Meet the newcomers of Auburn football


Following National Signing Day 2017 on the Plains, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and his staff added 22 players to the program.

“We are very excited about this class,” Malzahn said. “When you look at the overall class, it is very well-rounded. There wasn’t a whole lot of drama today, and I think that says a lot about the signees’ loyalty. I think it also says a lot about our staff, who did an awesome job of building relationships. Everything went as planned today, which is a blessing.”

Here is a player-by-player breakdown on who Auburn has added to its program:

Jarrett Stidham: Stidham is the prize of this class as the former Baylor quarterback who snatched up the starting quarterback spot. Stidham was ranked the No. 1 JUCO prospect in the country. The former five-star recruit completed 75-of-109 passes for 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns as a true freshman at Baylor.

“I think (Stidham) has a chance to be a very good football player,” Malzahn said. “He is coming in to compete.”

Calvin Ashley: Ashley is a huge part of this recruiting class for Auburn, as the Washington, D.C. native remained committed to Auburn for nearly two years. The five-star offensive tackle is ranked the No. 6 offensive tackle in the country and No. 27 overall by 247 Sports. The 6-foot-7, 330-pound lineman will compete for early playing time this fall.

“He is a guy that we feel like can come in immediately and have a chance to compete,” Malzahn said. “He really reminds me of Greg Robinson when Greg was this age.”

T.D. Moultry: Moultry, of Jackson-Olin High School in Birmingham, Alabama, was named to the Class 6A all-state first team his senior season. The four-star linebacker was ranked the No. 3 linebacker in the country by 247 Sports. Rivals ranked him the No. 3 player in the state of Alabama.

“I think he’s one of the best players, if not the best player, in the state,” Malzahn said. “He’s a five-star guy. He took no other visits. He was extremely loyal to us. He helped us recruit. He’s got a unique skillset. He’s got an explosiveness that very few have playing inside linebacker. He’s got the ability to rush the passer. He played in some of these all-star games and really was the best player on the field in the all-star games.”

K.J. Britt: Britt joins Moultry as the most important defensive signees by the Tigers this year. Britt, of Oxford, Alabama, recorded 124 tackles in his senior season to go along with 17 tackles for loss, five sacks and one interception.

He was ranked the No. 5 player in Alabama by Rivals. The four-star linebacker will compete for early playing time along with fellow freshman T.D.

“K.J. Britt is a true inside linebacker that plays downhill,” Malzahn said. “He really provides a physical presence and he has the ability to make everyone around him better.”

Malcolm Askew: Askew was one of Auburn’s early enrollees who is already taking classes at Auburn. The four-star athlete was also 2016 first team all-state. Askew threw for 1,536 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior at McAdory High School. He ranked as the No. 7 prospect in Alabama by Rivals.

“Malcolm Askew is a defensive back and very talented young man that can run,” Malzahn said. “He has a very good skill set and played offense in high school, with very good ball skills.”

Devan Barrett: The four-star running back is another key piece of the offensive class. The Tampa, Florida, native ran for 1,271 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior. He accounted for 44 career touchdowns to along with more than 4,000 total career yards.

Malzahn said, “He was the No. 1 running back on our board from the get-go. He was the one that we wanted. He’s got great vision. He’s got great speed. He’s got the ability to take it 80 yards on any play. He can stretch the field down the field as far as catching the football. I really think he’s a got a chance to come in here and compete right off the bat.”

Nick Brahms: The four-star offensive guard also enrolled at Auburn in January. Brahms missed his entire senior season due to a broken leg.

The 6-foot-4, 280-pound guard will look to continue to rebuild his strength in his first semester at Auburn.

“Nick Brahms is a lineman, a center or a guard,” Malzahn said. “He is a very tough guy that brings a physical presence. I think he has a chance to be a very good player.”

Big Cat Bryant: The 6-foot-4, four-star defensive end of Crisp County High School in Cordele, Georgia, won Georgia Class 3A defensive player of the year. He recorded 102 tackles, 36.5 for a loss and 15.5 sacks as a senior. He is a consensus top 15 player from Georgia. He is the cousin of former Auburn defensive lineman Montravious Adams.

“Big Cat is a guy that we circled in,” Malzahn said. “We’ve recruited him for a long time. He is a pass-rushing machine. He’s an Auburn-type kid with a great family and great support system. We are just excited for him.”

Sal Cannella: Cannella ranked as a three-star JUCO tight end who is more of a pass catcher than run blocker. He had 29 receptions for 449 yards and seven touchdowns at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College. He was ranked as the No. 1 JUCO tight end by ESPN.

“Sal Cannella is another guy that we really felt has great ball skills and can stretch the field,” Malzahn said. “We needed some depth at tight end and he fills that need.”

Anders Carlson: If you think the name looks familiar, then you are not wrong. Carlson is the younger brother of Auburn senior kicker Daniel Carlson.

“Anders Carlson is Daniel’s brother and the number one kicker in the country,” Malzahn said. “I think there are so many similarities. We are very excited to have him and I know he’s excited to play with his brother. Daniel is the best kicker in college football. I think that everyone knows that, and we think that Anders has a chance to follow in his footsteps and be one of the best, too.”

He is rated as the nation’s best prep kicker. The Colorado Springs, Colorado native will likely take over kicking duties after his brother’s graduation after next season.

“Anders Carlson is Daniel’s brother and the number one kicker in the country,” Malzahn said. “I think there are so many similarities. We are very excited to have him and I know he’s excited to play with his brother. Daniel is the best kicker in college football. I think that everyone knows that, and we think that Anders has a chance to follow in his footsteps and be one of the best, too.”

Noah Igbinoghene: The Trussville, Alabama native had more than 1,700 all-purpose yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior. He was named to the Class 7A all-state first team. He is a consensus top 15 player in Alabama. Both of his parents were Olympic track athletes.

Malzahn: “He played wide receiver and running back at his high school. He is a dynamic guy that we think has an unbelievable upside, and he is extremely fast. Both of his parents actually ran track in the Olympics. He is also a young guy, as far as age goes. We think his upside is really big.”

Alec Jackson: The Montgomery, Alabama native and Jeff Davis High School graduate recorded 60 tackles, nine for a loss and six sacks during his senior season. The three-star defensive tackle finished his career with 138 tackles, 13.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries. He was rated as a top 75 defensive lineman by 247 Sports.

“Alec Jackson, a defensive lineman from Jeff Davis, is very athletic,” Malzahn said. “He’s got a frame where he is even going to grow and get bigger. He’s a very smart young man. We think he’s got a chance to really help us.”

Travion Leonard: Leonard ranks as just a two-star defensive back out of West Palm Beach, Florida; however he snagged 10 career interceptions at Oxbridge Academy. He finished second team all-state his senior season.

“We felt like he really was an Auburn-type guy,” Malzahn said. “We really watched him. He was committed to another school for a while, and he came on board with us. We think he’s got a very good skill set. He can run, he’s long, he’s a very good tackler and he’s kind of one of those mature guys.”

Jordyn Peters: Peters ranks as a three-star defensive back from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He earned Class 6A all-state second team honors in his senior season. Scout ranked him as the No. 4 safety in Alabama.

Malzahn: “Jordyn Peters, a defensive back, has the ability to play safety or corner. He’s long. I think he is going to grow and get bigger. He’s a very good tackler and a very physical guy. I’m very excited about Jordyn and think he’s got a chance to be an outstanding player.”

John Samuel Shenker: Shenker comes to Auburn from Colqiutt County High School in Moultrie, Georgia.

“Shenker is a tight end that reminds me of Philip Lutzenkirchen,” Malzahn said. “He is about the same size, his ball skills are very good, he can put his hand down, he can block and he does a lot of H-back stuff that we do in our offense.”

Bill Taylor: The 6-foot-4, Tuscaloosa, Alabama native ranked as the No. 2 long snapper in the country. His father played long snapper and linebacker at Alabama.

Malzahn: “Bill Taylor, our long snapper, is a big, physical guy that can tackle. When you can find a guy that can snap it consistently and accurately and tackle – those are hard to find. We’re excited about Bill.”

Austin Troxell: The four-star offensive lineman earned first team all-state honors at Madison Academy his senior season. The 6-foot-7, 315-pound lineman was a consensus top 25 offensive tackle in the country. ESPN and Rivals ranked him as a top 15 player in Alabama.

“Austin Troxell is a guy that we identified for a long time ago as being one of the top offensive tackles in the country,” Malzahn said. “We have recruited him for almost three years, and he has a great family. We think he has a chance to be a very good player.”

Tyrone Truesdell: The three-star defensive tackle recorded 39 tackles, seven for a loss and 2.5 sacks in his senior season at Lucy Laney High School in Augusta, Georgia.

“Tyrone Truesdell is a big, athletic guy,” Malzahn said. “He came to our Big Cat Weekend over the summer, and we kept up with him. We brought him in this last weekend, and we feel like he has great upside. He can really run and has good instincts. I think he’s going to be a very good player.”

JaTarvious Whitlow: Whitlow was Auburn’s final commitment and came as a bit of a surprise on National Signing Day. He won Class 2A back of the year at LaFayette High School as he threw for 2,292 yards and 29 touchdowns in his senior season. 247 Sports ranked him as a top 25 prospect in Alabama. He was also all-state in basketball and a finalist for 2A player of the year in his junior season.

“JaTarvious Whitlow is a guy that really has been on my mind for a while,” Malzahn said. “He came to camp this summer and just had an outstanding camp. The defensive coaches were kind of looking at him as a safety and the offensive coaches were looking at him as an athlete, receiver-type, and when Chip (Lindsey) got here, we pulled up the film again, not just his game film, but the one from the summer camp. We just felt like we needed him to be a part of our offense. He’s got very good ball skills, and we’re going to play him at wide receiver starting out.”

Alaric Williams: The four-star athlete is also a big get for the Tigers offense. He was named to the 6A second team all-state. He is ranked as a top 10 player from Alabama by Rivals.

Malzahn: “Alaric Williams is another guy that has been very loyal to us for a long time. He’s a running back and slot receiver and gives us a lot of flexibility and versatility to utilize him.”

Malik Willis: Willis was an early enrollee, joining the Auburn program in January. The three-star athlete threw for 2,562 yards and ran for 1,033, accounting for 37 touchdowns as a senior at Roswell High School in Roswell, Georgia. He was named Class 7A offensive player of the year by the Atlanta Journal Constitution along with being named first team all-state.

Malzahn: “Malik Willis is a guy that has only played quarterback for a little over a year. As a staff, we really felt that if this guy had been playing quarterback for two or three years, he would be one of the top guys in the country. He reminds me a little bit of Nick Marshall in the way he runs and the way he throws the football.”

Chandler Wooten: Wooten, a three-star linebacker from Acworth, Georgia registered 124 tackles, 15 for a loss in his senior season at North Cobb High School.

“Chandler Wooten is a guy that we identified a little over a year ago as one of the better linebackers in the country,” Malzahn said. “He is a long guy that can run, and he gives us a lot of versatility.”

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