Auburn football, national signing day: Tigers' 2012 signing class might not be finished

jerickson@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 1, 2012 

AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn emerged from a national signing day full of split decisions with a respectable recruiting class that still remains unfinished.

But after pulling two straight top-five recruiting classes, the Tigers’ near-misses left Auburn a little short of the heights reached by the previous two incoming classes under Gene Chizik.

Tied for the lowest number of recruits in the SEC entering national signing day, Auburn picked up 19 incoming freshmen, a class that ranked 11th, ranked 14th and ESPN ranked 17th.

“We feel fortunate that we were able to land some of these top recruits,” Chizik said. “Our recruiting class is hopefully not complete. We’re still recruiting a few guys out there.”

Chizik did not mention the Tigers’ remaining targets by name, but Auburn has three prospects left on its board. Alex Kozan, a 6-4, 295-pound offensive lineman from Valor Christian High School (Colo.), was expected to sign with Iowa, but he delayed his decision.

Four-star offensive lineman Jordan Diamond, a Chicago native, is scheduled to announce Friday, and Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) product Stefon Diggs, the No. 2 receiver in the country, plans to make his decision Feb. 10.

But Auburn had only moderate success with its high-profile prospects making late decisions. Nine Tigers prospects were slated to announce their decisions in the final 12 hours leading up to national signing day, and only three -- offensive lineman Will Adams, receiver Ricardo Louis and offensive tackle Avery Young -- chose the Tigers.

“In recruiting the best of the best, some you’re going to get, and some you’re not going to get,” Chizik said. “Going back to the quality of this class, we feel great about that.”

Auburn did land a bumper crop of prospects at its biggest position of need. Going into the recruiting cycle, the Tigers wanted to add depth on the offensive line, and Auburn signed five in the initial signing class.

Young’s afternoon commitment -- he was the last Tiger to announce his decision--put the crowning achievement on Auburn’s offensive line haul. A five-star recruit from Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.), Young has the quickness and athleticism to be a tackle prospect.

He picked the Tigers over Georgia and Florida.

“I have told all my coaches that once I get there, I want to prepare to get ready for it … and can hold my ground against Alabama, LSU, anybody like that,” Young told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Coming off of a season in which the Tigers finished 7-5 and ranked 104th in the country in total offense, Auburn added 11 offensive players among its 19 recruits, including a pair of quarterbacks.

With the departure of Barrett Trotter, Auburn only had two upperclassmen coming back in Clint Moseley and Kiehl Frazier. Early enrollee Zeke Pike and Central-Phenix City quarterback Jonathan Wallace give the Tigers four heading into preseason practice.

And Auburn held steady on a pair of wide receiver recruits that had been longtime commitments before waffling close to signing day due to the loss of offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

Sandy Creek’s JaQuay Williams, the top receiver in Georgia, chose Auburn over the in-state Bulldogs, and Louis picked the Tigers after briefly decommitting and committing to Florida State in mid-January.

None of Auburn’s verbal commits changed their minds at the last minute.

“It was kind of one of those classes where we were going to go out there and recruit the best guys,” Chizik said. “Offensive line was obviously a big target, and we needed to shore that up.”

Whether or not Auburn missed out on other targets because of its focus on highly-rated, late-deciding recruits is hard to say.

Right now, the Tigers feel like they put a solid class together.

“That becomes a little Russian roulette in there,” Chizik said. “You just have to use your best judgement.”

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