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Playground Picks

January 21, 2010

One of my very selfish and favorite elementary school memories was the daily ritual of picking teams for football at recess. I label it “selfish” because I enjoyed being the number one or two pick once the captains were chosen. A good day on Monday and you were assured a top spot on Tuesday and so on and so on. Multiple weeks of top picks did allow you the occasional bad day without too much penalty.

And so too the college football recruiting season plays out in the two weeks now leading up to national signing day.

Auburn sits in a unique position. The Tigers find themselves a Top 5 recruiting class by most of the popular choices for sites who conduct such things as ranking High School athletes. Add to that, Coach Chizik and staff still have some very high-profile, and ranked, players on the boards to close out before February 3rd.

Where I personally think the Auburn family needs to take a collective breath is, there are still over seven months before most of us see the 2010 Tigers take the field in meaningful combat.

All these recruits need to make it to campus. They need to get enrolled, schedule classes, make “voluntary workouts” and adjust to living away from home for the first time. They need to manage the wave of young women who are going to literally come out of the foundations of the surrounding buildings and attach themselves. They need to grow up in ways most of us don’t think about, and they need to do it in 100 degree Alabama heat with a humidity level approaching DevCon 1.

The Auburn coaches and Athletic Department knows all this and they are prepared. There are tutors and advisors and resources aplenty to help ease the transition. But much the way the US Military brings in recruits and gives them a collective, “welcome to the real world” in the form of basic training, the Auburn coaches will do the same to try and level out the collective ego’s of the newbies.

However! Landing a Top 5 class – and one in which I believe will be ranked much, much higher by sunset on Wednesday, February 3rd – makes transition to campus and sustainable winning a much higher probability.

What the casual observer needs to know is this: Auburn isn’t backing down from anyone. Not Florida, Texas, Southern Cal or even Alabama. Speaking of which, Florida, Texas and Alabama are consistently the three teams between Auburn and a number one ranking by the end of this recruiting season. A mere 0.10 points separates us from the other team in the state on Rivals, and a meager 0.30 keeps us from passing Texas on the same list. ESPN puts us in their fifth spot, but mainly because they have their own system which heavily relies upon their ESPN150 list.

What the more than casual observer needs to know is this: Auburn is filling long-term key needs with the rock stars of the consensus top ranked players. Auburn has enrolled or plans to enroll five players who are 4-star or better up front on the offensive line. Auburn plans to add five players in the “Offensive Firepower” positions (QB, WR, RB) who are 4-star or better. Auburn could add as many as five players in the Defensive front seven who are 4-star or better. The balance of our recruiting roster are 3-star players who have size and / or speed and just itching at the chance to be the next Darren Bates.

What the serious observer needs to know is this: well, you probably aren’t wasting your time reading a free site. Pleaseandthankyouverymuch.

Back to the folks who are reading this now. This is my list of top prospects which IMHO Auburn has the best opportunity to, (a) improve their ranking, (b) a better than average chance of signing and (c) could contribute almost immediately towards a better 2010 and beyond.

5-star RB Marcus Lattimore. Why I like him? Auburn’s competition is a South Carolina team with more questions for a running back than a standardized test.

4-star DE Corey Lemonier. Why I like him? Trooper Taylor is recruiting him. Enough said.

4-star DT Jeffrey Whitaker. Why I like him? Tracy Rocker is recruiting him and by all accounts Whitaker’s visit to the Plains was, “off the chain.”

4-star DT Byran Jones. Why I like him? The Mad Scientist Malzahn is recruiting him and similar to above, his visit to Auburn was impressive. He hasn’t visited Arkansas yet and he is an Arkansas native, but he could very well be in Orange and Blue this summer.

Anyone predicting Toomer’s Corner gets rolled on February 3rd? I am.

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