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February 5, 2014

Malzahn's assessments

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AUBURN | Gus Malzahn took time Wednesday to discuss each of his 24 newcomers. Here is what he had to say:

  • On DB Kalvaraz Bessent: "Very athletic. Coach (Melvin) Smith identified him as one of the top corners early on, and he hung in there, (we) kept recruiting him, and we really felt like we got a guy that can help us immediately. He's got very good ball skills and (is) a very good cover guy."

  • On DE Raashed Kennion: "Very long, athletic guy, Coach (Rodney) Garner had him in camp, offered him in camp, recruited him hard and really think he has a lot of great potential moving forward."

  • On QB Sean White: "A guy that Coach (Rhett) Lashlee has loved since Day One. You're talking about a guy who's just a winner. He won the Elite 11 competition, he was the MVP of the Under Armour Game, he just has the 'it' factor. Got a chance to throw for us during the summer, been committed to us a long time. A guy that could have taken other trips, could have opened it up, and he hung in there. We really feel good about Shaun."

  • On DL Davonte Lambert: "We really feel like he's got very good pass rushing skills, he can play the run, his motor is extremely high and we're very excited about him."

  • On CB Nicholas Ruffin: "Also one of the top corners on our board early on. Coach Smith and Coach Dameyune Craig did a good job recruiting him. He is long, he is athletic and he's got very good ball skills and high character, so we're very excited about Nick."

  • On DE Justin Thornton: "A big, long defensive end that can rush the passer from Mobile. Dameyune did a great job recruiting him. We really feel like he's got a chance to be an impact player."

  • On RB Kamryn Pettway: "Just a big, physical, hard-nosed guy, I really feel like he has great potential. He's a big man and he can run. He's got very good ball skills. He's going to give us a lot of versatility."

  • On DB Stephen Roberts: "He's a guy we identified early that our coaches stayed on. He's a very good tackler. He'll do whatever. He played quarterback for his high school when they needed somebody."

  • On TE/FB Jakell Mitchell: "(Mitchell) is going to play our '3' back. He is a guy we identified when he was a junior. He runs a very similar offense -- he can block, he can catch the ball, he's got running back skills, he played a little bit of Wildcat. When he was a junior, he hurt his knee and we really feel like the sky is the limit for this guy and he's got great potential."

  • On LB Tre Williams: "Really one of the keys to this class. We really felt like he was the top linebacker in the class, a guy that has been with us, committed to us, had opportunities to go anywhere he wanted. He chose to stay loyal. He was really a big key to this signing class and just a great person. He's got great potential and he'll make an immediate impact."

  • On DL Devaroe Lawrence: "He is a guy that has a great motor, he is very athletic, he's a very good run-stopper and Coach Garner really feels like he's got a lot of potential. We're very excited about him."

  • On WR Myron Burton Jr.: "A guy that came to camp and he really stood out to us. He was in the front of the line, he was a very physical guy, he played with that edge and he's a guy that was on our mind early in the season. Coach Craig just stayed on him and we ended up offering him. He committed. We really feel like he's got great potential."

  • On RB Racean Thomas: "He was the top running back on our guys' board. Our offensive staff identified him early, they recruited him extremely hard. Once again, a key to this class, he was very loyal to us, could have (gone) anywhere and chose to (stay). We really feel like he's got the ability to come in immediately and make a huge impact."

  • On DT Dontavius Russell: "He is a very big athletic guy, high character guy, we're very excited about him."

  • On LB Deshaun Davis: "Just a hard-nosed physical guy that has a nose for the football, hurt his knee his senior year. If he had played this year he would have been very highly recruited. We really feel great about him and he did a lot of great things for us in the recruiting end of it."

  • On DE Andrew Williams: "We've been recruiting him a long time. He's a very big, athletic guy that can run, that can rush the passer. Very physical. Coach Garner did a great job with him and he's also a guy that we feel like can give us some depth early on."

  • On OL Braden Smith: "We kind of got on him late when Greg Robinson declared for the draft. Coach (J.B.) Grimes did a great job developing a relationship in a short period of time. Came on a visit and just hit it off. Auburn's his type of place. He's very athletic. One of the strongest guys in the entire country. He'll fit in very good for us. I think he'll give us the ability to help us early."

  • On S Markell Boston: "Very good tackler, a physical guy that we got on fairly late. He got better and better his senior year. I really feel like he'll provide some depth for us."

  • On C Xavier Dampeer: "He's going to provide some depth up front. Especially at the center position. He did that last year. He's just a big, strong guy that we really feel like can help us."

  • On TE/FB Chris Laye: "He's got very good ball skills and we really feel like he's going to be an outstanding player."

  • On S Derrick Moncrief: "We needed some safety help. He's a big, rangy guy. Very good ball skills, very good tackler. We think he (have) an impact."

  • On WR Stanton Truitt: "One of the faster guys we were recruiting. He's got real speed, very good ball skills, he's going to give us a lot of flexibility and also could help us in the return game."

  • On WR D'haquille Williams: "He's got unbelievable skills. I got a chance to get to know him back in his high school days and I really do think he'll have a chance to be an impact player right off the bat."

  • On the class as a whole: "Overall, we're very excited about this class. We did fill our needs. We got guys that can help us immediately, and also help us with depth. We had some depth issues this past year, and when you think about depth, it definitely carries over to special times. So, very excited about this class. It's been a very good day."



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