Marshall Law: Will Stars Shine on Auburn Football?

AUBURN - Over the past four seasons, Auburn has signed six players rated as 5-star prospects and 50 prospects rated as 4-stars. Fourteen of those players have left the program or didn't qualify, leaving 42 players rated 4-stars or higher for Gus Malzahn's first Tiger team.

Add 3-star prospects like defensive end Dee Ford, Star Justin Garrett, cornerback Chris Davis, cornerback Jonathan Jones, offensive guard Chad Slade and transfer H-back Jay Prosch, and it's clear the Tigers are not without talent.

Loaded like the Alabamas, LSUs and Georgias of the world? No, but perhaps not as far away as last season's 3-9 record would seem to indicate.

Quarterback Cam Newton's one Auburn season, of course, stands above them all. He led Auburn to the 2010 national championship, won the Heisman Trophy and was the first player selected in the NFL draft. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley, the other 2010 superstar, was a 3-star recruit.

Of those 4- and 5-stars, only Newton and defensive end Corey Lemonier in 2011 made first-team All-SEC. They were also the only two chosen in the NFL draft. Nine left the team for reasons other than graduation or going into the NFL draft. Wide receiver JaQuay Williams and running back Jovan Robinson failed qualify in 2012 and quarterback/wide receiver Justin Smith failed to qualify in 2013.

You can make the case that three straight glittering recruiting classes should have won more than 11 games the past two seasons, though star rankings mean nothing not backed up the field.

As Malzahn moves ever closer to his first season as Auburn's head coach, the stories of most of the top recruits in those classes are still to be told.

Here's a look:

CLASS OF 2010

5-STARS

WR Trovon Reed: Starter for most of 2011 and backup for most of 2012. Plagued by injuries. Has just one touchdown pass.

Mike Dyer: Broke Bo Jackson's freshman rushing record in 2101. Most Outstanding Offensive Player in BCS Championship Game. Suspended after final regular-season game in 2012 and left the team.

4-STARS

OT Shon Coleman: Diagnosed with cancer during his senior year in high school. Cancer-free, he will be a redshirt freshman in the coming season

QB Cam Newton: Had the greatest season in Auburn history in 2010, leading the Tigers to the national championship. Won the Heisman Trophy and was the first player chosen in the NFL draft.

OL Roszell Gayden: Left during his first season.

WR Shaun Kitchens: Reserve as a freshman in 2010. Dismissed from the team after being charged with armed robbery.

WR Antonio Goodwin: Reserve as a freshman in 2010. Dismissed from the team after being charged with armed robbery.

DT Jeff Whitaker: Two-year starter. Played in every game as a reserve in 2010.

DE Kenneth Carter: Played on 2010 national championship team. Part-time starter last two seasons. Moved from defensive tackle to defensive end in the spring practice.

DE Corey Lemonier: Two-year starter. All-SEC in 2011. Played major role in 2010. Chosen in the fourth round of the NFL draft and signed by the San Francisco 49ers.

DE LaDarius Owens: Signed as a linebacker, moved to defensive end and back to linebacker. Plagued by injuries, but made a big move in the spring.

OG Eric Mack: Reserve in 2011. Left team after being shot in an off-campus incident.

LB Jake Holland : Starter for first half of 2011 and all but one game in 2012. Has played through numerous injuries.

DE Craig Sanders: Top reserve in 2011 and 2012.

CLASS OF 2011

5-STARS

OG Christian Westerman: Transferred to Arizona State after the 2012 season.

4-STARS

C Reese Dismukes: Two-year starter. Freshman All-American in 2011.

QB Kiehl Frazier: Wildcat quarterback as a true freshman in 2011. Started first six games in 2012.

WR Quan Bray: Moved into the starting lineup at wide receiver and punt returner in 2011 when Reed was hurt. Started most of 2012 at both positions.

RB Tre Mason: Rushed for 1002 yards as a sophomore in 2012.

RB Mike Blakely: Left team after 2012 season.

RB Corey Grant: After transferring from Alabama, he was the offensive star of spring practice. He had few opportunities once the season started.

DT Gabe Wright: Backup for most of 2011 and 2012. Part-time starter.

LB Kris Frost: Redshirted in 2011 and played sparingly in 2012.

OT Greg Robinson: Started 11 of 12 games in 2012 as a redshirt freshman.

CB Jonathan Rose: Dismissed from team before the 2012 season.

STAR Robenson Therezie: Backup in 2011 and 2012. Moved briefly to running back. Move to Star during spring practice and appeared to find a home.

S Erique Florence: Left team after 2012 season.

TE Brandon Fulse: Reserve tight end for two seasons.

TE C.J. Uzomah: Moved from wide receiver to tight end as a sophomore. Moved into starting lineup after Philip Lutzenkirchen was injured.

OG Thomas O'Reilly: Transferred to Georgia Tech after 2011 season.

WR Sammie Coates: Redshirted in 2011 after suffering a foot injury. Used mainly as a deep threat in 2012.

DT Angelo Blackson: Starter for most of the season as a sophomore in 2012.

CLASS OF 2012

5-STARS

None

4-STARS

TE Ricky Parks: Redshirted.

OL Jordan Diamond: Redshirted.

OT Patrick Miller: Became the starter at right tackle in the fourth game of the season.

DT Tyler Nero: Redshirted.

LB Cassanova McKinzy: Started one game at middle linebacker. Got significant playing time down the stretch.

WR Ricardo Louis: Played sparingly at wide receiver but a standout on special teams.

OT Avery Young: Started the first three games as true freshman before suffering a shoulder injury. Redshirted.

CB/S Josh Holsey: Moved into starting lineup and was the team's most effective cover corner in 2012. Moved to safety late in spring practice.

RB Jovon Robinson: Ruled ineligible after it was discovered a grade had been changed on his high school transcript.

OL Shane Callahan: Redshirted.

QB Zeke Pike: After going through spring practice, dismissed from in summer of 2012.

WR JaQuay Williams: Did not qualify. Signed with Texas A&M last February.

CLASS OF 2013

5-STARS

DT Montravius Adams

DE Carl Lawson

DE Elijah Daniel

4-STARS

QB Nick Marshall

QB Jeremy Johnson

RB Jonathan Ford

DT Ben Bradley. Enrolled in spring practice and made a big move late.

RB Cameron Artis-Payne: Enrolled in January and was a standout in spring practice.

WR Tony Stevens

WR Earnest Robinson

OL Deon Mix

QB/WR Jason Smith. Did not qualify. Will attend prep school.

 

Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: