AUBURN, Ala. – Two hours, and good to go.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn admitted he didn’t get much more sleep than that going into Wednesday; partially due to his typically heavy workload, partially to a can’t-wait thrill awaiting on national signing day.
“Sometimes I work best when I don’t have much sleep,” Malzahn said, still cheery Wednesday afternoon. “I was extremely excited. We’ve been gearing up for this day, and I’m gonna bet our staff didn’t get much sleep either.”
Auburn associate athletic director Kirk Sampson attested Malzahn gulped down five cups of coffee before 7 a.m. local time.
Hey, whatever works. Auburn ended up with its fourth consecutive top-ten class, aided by the surprise signings of defensive tackle Montravius Adams and defensive end Elijah Daniel, who along with blue-chip end Carl Lawson should beef up last year’s inconsistent defense.
“It’s all about the front seven,” Daniel said in a phone interview, after flipping his commitment from Ole Miss. “Every great SEC school, if they’re good, they have a great front seven with the pass rush, and the linebackers hitting their gaps and tacklers.”
Even one of Malzahn’s mentors and his predecessor came away impressed with the new Auburn coaches’ efforts in identifying a significant need.
“When you look at a defensive line class,” said Gene Chizik, working for ESPNU as a guest analyst, “yes, Gus is an offensive-minded coach, there’s no question about that. But here’s what he knows: with the spread offense age, with offenses running 80 and 90 plays per game, you better have some defensive linemen.
“They’ve gotten two really, really good inside guys, two really good outside guys. You have to be able to have that when you’re going to play Texas A&M (and) all of the different spread offenses at a fast pace.”
Get this: with the three-headed monster he recruited enrolling soon, Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Garner now has eleven scholarship ends and seven scholarship tackles on the roster, competing for a total of four starting spots (though rotation will likely occur.)
“Most definitely, I look forward to that,” Daniel said. “I feel like competition is going to make you better. I feel good about that.”
Gene and Gus chat
Speaking of Chizik, who won the 2011 BCS National Championship with Malzahn as his offensive coordinator: Gene and Gus still do converse.
“I talked to him a few times,” Malzahn said. “It wasn’t always about recruiting. I was just checking on him and see how he’s doing.”
Chizik was fired Nov. 25 for overseeing a 3-9 season and Malzahn was brought back from Arkansas State nine days later.
Four more years
Malzahn did indicate all scholarships offered to Wednesday’s 23 signees are four-year offers, as has been the norm in the past.
No rest for the weary
Now begins the hunt for class of 2014 recruits.
Two juniors of note have picked up offers from Auburn: four-star athlete Myles Autry (from Norcross, Ga., same as new Tigers defensive tackle Ben Bradley), per AuburnUndercover.com; and Blaise Taylor, an Auburn High School receiver and the son of former Auburn assistant head coach Trooper Taylor who tweeted news of his offer.
Malzahn tweeted Thursday, “Great day yesterday. No time to rest. Spring preparation and 2014 recruiting!”