After missing out on numerous five-star prospects the morning of Feb. 2, it looked like Auburn would limp into spring practice with no momentum.
Would Auburn even field a team in 2012?
But at 1:19 p.m. things began to look up.
Ricardo Louis, a four-star prospect from Miami Beach, faxed his letter of intent after a wild month preceding signing day, which included a decommitment from Auburn, a commitment to Florida State and a decommitment from Florida State.
At 2:12 p.m., five-star offensive tackle Avery Young picked up an Auburn hat amid offers from almost every other big-name program in the country.
Suddenly, the sky wasn’t falling anymore.
Auburn wasn’t going to cease playing football on Saturdays.
And such is a typical signing day: fans go from jubilant to furious and back to jubilant in a matter of hours depending on the choice of an 18-year-old athlete.
But what people don’t realize is that what happens after Feb. 2 is countless times more important than what happens on Feb 2.
If a coaching staff can’t use a player’s five-star talents, what good is he? If a five-star doesn’t put in the effort to live up to his billing, what impact will he make?
Southern California had four five-star players in their 2010 recruiting class—only one is still on the team.
Of course, teams that have the best recruiting classes usually have the best teams.
But Auburn still finished 8–5 in 2011 with a recruiting class that will most likely produce numerous starters and potential stars, but it didn’t help immediately.
Auburn had the ability to go after many high-profile athletes this recruiting season.
They did—and missed.
It happens when a staff goes toe-to-toe with anyone in the nation for the best players.
But this year, they could afford to.
According to analysis from Evan Woodberry of al.com, 63 percent of Auburn’s roster has never started a game.
Only two have started more than 15 games.
In 2012, the Tigers will have 13 seniors, 16 juniors, 24 sophomores and 30 freshman.
Youth will abound once again, but many of the true freshmen that played this past season have a full year of experience.
That will pay off next season.
This team has plenty of players waiting in the wings to replace the few seniors that will leave in 2012, providing depth across the board that was lacking in 2011.
That being said, Auburn’s 2012 class doesn’t have the star power that last year’s did.
Sixteen or 17 have legit shots to be studs before they leave Auburn’s campus.
I only see about seven or eight of those in the 2012 class.
But that doesn’t make this year’s class a failure. Auburn still filled needs.
Five-star offensive linemen Jordan Diamond and Young were huge pickups. Offensive linemen Will Adams, Robert Leff, Patrick Miller and Shane Callahan gave Auburn the No. 2 offensive-line class in the nation, a huge area of need for Auburn.
Guys like Javon Robinson or Zeke Pike might not have been five-stars, but they’ll be solid players for Auburn.
That’s what Auburn needed, and that’s what this class is full of.