For six weeks on the job, Chizik did well

Published 10:29 pm Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It’s one of the biggest days on the college football calendar. Signing day has come and gone. I guess I better get off of the recruiting web sites and message boards and get back to work. Here are a few observations on the Auburn Tigers recruiting efforts from a card carrying recruiting geek.

First of all, I am impressed with our new head coach Gene Chizik. It is obvious that he is not scared of working hard to get our football program turned around. In the month and a half that he has been on the job, he has managed to put together a coaching staff, save 16 commitments from the Tuberville staff and secure 11 additional commits.

The new staff is loaded with top-notch recruiters who have relationships in states that Auburn typically hasn’t recruited in.

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This year our recruiting area has grown to include the talent-rich state of Texas. This should come as no surprise because Coach Chizik won a national championship at Texas as a defensive coordinator. He, along with assistants Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper, who came from Oklahoma State, have raided their old stomping grounds to help fill our needs.

When you finish 5-7 — and three juniors choose to leave early for the NFL draft — you have plenty of needs to fill. That is definitely the case with Auburn.

I believe that the signees from the 2009 class will be able to make an immediate impact at the running back, wide receiver, linebacker, and cornerback positions.

We signed a total of 13 players on the offensive side of the ball, and the speedy playmakers in this class will be a huge upgrade to our returning starters. Running backs Onterio McCalebb and Dontae Aycock, as well as receivers DeAngelo Benton and Emory Blake are burners who will play early and often for the Tigers next season.

I don’t look for us to repeat the abysmal offensive performance of 2008 with these guys playing in new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn’s wide-open attack.

On defense, we signed four tackles, two ends, three linebackers and five defensive backs. I look for 5-star linebacker Eltoro Freeman to start next year. He has already enrolled and will go through spring practice.

Keep an eye on Taikwon Paige and Desmond Washington in the fall. They are Junior College players who will step in and challenge for playing time at the cornerback position.

All in all it was a good year for us. We upgraded the skill positions, but missed out on a couple of big offensive lineman. At press time, our 2009 class is rated No. 14 by and No. 18 by Not bad for a staff that has only been at it for 6 weeks. I look forward to seeing what these guys can do during the 2010 recruiting season.

There is only two months until Spring Practice. War Eagle!