Tigers take atypical route for SEC to title game
This was not a typical year for Auburn.
That much has been well-established. Two improbable finishes and a record-setting SEC championship game landed the Tigers in the final BCS championship game.
Beyond the route to the title game, Auburn built its roster in a way unfamiliar to SEC schools in this recent championship era.
Alabama is a recruiting juggernaut with the luxury of allowing five-star prospects to languish on the roster until the bowl game (see: Henry, Derrick). Florida’s title teams first won titles on national signing day. LSU is routinely among the top five nationally in recruiting.
This year's Auburn team — similar to the 2010 team that won the title — doesn’t fit the profile of the typical SEC championship contender of the BCS.
The Tigers have nine 247Sports Composite top 100 prospects on their pre-game depth chart. Three of them are starters. Of those top 100 players, only three were five-star prospects. Two are freshmen, and none are first-stringers.
Those paltry numbers of high-level recruits are unheard of compared to the Alabama, LSU or Florida teams that won national championships since 2006.
Athlon Sports delved into each national championship depth chart, accounting for every name on offensive and defensive depth charts (plus starting kickers and punters) for the title game.
Related: How Florida State built its 2013 team
We charted their 247Sports Composite star rankings, their signing classes with either Auburn or Florida State and their home state. Here’s what we learned.
How Auburn’s 2013 team was built
• Auburn has only three first-stringers who were ranked in the top 100 as recruits, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings: center Reese Dismukes, offensive tackle Avery Young and wide receiver Quan Bray. Six others are backups.
• The Tigers have three five-star prospects on the depth chart and none of them are starters: Freshman defensive lineman Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams and junior wide receiver Trovon Reed. Lawson is the biggest contributor of the three, ranking second on the team in sacks (four) and third in tackles for a loss (7.5).
• Auburn did the bulk of its work in three states: Alabama (14), Florida (12) and Georgia (9). The signees from the state of Alabama, though, had the greatest rate of becoming starters, with 10 of them slated to start in the title game.
• That said, where would Auburn be without its Florida players? Heisman finalist running back Tre Mason is from West Palm Beach (Fla.) Park Vista and Ricardo Louis, hero of the Georgia game, is from Miami Beach Senior.
• Three junior college transfers and 10 players from the signing class of 2013 are on the Tigers’ two-deep. Auburn starts one from each category, and he’s a good one: Quarterback Nick Marshall.
• Auburn has two players on the depth chart from Tallahassee — safety Ryan White and wide receiver Melvin Ray.
• Gus Malzahn is winning with his own players to a degree. Only nine players came from the 2012 class, the only class signed while Malzahn was at Arkansas State. Curiously, seven of those nine play offense, including two offensive line starters.
*First-string players listed in parentheses.
|Signing Class||247 Star Rank||247 Class Rank||State|
|2008-09:||2 (2)||3 (0)||2009:||22nd (9th in SEC)||Alabama||14 (10)|
|2010:||14 (9)||20 (10)||2010:||6th (3rd)||Florida||12 (4)|
|2011:||13 (9)||17 (11)||2011:||8th (4th)||Georgia||9 (5)|
|2012:||9 (2)||2 (1)||2012:||11th (4th)||Louisiana||2 (1)|
|2013:||9 (1)||NR||5 (2)||2013:||13th (7th)||Mississippi||2 (1)|