Have you heard? Jarrett Stidham faxed in his letter of intent last week. Sorry I don’t accept faxed questions for my mailbag, but I’m glad several of you still managed to get in touch with me for this week’s edition.
As we close in on Signing Day, the questions have increased in abundance and quality. For those who want to participate in the next issue, here are the ways to contact me:
- Twitter: @benjaminwolk
- Facebook: Auburn Insiders page
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t miss out on the fun. Enjoy the read.
Q: Think any of our LBs coming in move to DE? Just wondering since we are lacking DL this year. Glad we addressed it well last year.
—Brandon D., Auburn (Ala.)
It’s certainly a relief for Auburn that the 2016 class was loaded at the pass-rushing defensive end position.
Marlon Davidson, Paul James III and Nick Coe are all members of the 2016 class who have proven to coaches that they will be able to fit nicely into that role once Carl Lawson inevitably leaves early for the NFL draft.
As for this year, you’re right. There aren’t any defensive linemen committed. And even the guys being recruited don’t fit the prototype of what is generally expected from that Buck defensive end spot.
So that brings us to the linebackers coming in: Chandler Wooten, Tadarian Moultry and KJ Britt. Let’s take Britt out of the equation because he’s a bonafide, run-stopping inside linebacker.
Wooten and Moultry both bring a versatile skill set. Each played inside and outside at their respective high schools. Both have big enough frames that, if they add enough weight, they could potentially transition into a full-on, pass-rushing role.
With that said, there’s enough depth on the current roster that Wooten and Moultry can probably come in and continue their versatility as linebackers.
Q: What happened with Lowell Narcisse? It seemed like once he de-committed from LSU, we had him.
—Steven L., Birmingham (Ala.)
It was a weird situation at LSU the last two weeks.
Myles Brennan de-committed (kind of). Lowell Narcisse de-committed definitively. LSU still didn’t have an offensive coordinator.
Once the Tigers named Matt Canada as their OC, he had his work cut out for him. LSU didn’t have any quarterbacks, and the two that were on board appeared to be drifting away quickly. Despite no face-to-face contact, LSU somehow managed to steer both of them back to Baton Rouge.
It looked like Auburn was the team to beat. Then, Narcisse expedited his re-commitment and chose LSU once and for all.
Based on what I was told: It all came down to family. Narcisse’s father passed away earlier in the year.
His mother wanted him to be close to home, and LSU was the logical choice for that. Without the OC, Narcisse began to panic slightly, which drew him back to Auburn. He developed a strong relationship with Rhett Lashlee throughout the process, and that comfortability made Auburn seem like the right backup plan.
Ultimately, Canada came in and soothed any looming concerns. LSU had the edge all along. There was really nothing more Auburn could’ve done.
Q: We’re “Running Back U,” huh? Then why haven’t we had a 5-star since Roc Thomas?
—Blake B., Fayetteville (Ga.)
I’ve had trouble the last couple weeks understanding why I get so many messages complaining about running back recruiting. What more can Auburn do.
Here’s a look at the star rating for the 1,000-yard running backs dating back to 2009 when the streak began:
- Kamryn Pettway: 3 stars
- Peyton Barber: 3 stars
- Cameron-Artis Payne: 3 stars
- Tre Mason: 4 stars
- Michael Dyer: 5 stars
- Ben Tate: 4 stars
Know whose name you don’t see there? Great guess: Roc Thomas.
In fact, the only 5-star prospect on that list is Dyer who ended up being a problem in his own right. Yes, he had two 1,000-yard seasons — and played a role in the Cam Newton-led national title — but all he really accomplished was the exact same thing as those three 3-stars and the two 4-stars.
Tim Horton is a heck of a running back developer. Devan Barrett looks like a promising running back. Alaric Williams puts up startling numbers. Octavius Matthews adds versatility as a rusher and a receiver.
There are some questions about all three ending up on campus: Barrett (early playing time), Williams (grades) and Matthews (grades).
But Auburn wants all three of those guys to end up with the Tigers. And believe this: Horton will make sure they’re productive.
Q: There was good news and bad news during all those commitments last week. Would you consider that to be more of a success or more of a failure?
—Alexis T., Hanceville (Ala.)
All in all, I’d call it a success.
Signing Stidham provided some momentum going into January. It also helped secure Salvatore Cannella who, despite Auburn’s TE-less tendencies of late, will shock some people with his athleticism. This is a bold statement to make about someone who hasn’t proven much, but Cannella looks like someone who could play in the NFL one day.
There were some misses: Tarik Black and CJ Avery. The former was to be expected. He was Michigan all the way. Avery’s decision had somewhat to do with McGriff’s exit.
I certainly wouldn’t call it a failure. It thrust the Tigers into the top 10 of the team rankings.
Q: What will the lineup of QBs be next season if you could guess?
—Ryan T., Fayetteville (Tenn.)
Disclaimer: This is a complete guess. I don’t think Stidham is a guarantee, and there is always the chance of attrition at the position.
Here’s my best go at the QB depth chart.
- Jarrett Stidham
- Sean White
- John Franklin III
- Woody Barrett
- Tyler Queen