Phillip Marshall: Who will rise to the top in opener?

Aug 25, 2013

Just how much recruiting rankings and star ratings mean is a subject of frequent debate. In my view, they matter, but not as much as those who sell them would have you believe they matter.

Probably the easiest players to pick are the 5-stars. You don't have to be an expert to identify most of those. After that, it's a little more iffy. You'll see lots of 4-stars who are ordinary or even less than ordinary college players and lots of 3-star and even 2-star all-conference and All-America players.

In the big picture, a team loaded with 4-stars and 5-stars is probably more talented than a team loaded with 3-stars and 2-stars. That doesn't mean, however, that the same thing applies to individual players at individual positions.

By my count, of the players that stand good chances of playing significant snaps on offense or defense against Washington State in Gus Malzahn's debut as Auburn's head coach, four were 5-star signees, 34 were 4-stars, 14 were 3-stars and two were 2-stars.

Having not seen other teams' depth charts, my guess is that probably ranks behind Alabama, LSU and Georgia, is probably about the same level as Florida, a little better than South Carolina and Texas A&M and definitely better than any other Southeastern Conference team. It does not take into account experience, which can't be overrated in college football.

And here is the irony:

Senior H-back Jay Prosch, junior Star Justin Garrett, senior cornerback Chris Davis and junior cornerback Jonathon Mincy, among Auburn's most important players by any measure, were not viewed highly by the "experts" out of high school.

Prosch was a 2-star linebacker out of Mobile's UMS-Wright High School. The others were 3-stars. Defensive end Dee Ford would be in that group, but he is injured and won't play against Washington State.

The only consensus 5-star likely to start for Auburn is wide receiver Trovon Reed. The other three - defensive ends Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniel and defensive tackle Montravius Adams - are true freshman who are expected to play.

What does it all mean? The Tigers have enough talent to win. But they don't have so much talent that they are assured of winning. We saw that last season.

Here are the star rankings of players who stand good chances of playing offense or defense:

QUARTERBACK

Nick Marshall, Jr., 4-star

Jonathan Wallace, Soph., 3-star

RUNNING BACK

Tre Mason, Jr., 4-star

Cameron Artis-Payne, Jr., 4-star

Corey Grant, Jr., 4-star

Peyton Barber, Fr., 3-star

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

Greg Robinson, So., 4-star

Pat Miller, So., 4-star

Shon Coleman, RFr., 4-star

Avery Young So, 4-star

OFFENSIVE GUARD

Alex Kozan, RFr., 4-star

Chad Slade, Jr., 3-star

Jordan Diamond, RFr., 4-star

Devonte Danzey So., 4-star

CENTER

Reese Dismukes, Jr., 4-star

Tunde Fariyike, Jr., 2-star

WIDE RECEIVER

Trovon Reed, Jr., 5-star

Quan Bray, Jr., 4-star

Sammie Coates, So.,  4-star

Ricardo Louis, So., 4-star

Tony Evans, Fr., 4-star

Marcus Davis 3-star

Jaylon Denson, Jr., 3-star

H-BACK

Jay Prosch, Sr., 2-star (LB)

Gage Batten, RFr., NR

TIGHT END

C.J. Uzomah, Jr., 4-star

Brandon Fulse, Jr., 4-star

DEFENSIVE END

Ken Carter, Sr., 4-star (DT)

Nosa Eguae, Sr., 3-star

Craig Sanders, Sr.,  4-star

LaDarius Owens, Jr., 4-star

Carl Lawson, Fr., 5-star

Elijah Daniels, Fr., 5-star

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Jeff Whitaker, Sr., 4-star

Angelo Blackson, Jr.,  4-star

Gabe Wright, Jr.,  4-star

Ben Bradley 4-star

Montravius Adams, Fr.,  5-star

LINEBACKER

Jake Holland, Sr.,  4-star

Cassanova McKinzy, So.,  4-star

Kris Frost, So.,  4-star

Anthony Swain, So.,  3-star

Kenny Flowers, Jr.,  3-star

JaViere Mitchell, RFr.,  4-star

CORNERBACKS

Chris Davis, Sr.,  3-star

Jonathon Mincy, Jr.,  3-star

Ryan White, Sr.,  3-star

Johnathan Ford, Fr.,  4-star (RB)

SAFETIES

Jermaine Whitehead 4-star

Josh Holsey 4-star

Ryan Smith 3-star

Kiehl Frazier, Jr., 4-star (QB)

Trent Fisher, Jr.,  NR

STAR

Justin Garrett, Jr.,  3-star

Robenson Therezie, Sr.,  4-star

Mackenro Alexander, Fr., 3-star

 

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