Your 8 O'clock update
DT Jeffrey Whitaker, 6-3, 295, Warner Robins, Ga./Warner Robins HS
Whitaker isn't a flashy kind of player, but he has three traits that Auburn coaches consider invaluable. First, he's durable. Second, he's remarkably strong and is able to clog running lanes with surprising effectiveness. Perhaps most important, Whitaker is a humble and hungry young man who is driven to make himself better. He represents a prototypical player for the Tigers' coaching staff, which pushes for uniformity and selflessness on the field. He reminds me of former Auburn tackle Pat Sims, though Whitaker's personality should help him develop much at an accelerated rate. Rivals.com and Scout.com rate him as a four-star recruit.
LB Jawara White, 6-2, 220, Troy/Charles Henderson HS
White profiles as a strong-side linebacker. He is thick, he has long arms and shows above-average awareness on the field. He’s a smart player. He anticipates well. He's strong. White also is an outspoken element who doesn't mind taking command when conditions merit. He didn't seem especially fast and often played flat-footed. Scout.com and Rivals.com rate him as a three-star recruit.
S Ryan Smith, 6-2, 208, Cordova/Cordova HS
Smith is another high-school quarterback whom Auburn believes can blossom on the other side of the ball. He won a state championship as a quarterback in 2007, made the finals as a tailback the past two seasons. He's versatile and talented. Smith also played safety as well, where he applied those offensive instincts to undermine opponents. He has a long stride. Smith doesn't look fast on tape yet he arrives at the ball on time. He committed to Kentucky in October. Rivals.com and Scout.com rate him as a three-star recruit.
ATH Shaun Kitchens, 6-3, 210, College Park, Ga./Banneker HS
Kitchens was the first member of this recruiting class, making his Auburn plans known last spring. He committed in February. Analysts are split on which position fits Kitchens best. Outside linebacker is a popular opinion, but he also played well as a possession receiver. He isn’t coveted for his speed, though. He had offers from a few SEC schools, but his other major suitors were in the ACC. Rivals.com and Scout.com list Kitchens as a three-star recruit.
DB Demetruce McNeal, 6-1, 175, College Park, Ga./Banneker HS
McNeal isn't a numbers guy, which isn't unusual for a safety playing in Atlanta's public-school leagues. The Wing-T still thrives there. That helps explain why Auburn would take a chance on someone with one career interception. McNeal gladly helped with run support at Banneker, but he hopes to become a pass-coverage standout on the Plains. Auburn was the only SEC school to offer a scholarship. Both Rivals.com and Scout.com rate McNeal a three-star recruit.
OL Shon Coleman, 6-7, 285, Olive Branch, Miss./Olive Branch HS
Coleman is another Auburn recruit whose stock jumped after the high-school season ended. He played well in the U.S. Army All-American Game, which added fervor to Ole Miss' efforts to sign him. Though he committed in April, Coleman considered other schools and Scout.com listed him as a "soft verbal" until Signing Day. He’s not remarkably thick, but Coleman has huge shoulders. He looks like a football player. Auburn wants to see him gain at least 20 pounds. He reminds coaches of former Auburn standout (and current NFL starter) Marcus McNeill. Rivals.com rates Coleman as a five-star prospect while Scout.com gave him four stars.
ATH Ladarious Phillips, 6-1, 265, Roanoke/Handley HS
Phillips is Auburn's first signing-day surprise. He played both ways for Handley, handling duties at fullback and defensive tackle. He was expected to sign with Georgia Southern, but picked up a late offer from the Tigers. You know what happened next. Rivals.com rates Phillips as a two-star recruit. He is unrated by Scout.com.
OL Ed Christian, 6-5, 280, Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes County HS
Christian was one of the most highly rated offensive lineman in the Southeast. He’s taller and leaner than Eric Mack, another Auburn recruit who was similarly effective in high school. Christian is a more violent player. He plays with a lot of aggression, which sometimes leads him to chase people with arms and legs flailing. It’s something to see. He’ll need to add 30 pounds before banging with SEC-caliber defensive ends. Christian initially committed to Florida State before switching his commitment in October. Rivals.com and Scout.com rate him as a three-star recruit.
OL Eric Mack, 6-4, 315, St. Matthews, S.C./Calhoun County HS
Mack was one of the Southeast's most highly recruited offensive linemen. He's bulky, but not in an overweight way. Mack has quick feet that allow him to adjust easily to different types of pass-rush techniques. His high-school team often asked him to pull wide enough to block cornerbacks on bubble screens. At 315 pounds, he was able to cover the ground without much problem. He played tackle in high school, though his size and Auburn's depth chart may force a move to guard. He reminds me of former Auburn and NFL lineman Jeno James. Rivals.com and Scout.com rate Mack as a four-star recruit.
WR/KR Jeremy Richardson, 6-4, 220, Springville/Springville HS
Richardson is one of the Tigers’ most intriguing prospects. He starred as a do-everything offensive player for Springville — catching deep passes, bubble screens, running the ball. He also was an outstanding kickoff-return specialist. The most memorable thing about him is his straight-line speed. He simply was faster than anyone around him and didn't dance around. He’s a north-south guy. Still, he doesn’t have elite acceleration. He's a long-striding guy. Rivals.com rated Richardson a four-star prospect while Scout.com gave him three stars.
DB Jonathon Mincy, 5-10, 175, Decatur, Ga./Southwest Dekalb
Mincy may be the most underrated player in Auburn's class. He played on an excellent Class 6A team that featured five SEC signees. They all played defense. Mincy played right corner and exhibited good ball skills. He has been trained to track the ball in coverage, which helped him intercept six passes in 2009. Mincy has plenty of speed. At 5-10, he's not the biggest cornerback around. Coaches hope he develops like Jerraud Powers. Rivals.com and Scout.com rate him as a three-star recruit.
DT Kenneth Carter, 6-5, 265, Greenville/Greenville HS
Carter is another tricky player to gauge. He played tackle and end for an outstanding Class 5A team, exhibiting good strength and instincts throughout the season. Carter looks awkward at times because he plays too high and doesn't have elite acceleration. That won't be a problem if Carter adds 30 pounds and learns to manhandle interior blockers a la Pat Sims and Sen'Derrick Marks. Still, he has some serious work ahead with strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall. Rivals.com recently upped Carter to a four-star recruit while Scout.com allocated only three stars.
P Steven Clark, 6-5, 230, Kansas City, Mo./Park Hill HS
Clark played defensive end and tight end in high school, but his special teams contributions will pay for his college education. He looks like a natural on film. Clark doesn't waste much movement and get his leg on the ball quickly. He averaged 38.7 yards per punt last season. Rivals.com and Scout.com rate him a three-star recruit.
WR Antonio Goodwin, 6-2, 170, Atlanta/Washington HS
Goodwin is a thin guy with a flair for acrobatic plays, which gives Auburn coaches hints that greatness awaits. It's not just them — Goodwin received schoalrship offers from all the major SEC programs. He's fast, but not among the fastest prospects available. He's quick, but not among the fastest prospects available. He was a steady guy in high school who rarely had problems with drops and never complained about being asked to serve in a variety of roles. Goodwin is reminiscent of Darvin Adams. Rivals.com and Scout.com rate him as a four-star recruit.
PK Cody Parkey, 6-2, 195, Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter HS
Kickers are a difficult group to project. Auburn High's Philip Yost was the nation's top kicker when the Tigers signed him in 2000, yet he was a peripheral element in college. Damon Duval wasn't a big recruit when he signed in 1998 and he was an outstanding college kicker for the most part. Parkey played well during his senior season. He played poorly in the Under Armour All-American game, missing two field goals and two point-after attempts. What does Auburn have here? Nobody knows. His career could take any number of paths. Scout.com rates Parkey as a four-star recruit while Scout.com bestowed only three stars.