Auburn Tigers: #AskLoogs

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Likely DaVonte Lambert (Waynesboro, Ga./Georgia Military), the nation’s top-ranked junior college defensive tackle. He will be expected to boost the interior trenches immediately for the Tigers. A few other players could make their presence felt at positions of need, including ILB Tre' Williams (Mobile, Ala./St. Paul’s Episcopal), who is physically prepared to make the jump, and this is a depth-issue area for Auburn. We do not see the same type of defensive freshmen impact in the 2014 class that we saw with the 2013 class, as we expect the majority of Auburn’s defensive commits in this class will redshirt.
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Well, first off, we are in the process of finalizing our last edition of the ESPN 300, and, secondly, there is far more to calculate than what you saw on TV for one game. This is not stated to negate his performance. He was the MVP and earned it with a great performance. The week was far more important overall. All I can say at this point is that he will see a significant increase in rank not only from a positional standpoint but overall as well. He had a great week. Will he be No. 1 at the position? I don’t know that yet. More importantly I am as impressed with his journey as I am with his performance during the week. There is something to be said for a guy who was on no one’s radar last March. We had him graded at a 79 initially which we felt was very strong considering nobody had offered him at that point last spring. He continually did everything he could during the summer to prove his worth including winning the Elite 11. When he was added to the Under Armour roster it became apparent immediately upon his arrival that he belonged. He has so many intangible traits coupled with very good physical ability so there is a high probability for success at the next level. We are excited for his prospects.
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This is always difficult to foresee because players develop at different rates and the physical talent isn’t what usually determines whether a prospect makes an impact right away. Some guys you have a great feel for. I remember last year when we had Carl Lawson as the No. 2 player in the country and people told us we were crazy, but he had the goods in the intangibles areas so we felt plenty confident with where we had him. This year, our confidence level is relatively high with the following players. First, RB Racean Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) is going to have a role there, no doubt. Now, how big of a role depends on his capacity for scheme pick-up, pass protection and ball security, but his talent is better than what Auburn has behind Tre Mason right now. From a playmaking standpoint, WR D'Haquille Williams (Laplace/La./Mississippi Gulf College) adds an entirely new dimension to this offense. We would be very surprised if he does not make his presence felt early and often. The Tigers have made strides in the juco ranks at linebacker and on the defensive front too, but most juco prospects are expected to play right away -- that’s why you pursue them. However, don’t dismiss ATH Stanton Truitt (Monroe, Ga./Monroe) as being a sleeper freshman for this team as a jet sweep/Onterio McCalebb type who can contribute in the passing game.
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Here’s are a few: WR Isaiah McKenzie is a bolt of lightning. He can really run, and while he may lack ideal measurables, he has some Tavon Austin qualities. RB Jeff Jones has flown way under the radar during the recruiting cycle and has been very impressive with his speed and explosiveness. We are still trying to figure out why no one is recruiting OC Jacob Bragg. We are hoping this week will open up some eyes. He has looked good. Considering four of our six original QBs have gone down to injuries and won’t be playing, we have been pleased with the likes of Rafe Peavey, Morgan Mahalak and Sean White as well. DT Garrald McDowell may be undersized, but he has been overlooked much in the same was as Isaac Gross was a couple years back down here for a lack of size.
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They compare in more ways than you might think. Thomas does not carry the same weight, but they have very similar builds. They are on the same team so you get to see them in drills back-to-back getting reps. Fournette may be a little further along as a pass catcher from an experience standpoint. You are asking a very difficult question because as impressive as Thomas is, I don’t know if you can truly compare anyone to Fournette. He is a unique guy. However, as far as Auburn is concerned, Roc Thomas is the ideal fit, and that is all that matters. He adds power and explosiveness to a downhill counter/power game, yet he is still able to bounce plays to the edge and take it the distance.

#AskLoogs: Impact recruits in SEC

November, 15, 2013
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So far, I believe there are several. Let’s start in the SEC West. Offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe), an Alabama pledge, is sure to make an instant impact at one of the two tackle spots. Defensive end Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin) is a huge need for the Texas A&M Aggies and should have an immediate role. If Johnny Manziel bolts for the NFL, QB Kyle Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain) could be thrust into immediate duty. Running back Roc Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) is as big of a need as any for the Auburn Tigers and he is the right style of back.

In the SEC East, it is a little more muddy because there aren't as many immediate needs or impact guys committed just yet. For Tennessee, if Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech Senior) can stay healthy, he will play. In fact, several Vols could see immediate duty and they could also have up to 14 mid-year enrollees. Wide receiver Shaq Davidson (Gaffney, S.C./Gaffney) at South Carolina. Defensive end Denzel Ware (Crestview, Fla./Crestview) at Kentucky. And if Florida can hang on, there is no doubt that WR Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead Senior) and RB Dalvin Cook (Miami/Miami Central) will have roles with the Gators.

#AskLoogs: Charting surprise SEC teams

November, 8, 2013
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Kentucky and Auburn are two, for sure. Kentucky just needs to hang on and hope their on-field performance -- which I think they knew was going to be rough -- does not hurt them down the stretch as other teams will be sure to try and lure some of their 25 verbal commitments away. Five of those prospects are in the ESPN 300, and all are players that the Wildcats can form a nucleus around.

Auburn could see a nice close because of their unexpected performance on the field. A snowball effect of momentum heading into January could be vital for them, especially if they are 10-1 heading into the Iron Bowl and somehow manage a New Year’s Day bowl.

Missouri has also been somewhat of a surprise for what they have accomplished in the Southeast, with nine verbal commitments from Florida or Georgia. They absolutely have to have a presence in this region, which means winning road games down there is critical.

#AskLoogs: Roc solid for Auburn

November, 4, 2013
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Simply put, yes, I believe Racean Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) will make an impact as a freshman. This is a huge need position for the Auburn Tigers from both a depth and talent standpoint. While Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne are quality guys, they are not elite players at the position. We believe Thomas could be an elite guy in time.

What Gus Malzahn wants in his backfield are two very different types of backs. They want a load-carrier with power, speed and explosiveness who possesses the necessary measurables to be counted on in an every down capacity. They also want a scatback type to offset the load carrier (an Onterio McCalebb-type). This player is the change-of-pace guy that is their perimeter runner. We believe Thomas fits into half of this equation.

More importantly than whether he makes an impact or not is the fact that he goes to Auburn, not Alabama. It's an in-state coup that is very important for Auburn’s program when it comes to winning in-state battles with the big dog to the West. Thomas is a player you can build an offense around.
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Hmm. This is a tough question to answer without the finality of the 2014 class signing day to give me some concrete options to choose from. I’ll take a stab at a few teams that might fit the bill.

I’d argue that Auburn’s true freshmen have been as impactful as Ole Miss. RB Racean Thomas could continue this trend. Michigan could get significant production from WR Drake Harris, ATH Jabrill Peppers and DT Bryan Mone, and if they get Da'Shawn Hand, that could be big for them. All guys are need positions. Texas A&M, with DE Myles Garrett, QB Kyle Allen, ATH Nick Harvey -- and they could also end up with ATH Speedy Noil, too. If they stay committed, Florida could see a lot of offensive impact with the likes of RB Dalvin Cook (huge need) and WR Ermon Lane, too. Miami could be another on both sides of the ball.

However, if we were sitting here in February and assuming LSU closed like some are expecting with in-state talent, including RB Leonard Fournette, then I think you could see a lot of freshmen making an impact for the Tigers.

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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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