The O-Line, Jeff Grimes, Recruiting, and Hogmollies


It's no secret that the biggest need to Auburn this recruiting class is at the offensive line position. The depth chart across the front 5 is very junior heavy and while Auburn is "ok" for now, and for some part still "ok" for the 2010 season; looking down the road at 2011 and the Panic Button is ready to be pressed.

Here's the depth chart as it currently sits (according to Rivals):


L. Ziemba (JR) Byron Isom (JR) Ryan Pugh (JR) Mike Berry (JR) Andrew McCain (SR)
AJ Greene (So) Bart Eddins (JR) Mike Berry (JR) Jarred Cooper (So) Vance Smith (So)
    Bart Eddins (JR) Rudy Odom (SR)  


That's not very deep at all especially considering that Eddins is essentially "first sub" whenever a lineman would need to spell for a series. Then factor in that fact that there are only 6 other lineman (excluding longsnappers) on the roster, and five of which are freshman (Charles Bates, Andre Harris, Blake Burgess, John Sullen, Andrew Parmer, with Darrell Roseman being the lone JR).

To his credit, Grimes knows he has depth issues, but that isn't going to stop him from trying to redshirt his three lone true freshman (Sullen, Harris, and Burgess):

"You're not going to have guys coming in and playing a lot as true freshmen," Grimes said. "That's not the way you'd like for it to be. We'd like for those guys to come in and redshirt and have a year or two and get ready to go. But that's fixing not to be the situation for us.

"Most of the guys we have on scholarship are juniors. We're re ally heavily stacked in the junior class, which will be great for this year and next year, but not great after that."

But according to that same article:

To that end, AU will probably pursue roughly a half-dozen offensive linemen in the 2010 class, including perhaps a couple of junior college players.

"It all comes down to signing the best players you can get," Grimes said. "If we can get two or three high school players next year that are just as good -- and we feel like are physically and mentally capable playing as a true freshman -- then we would sign a guy who has four years of eligibility rather than a guy with two."

The main problem is that the recruiting results aren't there yet. So far Auburn has only signed 2 Lineman for the 2010 class. Shon Coleman (6'7 275) from Olive Branch, MS; who Rivals rates as a 3 Star and Moody (AL) Lineman Chad Slade (6'6 316) who is Unranked by Rivals. The addition of former FSU Seminole and Rivals 4 Star Aubrey Phillips could help. However, Phillips at best is a work in progress and should probably redshirt too. His weight has become and issue and now his eligibility will be in doubt due to his transferring.

Philips has become an interesting story, but that's for another day. Here's an FSU blog really laying into Philips about leaving. All you really need to read is their lead:

Yesterday on the Jeff Cameron show, the topic of now departed FSU signee Aubrey Phillips came up.  Phillips was a four-star recruit by, and signed with the 'Noles in February.  Many had concerns about Phillips ability to play for legendary Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett.  Trickett is widely regarded as the premier offensive line coach in college football and he prefers his linemen to be athletes and in impeccable shape.  When he signed, Phillips weighed about 320lbs (he is 6'5").  He assured FSU that he wanted to play for Rick Trickett and that he would be willing to put in the work to get down to his assigned goal weight (about 300lbs) by the time he reported for summer camp.  Phillips was essentially tasked with losing 15-20lbs over the course of 22 weeks, which is not that difficult for a person of his age and size.  Instead of working to lose the weight and come into camp in even a modest approximation of physical fitness, Phillips ballooned to more than 340lbs.  That's right, instead of dropping 20, he added 20 (or as much as 30, depending on who you ask). 

If you're an Auburn fan, or just a fan of common sense, then I recommend just ending your reading right there. The rest of the article takes the Pro-FSU approach to Phillips. For an Auburn perspective here's E-Wood's Mobile Press take.


Well it's not looking that good. Lineman recruiting is quick and painless. You normally want to snatch guys up as fast as you can since good Lineman are a prized commodity. Taking a look at Top Offensive Lineman, that are uncommitted, have interest in Auburn and have Auburn offers, there are a couple of guys to keep an eye and ear out for:


Damien Robinson Olive Branch (MS) Olive Branch 4 Star Trooper Taylor


Robinson has been diplomatic with his recruiting and hasn't listed any clear favorites. However, the fact that both Darren Bates and Aubrey Phillips are both from Olive Branch, and in doing a little research on Robinson, there are a couple of Auburn connections:

"Damien's a blue-collar guy who doesn't talk a whole lot but leads by example. He's always going to do the right thing. He's a really good player and an excellent person."
That approach helped Robinson make a smooth adjustment after he moved to Olive Branch from nearby Memphis before his freshman season in 2006. So did the daily battles in practice against future Division I signees at defensive end like K.J. Wright (MSU), Chris Zinn (Auburn) and Marlon Walls (Tennessee).
Robinson also matched up from time to time last fall with Aubrey Phillips, a Florida State signee who was arguably the state's No. 1 offensive line recruit.
"Damien is a couple inches taller, but their weight is similar," Samsel said. "Aubrey's feet were a little better, but Damien has better upper-body strength than Aubrey had at the same point. Damien's been in the weight room more."
His bulk and power is a big reason Robinson may not have to wait for playing time when he gets to college in 2010, according to OB assistant Marcus Autry.
"Damien's got great balance and big hands recruiters look for," said Autry, a Pontotoc native who played offensive guard for Auburn a decade ago. "He can cover up the average defensive lineman. He's been exposed to a lot of coaching in college camps. I think he'll be ahead of everyone else with his fundamentals and technique."
While Robinson - who will be joined by Division I prospects in Auburn commit Shon Coleman (6-7, 275) and Eric Lawson (6-7, 325) on what once again figures to be the state's biggest offensive line - is enjoying his time in the spotlight, football doesn't monopolize his attention.

So a former teammate, a current teammate, and position coach, all with connections to Auburn. Fingers crossed on that one.


James Stone Nashville (TN) Maplewood 4 Star Phillip Lolley

Not much on Stone, many feel he's a UT Lock, however he did has this to say about Auburn:

Auburn: "They're focused on family and core values. That always makes for a good team."

Eric Lawson Olive Branch (MS) 3 Star Curtis Luper

Yet another OBHS Lineman. He currently doesn't have an Auburn offer, but was rumored to be a part of the Big Cat Weekend.

Aleon Calhoun Navasota (TX) Navasota 3 Star Curtis Luper

Auburn is hoping for a visit here. He does have the Tigers listed in his "Top 5" but it looks more and more that he wants to stay in state.

Chase Hughes Springville (AL) 3 Star Trooper Taylor

Many people still think Auburn is the team to beat for Hughes. Especially considering that Jeremy Richardson (his Springville Teammate) was one of Auburn's first comittments


Jake said…
I'm just glad we're not ashamed to admit we're, 1--recruiting linemen and 2--not 5 star linemen. I think because of the low glamour rating of the offensive line, even OL recruiting attention goes the wayside of the big time receivers, running backs or QBs. We think that the only linemen we need to recruit at all are 5 star--and don't get me wrong, let's get all the 5 stars we can, but let's not overlook a good lineman in favor of a good player at another position just because he's a lineman.

Reminds me of a conversation I had a few weeks ago with someone who claims to know a lot about football. The question was, "would you rather have a 5 star QB and a mediocre line or 5 star line and mediocre QB?" There is a correct answer to this question, and he answered incorrectly. That was the last time I listened to anything a tennis player said about football.

More later...

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