AUBURN, Ala. -- A few changes to the system had a profound impact on Auburn’s 2012 recruiting class.
Unlike other teams in the SEC, the Tigers did not come close to breaking the SEC’s new 25-scholarship limit for incoming players. Auburn signed 19 incoming freshmen, although the Tigers have a few targets who have not announced their commitments yet.
But the new cap on scholarships awarded changed the way the Tigers put the class together.
“You have to be very judicious about making sure that you don’t oversign, because there’s no forgiveness there,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. “That’s certainly part of the equation.”
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In addition, Auburn has changed its scholarship policy. For years, the Tigers offered one-year scholarships that were renewed on a yearly basis.
That has changed. Following the lead of several Big Ten schools, Auburn signed all of its incoming freshmen to four-year scholarships that cannot be revoked for athletic performance, according to Auburn’s compliance department.
The new policy went into effect for the 2012 class.
The newcomer that makes the most impact on Auburn’s 2012 season may not be a freshman at all. Jay Prosch, a junior fullback from Illinois who transferred to be closer to his mother in January, was an All-American at Illinois and a known commodity for new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler to deploy.
His mother is battling brain cancer in Mobile, Ala.
Prosch is a true fullback. At Illinois, he rarely carried the ball or caught it out of the backfield, but he has been such a powerful lead blocker that he may have NFL potential in that role.
Part of the reason Prosch left Illinois was that new coach Tim Beckman is installing a true spread offense, a scheme that has no fullback.
“He’s a guy that can play the fullback position if we choose to use a fullback or H-back or somebody of that nature,” Chizik said. “He certainly can dot that, and he’s proved it on the collegiate level.”
A pair of surprise last-minute flips filled out the offensive side of the class for Auburn.
Central quarterback Jonathan Wallace accepted a late offer from the Tigers despite being committed to Central Florida, and Sandy Creek offensive lineman Will Adams, a longtime Georgia Tech commitment, announced that he was headed to Auburn instead at a morning announcement.
Adams, a 6-7, 280-pound tackle and the teammate of fellow Auburn commit JaQuay Williams, wavered late in his commitment when it became apparent that Yellow Jackets offensive line coach Todd Spencer would not be back.
“He was one of my favorite coaches up there,” Adams told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Spencer resigned Wednesday in the middle of a school investigation into rules violations.
Auburn, a team looking to add depth to its line, was waiting with open arms.
Adams took an official visit to Auburn last weekend, and he finally made his decision official on Wednesday morning.
Asked whether the NCAA’s investigation into the recruitment of Cam Newton played any role in recruiting, Chizik flatly denied it, saying Auburn rarely thinks about it. Two of Auburn’s recruits -- Callaway (Ga.) tight end Ricky Parks and Miami Beach (Fla.) receiver Ricardo Louis -- played quarterback in high school. Cassanova McKinzy, a linebacker from Woodlawn High in Birmingham, Ala., told the Anniston Star that the Chick-fil-A on Auburn’s campus played a big role in his decision over Clemson.