2 GPA. Holland chose AU over offers from TN, FSU, Ole Miss and others. He finished the season with 153 tackles, 16 for loss, 4 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions and a sack. A player with a motor that never stops, a hard hitter and an incredible nose for the ball, it won’t be surprising if Holland quickly becomes a fan favorite. Jake just has all the tools. He’s got enough speed to get sideline to sideline, he loves to hit and he’s very coachable. Jake will wear #5, but since he’s on defense he can share the number with Michael Dyer, as long as they’re not on the field at the same time. Jake says something funny about him that most people don’t know is that he’s been nicknamed “Hasselhoff” by his friends and new teammates. They say he favors the former Knight Rider star because of his curly brown hair. This is a very good Jake Holland video.

Jawara White – LB – 6’2” – 220 – 4.5 forty – 315 bench – 405 squat – Troy, AL. – Highest Star Rating - **** - ESPN ranks Jawara as a 4 star and the 17th best OLB in the country. Rivals has him ranked at #23 and Scout ranks him at #30. He is also ranked as the 14th best overall player in the state of Alabama. Despite being ranked just a 3 star by Rivals and Scout, Jawara had an impressive offer list and chose AU over offers from AL, FSU, Arkansas Ole Miss and others. Jawara could actually be the steal of the class. He has legit SEC size for a LB and is deceptively strong. In the AL/MS All-Star game week, White showed outstanding strength, shedding blockers and getting to the football. His best attribute however is his ability in pass coverage. White is not afraid to be matched up one on one with a RB or WR and has shown he can hold his own even on deep, vertical routes. He was also praised by the All-Star coaches as being one of the smartest LB’s of the week and picked up things very quickly. Because of his size, speed, smarts and knack for playing pass coverage, White should be a major contributor to the AU defense in his first year. Jawara, or Rah Rah as he likes to be called, says some things most people don’t know about him is that he is a big Taylor Swift fan and he enjoys cooking.

Jessel Curry – LB – 6’2” – 215 – 4.5 forty – 320 bench – 400 squat – Buford, GA – Highest Star Rating - *** - Curry is rated as the 22nd best overall MLB by Scout, the 44th best OLB by Rivals and the #11 Full-Back by ESPN. Jessel played both ways for Buford High School but will play LB at Auburn. He was committed to West Virginia early on in the recruiting process, but switched his commitment over to Auburn in June and never looked back. Curry chose AU over offers from WVU and Wake Forest and his Dad Buddy, who was a great LB for the Atlanta Falcons and his mom Dawn said the reason AU was the perfect choice for Jessel was because of the relationship they built with Ted Roof. They felt that Roof would be like a second father to Jessel and take care of him on and off the field. Curry was a December Grad, is already enrolled at Auburn and counts toward the 2009 class. He will go through spring ball with the rest of the upperclassmen which will give him a leg up on learning the defense to see early playing time. The early start, along with Curry being very fast for a LB, as well as being very football smart and deceptively strong and physical should help him see playing time in his first year at AU. Something most people don’t know about Jessel is that he’s actually very musical and plays the guitar and drums.

Jonathan Mincy – CB – 5’10” – 175 – 4.4 forty – 245 bench – 325 squat – 38 inch vertical – Decatur, GA - Highest Star Rating - *** - Mincy is ranked as the 29th best overall corner according to ESPN. He’s the 38th best according to Rivals and 65th by Scout. Mincy became one of the earliest 2010 commits for the Tigers when he committed in June. He got an offer early, accepted and never wavered. Jonathan is probably the youngest member of the 2010 class as he turned 17 on September 5th. Another player in AU’s recruiting class that probably should be ranked higher; Mincy had an impressive offer list. He chose AU over offers from TN, LSU, Miami, Michigan, UNC, Georgia Tech and others. Not a very big prospect, what he lacks in size he makes up for with good speed and great athleticism. His jumping ability is outstanding and he has great ball skills in coverage showing he can find the ball in the air and make a plays consistently. Mincy will have no trouble qualifying as he is a great student with a 3.2 GPA.

Chris Davis – CB – 5’11” – 175 – 4.4 forty – Birmingham, AL – Highest Star Rating - *** - Rated by ESPN, Scout and Rivals as a 3 star athlete. Scout has Davis listed as the 31st best CB. Davis played QB and CB at Woodlawn high school in Birmingham and was overlooked by most of the recruiting services until very late in the process, even though he was a one man show there. Part of this was due to Woodlawn being a small school. Part of it was also due to the fact that most didn’t think he would have the grades to make it into school. Davis however buckled down and not only brought his grades up but also got a passing ACT score. South Carolina and AU promptly offered and it didn’t take long for Davis to commit to AU. The AU coaches think they got a steal in Davis who has great speed and moves on top of moves. AU expects him to compete for playing time at punt return and kick return early in his career, as well as corner back where he had 5 interceptions in his senior season. Davis chose AU over S. Carolina, UAB and others. You can see some of Davis' moves in the highlight reel below.

Ryan White – CB – 6’0” – 185 – 4.4 forty – Tallahassee, FL – Highest Star Rating - *** - White is ranked as the 60th best ATH by ESPN and is rated as a 3 star by ESPN and Rivals. Scout has him listed as the 62nd overall CB. White played QB in high school but will play CB at AU and the coaches believe he has big time potential because of his size and speed and has shown very smooth hips and backpedal in workouts. White listed his relationship with Phillip Lolley and Gene Chizik as two important reasons he chose AU over offers from Ark, Ga. Tech, Ole Miss, Oregon, Illinois, S. Carolina and others. He fits the mold of other Chizik era CB’s who are very fast and great athletes. Ryan could very well see the field early in his AU career because of those factors. Ryan “TooSmoove” White says his most embarrassing moment was once he was talking to some girls in the mall. As he was walking away acting all cool, he walked “SMACK” right into a pole. “TooSmoove” says he’s also scared of Rats.

Demetruce McNeal – S – 6’0” – 180 – 4.6 forty – 200 bench – 290 squat – 34 inch vertical – College Park, GA – Highest Star Rating - *** - McNeal is ranked as the 31st best Safety according to Scout, 57th by Rivals and 94th by ESPN. He’s also ranked as the 70th overall player in Georgia’s top 100. McNeal is very tall, lanky, strong and physical. He can jam and fight TE’s and he does a decent job of covering RB’s and WR’s. He’s also known for having a motor that never stops and a player that plays with tremendous intensity. Demetruce was a standout at an Auburn passing camp over the summer at both WR and DB and received an early offer in June. McNeal chose Auburn shortly after in July, over offers from South Carolina and WVU. Despite not being one of the more highly rated prospects by the recruiting services, McNeal was AU’s #1 safety target and their only safety signee. Demetruce is teammates with another Banneker star, Shaun Kitchens. Here's a video of Demetruce as a sophomore.

Ladarius Phillips – ATH – 6’1” – 280 – 4.8 forty - Roanoke, AL - Coach Chizik said Phillips was a guy they had been watching for a long time and if the opportunity came for them to take him, they would. That opportunity came finally for Phillips the day before signing day when he was offered a scholarship to play for Auburn and he immediately accepted. Chizik is very excited to have Phillips on Auburn's football team and says he is an unbelievable athlete who could play on either side of the ball. He played tailback in high-school at 280 lbs and was virtually a human battering ram, who ran over more players than he can remember. With his athleticism, he could end up as a short yardage TB, FB, a DT or a DE. It's going to be very interesting to see where Ladarius Phillips ends up at AU and just how good of a player he can be. Ladarius steamrolls people in this highlight vid.

Ryan Smith – ATH/S – 6’2” – 205 – Cordova, AL – Highest Star Rating - *** - Scout and Rivals rank Ryan as a three star and Scout has him as the 93rd overall Safety prospect. Ryan Smith played RB and Safety for Cordova high school. He projects as a Safety at Auburn. Smith was committed to Kentucky up until signing day, but a late offer from the in state Tigers was more appealing to Smith. He chose Auburn over KY, Louisville and others. You can watch Ryan Smith rack up 245 all purpose yards in this video.

Cody Parkey – K – 6’2” – 195 – Jupiter, FL – Highest Star Rating - **** - Cody is ranked as the 2nd best kicker by Scout and the 6th best kicker in the nation by Rivals. ESPN hasn’t dropped him in the ratings however and still list him a 4 star and the #1 kicker in the country. He was once ranked as the #1 kicker in the country pretty unanimously, but a poor showing in the Under-Armour All-American game, where Cody says he had problems with his holder, dropped his rating by some. When not looking at that one game, Parkey has continually shined. He won the MVP at the prestigious Jamie Cole kicking camp over the summer. He also took part in the elite Chris Sailer camp where the nation’s top 50 kickers and punters attend. Sailer himself said the 2010 camp contained the most talent top to bottom that he has seen and the one player that stood out above all the others was Parkey. Sailer absolutely gushes about Parkey and says he has a rare combination of strength and accuracy and is absolutely a stud. Something most people don’t know about him is that his first name is actually Andrew, but he goes by his middle name Cody. You can check Cody out in this highlight film.

Steven Clark – P – 6’5” – 230 – Kansas City, Missouri – Highest Star Rating - *** - ESPN ranks Clark as the 4th best kicker in the nation and Rivals ranks him as the 20th best kicker. Clark will remind Auburn fans of another big punter with his size, in Terry Daniel. It’s yet to be seen if he’ll have the kind of career as the All-American Daniel did, but Clark is known for being able to boom punts in Danielesque fashion and the sky is the limit for him. Clark won the Kohl's National Scholarship Invitational Camp and was the most dominant punter. He chose Auburn over offers from Iowa and Purdue but he chose AU over other programs because of the academics, he says. Clark finished 2nd only to Cody Parkey at the prestigious Jamie Cole kicking camp over the summer. An interesting story about Steven is he enjoys snowboarding. Once while snowboarding in Colorado, he went off the trail and through some trees. He came to a fork that was split by a tree. When he tried to turn so as to not hit the tree, his snowboard hit a big rock hidden by the snow. He had no choice but to curl up and hit the tree. Although he wasn’t hurt by hitting the tree, he fell back into several feet of snow and was stuck there for 10 minutes or more. When he got out, he said he looked like something out of a cartoon as he was covered from head to toe in snow and looked like a real life abominable snow man and everybody got a good laugh at his expense. You can watch Steven boom a couple in this video.

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