AUBURN, Ala. — One of the crown jewels of Auburn's 2014 recruiting class is now on campus.
Wide receiver D'haquille Williams — considered the top junior college prospect in the country regardless of position — is one of five early enrollees that has started classes and is already "off to a good start" according to coach Gus Malzahn.
In two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Williams was as good as they come. The 6-foot-3 Louisiana native was a JUCO All-American his freshman year after catching 17 touchdowns and tallying 1,295 receiving yards. He was hampered by injuries this past season, but still lead the team in every major receiving category, including receptions (51), yards (733) and touchdowns (nine).
The Tigers other early enrollees are receiver Stanton Truitt, center Xavier Dampeer, tight end Chris Laye and safety Derrick Moncrief. The five new members of Auburn's rosters will have the opportunity to take part in "discretionary workouts," where they have time to train on their own, before off-season workouts with strength and conditioning coach Ryan Russell begin next month.
Malzahn believes it's an inherent advantage for the early enrollees to jump right into the thick of things.
“It’s good, especially the junior college players because it’s a little easier transition," he said. "The high school guys, it’s something new. We’ve got a very good support staff. Their teammates have already developed relationships with them trying to help them out. That’s the great thing about our group — we’re a close team and they take care of each other.”
Williams may have arrived with the most hype of the first-semester quintet, but Malzahn has high expectations for all of them.
That's doubly true in the case of Williams, Dampeer and Moncrief, who are junior college transfers. Truitt and Laye, meanwhile, are straight from high school to begin their freshman year of college.
"The junior college guys, we expect to make an impact right off the bat," Malzahn said.