Since 2009, Auburn’s big midsummer recruiting event — known as Big Cat Weekend — has become a landmark for each year’s recruiting class.
It’s a time for the Tigers to host many of their top recruiting targets all at once. The weekend generally results in increased buzz for Auburn. That often comes in the form of commitments.
There have only been two events (2009 and 2017) when the weekend ended without any commitments. In 2009, it was the first year of the event. In 2017, coach Gus Malzahn still called it one of the best versions yet even without a commitment. That proved to be true with several commitments landed later in the summer.
On the eve of the 10th annual edition, let’s take a look back at the five Big Cat Weekend commitments that created the biggest Auburn shock waves.
4-star QB Kiehl Frazier, Class of 2011
In the summer of 2010, Kiehl Frazier became the first Big Cat Weekend commitment.
At the time, Frazier ranked as the nation’s No. 3 dual-threat quarterback and the No. 53 overall prospect in the nation. The Shiloh Christian (Ark.) quarterback immediately became the face of the Tigers’ 2011 class and the next in line to take over the Auburn quarterback position.
Frazier spent limited time at quarterback and at Auburn before transferring to Ouachita Baptist University. He finished his Tigers career after two seasons with a 52 percent completion rate, 787 passing yards and 2 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. He rushed for 326 yards and 3 touchdowns.
3-star TE Jakell Mitchell, Class of 2014
Jakell Mitchell’s Big Cat Weekend commitment didn’t create as much shock waves at the time. Looking back, however, it’s a memorable — and touching — moment for members of the Auburn family.
Mitchell pledged to the Tigers at Big Cat Weekend in the summer of 2013. He was the No. 17 tight end in the nation and the No. 447 overall prospect. Mitchell committed to the Tigers on May 25, 2013. He served in a role as tight end/fullback/H-back/special-teamer in the 2014 season.
Mitchell was tragically killed in December 2014 shortly after the completion of his freshman season.
4-star DB Nick Ruffin, Class of 2014
Mitchell wasn’t the only Class of 2014 commitment for Big Cat Weekend.
Highly rated defensive back Nick Ruffin also joined Auburn’s class the same day.
Ruffin ranked as the nation’s No. 10 cornerback and No. 113 overall prospect. He chose Auburn over Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Ohio State and many others. It marked the beginning of a long Tigers career for the versatile defensive back from Griffin, Ga.
Ruffin finished his Auburn career with 95 tackles, 10 pass deflections, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery and 1 defensive touchdown.
4-star WR Eli Stove, Class of 2016
At Eli Stove’s Big Cat Weekend, he walked directly into Malzahn’s office and told the Auburn coach he wanted to commit.
Stove became a key player in the Tigers’ standout wide receiver class.
The 4-star receiver from Niceville, Fla., ranked as the 20th-best wide receiver and the 124th-ranked overall prospect. He became an integral part of a receiver class that included Nate Craig-Myers, Kyle Davis and Marquis McClain.
Stove has made the most of his two years at Auburn. The slot receiver has totaled 935 yards from scrimmage and 3 total touchdowns. Unfortunately, Stove suffered an ACL injury in the spring that will likely keep him out for the 2018 season.
5-star OL Calvin Ashley, Class of 2017
Calvin Ashley marks the only 5-star Big Cat Weekend commitment.
Interestingly, Ashley made his Big Cat Weekend announcement during the event primarily hosting Class of 2016 targets. Auburn will often host its most prominent year-away recruiting targets at Big Cat Weekend. For instance, there’s a high possibility that 2020 commit Kobe Hudson will attend the event this weekend even though it’s mostly for 2019 prospects.
Ashley was the exception in the summer of 2015. That resulted in a big-time commitment of a player who is possible the left tackle of the future for Auburn.