Auburn Tigers: Football recruiting

Video: Auburn RB Racean 'Roc' Thomas

April, 18, 2014
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Auburn running back signee Racean 'Roc' Thomas talks with ESPN.com's Greg Ostendorf about the Tigers' running back battle and how he will factor in this summer.

ESPN 300: Top SEC targets 

April, 16, 2014
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With Wednesday’s release of the 2015 ESPN 300, here is a look at five top targets for the top conference in college football.


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video Kerryon Johnson, the No. 26 player in the ESPN Junior 300, committed to the Auburn Tigers on Tuesday over Florida State and Alabama. Here’s what his pledge means:


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Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

HOOVER, Ala. -- When ESPN Junior 300 star Jauan Jennings visited Auburn this past weekend, he had the opportunity to take in the Tigers’ first scrimmage of the spring and watch quarterback Nick Marshall, a player not so different from himself.

Marshall played quarterback in high school but signed with Georgia as a defensive back. After committing a violation of team rules, he was dismissed from the team and ended up in junior college. One positive that came from the incident was that it gave Marshall an opportunity to return to the position he loves, and now he’s one of the top returning signal-callers in the SEC.

“He came from not playing quarterback at first,” Jennings said. “He was a defensive back. He did a lot of things I want to be able to do. A lot of coaches don’t feel I can play quarterback. A lot of fans don’t feel I can play quarterback. I want to say, ‘I told you so.’”


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video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- On a team loaded with talented prospects, do-it-all athlete Jeffery Holland takes a back seat to no one. The 6-foot-2, 226-pound outside linebacker plays multiple positions for Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian, including running back, tight end, wide receiver and, of course, linebacker -- the position most schools recruiting him want him to play. Holland even lined up at cornerback for a game during the IMG 7v7 Southeast Regional championships in Bradenton, Fla., over the weekend.

The No. 8 player in the country, his athleticism is something that comes naturally, but it doesn’t hurt that he has pretty good bloodlines too. Holland’s uncle, Carey Holland, won an SEC basketball title at Auburn in 1985.


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IMG Southeast Regional notebook 

March, 31, 2014
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- South Florida has always been known for producing top talent and elite seven-on-seven teams but it was two teams from Jacksonville (Fla.) that battled in the finals of the IMG 7v7 Southeast Regional Championships on Sunday.

The Pro Impact team, led by LSU commit and the No. 3-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300 Kevin Toliver II and defensive back Derwin James Jr., a Florida State commit, upset River City, which featured FSU quarterback commit De’Andre Johnson and South Carolina commit Sherrod Pittman, 23-14.


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AUBURN, Ala. -- When Auburn’s five early enrollees arrived in January, their heads were spinning. They were balancing school and studying with workouts, meetings and everything else that comes with playing football. They went from high school, or junior college in some cases, to the daily grind at an SEC program.

It was a difficult adjustment and one that’s even harder now that spring practice has started, but each of them has a unique opportunity in front of him. Everybody gets a chance in the spring, and it’s no different for the newcomers.

[+] EnlargeD'haquille Williams
Courtesy of Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.Juco WR transfer D'haquille Williams has made a big first impression as an early enrollee at Auburn.
“Each guy is a little bit different that came in,” coach Gus Malzahn said. “There will be a few of them that will rotate with the first group or with the second group. The great thing about it is everybody’s getting reps. Everybody’s learning -- the offense, defense and special teams -- really at the same pace.”

The headliner of the group is wide receiver D'haquille Williams. He was the nation’s top junior college player a season ago and one of the more anticipated recruits ever to sign with Auburn. It was hard to miss his 6-foot-2, 216-pound frame the first day of practice, and he’s certainly impressed the coaches through the first week.

“You can tell why we needed him and why we wanted him,” offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. “He’s got God-given abilities that are really good, and I think he’ll really add value to our receiving corps.”

Williams has been one of the players who has rotated in with the first group early on, and he also has worked some with the kick and punt returners. His addition plus the return of Sammie Coates, Ricardo Louis, Quan Bray and Marcus Davis gives the Tigers a talented and deep group of wide receivers for quarterback Nick Marshall to throw to.

“[Williams] is very impressive,” Marshall said. “He’s a guy who will make a play for you when the ball is in the air. We’ve got great receivers this year. It’s going to be sick watching them.”

Although it’s Williams who has grabbed most of the attention, his junior college teammate Derrick Moncrief has been every bit as impressive through the first part of spring. The former Prattville (Ala.) star has played the lion’s share at boundary safety with Joshua Holsey still on the mend, and he has made the most of his opportunity.

“Moncrief has been an extremely pleasant surprise,” defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said Thursday. “When you get a junior college player who’s not played in your system, you always wonder how long it’s going to take him to transition. He’s making some mistakes out there, as you would expect, but I think at this point, he is way beyond all the new safeties.”

The problem will be what to do with Moncrief when Holsey returns, but that’s a good problem to have, especially considering the lack of depth back there last year.

The only other junior college player to enroll early was offensive lineman Xavier Dampeer, and he, too, has drawn praise from the coaching staff. He’s currently backing up Reese Dismukes at center, a position that’s critical to the offense.

“He’s getting reps,” Malzahn said. “His snaps have been good. I thought his communication has been good the first few days. He seems like a really football-savvy guy. I think he likes to compete, so he’ll have a chance.”

For Chris Laye and Stanton Truitt, the two younger enrollees, the adjustment has been a little more difficult. It has been a little over two months since they finished their high school careers, and now they’re in college, practicing with the defending SEC champs.

Still, they’re getting an opportunity this spring and have an advantage over the rest of the 2014 signees who won’t arrive until the summer.

At the end of the day, the rookies are always going to make a mistake here or there. It’s that way at every school. But through the first week, Auburn’s early enrollees have not only shown potential. They’ve shown that they belong.
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ATLANTA -- Jawon Pass was sitting at a stoplight recently when he looked to his left and saw a Georgia Bulldogs bumper sticker. Then he turned to his right and saw a South Carolina Gamecocks logo staring at him from a window of another car. Then directly in front of him were vehicles with Tennessee Volunteers and Clemson Tigers license plate frames.

Pass, a highly regarded 2016 quarterback from Columbus (Ga.) Carver, has lived in 10 different cities while growing up, but when he arrived in Georgia six years ago, he immediately noticed things were different.

“There are fans from everywhere here,” said Pass, who already has scholarship offers from Clemson, Florida, Mississippi State, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame and Texas A&M. “Georgia is the heart of college football. Georgia fans are all over. But you’re also going to see a lot of Clemson, Auburn, Alabama fans and everybody else. It’s like nowhere else I’ve lived before. Georgia is the melting pot of college football, if you ask me.”


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Getting to know Eric Swinney 

March, 26, 2014
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Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

ROSWELL, Ga. — Running back Eric Swinney was one of 13 ESPN Junior 300 prospects to attend the Atlanta Nike Football Training Camp on Sunday. Of those 13, 12 are from Georgia, which regularly churns out elite college football players. For some reason, however, the state doesn’t seem to get the recognition as a top talent-producing state.


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video Throughout this recruiting cycle, Recruiting Nation will profile several ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

ROSWELL, Ga. -- One of the top juniors in the nation, Kevin Toliver II, made the trip from his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., to Atlanta to compete against some of the best athletes in the country at the Atlanta Nike Football Training Camp this past Sunday.


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Atlanta NFTC notebook 

March, 23, 2014
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ROSWELL, Ga. -- The Atlanta Nike Football Training Camp is generally one of the most impressive groups of high school football players you will find in the country. This year’s camp didn’t disappoint. Eight invites were handed out to The Opening, a prestigious invite-only camp held in Beaverton, Ore., in July.


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Atlanta Elite 11 awards 

March, 22, 2014
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SUGAR HILL, Ga. -- The Elite 11 came rolling into the Atlanta area on Friday afternoon with what we believe to be the most developmental group this camp series has hosted in a long time. The Southeast region in the 2015 class of quarterbacks is not an overly strong or deep group as a whole, certainly not in the way it has been in the past. It is not as college-ready as we’ve seen in the past.

With that being said, there are players with some promising upside and some developmental late bloomers who will likely see their recruitment head well into their senior seasons, leading up to signing day. We believe college coaches, as they get out on the road in the spring evaluation period, will find this to be the case as well in this region.

Several prospects below displayed some traits that lead us to believe they have the ability to blossom and grow into quality college-level prospects over time. There was not a clear-cut leader or difference-maker among the group on this particular day. In fact, there were many prospects with a lot of similarities.


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Sean WhiteTom Hauck for Student SportsSean White is getting acclimated to Auburn's workout plan while finishing up high school in Florida.

Auburn is loaded at quarterback with Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson, but that doesn’t mean the coaches aren’t excited about incoming freshman Sean White, an ESPN 300 quarterback from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who earned MVP honors at the Elite 11 competition and the Under Armour All-American Game.

We caught up with White to talk about the upcoming season, how he fits in Gus Malzahn’s offense and who he has winning it all in basketball.

I know you’ve been watching the tournament. What are your thoughts so far?

White: It’s been good. There’s been a lot of close games, fun to watch. I haven’t been doing too well (with his bracket), but that’s OK. There’s always more games, so we’ll see how it goes.

What do you think of Auburn’s new basketball coach, Bruce Pearl?

White: I think it’s awesome. I know he was a great coach at Tennessee. He had them going deep in the tournament. I know he’ll do the same thing at Auburn because Auburn is a great place. I think they were just waiting on a real good coach to come in because they have a beautiful gym and everything like that. I think he’s going to do a great job there.

Getting back to football, Auburn started spring practice this week. What are your expectations for the upcoming season?

White: My expectations are high. I think that we have a lot of guys back, especially on offense. We lost a couple guys, but the majority of people are back and defensively I think we’ll be even stronger than we were last season. Teams are going to be looking for us. We’re going to have a bigger target on our back, but I think we’re going to be ready for that. We’re going to work hard in the summer like they’re already up there working hard in the spring. We’ll be ready for everybody’s best shot.

They ran a lot last season. Something like 73 percent of the time. When you get there and it’s your time, do the coaches plan to throw it more?

White: When Coach Malzahn recruited me, he said he adapts his offense to what the quarterback can do. With Nick at quarterback, he’s obviously an unbelievable runner with the ball, so on offense they used his running ability on a lot of plays. The next quarterback that steps in, whether it’s me or someone else, he’s just going to adapt the offense to their strengths and fit it to what they can do well. I think that’s why he’s so successful. Pretty much every quarterback he’s worked with, he’s had success with.

Malzahn is known for his hurry-up, no-huddle offense. How do you feel about running it?

White: I feel really comfortable because in high school, it wasn’t quite as fast as Auburn runs it, but we ran a no-huddle offense, so I’m used to going fast and getting as many plays in as possible. I’m excited to get to Auburn, run it more and play for Coach Malzahn and his system that’s worked for years. Words can’t describe how excited I am.

I have to ask you about the proposed 10-second rule. Obviously it didn’t go through, but what did you think when you saw that?

White: It was pretty obvious that the teams that were for putting in a 10-second rule were teams that ran a small, methodical, pro-style offense, so they were obviously going to try and slow down some of the teams that were beating them with the fast-tempo offenses. They want to play slow. They want to play methodical. So they were trying to get the rule changed, but there’s no evidence that going fast is affecting player safety. I don’t see the NCAA making a rule to change anything like that, so I think Auburn will just be going as fast as ever.

What’s your plan between now and when you enroll? What are you working on?

White: I’m just down here in South Florida throwing. They gave me the huge workout book so I can get accustomed to what they do and the workouts they do. So I’ve been doing those workouts down here over at the school weight room. I’ve been doing speed training and everything just to get myself physically ready, so when I move to Auburn, I’ll be ready to go.

Lastly, who do you have winning it all in the NCAA tournament and why?

White: I like Virginia. I’ve been watching a couple games of them this year. They don’t have any weaknesses. They can score, rebound, do it all. And they’ve been battle-tested in the ACC. I think that’s the best conference in basketball.
video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

MIAMI -- South Florida has always been a recruiting hot bed and this year is no different. Out-of-state schools will flock to the talent-rich area to try and land some of the top prospects in the country. Prospects like ESPN Junior 300 defensive back Tarvarus McFadden and his teammate Torrance Gibson are two of the highly-ranked recruits that are getting that attention in this class.

McFadden, the No. 58-ranked player in the country, is considering the big in-state schools -- Florida, Florida State and Miami -- and handful of out-of-state schools like Ohio State, USC, LSU, Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee.


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ALBANY, Ga. -- The recruitment of defensive tackle Trenton Thompson continues to take shape. The No. 5-ranked prospect in the ESPN Junior 300 has been sitting on offers from nearly every top program in the nation for over a year now, and while once thought to be an early pledge for home-state Georgia, his recruitment has slowed down a bit with the rush of the spring evaluation period around the corner.

While the Bulldogs remain the team to beat at this point, there is stiff competition coming from the region's best. On Wednesday, the 6-foot-3, 311-pound Thompson gave the latest, which includes his top five.


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Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton
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