We did this several weeks ago, but things have changed.
TB Ben Tate: The kid has been a terror this year, running through defenses like never before. Where would the Tigers be without him? We all knew he was good. I had no idea he was good enough to be a top-tier guy like this. He has established the benchmark for tailbacks in this offense: He's big enough to handle business by himself and fast enough to burn lax defenses.
WR D'Angelo Benton: Remember when we talked about him constantly for a solid month? I try to avoid that kind of reflection. He's now three years our of high school, which led many observers (including me) to believe Benton could contribute immediately. Trooper Taylor said Benton was running with the first-team offense two weeks before the season opener. What happened? I have no idea. Benton has zero catches.
LB Joshua Bynes: Love or hate what he brings to the field, Bynes plays with maximum effort. You know he's giving everything out there on every snap. He's a smart player. He rarely makes organizational or intellectual mistakes. Auburn's defense may be an overall disappointment, but that has nothing to do with Bynes. He's maximizing his potential.
CB Neiko Thorpe: Let's get this straight: Thorpe has not played poorly this season. He's been at least adequate, save for a difficult/unlucky performance against Arkansas. I just sensed in August that Thorpe was poised to have a break-out season where he emerged as one of the SEC's top five corners. He's not there just yet. I still believe he'll be a top-tier player, but he's fallen short of my expectations this season.
Assistant coach Jeff Grimes: He's still coaching well along the offense front and his recruiting role is vastly underrated. He's playing a major role in the recruitment of OL Eric Mack and a pair of big California linemen in John Cullen and Roszell Gayden. If he gets two of those guys, Auburn's recruiting haul will gain significant prestige.
Assistant coach Trooper Taylor: I know. You love the guy. I understand why. He's ebullient, showy, eager and says everything you want to hear. I watch him more during gameday now and I can't help but wonder why he's involved in defensive huddles. Or chats among defensive backs. I understand that he's Mr. Enthusiasm and all the towel waving gets kids fired up. Still, I have not been floored by Auburn's wideouts this season. I'm not seeing much progress. Terrell Zachery and Darvin Adams have been good. Does anyone else excite you? D'Angelo Benton is MIA. I haven't seen much out of Emory Blake or Tim Hawthorne or ... anyone else. I'm also of the opinion that Grimes and Tommy Thigpen are just as important when it comes to Auburn's recruiting enterprise.