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Your Friday Thread

Hey everyone. I am in Kentucky handling some family business, which means my ability to blog is essentially zero.

I'm on dial-up. Forgive the blog's rough appearance.

I'll soon begin writing a story for Sunday about the Tigers' 2010 signing class. Should I deem it an overall success? Yeah, probably.

For the guy who emailed and ripped me for covering the "negative" news associated Marcus Lattimore, let me break some news: The sun doesn't shine every day. Look out the window.

Feel free to comment about whatever strikes your fancy.

Have a nice day.

Auburn gets its first 2010 commitment

Hey everyone. I have risen from slumber to learn that cornerback Izauea Lanier (first name is pronounced "eye-ZAY-uh") has committed to play football at Auburn in 2011.

He is the first player on earth to do so.

We know about this because our friends at and ITAT say so. And they're credible.

Lanier signed with the Tigers in 2009 out of Gordo High. He was a late addition to the class, a diamond-in-the-rough guy whose stock was severely affected by his questionable academic status. So he spent the past fall at East Mississippi Community College, is working to get his marks in order and played well enough to keep Auburn coaches interested.

He is expected to redshirt this fall and arrive in 2011 with three years of eligibility remaining.

Wrappin it up: Rankings edition

Hey everyone. Looks like the (relatively) final tallies are in.

Let's take a look:
1.) Florida
2.) Texas
3.) Alabama
5.) Oklahoma
1.) Florida
2.) Texas
3.) Southern Cal
5.) Alabama
** Auburn slid one spot during the late afternoon.
1.) Florida
2.) Oklahoma
3.) Texas
4.) Alabama

Wrappin it up: Picture edition

I think this pretty much explains Auburn's day.

(Coaches are celebrating Corey Lemonier's decision via ESPNU.)

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Gene Chizik live blog

Hey everyone. Coach Gene Chizik is holding his annual National Signing Day debriefing.

Please enjoy.

  • He has arrived.

  • ``It's a very exciting day for the Auburn family."

  • ``Literally when this day ended a year ago, we came other and laid down a vision of what we wanted to do for the next year."

  • ``We laid down a blueprint of what we were looking for ... for Auburn. It's not always about getting the best player. He has to be the right player. I'm as much or more proud of that than the talent we brought into this class."

  • On how the class stacks up nationally: ``Everybody's going to have a different opinion on that. We knew we really had to use this class to build a foundation of what we're trying to do at Auburn. This building block, exactly a year later, was exactly what we envisioned."

  • ``I want the people to be excited. I also want people to understand this is the first building block on a foundation. A year ago looking back, our goal was simply to start laying that foundation and building it from the ground up."

  • On the recruits: ``They stuck with Auburn thick and thin -- and nothing was going to change them. That's a tribute to our coaches."

  • ``Alabama is our No. 1 priority, kids in this state. We signed 11."

  • ``It unfolded about how we thought it would. It's the first block in a long building process."

  • On early momentum: ``As the commitments were build behind the scenes, a lot of them stayed in touch with each there. There really was an uncommon bond there. So many guys in this particular class -- it seems like they've been playing together for a year. It's been a real cool, clear line of communication."

  • On winning on out-of-state turf: ``The young man goes through a more difficult process. What we try to tell these guys is really simple -- you have to go with your heart. You'll have people around you with agendas. If you make this a fair fight, so to speak, we'll always have a chance to go into other states and recruit well."

  • On this being a top-5 class: ``It's nice that on this day that the people who are experts are along the same line of thinking -- that it's a good class. We don't know how it's going to pan out. Those rankings really, they won't pan out for two or three years in terms of knowing how good those classes really were."

  • On the 28-player max: ``You have to have a great plan. You really have to be cognizant during the past few days when scholarships are going out. As long as you've got a good plan and you're organized, it shouldn't be an issue."

  • Said he was going primarily after OL, DL and LB.

  • ``We need upgrades everywhere on our football team. Overall, I think we addressed our needs."

  • On kickers: ``I'm willing to use scholarships on guys who can change our field position."

  • On having one spot still open: ``We have one slot where, if the situation arises that's out of the ordinary, we can capitalize on it."

  • Anxious?: ``There are a lot of sleepless nights. It's stressful for the young men. It's stressful for the families. It's stressful for everybody. Sometimes, recruiting is about the last man standing. You have to work right down to the end. I'm anxious until I get the fax in."

  • On Lemonier: ``We had a great hope for what Corey was going to be doing today. He had so many great choices out there. It could have gone either way. We fought until the very end. We weren't necessarily 100 percent sure. We had an idea. You never know how they're going to unfold. We had an idea."

  • On Jeffrey Whitaker: ``He's a physical presence in the middle of the defense. As we try to build the defense from the ground up, the better you are on defense is directly correlated to how good you are on the front four. He brings a great deal of talent. He's exactly what we're looking for."

  • On the "surprises": ``You have changes. It's volatile through the whole year. Who is the next guy? The next guy isn't always a down-the-line player. We go back to: Is he the right fit for Auburn?"

  • Talking about Ladarious Phillips. ``He can play on the offensives side of the ball, he can play on the defensive side of the ball. That's one of those situation that popped up."

  • On Trovon Reed: ``You talk about solid guys ... and guys being under pressure, he has been a rock. He would be one who, as solid as he was, it would have shocked me if he went in another direction. He was solid. A lot of guys were solid and never wavered."

  • On BCW and the like: ``We talk about being creative and things we can create to attract student-athletes. We'll go back and we'll revisit this whole recruiting year. We'll troubleshoot what didn't go well and how we can fix it. We have to figure out a way to make next year's class better than this year's class."

  • On Michael Dyer: "Rock. Solid rock -- from beginning to end. It's incredible what he brings to the table. His commitment to Auburn. He's one of the funnest players we're recruited. He played some practical jokes here at the end that we didn't appreciate. (laughs) He brings a rare ability to the backfield. He has a combination of power and speed."

  • On Marcus Lattimore: ``We don't talk about the ones we didn't get."

  • That's a wrap.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Rounding out the class

OK. So Joel Bonomolo's paperwork has been "cleared" and you know what that means?


Auburn's National Signing Day effort has concluded.

DE Joel Bonomolo, 6-3, 245, New Orleans, La./Fullerton C.C.
Bonomolo is pure speed. He out-classed offensive tackles in junior college by simply blowing by them on the outside. Bonomolo, on his best days, was unstoppable because of his unusual acceleration. He's listed at 245 pounds, but he seems thinner on tape. He looks like a very strong wideout. Bonomolo intrigued plenty of West Coast teams, but Auburn and Iowa State were the only BCS programs outside the Pac-10 to offer a scholarship. He's something of an enigma. rates him as a four-star recruit, though bestowed only three stars.

Trovon Reed finally finds the fax

After a few tense hours, WR Trovon Reed has faxed his paperwork to Auburn.

WR Trovon Reed, 6-0, 175, Thibodaux, La./Thibodaux HS
This Auburn staff has no problem shuttling players from one position to the next, which helps explain why they were so enthusiastic about Reed. He played quarterback exclusively in high school. Auburn believes he'll soon emerge as a play-maker at wideout and those coaches aren't alone -- Reed received offers from every SEC school and plenty of other major programs. He's extremely fast. He's unusually elusive in the open field. He looks like a cornerback, though, and needs more upper-body bulk. Reed looked fine while playing wideout at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, but he has plenty of technique work ahead. and both rate him a four-star recruit.

Moving past noon

I promised a two-star "surprise" brewing.

Here he is:

C Tunde Fariyike, 6-3, 295, Thomaston, Ga./Upson Lee HS
Fariyike was another of Auburn's signing day surprises. He was a powerful tackle for a struggling Class 4A team who simply overpowered most of the defensive linemen assigned to beat him. He's not big enough to play tackle in college, though, and Auburn coaches believe he'll settle at center. He's fairly mobile. Fariyike is an extremely bright student who is expected to enter Auburn's pre-med program. Prior to Auburn's offer, the biggest schools on his trail were Duke and East Carolina. Why? He was born in Nigeria, picked up football later than most prospects and started for only two seasons. rates Fariyike as a two-star recruit. He is unrated by

Auburn moves up in national rankings has updated its recruiting rankings.

Auburn has moved up two spots since Tuesday morning.

1 Florida
2 Texas
3 Auburn
5 Alabama
7 Oklahoma
8 Tennessee
9 Florida State
10 California

Corey Lemonier gets his own post

As the title may explain, Auburn has signed the coveted DE.

DE Corey Lemonier, 6-5, 225, Hialeah, Fla./Hialeah HS
Lemonier is a full-service player on the weak side. He's unusually quick off the line and is lethal with his swim move. Lemonier isn't heavy by any means, but he's a big kid. He can overpower people. Some might be reminded of Stanley McClover upon first glance, but I see Willie McGinest. Lemonier is significantly more explosive than McClover and plays with an awareness that is uncommon among prep prospects. He made his decision on Wednesday, ending an intense courtship with Auburn and Florida State. rates Lemonier as a five-star recruit while has bestowed four stars.

Moving into the 11 o'clock hour

You're still following this? Wow.

ATH Ryan White, 5-11, 185, Tallahassee, Fla/Lincoln HS
You already know by now that Auburn loves recruiting high-school quarterbacks. White is in that group. He was a fast and creative play-maker under center. It's clear from watching tape, though, that his future isn't at quarterback. Guys like this can turn into a wideout, kick returner, cornerback or safety. Where will White settle? Defense seems like the most likely destination. and rate him as a three-star prospect.

OL Chad Slade, 6-6, 315, Moody/Moody HS
Slade is among Auburn's most low-profile signees. He played for an average Class 5A program that isn't known for churning out quality recruits. Slade is a large young man who simply overpowered most opponents in high school. He doesn't seem particularly fast or skilled, but Auburn coaches place plenty of emphasis on effort. Slade is that guy. He works his first block and moves on to the second without hesitation. He focused on defensive line and basketball until his senior season, so his career along the offensive front is just getting started. and rate him as a three-star recruit.

Moving into the 10 o'clock hour

More NSD goodness:

LB Jake Holland, 6-1, 228, Pelham/Pelham HS
Holland grew up in a family that supported Alabama, but Holland made his Auburn-themed intentions known last spring. He's a thick, battering-ram type linebacker who can bring power to the Tigers' defense. He had a decent senior season, but his stock jumped significantly after a strong showing in the Under Armour All-American Game. Not that it mattered; Holland never considered another school. added a fourth star to the linebacker's rating in January. gave him three stars.

LB LaDarius Owens, 6-2, 225, Bessemer/Jess Lanier HS
When he committed in September, Owens was the first big name to cast his lot with the Tigers. Shon Coleman didn't gain true notoriety until after the season. Owens chose Auburn over Alabama, which represented Gene Chizik's first in-state takeaway. James Owens, LaDarius' uncle, was the first black player to earn a scholarship at Auburn. Still, James Owens insisted that his nephew consider all options before making a decision. LSU also showed major interest through January — sending defensive coordinator John Chavis for an in-home visit well after Owens said his recruitment had ended. and rate him as a four-star recruit.

Moving into the 9 o'clock hour

More signees for your NSD pleasure:

DE Justin Delaine, 6-5, 223, Linden/Linden HS
Delanie is a physical specimen with long arms and long legs and unusual acceleration for a defensive lineman. The problem is that he's also raw. Very raw. He has awkward footwork, takes odd angles toward the quarterback and makes mistakes of inexperience more often than you'd expect from a major-college recruit. Delanie could develop in any number of ways, though he has a body and a drive that will give him an advantage. He'll definitely need a redshirt season to add bulk and skill. and rate him as a three-star recruit.

ATH Chris Davis, 5-11, 175, Birmingham/Woodlawn HS
I have no idea where Davis will play, but I'm certain he has ability. He handled a little bit of everything during his senior season at Woodlawn. He played quarterback, wideout, tailback and was an excellent return threat. Davis is fast and plays with a certain grace. It's difficult to quantify. Nothing is hitchy. Davis is smooth, makes the correct cuts, looks like someone who knows what they're doing. He could emerge as a wideout, though Auburn already has several young guys (Anthony Gulley, Travante Stallworth, Phillip Pierre-Louis) with similar skill sets. Maybe Davis will play cornerback. It's anyone's guess. and rate him as a three-star prospect.

TB Michael Dyer, 5-8, 200, Little Rock, Ark./Little Rock Christian HS
The depth of this class may create some confusion about its crown jewel, but Dyer would be a No. 1 guy during most seasons. He's a small guy who runs like he's Brandon Jacobs, leaning forward and considers inside cuts before bouncing outside. He has unusual upper-body strength, which allowed him to break away from tackles easily during high school. He churns his legs until the whistle blows. Dyer also has great vision and that works well with his compact body and bulldog mentality. He takes unorthodox routes up field. If there's a negative, it'd have to be speed. Several recruiting sites list him as a 4.4 guy, but Dyer doesn't seem ultra fast on video. Either way, he's an elite talent who will be given every opportunity to emerge a primary offensive contributor. He’s reminiscent of Jacksonville Jaguars tailback Maurice Jones-Drew. and both rate Dyer as a five-star recruit.

TE Dakota Mosley, 6-4, 250, Little Rock, Ark./Little Rock Christian HS
Mosley's career could go in a few directions. He excelled as a tight end in high school and played well against top competition in the Under Armour All-American Game. Mosley is a fierce blocker. He's also skilled at challenging for high passes. He doesn't seem particularly fast to me, though, so a move to offensive line is within the realm of possibility. Considering the way Auburn used Tommy Trott last season, though, Mosley probably will stick at tight end. rates him as a three-star recruit while bestowed only two stars.

Dyer photo credit:

Your 8 O'clock update

Hey everyone. Here's the collection from today (so far):

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. and 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. and 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. and 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. and 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 and 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 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. rates Coleman as a five-star prospect while 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. rates Phillips as a two-star recruit. He is unrated by

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. and 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. and 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. rated Richardson a four-star prospect while 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. and 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. recently upped Carter to a four-star recruit while 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. and 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. and 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. rates Parkey as a four-star recruit while bestowed only three stars.

Pre-recruitmas thread

Hey everyone. Today is National Signing Day. You may have forgotten.

I'll be updating the blog once I arrive at Auburn and the LOIs begin pouring in via fax. It's a glamorous job. Don't hate.

As people sign, I'll add their bios to this here site. Since Auburn already had five LOIs in hand well before the stroke of 6 a.m., when schools can begin accepting signed papers, let's look at them.

QB Cam Newton, 6-6, 245, Atlanta (Florida/Blinn College)
Newton spent two years at Florida, one of them a redshirt season, before moving to a central Texas junior college last spring. Newton blossomed at Blinn College, throwing for 22 touchdowns and rushing for another 16. He’s a dual-threat quarterback who could add a new dimension to the Tigers' run-based spread attack. Newton is 21. He’s strong and he's expected to challenge for the starting job immediately. rates Newton a five-star recruit. gave him four stars.

OL Roszell Gayden, 6-7, 310, Robbinsdale, Minn. (College of the Sequoias)
Gayden signed with Minnesota out of high school, but academic shortcomings led him to a prominent California junior college. He improved significantly there, adding upper body strength while improving his footwork. Coaches believe he’s a made-to-order tackle who can compete immediately for the vacant job at right tackle. Both and list Gayden as a four-star recruit.

TE/OL Brandon Mosley, 6-6, 285, Jefferson, Ga. (Coffeyville CC)
Mosley didn’t sign with a four-year college out of high school and instead headed for a Kansas junior college to build a resume. He succeeded there, starring as a tight end and moonlighting at defensive end. Mosley’s career could go in one of two directions at Auburn — tight end or offensive line. He redshirted in Kansas, which means Mosley has only two years remaining. rates him as a four-star recruit. gave him three stars.

LB Jessel Curry, 6-2, 215, Buford, Ga. (Buford)
Curry, who signed with Auburn in December, won three state championships during his career at Class 2A Buford High in Georgia. He is the son of former North Carolina and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Buddy Curry. Coaches believe Curry has the instincts, aggression and skills to be an above-average player in the middle or on the weak side. He is reminiscent of former Auburn player Adam Herring. and list Curry as a three-star recruit.

DL Craig Sanders, 6-4, 230, Ariton (Ariton)
Sanders committed to Alabama last summer, but changed his mind during the season. He signed with Auburn in December. Sanders handled a variety of roles at Ariton, where a small roster size demanded versatility. He is a raw athlete, so Sanders probably needs a season on the scout team to better grasp his Auburn role. He’s listed as a defensive end, but Sanders could emerge as a tackle. Intensity is his thing. and list Sanders as a four-star recruit.

Lattimore on Auburn's pitch

It's obvious that Auburn approached Marcus Lattimore with a structured career plan.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn made repeated references to Darren McFadden, whom he coached at Arkansas in 2006.

``I talked to him a lot about it," he said. ``I was going to be McFadden and (Michael Dyer) was going to be Felix Jones. That's how it was going to work."

Who will he be at South Carolina?

``I'll just be Marcus."

Stephen Davis plays a role in Lattimore's decision

Former Auburn tailback Stephen Davis, who grew up in Spartanburg, S.C., spent the past few days talking with Marcus Lattimore.

Davis also played a role in today's announcement. Immediately prior to Lattimore announcing a decision, Davis brought to him a cloth bag. Lattimore first pulled out an Auburn hat. After a momentary pause, Lattimore pulled a second hat, this one fashioned with a USC logo, to complete the gag.

Davis said he didn't advise Lattimore to choose a particular school, but provided some insights that resonated with the young tailback.

``My heart is at Auburn. I love Auburn," Davis said. ``The only thing that I regret about playing at Auburn is that a lot of people from here didn't get to see me play. I told him that."

Lattimore makes his decision

Tailback Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina will play at South Carolina. He said so in a program held at his church in nearby Spartanburg, S.C.

His finalists were South Carolina and Auburn.

In an interesting twist, Lattimore was given a cloth bag from former Auburn back Stephen Davis immediately prior to making a decision. He pulled out an Auburn hat to the obvious disapproval of the crowd. Then he pulled out a South Carolina hat. The crowd roared with approval.

More to come.

Live from Spartanburg, S.C.

Hey everyone. Welcome to my world. I am in South Carolina attending tailback Marcus Lattimore's program announcing his decision between Auburn and South Carolina.

As you may have read, most recruiting experts believe Lattimore will choose the Gamecocks. Either way, I'm stoked. There are people from the general public here already -- and the announcement is more than two hours away.

I'll update as information comes available.

UPDATE @ 4:50 p.m. CST
It's a full house.

My journey heads east

Hey everyone. I soon will begin my trip toward Spartanburg, S.C., where tailback Marcus Lattimore will make his decision between Auburn and South Carolina later today.

As I have said before, I am going for the story. Don't read too much into my decision to go. I'm not going because I'm 100% sold on him choosing Auburn. I'm going because ESPN says he's the nation's top tailback recruit and this situation has intrigued me since last summer.

Lattimore's announcement is scheduled for 5 p.m. CST. I'll update you if that changes.

Photo credit: Greenville (S.C.) News

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Whitaker chooses Auburn

Hey everyone. Defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker of Warner Robins, Ga., has decided to sign with Auburn on National Signing Day.

On why he chose Auburn: ``It just felt comfortable. There was no question. I couldn't turn away from it. It just felt like home."

On what he wants to do on the field: ``I'm going to be that three technique so hopefully I can move some guys out of my way and make my way to the quarterback or running back."

On his relationship with other Auburn recruits: ``The class that's coming in -- there's a pretty big bond. We've been keeping in touch for quite some time. They've been keeping me on the radar."

On the decision-making process: It wasn't tough. It was aggravating. Everybody was calling you and this and that. When I was little, I said I wanted to be a rock star celebrity. After this, I just want to be a simple person. It wasn't tough. Pressure is whatever you make of it. There wasn't any pressure. It was just aggravating from time to time."

On his training regimen: ``I've got to run. I've been eating, but I've got to run now. You just made me go from happy to sad. I don't even know what to say anymore! I have to run, train, sweat, hydrate. Same 'ol, same 'ol."

On living the dream: ``It's a dream that I probably never though would happen. We came up hard. We didn't have the Nike brands. I can remember a day coming home and having holes in my shoes. I'd look in my closet and there were like four outfits. My mom, I wish she was here. About five and a half years ago, she passed. It's a dream, but I'm not done. I'm looking to keep getting better. Hopefully one day, when it's all said and done, then I can evaluate myself as a player."

On the effect of Tracy Rocker on his decision: ``It was a big one. That's the main thing when you're making a decision like that -- who you're going to be around a lot. The head coach is nice and everything. Your position coach is going to be like your head coach, you'll spend time with him, learn a lot from. I think he's a guy who's going to have my back 100 percent."

On his plans for 2010: ``I always say when you get the redshirt, it's determined by how hard you work during the offseason. If I came in and 340 and overweight, yeah, I think I'd be redshirted. I'm pretty comfortable. I'll come in and make an immediate impact because I'll work my butt off and come in looking to do some great things."

Tom Luginbill speaks on Auburn

Hey everyone. Tom Luginbill, ESPN's recruiting czar, had some interesting things to say this morning/afternoon about Auburn's recruiting effort.

He also spoke about Marcus Lattimore and Michael Dyer.

Here are some highlights:

On Auburn's enterprise: ``I really believe their efforts in the spring last year in regard to their unofficial visit weekend they had, their ability to get out and make a dent, have paid dividends throughout the entire recruiting process. A lot of Auburn fans said … Big Cat Weekend, what did it do for (us) in the short term? I don't think that's the answer to the question. The answer to the question is: What did it do in the long term? Those answers have been extremely positive in regard to what it is that Auburn is selling. Whatever that may be seems to be resonating among prospects."

On possible overcrowding in the Tigers' 2010 class:
``They're a team that's going to have to play a bit of a numbers game because of the SEC rule to sign only 28. They're going to have to eventually place some kids who are not going to make it or grayshirt some kids who will count toward the next class and work the numbers a little."

On Marcus Lattimore: ``I think there are more complete, talented backs in this class than Marcus Lattimore. I don't think there is a better back in this class, or maybe the last three or four classes, that is as talented in the passing game -- out of the backfield or split out wide -- as he is.

That's one of the reasons Auburn is such a good match for him -- because of how they utilize their running backs in the passing game. He's smart enough to realize that even though there's one ball, using two backs in a scheme like one that's going to employ (tailbacks) in the passing game in the SEC -- you'd better have more than one running back. If he thinks along those lines, I think Auburn has a tremendous opportunity with him."

On comparisons between Lattimore and Michael Dyer: ``One of our concerns with Marcus Lattimore is that he's not overly shifty, he's not overly sudden. For a back of his size, there are times when he struggles to break tackles. Do I think Michael Dyer is as far along in the passing game? No, I do not … as evidenced by my previous statement. What Michael Dyer does is that he's as laterally quick and physically tough as you're going to find -- not only on an inline runner but as a runner on the perimeter. He rarely goes down upon first contact. That's what makes him so unique. You'd better have a lot of bodies around this guy if you're going to want him on the ground. The first tackler and possibly the second and third are likely not going to be able to bring him down one-on-one."

More on Lattimore

Hey everyone. OK, so my title is a little misleading. I penned a story for Monday's editions of the Advertiser about how National Signing Day is almost here. And I mentioned Marcus Lattimore's name.

Hard-core recruitniks will scoff. I already know about his situation.

OK, so you do.

ALSO: Georgia defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker will announce his decision around 1 p.m. CST. I will not be there, but we'll still discuss the issue. It's a modern miracle that we can know without being there.

ALSO: Auburn graduate assistant and former linebacker Travis Williams has released his new single. He's a recording artist on the Major League ENT label, which he co-owns with Quentin Groves. Click here to download "Get Low".

(I downloaded ... and it played fine in iTunes.)

Photo credit: Greenville (S.C.) News

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Quick recruiting update

Hey everyone. Just ran across a story off that I think you'll find interesting ... provided you have a subscription to the family of services.

If you don't, here's a basic review:

Two of Auburn's top targets -- DT Jeffrey Whitaker (pictured) and OL Shon Coleman -- visited Miami this weekend. One of Miami's committed players, a DT from Chicago named Jeffrey Brown, was asked to assess the uncommitted prospects who visited Miami this weekend.

Brown believes Auburn fans will be happy with Whitaker's final decision.

Brown believes Auburn fans will be unhappy with Coleman's final decision.

(I hate to leave you hanging like that, but that information is property of

ALSO: A fullback out of Mobile by the name of Jay Prosch committed to Illinois this weekend, but told the Illinois site that an offer from Auburn could change all that. Looks like we have identified one of the Tigers' backup plans.

ANOTHER NOTE: Our friends at The Cats' Pause (Kentucky's site) report that Louisiana cornerback Patrick Swilling Jr. may be planning to visit Auburn after National Signing Day. I haven't heard his name before today. He's a two-star player with offers from LSU, Tennessee, Ole Miss and others. Sounds better than a backup player.

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