DADE CITY, Florida — Nate Craig-Myers’ crystal ball is, well, crystal clear from his point of view.
Auburn’s search to replace Ricardo Louis is underway, and so is the need to develop depth for a strong 1-2 punch in the passing game. Auburn’s next top receiver is not on campus yet, Craig-Myers believes.
So, who will be those two top receivers?
“Myself,” Craig-Myers told SEC Country, “and whoever wants to tag along.”
Expectations are certainly high for Craig-Myers, who leads arguably the top incoming class of receivers in the country. The Tampa Catholic High School star picked the Tigers over North Carolina on signing day in February, and ever since then he’s been working out here in Dade City and in Tampa preparing to live up to the hype. The nation’s No. 6 receiver stands 6 feet, 2 inches and is up to 208 pounds. He already looks the part of an SEC receiver.
“Physically, he’s certainly capable of it,” Tampa Catholic coach Mike Gregory said. “Mentally, it’s a matter of how well he picks up a college playbook.
“I had the opportunity to sit in some meetings with the Auburn guys and what they do is fairly complicated, but to some degree you do what you have to do with the personnel. I think they’ll find a way to get him on the field. Looking at the receiver group they have now, I think he can certainly go in and contribute right away. Nothing against those guys, but just knowing what he can do physically, really the sky is the limit for him. He can do whatever he wants as long as he puts the work in. I have no doubt or question about his work ethic. He’ll find a way.”
Auburn’s top performer in the A-Day spring game was Marcus Davis, a rising senior who has yet to have a breakout season. There’s certainly room for an influx of talent at receiver for Auburn, but don’t pencil in Craig-Myers or any of the freshmen as starters just yet, said receivers coach Kodi Burns.
“All of those guys are really talented players,” Burns said. “We know how it goes. I don’t care where you come from, I don’t care how good you are in high school, once you get to college, it’s an entirely different ball game. As good as they were in high school, once they get here, we have to develop them.”
Still, the expectation for Craig-Myers is to contribute immediately. He fully expects a 1,000-yard season as a freshman, something that has never been done at Auburn.
“Watching the spring game and talking to coaches, the players, they tell me all the receivers’ jobs are wide open,” Craig-Myers said. “Just come in and compete. I feel like if I go out there and do my best, I’ll have a shot to start in the first game.”
Auburn opens the season against Clemson, the national runner-up a season ago, Sept. 3 inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. By the time the Iron Bowl rolls around, Craig-Myers’ high school coach wouldn’t be surprised if his former player’s name is rolling off the tongues of broadcasters and analysts.
“You’re talking about a guy who certainly has the potential to be in freshman of the year discussions and freshman All-America discussions — if he earns those opportunities,” Gregory said. “I’m excited to see what’s going to happen. I’m already planning to go up there to see a game myself.”