Auburn signs 15 on drama-free Signing Day
AUBURN | The first day of the early signing period was drama free for Auburn, which is just how Gus Malzahn wanted it.
The Tigers signed 15 players Wednesday, eight of whom are early enrollees, and finished the day with the No. 9 class on Rivals.com.
"I'm very excited about the first part of our class," Malzahn said. "It's a very athletic class with a lot of speed. It's a high-character class. A lot of these guys are on the honor roll and that says a lot about them."
Auburn signed five each from the states of Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Seven of the 15 signees play offense and eight play defense.
"We stayed true to the states that we really focus on," Malzahn said.
Auburn didn’t add any commitments on Wednesday, but wasn’t expected to. The Tigers instead locked in the ones they had, including four-star running back Asa Martin and four-star quarterback Joey Gatewood.
Martin and Gatewood were the first two signees Auburn released to the public Wednesday morning. There’s a reason for that. Martin and Gatewood are the Tigers’ highest-ranked recruits in the class.
Martin rushed for 2,228 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior.
"He is very versatile," Malzahn said of Martin. "He really reminds us of Kerryon Johnson. He can run. He can catch. He's a very good pass protector."
Martin is ranked the No. 4 running back in the country and No. 48 overall in the Rivals100. Gatewood is the No. 7 dual-threat quarterback and No. 141 in the Rivals250. Both are early enrollees and the two will be roommates at Auburn.
Gatewood passed 1,468 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 1,100 yards and 16 scores.
"Gatewood is a big guy who can run and he's very athletic," Malzahn said. "He has a chance to be a real special player."
Auburn signed two wide receivers, Shedrick Jackson and Seth Williams, and two offensive linemen, Jalil Irvin and Kameron Stutts. The Tigers also added running back Shaun Shivers, a speedy four-star recruit from South Florida.
"Shaun is one of the leaders of this class," Malzahn said. "He reminds me of (former Auburn running back) Onterio McCalebb as far as speed in pads. He can really run."
"Newkirk is very athletic," Malzahn said. "He's a big guy that we are really excited about."
"He's very rangy," Malzahn said.
McClain is only six feet tall, but plays with a lot of tenacity.
"He's like a heat-seeking missile," Malzahn said.
The defensive backfield might have benefitted most from Wednesday. Auburn signed three four-star defensive backs: safeties Jamien Sherwood and Quindarious Monday and cornerback Christian Tutt. All three are early enrollees.
"We recruited those guys to help us," Malzahn said. "We need them."
THE WAITING GAME
Five of Auburn’s commitments didn’t sign Wednesday for various reasons.
Three-star athlete/safety Kolbi Fuqua will sign in February after he receives clearance from Auburn’s doctor regarding a late-season injury. Punter Arryn Siposs, who is from Australia, must wait until his paperwork is completed.
Richard Jibunor, a four-star athlete/defensive end from Athens, Ga., is expected to sign with Auburn on Thursday.
Auburn expects to sign 25 in its 2018 class, which gives the Tigers five spots to fill before Feb. 7, the first day of the regular signing period.
Auburn is among the favorites for several highly-rated recruits, including four-star wide receiver Anthony Schwartz, five-star wide receiver Justyn Ross, four-star linebacker and Alabama commitment Quay Walker, four-star defensive end Caleb Tannor, four-star offensive tackles Richard Gouraige and Dylan Wonnum and three-star offensive tackle Jalen Goss. All are expected visit Auburn in January.
Auburn intends to add at least one more offensive lineman to the class, as well as another wide receiver, a cornerback, a tight end and a linebacker.
"We need a big-time tight end and another offensive lineman or two," Malzahn said.