Up-and-down. Topsy-turvy. Unpredictable. These words don’t even begin to describe the Auburn recruiting season.
Fans and coaches agree, the Tigers have seen one too many high-profile recruits commit—then decommit.
This recruiting cycle has been filled with hires, dismissals and questionable tattoos. But still, just a week out from National Signing Day, the Tigers are in position to secure pledges from some of the nation’s top prospects.
With a completely new coaching staff, and coming off their worst season in decades, it is now more important than ever that Auburn signs great players.
But who will these next great Tigers be?
Several recruits currently favor Auburn. But it is impossible to know for sure if they will ever become Tigers. Though it is fun to speculate.
The following lays out the betting-style odds that Auburn has to sign their top uncommitted targets on February 6.
Mackensie Alexander — Immokalee (FL)
Mackensie Alexander is a very highly rated defensive back who has been flying under the radar in some recruiting circles.
Though he had very little interest in the Tigers just a month ago, pre-existing relationships with new Auburn coaches Charlie Harbison and Melvin Smith piqued Alexander’s interest recently.
At the US Army All-American game, Alexander was asked about any potential leaders in his recruitment. He responded, “with them (Harbison and Smith) coming together, Auburn has a great chance of getting me.”
Being that Alexander was on Auburn’s campus for an official visit just last weekend, it appears that the timing may be perfect for the Tigers to land ESPN’s fourth-ranked overall prospect.
Odds: 1-to-1 (50%)
Montravius Adams — Dooly County (GA)
The nation’s second-best defensive tackle has had his eyes on Auburn throughout the entire recruiting process, and now his list has been narrowed to three—Auburn, Georgia and Clemson.
As of today, Clemson looks to be the team to beat for Adams’ commitment. Dabo Swinney and company have found success going down south to Georgia and Flordia to find recruits and have been high on Adams from Day 1.
Auburn does have an official visit with Adams tentatively scheduled for February 1, just days before the signing period begins.
If Adams decides to travel to The Plains this weekend, he could see firsthand the momentum that Gus Malzahn and the Tigers are gaining towards the end of the recruiting cycle and could easily be swayed into becoming the next big piece of the puzzle.
Odds: 4-to-1 (20%)
Reuben Foster — Auburn (AL)
Reuben Foster’s story is one of the most interesting of this recruiting period. Originally an Alabama commit, Foster abruptly flipped to Auburn and commemorated this decision with a forearm tattoo of the Auburn logo. Then, after the dismissal of Gene Chizik, Foster backed out of his commitment to the Tigers and now remains undecided.
Like Adams, Foster is going to be on Auburn’s campus for an official visit just days before the signing period begins. Many are calling him a lock for the Tigers, but if this young man has shown us anything throughout his recruitment, it’s that he is truly unpredictable.
Overall, the proximity of his home to Auburn’s campus, along with the potential to contribute as a true freshman, should be enough to get the nation’s top inside linebacker to sign with Auburn on February 6.
Odds: 4-to-5 (56%)
Dee Liner — Muscle Shoals (AL)
If Foster’s story was the most interesting of the recruiting period, Liner’s is number two. The talented defensive lineman committed to Auburn nearly two years ago in June of 2011 and remained committed until recently when he cited that he has “nothing against Auburn,” but he felt there was not “enough time to get to know the new staff.”
The 6'3", 275-pound defender now seems to have his head on straight and is focused on preparing for his SEC football career. Many think this career will take place in Tuscaloosa, not Auburn.
After becoming Auburn’s first commit in the class of 2013, it looks like the Tigers and Liner have parted ways for good.
Odds: 12-to-1 (8%)
Overall, Auburn fans should not be surprised if two or more of these prospects call Auburn home in the near future. Gus Malzahn and his staff have "hit the ground running" since reaching The Plains and look to continue this upward swing in recruiting.
Only time will tell, and predicting the decisions of teenage boys is far from a perfect science, but those are the odds, and now it is all a waiting game.
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Currently, the University of Michigan has two No. 1 ranked teams in the country, men's basketball and men's swimming and diving.
Michigan consistently maintains a strong national presence in men's swimming and diving, but the rise to number one in men's basketball really has Ann Arbor abuzz.
The Wolverines have not held a No. 1 ranking in basketball since the days of the Fab Five back in 1992.
On top of basketball and swimming and diving, Michigan has the No. 3 ranking in both men's and women's gymnastics. The Wolverines continue to be powerhouses in gymnastics each year.
Even with all of these elite teams sitting atop the rankings of their respective sports, Michigan is still not satisfied.
The Wolverines have been and always will be considered a football school.
Michigan is working its way back to national prominence in football and here are three reasons the Wolverines can join the school's other sports atop the rankings.
College football head coaches get paid the big bucks when they build a program into a powerhouse championship contender that can consistently compete for big BCS bowl berths.
Still, just because it’s the coaches who receive the credit, the publicity and the big day, that doesn’t mean that they’re playing the biggest factor in their team’s success.
The talent out on the field is what wins you national championships. It’s no big secret.
If you want to compete with the big boys of college football, a team has to have enough elite talent, and there are only a few few teams every year which have that talent.
While we won’t learn just how good teams really are until at least October, there are still some teams that at least have a clear talent advantage on paper going into next season.
Here’s a look at college football’s 25 most talented teams for the 2013 season.
Although the Michigan Wolverines lost one of their two verbally committed prospects from the class of 2014, head coach Brady Hoke should not lose any sleep over parting ways with offensive tackle Denzel Ward (Chicago).
Chantel Jennings of ESPN.com broke the news this afternoon, and Sam Webb of Scout.com confirmed that the coaching staff decided to part ways with Ward:
#Michigan has decided to part ways with 2014 IMG Academy OL, Denzel Ward— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) January 29, 2013
The writing had been on the wall for the Wolverines and Ward for quite some time now considering how fixated the IMG Academy lineman became on taking visits to other schools. Earlier this month, Ward told Tim Sullivan of TheWolverine.com he was not 100 percent committed to the Wolverines.
Once Ward picked up an offer from the Florida Gators and moved down to Bradenton, Fla. to attend the IMG Academy, his commitment began to waver. Another offer from the Ohio State Buckeyes also hurt Michigan's chances of keeping Ward in the fold.
An unofficial visit to Gainesville proved to be "the last straw" for Hoke and his staff, according to a report by Sullivan on Tuesday afternoon. Sullivan also noted that the Wolverines are likely finished recruiting the junior tackle.
Ward more than likely made an emotional decision less than one week after receiving a scholarship offer from Michigan during an unofficial trip to campus, and this recent decision by the coaches works out well for everyone.
Hoke once again proved the staff's policies on post-commitment visits are not going to be bent, and Ward gets to look around after bringing his recruitment to an end too early for his mother's liking last October.
"My mom wants me to take all my visits," Ward told Jennings. "I want to be able to see where I can play early and develop."
The second part of Ward's statement is the top reason why nobody in Ann Arbor should be fretting about the fact the Wolverines were not able to hold on to the 6'9", 285-pounder, despite being the first perennial power to offer him.
Three out of four offensive linemen from Michigan's 2012 recruiting class will be battling for the team's vacant spots at right and left guard this spring.
Additionally, the Maize and Blue will welcome seven more linemen to their 2013 roster, including 4-start tackles Kyle Bosch (Wheaton, Ill.), Logan Tuley-Tillman (Peoria, Ill.) and Chris Fox (Parker, Colo.), barring any surprises before Feb. 6.
Ward would have given the Wolverines an immense amount of depth at offensive tackle moving forward, though there is also a chance he could have wound up being stuck behind Michigan's highly touted prospects.
It is always frustrating for teams to lose recruits, but this move will not hurt the Wolverines going forward and is one that should not have taken anyone by surprise.
Thankfully, the coaches made the decision to separate themselves from Ward early enough to take a long look at some of the top linemen across in the nation.
Note: All player rankings are courtesy of Rivals.com.
Follow me on Twitter @ZachDirlam_BR
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With every new college football season there are plenty of new quarterback battles waiting to be hashed out through spring and fall practices—and maybe into the start of the new season. The upcoming 2013 season won't be any different, especially with so many big-name quarterbacks leaving top programs around the nation.
Big-time QBs like Matt Barkley, Geno Smith and Collin Klein all need to be replaced on the roster. Can the underclassmen step up to make a name for themselves, or will that always-reliable backup finally get his shot at glory in his own right?
While there will be plenty of quarterbacks vying for that coveted top spot on the depth chart, we've selected 10 of the most intriguing quarterback battles to watch this spring and fall as teams prepare for the 2013 season.