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January 16, 2014
Introducing Auburn's 2014 early enrollees
AUBURN | Auburn signed five December graduates for the Class of 2014 and all five graduated on time and enrolled at Auburn last week. While these five early arrivals - two high schoolers and three junior college standout - acclimate themselves to the college campus, AuburnSports.com provides you with an introduction to each of them.
WIDE RECEIVER, D'haquille Williams
HOW HE FITS: This is easy. Williams is ultra-talented and capable of excelling within any offense. The answer is, he fits perfectly. Auburn ran the ball around 70 percent of the time in 2013. Despite that fact, sophomore receiver Sammie Coates was third nationally in yards per catch (21.48) and scored seven touchdowns. The Tigers' ability to run around and through opponents opened things up for Coates and quarterback Nick Marshall down the field. Subtract running back Tre Mason who declared for the NFL Draft and enter a receiver that assistant Dameyune Craig called a "once in a lifetime" player, and you have a major opportunity for a major weapon to emerge for a more polished Marshall next fall. Teams attempting to load the box against the Auburn ground game will think twice with a receiver the caliber of Williams roaming the outside. Auburn was really good in the redzone last fall, Williams will make them more dangerous.
JUSTIN'S TAKE: Williams' arrival for spring camp is huge. The ability to practice during the spring with an improving Marshall, learn the offense, adjust to the college life and expectations on and off the field, and work one-on-one during the summer with Marshall and the other receivers will allow Williams to be comfortable once fall camp starts. Williams runs the hitch routes, the dig routes, the slants, the post routes, he is an all-around receiver, and he's physical. His biggest need for improvement? Being an aggressive blocker when in the run game and running energized routes even when the ball isn't coming his way. When you sign a five-star junior college receiver, there can't be any expectations for Williams other than to start opposite Coates by the season opener against Arkansas.
SAFETY, Derrick Moncrief
HOW HE FITS: Auburn returns senior-to-be Jermaine Whitehead, junior-to-be Joshua Holsey, senior-to-be Trent Fisher and redshirt freshman Khari Harding at safety in 2014. Whitehead and Holsey are converted corners with an emphasis on pass coverage skills, that's where Moncrief is different. A physical, punishing hitter, Moncrief will compete right away at either free or strong safety in the spring. Holsey continues to rehab from an ACL tear last fall and Harding remains inexperienced. The opportunity for Moncrief to make an impact this spring is there.
JUSTIN'S TAKE: Moncrief has a chance to be the most physical safety Auburn has put on the field since Junior Rosegreen in 2004. He's comfortable in space, playing up near the line of scrimmage and reacts quickly. Moncrief is junior college teammates with the above mentioned Williams, and both carry with them a swagger and expectation of making an immediate impact.
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN, Xavier Dampeer
HOW HE FITS: Dampeer fits nicely into the Tigers' plans moving forward. Senior-to-be Reese Dismukes returns and is the unquestioned starter entering spring camp, that much we know. But behind Dismukes, the center position is jumbled. Senior-to-be Tunde Fariyike backs up Dismukes, and behind him, rising sophomore Alex Kozan and redshirt freshman Deon Mix have both spent time at center last fall. The point is this: two seniors will be occupying the center position and Dampeer will have an excellent opportunity at starting in 2015. Now, Dampeer can also play guard, where senior-to-be Chad Slade returns and Kozan returns, along with rising redshirt sophomore Jordan Diamond and junior-to-be Devonte Danzey.
JUSTIN'S TAKE: Dampeer will have an uphill battle to break into the Tigers' starting rotation along the offensive line in 2014 simply because Auburn returns good depth at most positions. But the immediate opportunity to add quality depth at both center and guard is there for Dampeer, and the opportunity to go through spring camp, summer and next fall will give Dampeer an advantage in the spring of 2015 when the center position and a guard position open up.
ATHLETE, Stanton Truitt
HOW HE FITS: Truitt is a prototypical slot receiver for the Auburn offense. He's an ideal fit. He's a track star and a well-built, compact player that is capable of earning carries in the speed-sweep game, in addition to his normal slot receiver duties. Truitt played quarterback for Monroe Area High School and will remind many observers of freshman Marcus Davis. Truitt is well-spoken, truthful, comes from a great family and is used to having the team rely on him for big plays in big moments. Truitt is the total package and was made for the Tigers' attack. When Corey Grant graduates after next season, Truitt could compete with sophomore-to-be Rudy Ford at that position, or continue to compete with Davis in the slot.
JUSTIN'S TAKE: Truitt finished the season with 843 yards passing and 13 touchdowns, plus 1,588 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns. Truitt averaged 12.2 yards per carry in a zone-read offense that allowed Truitt to make plays with his feet and beat defenses over the top when they crept too close to the line of scrimmage. Truitt's fast and quick and is most comfortable with the ball in his hands. I predict big things for Truitt, it he can break into the rotation. Davis may be his biggest competition.
TIGHT END, Chris Laye
HOW HE FITS: Brandon Fulse and C.J. Uzomah are rising seniors, with Fulse playing mostly tight end and H-back and Uzomah playing mostly slot receiver. Laye's projection is more in line with what Fulse is being asked to do. Fellow tight end signee Jakell Mitchell will arrive this summer and his talents are more in line with what Uzomah brings to the table. Laye is a big-bodied, lengthy prospect that is still very much untapped in terms of what he's capable of. Laye played in a run-first offense in 2013 and caught very few passes.
JUSTIN'S TAKE: Laye fits into a more tradition tight end role and should be a valued blocker and potential redzone target. He's a hard worker and a loyal commitment, two attributes always valued inside your program. With the arrival of Ricky Parks back into the program at H-back and the talented skill players Auburn's bringing on board, Laye's touches will be limited, but there is an absolute need for what Laye brings to the Tigers' offense, watch clips of Fulse in action this season for proof of that.