Every recruiting class has its surprises, busts and breakout stars. With that in mind, SEC Country takes a look at four signing classes (2012-15) at Auburn as Gus Malzahn enters his fourth season coaching the Tigers.
We take a look at the careers so far for these players, sum them up and provide a simple stock return: up, even or down. Today we look at the recruiting class of 2012, the final recruiting salvo from coach Gene Chizik.
OT Avery Young, ★★★★
Portfolio: He started in 36 of 37 games in which he appeared. More importantly, Young was versatile and capable of moving between guard and tackle during some of the best rushing seasons in Auburn history. He was an All-SEC pick by the media in the preseason of his junior season and declared for the NFL draft in January, but went undrafted after struggling in pre-draft workouts. The New Orleans Saints signed him as a free agent.
TE Ricky Parks, ★★★★
Portfolio: A complete bust for the Tigers, he’s still trying to make a career at Southern Miss. Auburn dismissed him in 2013 and allowed him to return in early 2014 before booting him again after spring practices. He went to Northeast Mississippi Community College, caught six passes for 59 yards and two touchdowns, then left for Coffeyville Community College where he played linebacker. He’s now playing tight end for Southern Miss as a redshirt senior.
OT Jordan Diamond, ★★★★
Portfolio: His Auburn career was filled with more setbacks than standout performances. He finished as a second- and third-team offensive lineman this spring. He has since transferred to Miami (Ohio) as a graduate and will be eligible to play this fall. He tore a labrum in 2012, had back surgery as a sophomore and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in 2014.
WR Ricardo Louis, ★★★★
Portfolio: A receiver whose NFL career could be better than it was at Auburn, Louis managed a career-high 716 yards and three touchdowns receiving in his senior season. He played second fiddle to Duke Williams and Sammie Coates for two years, even though he was the fastest receiver on the team. He will forever be remembered for his catch in the Prayer at Jordan-Hare to beat Georgia in 2013 and was always a dangerous option on speed sweeps. Inconsistency, especially drops up until his senior season, demotes his stock from up to even.
CB Joshua Holsey, ★★★★
Portfolio: He has one interception in his career but injuries have kept him from living up to his full potential. We might still see a stellar senior season from Holsey. He suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear in Week 2 of the 2015 season and is said to be healthy and ready for the fall. Keep in mind he has been prone to injury but continues to fight back. He tore an ACL the Thursday before Auburn’s road upset of Texas A&M in 2013, but returned to the field in 2014 and 2015 to play safety and corner when needed.
DT Tyler Nero, ★★★★
Portfolio: He was rated the nation’s 22nd-best defensive tackle, played in one game against Western Carolina in 2013 and had his playing career cut short during a scary incident in the spring of 2014. He collapsed during a spring practice, was rushed to a hospital and a medical issue (still not released) has kept him from playing football.
OT Patrick Miller, ★★★★
Portfolio: He started 20 games at right tackle, including nine as a true freshman, but left following the 2014 season for the NFL draft. He was not drafted but has since found a home with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
OT Shane Callahan, ★★★★
Portfolio: He played two games for Auburn before he asked for and was granted a release to play at Colorado, where he could be closer to his ill father.
LB Cassanova McKinzy, ★★★★
Portfolio: The three-year starter at Auburn was a workhorse for the Tigers, compiling 258 tackles, including 29.5 stops for losses while forcing three fumbles. He has since signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency after going undrafted.
QB Zeke Pike, ★★★★
Portfolio: The biggest bust in Auburn’s 2012 recruiting class. Zeke Pike never saw the field and was dismissed in June 2012 following an arrest for public intoxication. He transferred to Louisville, barely played at tight end, transferred to Murray State and was later dismissed by the Racers after an arrest on charges of possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest and escape. He was arrested in March on a DUI charge, and those charges were later bumped up with possession (cocaine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, prescription drug) and he also had a firearm in his vehicle.
OG Alex Kozan, ★★★
Portfolio: An All-SEC selection as a true freshman at left guard, he hit a snag with back surgery and missed the 2014 season. His stamina was not quite at 100 percent in 2015, but his 27 starts prove he’s a rock for the Tigers. Now completely healthy, Kozan could once again be a star. He is the biggest gainer on the board for Auburn’s 2012 class.
CB Jonathan Jones, ★★★
Portfolio: He was a two-year starter and came up big in big moments, finishing with seven interceptions. He was a first-team member of the coaches’ All-SEC team as a senior and blazed the NFL Combine with a 40-yard dash timed at 4.33 seconds. He has since signed with the New England Patriots.
LB JaViere Mitchell, ★★★
Portfolio: He struggled to find playing time, but he made some big plays during his career. None may have been bigger than his goal-line stop at Arkansas during Auburn’s run to an SEC title in 2013. He had 39 career tackles and one sack. He left the team in the spring.
CB T.J. Davis, ★★★
Portfolio: He had six tackles in 2014, played mostly as the fourth cornerback off the bench and suffered a tear to an ACL in March 2015, forcing him to miss the entire season. He’ll return in August trying to earn playing time and the opportunity is there for him to make an impact at a position that has been needing experience. The issue? There’s plenty of young talent that might be a step ahead.
DE Gimel President, ★★★
Portfolio: He had flashes of brilliance but never quite hit his stride with the Tigers. He transferred to Illinois, where he will be eligible immediately in 2015. He had 45 tackles and three sacks in 25 games.
QB Jonathan Wallace, ★★★
Portfolio: He attempted to salvage the disastrous 2012 season when Gene Chizik threw him into the fire as a true freshman near the end of the season, but could never win the starting job when Gus Malzahn returned as head coach. He moved to receiver, where he drew comparisons to Kodi Burns’ move in the 2010 national championship season, but he caught only one pass for 18 yards (in 2014). He’s now a graduate assistant with the Tigers.
OT Will Adams, ★★★
Portfolio: He never could quite crack the rotation at Auburn, so he transferred to Boise State after the 2015 season.
OT Robert Leff, ★★★
Portfolio: He stayed true to himself and finally broke through this spring as the starter at right tackle, where he will likely remain throughout the 2016 season. He had only four offers out of Fairhope (Ala.) High and Auburn was, by far, the best school on the list as Kentucky and Louisiana-Lafayette were the options behind the Tigers.
2012 recruiting class
Rankings: 11th nationally; 4th SEC
Portfolio: Eight of the 18 players were either booted from Auburn or left the program. That’s a staggering number and one which may help explain the depth issues in 2015 and 2016. The true stars of the class proved to be Louis, McKinzy, Jones, Kozan, Holsey and Young — each with varying degrees of success without a breakout star.
Overall stock: Down