Jan. 2, 2014
Ricardo Louis snags the 73-yard touchdown pass that took down Georgia (Associated Press photo)
By Phillip Marshall
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - If Dameyune Craig had not suffered a rare loss on the recruiting trail, Auburn's football team might not be preparing to play in the BCS National Championship Game on Monday at the Rose Bowl.
When fate called on sophomore wide receiver Ricardo Louis against Georgia, he was the right man in the right place at the right time for the Tigers of 2013. When Nick Marshall's deep pass was batted into the air, he got one hand on it, pulled it in and scored the winning touchdown with 25 seconds left. It was quickly dubbed "The Prayer at Jordan-Hare."
But Louis, 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds from Miami, came close to being on the other side in Monday's showdown. One of the South's top recruits in 2012, he committed early to Auburn. Then he changed his mind and committed to Florida State, where Craig was recruiting him hard. Finally, he switched back to Auburn and signed.
Craig, a former star Auburn quarterback, returned to his alma mater last January to join first-year head coach Gus Malzahn's staff as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. He laughs now as he recounts the race to sign Louis.
"We had him committed at Florida State for maybe a week," Craig said. "They told Ricardo I wanted to be at Auburn. Ricardo says that's why he came to Auburn, because he knew I was coming to Auburn. I don't think he did, but that's what he says. I guess Ricardo ended up being right and I ended up being wrong."
Louis has steadily improved, Craig says, over the course of the season. He has caught 26 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns. He has been an effective blocker on the perimeter. And he's even become a factor in the running game, rushing 18 times for 204 yards for an average of 11.4 yards per carry.
"Ricardo is a good kid and he's worked hard," Craig said. "I'm proud of him. I'm proud of all my guys. We still have to get better. We have to play the best we've played to win this game."
Here is how Auburn's receivers stack up going into the game:
Sammie Coates: 38 catches, 841 yards, 7 touchdowns.
Ricardo Louis: 26 catches, 297 yards, 2 touchdowns.
Marcus Davis: 22 catches, 191 yards, 1 touchdown.
Quan Bray: 20 catches, 191 yards, 3 touchdowns.
C.J. Uzomah: 9 catches, 143 yards, 3 touchdowns.
Trovon Reed: 9 catches, 98 yards, 0 touchdowns.
Tony Stevens: 5 catches, 68 yards, 1 touchdown.
Melvin Ray: 4 catches, 58 yards, 0 touchdowns.
Brandon Fulse: 1 catch, 5 yards, 0 touchdowns.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: