Auburn Football Recruiting: Ranking Five Much-Needed Recruits

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Nov 5, 2015; Manhattan, KS, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Jarrett Stidham (3) runs with the ball against the Kansas State Wildcats during the first half at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Here we discuss the five recruits who have either signed their letter of intent or enrolled early, and rank them for their importance to Auburn football.

Auburn football will come out of National Signing Day with the No. 9 recruitment class as ranked by 247sports.com. What started early in December 2016 with Jarrett Stidham‘s recruitment, the Tigers will complete an impressive class that will add onto an already powerful roster for 2017.

The top rated recruits from this year include 4-star defensive end Markaviest Bryant, 5-star offensive tackle Calvin Ashley, and the newest addition to running back with 4-star Devan Barrett. Names that came to shock those on the Plains were the commitments of 3-star athlete JaTarvious Whitlow, a quarterback who will switch to wide receiver, and 3-star tight end John Samuel Shenker, whose connection with Chip Lindsey led to his recruitment.

It’s safe to say that this recruitment class won’t make or break the 2017 season, but it certainly does have the capabilities of making Auburn a dark horse name come playoff season. Lindsey’s relationships with quarterbacks — and seemingly tight ends — along with Malzahn’s trickery and relationship with running backs offers an interesting story for offense.

Defensively, Auburn is set up to once again be dominant. It is hoped that Byron Cowart, Deshaun Davis and Dontavius Russell will add on more playing time and show off what they were unable to in the 2016-17 season. Whatever might be and whatever could be are up for grabs, but there’s enough room to say that Auburn will have plenty of firepower to take the SEC West.

Here’s a ranking of the top five recruits for Auburn football’s 2017 season:

No. 5 — TE Salvatore Cannella

Salvatore Cannella is coming right out of JUCO from Scottsdale Community College as the No. 2 tight end. Cannella is a 6-foot-6, 230-pound red zone threat for either Stidham or White to have around, and it is assumed that offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey has a love for quarterbacks and tight ends. Forget John Samuel Shenker, this guy seems to have the abilities that Auburn needs to get an offense rolling. Football is progressing to the point where tight ends are becoming highly valuable, and Cannella being in possession of the Tigers is something that Auburn needs to enjoy.

Cannella had not signed a letter of intent two years prior, and decided to take year in Scottsdale, Arizona to play in community college. He had 29 receptions for 443 yards and seven touchdowns. This, though it came out of JUCO play, is something that should at least open up some eyes with some newfound love for quarterbacks. Quarterbacks love to throw to tight ends for both height and speed, and this guy seems to be the perfect fit.

No. 4 — K Anders Carlson

Hear me out.

It may not be some big tight end or 4-star linebacker or defensive end — but kicking matters at Auburn.

Hell, the only reason that Auburn could even beat LSU this season was because of Anders’ older brother Daniel Carlson. The Brothers Carlson will not only grace the Plains with their presence for one season together, the Tigers are capable of saying they will have Carlson at kicker for some years to come — and that’s pretty relieving with how often Daniel was needed this previous season.

Auburn spent some time struggling on offense that it often relied on Daniel Carlson to make some points out of nothing, becoming a Lou Groza Award finalist. This Carlson will be joined by the No. 2 long snapper Bill Taylor from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which makes it safe to say that there will not be any debacles on special teams.

Seriously, these two guys are important.

No. 3 — DE Markaviest Bryant

It has been announced — or, well, it is assumed —  that 4-star defensive end Markaviest Bryant will be referred to as “Big Cat” for his time on the Plains. For what its worth, its safe to just let Bryant run with whatever he pleases.

Bryant joins a defensive line that will feature former No. 1 recruit Byron Cowart, 3-star Tyrone Truesdell, 5-star Derrick Brown, 4-star Marlon Davidson and several other 4-star names. This defensive line will rotate and dominate, and any opposition will struggle to run the ball with these guys on the field together. Bryant will be another addition to what could be a top 10 defense in the NCAA, with only Alabama in its way to the SEC Championship and the playoffs.

No. 2 — OT Calvin Ashley

An offensive line has been an ingredient to destruction for Auburn’s rushing attack for decades, and its newest addition with 5-star offensive tackle Calvin Ashley is perfect for 2017. Running backs Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson will be joined by 4-star Devan Barrett, so its safe to say that Ashley’s contribution to the line will be much needed service.

Though, there is something about Ashley that makes him more notable concerning Chip Lindsey’s introduction as offensive coordinator. Ashley was recruited for his athleticism at 6-foot-6, 310 pounds as a quick pass blocking wall. It is assumed that with Lindsey’s arrival that throwing the ball will become more of the norm for Auburn, and Ashley seems to be the perfect piece for that transition.

Either way, he will be valuable for whatever the Tigers decide to run — and that’s OK.

No. 1 — QB Jarrett Stidham

The quarterback position is now complete with seven members on the roster, and none seem to be more crucial to the 2017 season that Jarrett Stidham.

Stidham had previously played at Baylor University prior to head coach Art Briles’ involvement with controversy that lead to his departure. This quarterback’s arrival on the Plains has not only brought about heavy expectations on offense, it has also brought debate to who might be the man in the backfield under Chip Lindsey.

With Stidham being spoon-fed the starting role with his arrival, there is potential for Sean White to hold onto his role with progression in the offseason.

But none can argue that if Stidham pans out, if Gus Malzahn and Lindsey can go where they want to go, this Auburn football team will be unlike any other. The opportunity presents itself for Malzahn to mold the perfect quarterback for his system, with Lindsey prepping the prospect into an NFL draftee. A ceiling exists for both Stidham and Auburn interchangeably that makes his arrival both exciting and nerve-racking.

Honorable Mentions: RB Devan Barrett; ILB Tadarian Moultry; OG Nick Brahms; OT Austin Troxell; WR Noah Igbinoghene

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