Like so many other high school seniors across America, Nate Craig-Myers sat at a table in a crowded gym on Wednesday, surrounded by friends and family.
When it came time for his nationally televised announcement, he reached below the table and pulled out a statue of Aubie the Tiger, signaling his commitment to play football at Auburn.
In doing so, he solidified one of the best wide receiver classes in the history of Auburn recruiting.
In addition to Craig-Myers, Auburn added Eli Stove, Marquis McClain and Kyle Davis, who was already on campus as a January enrollee.
“Our wide receiver class, I think is the top in the country,” said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. “It's guys that we went after over a year ago. We hand-picked, that's who we wanted, and we got them. (Wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig) and the offensive staff deserves a lot of credit.”
Malzahn and the offensive staff placed a heavy emphasis on big-bodied receivers this year. Craig-Myers, McClain and Davis each fall into that category, as all three are 6-foot-2 and over 200 pounds.
Craig-Myers is the crown jewel of the class, as he was ranked among the top-10 receivers by each of the four major recruiting services. He had 1,018 yards and 16 touchdowns in his senior year at Tampa Catholic High School.
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“We really felt like (Craig-Myers) was one of the best overall players in the entire country,” Malzahn said. “He's a big guy; he can go get the football. … We’re excited about him. He's got a chance to be an impact player for us.”
Davis, a consensus four-star recruit, racked up 1,499 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns in his senior season at Archer High in Loganville, Georgia.
Stove had the best high school statistics out of the three, recording 1,878 yards and 22 touchdowns in Niceville, Florida.
Malzahn said the Under Armour All-American is flying under the radar due to the overall skill of the wide receiver haul but has a chance to play immediately.
“We really feel like he's got a very unique skill set, Malzahn said. “We think he's got a chance to be an impact player. He’ll have a chance to help us next year.”
All three receivers were on the ESPN300 list, and McClain, a three-star recruit from Crestview, Florida, adds depth to the impressive haul.
The wide receiver class was much-needed for Auburn, which lost leading receivers Ricardo Louis and Melvin Ray to graduation.
The Tigers struggled in the passing game as it was last year, finishing 57th among the 65 teams in Power 5 conferences with a paltry 173.6 passing yards per game.
In addition to the strong receiving class, Auburn added two quarterbacks, both of whom Malzahn said would have the opportunity to compete for the starting job in a “wide open” race this spring.
The most notable addition is John Franklin III, a January enrollee who accounted for over 1,000 total yards and 16 touchdowns last season at East Mississippi Community College.
“He's got great speed. We think he throws the ball well,” Malzahn said. “He's familiar with our offense, so we're definitely excited about what he can do.”
Thanks in large part to the bevy of offensive firepower in this year’s class, Auburn landed in the top 10 in national recruiting rankings for the fourth straight year, according to the 247sports team rankings. Rivals placed the Tigers in the top 10 for the seventh consecutive year.
With the help of new contributors and added depth, Malzahn is confident in the team’s ability to rebound after a disappointing 7-6 campaign in 2015.
“This class is a little bit different [from years past],” Malzahn said. “This class is a special class. … There is true impact players at impact positions.”
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