Monthly Archives

June 2020

The Lunch Break with Seth Emerson

By | ESPN 106.7 News | No Comments

 

Painter and Justin talk to Seth Emerson of The Athletic. They discuss Georgia’s massive offensive overhaul, ever-high expectations in Athens and a Florida team closing on the Bulldogs in the SEC East.

 

 

 

Follow Seth on Twitter (@SethWEmerson). Listen to “The Lunch Break” weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST on ESPN 106.7.

Gregg Olson, former AL Rookie of the Year and All-Star, joins TLB

By | ESPN 106.7 News | No Comments

 

Painter and Justin talk to Gregg Olson. Plus, they discuss Auburn’s reemergence in Major League Baseball, what to expect from Auburn players who turned pro and the league’s ongoing contract negotiations.

 

 

 

Follow Gregg on Twitter (@GreggOlson30). Listen to “The Lunch Break” weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST on ESPN 106.7.

ESPN Top-10 TE Landen King commits to Auburn

By | ESPN 106.7 News | No Comments

Auburn has gone into the state of Texas, yet again, to bolster its 2021 class with one of the premier tight ends in the country.

Three-star tight end, and former Texas commit, Landen King committed to the Tigers Monday morning via Twitter, choosing Auburn over Georgia and Washington.

King is the first tight end of the class but is the 10th commitment overall, and the third from Texas, joining Dematrius Davis and Jaeden Roberts. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound prospect is the 9th ranked tight end nationally and is the No. 79 recruit from Texas (Atascocita High School), according to ESPN’s recruiting rankings. Last season, he caught 53 passes for 853 yards and nine touchdowns.

Although King is only listed as a 3-star, the Tigers have placed more emphasis on him and believe he’s better than the stars indicate. He’s a versatile option, possessing the ability to line up as both a receiver and as a tight end/H-back. The Texan has quick feet and above-average speed for a prospect at his size and position with the trajectory to be a weapon in the Auburn offense.

Auburn has led in the recruitment of King since his de-commitment from Texas, despite not being able to ever have him on campus in person for a visit. The relationships made virtually with offensive coordinator Chad Morris and tight ends coach Larry Porter made the difference for King, as well as Morris’ history of being able to utilize tight ends proficiently in his offenses.

With this commitment, Auburn jumps from No. 24 to No. 21 in the 247Sports recruiting team rankings.

 

 

 

 

 

Recruiting Tracker: Who’s next for the Tigers?

By | ESPN 106.7 News | No Comments

Auburn has already set itself up for a big summer on the recruiting trail.

The month of May was monumental for momentum, to get the ball rolling, adding five commitments in the 2021 class. As it stands, the Tigers have the 19th best class with nine verbal commits, seven of which are four-star prospects according to the ESPN Recruiting Nation rankings.

June is certain to be another critical month for Gus Malzahn’s staff. Here’s a glimpse at who could be next off the board…

(list moves from top to bottom in confidence level)

-Landen King (3-star TE), Atascocita High School (Tex.): 

Chad Morris has his sights set on another uber athletic tight end.

King, a former Texas commit, is expected to come to a decision in the next few weeks and is the leading candidate in this group to be the Tigers next addition to the 2021 class. At 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, he possesses the ability to line up as a receiver or at tight end/H-back. King has quick feet and above-average speed for a prospect at his size and position so his versatility would be a major plus for Morris and Malzahn. I would be surprised if King doesn’t commit to Auburn in the coming weeks.

-Christian Leary (4-star WR), Edgewater High School (Fla.):

Leary is the top receiver on Auburn’s board right now, one that it would like to pair with current quarterback commit Dematrius Davis.

The Florida product listed the Tigers high on his list, in the group of finalists with Alabama and Florida. Right now, the Tigers are trending in the right direction, due in large part to the relationship Leary has built with not only Davis but also receivers coach Kodi Burns. He originally planned to commit June 6 but has since decided against, electing instead to move the announcement to later this summer. Auburn is in a good spot here but I think Alabama still looms larger.

247Sports Scouting Report: Shorter in stature with a thick, developed lower body. Has added around ten pounds of mass from his sophomore to junior years of high school One of the faster wide receivers on the track in the 2021 cycle and posted some sensational times in the 100 meters early in the spring prior to his senior season. Helped Edgewater to a state title berth as a junior. Productive as a receiver and direct-snap run threat. Transfers his high-level top-end speed to the football field. Pulls away from defenders with ease once in the open field with a long, explosive stride. Dangerous in several facets and a threat to score whenever he touches the ball. Skilled in the open field, whether it’s in catch and run situations, as a rusher or return man. Also has the play strength to run with some power. Shows ability to locate and track the ball as a downfield target. Looks like a multi-purpose, versatile offensive weapon at the next level. Will need to continue adding to his skill set as a route-runner as he runs a fairly limited route tree to this point- even more important for a shorter wide receiver. Projects as a Power Five starter with the upside to develop into a NFL Draft selection.

NFL player comparison: Andy Isabella

-Jeremiah Williams (4-star DE), Ramsay High School (Ala.): 

Williams has the makings of yet another edge rusher that could wreak havoc in Kevin Steele’s defense.

He listed Auburn, along with Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Oklahoma, in his final six schools. The 6-foot-3, 224-pound Buck is the No. 5 prospect in the state of Alabama and is one of the only top-10 prospects from the state still uncommitted. It looks to be an Iron Bowl race for Williams, so its really too early to tell who leads at this point but I do think Auburn and Alabama are the top contenders. He has not set a date for his commitment as of now.

247Sports Scouting Report: Light edge rusher that needs to add mass at the next level. Has the versatility to line up with a hand down, in a stand up role on the edge or as an off-the-ball linebacker. Extremely patient and instinctive player. Trusts his athleticism. Runs well in space and will strike and accelerate through contact. Comfortable and aware in pass drops. Plays with great timing as a second level pass rusher. Nimble and intuitive in tight areas. Has the want-to and athleticism to fight through blocks to turn the corner as a pass rusher. Great closing speed to the football. There is some frame and body type uncertainty as a line-of-scrimmage defender. Impact Power Five starter that has the ability to be an early round NFL Draft pick.

NFL player comparison: Rashaan Evans

-Ga’Quincy McKinstry  (5-star CB), Pinson Valley High School (Ala.): 

McKinstry is another top-10 prospect from the state of Alabama yet to commit.

The five-star and top-ranked player in the state, nicknamed “Kool Aid”, had a number of SEC schools in his final five including Auburn, Alabama, Georgia and LSU, with Clemson being the fifth. McKinstry is a two-sport star which could bode well for the Tigers if he wants to also play for Bruce Pearl and he’s also from Pinson Valley so Auburn quarterback Bo Nix has been doing some of his own recruiting. This one, much like Williams, seems to be a battle between the in-state rivals. Alabama has been confident for the majority of this process but McKinstry is unpredictable so you can’t rule out Auburn.

247Sports Scouting Report: Possesses a lean build with good length and stature for a cornerback. Tested as a good athlete prior to his junior season and should continue making progress on that front as he spends more time in the weight room over the next few years. In addition to the football field, shows his athleticism as an above-the-rim basketball player and one of the better hoopers in Alabama. Is an outstanding and productive two-way player on the gridiron, starring as a receiver and corner for Pinson Valley. Has elite ball skills as a corner and would also be a top prospect as a receiver if he wanted. Shows the ability to consistently pluck the ball at his highest point and win in contested situations on both sides of the ball. In addition to high-pointing and out-jumping the competition, also shows the ability to locate and track the ball downfield. Makes difficult plays at a high rate and finds multiple ways to effect the game. Instinctive in coverage and shows the ability to read the quarterback’s eyes and break on the ball. Impresses with his competitive nature. Will need to continue honing his coverage technique as a cornerback, which should come once he focuses on the sport and position full time. Projcts as an impact multi-year starter at the Power 5 level with the upside of developing into an early round draft pick.

NFL player comparison: Marcus Peters

COLUMN: A new perspective and a step in the right direction

By | ESPN 106.7 News | No Comments

The streets of downtown Auburn were flooded on Sunday, not in standoffs or separation, but in solidarity.

Thousands flocked to Toomer’s Corner, at the intersection of Magnolia and College, masks covering their mouths, ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs risen in the air, to peacefully protest what has been at the forefront of the national conversation in recent weeks: racial injustice and inequality.

Hundreds of Auburn student-athletes were in attendance. Leading them, marching, kneeling and showing their support were the very head coaches at the helm of these major athletic programs. Gus Malzahn, Bruce Pearl and Butch Thompson, among others, all were seen walking and protesting in the streets of Auburn.

Auburn should be proud.

This is what the country needs. If you are in a position of leadership like these Division I head coaches are, and in a position where your voice can affect positive change, it’s a disservice to remain silent. It would be insensitive, especially when you take into account that the majority of the student-athletes are black in this instance, to not use that voice and that platform as a catalyst for change.

Last week Malzahn released a statement addressing the meetings he had with his players and staff, majority of whom are black, in regards to the recent protests around the country.

“It was very emotional, it was very heartfelt, and there were some tears with both groups,” Malzahn said. “Bottom line is I’ve got a team and staff that’s hurting. I think they’re frustrated, and in some cases, they’re scared, and that breaks my heart. This has given me really a new perspective. I wish I would’ve asked deeper questions sooner or before.”

Sunday was the second protest in Auburn, but the first in which the Auburn Athletic Department joined in collectively. In addition to the head coaches, Allen Greene, who is the school’s first black athletic director, showed up walking alongside Malzahn.

Greene spoke last week on the strides that his athletic department has made and the steps they are taking to be a part of the solution. He noted, despite the concern and frustration, that they are coming together.

“We need to come together as a country, and we need to demonstrate that we have the courage to step out and share our thoughts on what’s wrong,” Greene said. “We know what’s right from wrong, right? Someone having their knee on someone’s neck and killing them, that’s wrong; we can all agree on that. Part of the challenge that makes things difficult is trying to explain how we got to this point and how to explain how we move on from this point. That takes a lot more effort and a lot more work. I’m glad our staff is committed to doing that.”

It was refreshing, and necessary, to see an athletic department at all levels empower the very student-athletes that make it up. It seems like that should be a no-brainer, and yet there are still countless tone-deaf responses of hostility that unequivocally miss the mark and show a lack of awareness.

What also shouldn’t go unnoticed is Malzahn’s admission because it’s a very important building block for progress. One of the first steps is to recognize there is a problem but admit that you don’t have all the answers. This transcends sports and it’s okay to say you don’t have all the answers, just be present and receptive.

One Auburn football player held a poster up Sunday, both arms raised in the air and surrounded by his teammates. Written in black and red print, it read, “Don’t support us on the field and kill us off the (field).” It should anger the fanbase to see some of its own speaking out in any other way but support for Auburn’s black student-athletes.

“This is not just Auburn football players and coaches; they’re part of the Auburn family, and we’re here to help them be leaders for tomorrow,” Malzahn said. “I told my team I’m committed to positive change as a leader. I’m not sure exactly what that looks like now, but I’m going to listen and I’m going to learn.”

We can learn from Malzahn, and we need to.

Explanation, justification and defensiveness isn’t the answer. That’s what falls short.

Just listen.

 

 

 

 

Photo: Sara Palczewski/sarap@oanow.com