The Class of 2014: Auburn signees list, with Twitter handles, video and Gus Malzahn comments

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 5, 2014 


STARTERS LOST: 3 on offense, 5 on defense

Signings by state

Georgia – 10

Alabama – 7

Mississippi – 3

Florida – 2

Kansas – 1

247Sports Composite rankings

5-stars – 2

4-stars – 11

3-stars – 10


Kalvaraz Bessent, CB

6-0, 170 St. Mary's, Ga.

Twitter: @kalvarexbessent

Quick hit: Playing both ways during his high school, Bessent is a ballhawk, which should serve him well as he vies with numerous others to replace Chris Davis in the Tigers' starting lineup opposite Jonathon Mincy.

Malzahn says: "Very athletic. Coach Melvin Smith identified him as one of the top corners early on, and he hung in there, kept recruiting him, and we really felt like we got a guy that can help us immediately. He's got very good ball skills, and a very good cover guy."

Markell Boston, S

6-2, 200 Sharpsburg, Ga.

Twitter: @MarkellBoston

Quick hit: A late addition to the class, Boston will come in and give the Tigers' much-needed depth at safety, where the team lost a pair of seniors in Ryan Smith and Ryan White.

Malzahn says: "Very good tackler, a physical guy that we got on fairly late. He got better and better his senior year. I really feel like he'll provide some depth for us."

Myron Burton, WR

6-3, 200 Lawrenceville, Ga.

Twitter: @myronburton3

Quick hit: After moving all over the field during his first three years at Peachtree Ridge High School, Burton settled in at receiver as a senior. Now, he'll get the chance to take his game to the next level while working alongside receivers coach Dameyune Craig.

Malzahn says: "(He's) is a guy that came to camp and he really stood out to us. he was in the front of the line, he was a very physical guy, he played with that edge and he's a guy that was on our mind early in the season and coach Craig just stayed on him and we ended up offering him, he committed. We really feel like he's got great potential."

Xavier Dampeer, C

6-2, 300 Mendenhall, Miss.

Twitter: @BornToPlay51

Quick hit: Already enrolled in the university, Dampeer is in an ideal situation. He gets the opportunity to go through the spring with no pressure to start immediately while getting to learn under one of the best centers in college football in Reese Dismukes.

Malzahn says: "He's going to provide some depth up front. Especially at the center position. He did that last year. He's just a big, strong guy that we really feel like can help us."

Deshaun Davis, LB

6-0, 225 Mobile, Ala.

Twitter: @_Davis_Boy12

Quick hit: He had to miss his entire senior season rehabbing from an ACL injury, but Davis' talent is undeniable. His innate tackling ability will be welcomed by a linebacker corps that had trouble bringing ballcarriers down in space last season.

Malzahn says: "Just a hard-nosed physical guy that has a nose for the football, hurt his knee his senior year. If he had played this year he would have been very highly recruited. We really feel great about him and he did a lot of great things for us in the recruiting end of it."

Raashed Kennion, DE

6-6, 230 Jacksonville, Fla.

Twitter: @RR_K12

Quick hit: Kennion's length is a distinct advantage, but he will likely need to put on weight (15-20 pounds) immediately to have a chance to break into the deep defensive end rotation as a freshman.

Malzahn says: "Very long, athletic guy. Coach Rodney Garner had him in camp, offered him in camp, recruited him hard, and really think he has a lot of great potential moving forward."

DaVonte Lambert, DE

6-4, 280 Keysville, Ga.

Twitter: @DaLamb89

Quick hit: His ability to play both inside and outside will have Lambert manning the same role Nosa Eguae did in 2013.

Malzahn says: "We really feel like he's got very good pass rushing skills, he can play the run, his motor is extremely high, and we're very excited about him."

Devaroe Lawrence, DT

6-3, 290 Milledgeville, Ga.

Twitter: @jlaw32

Quick hit: After just one year of play at Georgia Military College, Lawrence is still raw by SEC standards. He'll get a year to get up to speed with Garner and one of the most experienced (and deepest) units on the team.

Malzahn says: "He is a guy that has a great motor. He is very athletic, he's a very good run-stopper and Coach Garner really feels like he's got a lot of potential and we're very excited about him."

Chris Laye, TE

6-5, 240 Cumming, Ga.

Twitter: @ChrisLaye47

Quick hit: He won't set the world on fire as a pass-catcher, but the Tigers' vaunted running game is always looking for able-bodied blockers, and Laye fits the mold to a T.

Malzahn says: "Really feel like he's got very good ball skills and we really feel like he's going to be an outstanding player."

Jakell Mitchell, TE

6-4, 215 Opelika, Ala.

Twitter: @AuCommit9_

Quick hit: Forced to sit out last fall due to a debilitating knee injury, the Tigers could have a sleeper in the multifaceted Mitchell, who showed off his receiving and running skills by combining for nearly 800 total yards as a junior.

Malzahn says: "(He) is going to play our 3-back. He is a guy we identified when he was a junior. He runs a very similar offense, he can block, he can catch the ball, he's got running back skills, he played a little bit of Wildcat. When he was a junior, he hurt his knee, (but) we really feel like the sky is the limit for this guy and he's got great potential."

Derrick Moncrief, S

6-3, 225 Perkinston, Miss.

Twitter: @hotboy_shoemane

Quick hit: Built like a tank, Moncrief will bring a dominating physical presence to the secondary. It won't register as a shock if the early enrollee exits spring practice having nailed down one of the Tigers' starting safety spots.

Malzahn says: "We needed some safety help. He's a big, rangy guy. Very good ball skills, very good tackler. We think he can make an impact."

Kamryn Pettway, RB

6-0, 220 Prattville, Ala.

Twitter: @Uno_Kam

Quick hit: Running for more than 1,400 yards (averaging 8.3 yards per carry) and 17 touchdowns last year proves Pettway has the goods. But given the absurd depth the Tigers have in the backfield, don't be surprised if Pettway takes a redshirt this season.

Malzahn says: "Just a big, physical, hard-nosed guy, I really feel like he has great potential. He's a big man, and he can run, he's got very good ball skills, he's going to give us a lot of versatility."

Stephen Roberts, DB

6-0, 180 Opelika, Ala.

Twitter: @stephenisland_4

Quick hit: Though he'll start out his Auburn career as a safety, Roberts can move to corner at a moment's notice. He also has the ability to play any spot in the secondary given his top-flight cover skills and excellent footwork.

Malzahn says: "He's a guy we identified early, that our coaches stayed on. He's a very good tackler. He'll do whatever. He played quarterback for his high school when they needed somebody, and we really feel good about Stephen Roberts."

Nick Ruffin, CB

6-0, 180 Duluth, Ga.

Twitter: @nickruffin20

Quick hit: Name a position and it's likely that Ruffin played it at some point during his time at St. Pius X. Despite spending the majority of his time at safety last year, shifting over to corner for the Tigers will be a seamless transition for the versatile Atlanta native.

Malzahn says: "One of the top corners on our board early on. Coach (Melvin Smith, Coach Dameyune Craig did a good job recruiting him. H is long, he is athletic and he's got very good ball skills and high character, so we're very excited about Nick."

Dontavius Russell, DT

6-3, 300 Carrollton, Ga.

Twitter: @Russ_Dont98

Quick hit: A longtime Georgia commit, Garner used familial ties (he played with Russell's uncle at Auburn in the 1980s) to flip the four-star prospect and give him yet another big body to work into the Tigers' already-stout defensive line rotation.

Malzahn says: "He's got family that was Auburn. He is a very big athletic guy, high character guy. We're very excited about him."

Braden Smith, OL

6-6, 285 Olathe, Kan.

Twitter: Smith does not have a Twitter account

Quick hit: The Tigers' biggest get on signing day, Smith can play multiple positions on the line. And his athleticism is in the genes; his father played football and ran track at Kansas while his sister throws for TCU's field team.

Malzahn says: "We kind of got on him late, when Greg Robinson declared for the draft. Coach J.B. Grimes did a great job developing a relationship in a short period of time. Came on a visit and just hit it off. Auburn's his type of place. He's very athletic. One of the strongest guys in the entire country. He'll fit in very good for us. I think he'll give us the ability to help us early."

Racean Thomas, RB

5-11, 202 Anniston, Ala.

Twitter: @El_GoldenChild

Quick hit: One of the crown jewels of the 2014 class, Alabama's Mr. Football is so good some analysts believe he could step in as a true freshman and replace record-setting Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason in the backfield.

Malzahn says: "He was the top running back on our guys' board. Our offensive staff identified him early, they recruited him extremely hard. Once again, a key to this class. He was very loyal to us, could have went anywhere and chose to not. He stayed with us, we really feel like he's got the ability to come in immediately and make a huge impact."

Justin Thornton, DE

6-6, 230 Prichard, Ala.

Twitter: @JTbigdreams6

Quick hit: Much like Kennion, Thornton's lanky frame is a plus; the question is how much his weight will hold him back from seeing the field in Year 1.

Malzahn says: "A big, long defensive end that can rush the passer from Mobile. Dameyune (Craig did a great job recruiting him, we really feel like he's got a chance to be an impact player."

Stanton Truitt WR

5-10, 185 Monroe, Ga.

Twitter: @TRUitt_thaTRUth

Quick hit: Truitt was an all-everything quarterback at Monroe Area (Ga.) High School last fall. On campus as an early enrollee, all he has to worry about now is how to use his blazing speed as a dangerous receiver in the slot. Malzahn says: "One of the faster guys we're recruiting. He's got real speed, very good ball skills. He's going to give us a lot of flexibility and also could help us in the return game."

Sean White, QB

6-2, 200 Boca Raton, Fla.

Twitter: @SeanWhite_12

Quick hit: The Tigers' only quarterback commit this year will see little, if any, playing time in 2014 unless injuries befall both Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson.

Malzahn says: "A guy that Coach Rhett Lashlee has loved since Day 1. You're talking about a guy who's just a winner. He won the Elite 11 competition, he was the MVP of the Under Armour Game, he just has the 'it' factor. Got a chance to throw for us during the summer, been committed to us a long time. A guy that could have taken other trips, could have opened it up, and he hung in there. We really feel good about Sean."

Andrew Williams, DE

6-4, 250 McDonough, Ga.

Twitter: @DrewWill_79

Quick hit: What a doozy of a final signee. Auburn beat out both Clemson and Georgia for the four-star defender, making the Tigers' robust defensive end unit even more formidable.

Malzahn says: "We've been recruiting him a long time. He's a very big, athletic guy that can run, that can rush the passer. Very physical. Coach Garner did a great job with him and he's also a guy that we feel like can give us some depth early on."

D'haquille Williams, WR

6-3, 205 Perkinston, Miss.

Twitter: @YFBurnna_cmh

Quick hit: How good is Williams? The incredibly gifted junior college transfer has the ability to supplant Sammie Coates as Auburn's go-to receiver before the season opener against Arkansas arrives Aug. 30.

Malzahn says: "He's got unbelievable skills. I got a chance to get to know him back in his high school days, and I really do think he'll have a chance to be an impact player right off the bat."

Tre Williams, LB

6-2, 217 Mobile, Ala.

Twitter: @Trew20

Quick hit: Blessed with the perfect size, speed and skill set to play linebacker in Ellis Johnson's 4-2-5 scheme, Williams will see significant playing time as a freshman — if he doesn't win a starting job outright, that is.

Malzahn says: "Really one of the keys to this class. We really felt like he was the top linebacker in the class. A guy that has been with us, committed to us, had opportunities to go anywhere he wanted, (but) he chose to stay loyal. He was really a big key to this signing class and just a great person. He's got great potential and he'll make an immediate impact."

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