Scout Expert Q&A - The Next Auburn Is ... ?
Posted Jan 31, 2014

Who's about to mature? Who's the big surprise? The big disappointment?

What's happening in the recruiting world? What do you really need to know?

Once again, here to answer some key questions is Scott Kennedy,'s Director of Scouting who kindly returns for his sixth year for this piece, and Allen Trieu, one of Scout's national analysts and the Midwest Regional Manager. Allow them to make sense of it all.

Recruiting 2014 - What You Need To Know
Q&A with's Scott Kennedy & Allen Trieu

- What's the hot story? Who's crushing it?
- Who's about to mature? The big surprise and big disappointment.
- Sarkisian? Franklin? Strong? How are the new coaches doing?
- Are the Irish keeping pace? What will everyone be talking about?

5. Bigger picture question. Everyone talks about recruiting classes needing time to mature. How much of Auburn's 2013 success was coaching and how much came from Gene Chizik's recruiting classes maturing for Gus Malzahn?

Scott Kennedy: That depends, if you multiply any number by zero, you end up with zero. That would have been the chances of Auburn winning the SEC with Chizik still at the helm. He had lost that team. The opposite of zero is 100, so in theory one could say the improvement was 100% related to Gus Malzahn. But that's taking percentages too literally.

Chizik and staff recruited the No. 2 class in the country in 2011 - Florida State was No. 1 - and many of those players began to reach their potential with a fresh start. Another big difference between 2012 and 2013 was quarterback Nick Marshall. What Marshall was able to accomplish at Auburn after showing up in August and practicing for two weeks before lining up against Washington State is a testament to both him and the Auburn coaching staff.

Allen Trieu: Well, we had Auburn's class number two in 2011 and Florida State number one, so part of that is recruiting. That said, you don't get to the national title game and get through the SEC the way they did without developing that talent and making good in-game decisions. It's both. A guy like Tre Mason, a former four-star is one you chalk up to recruiting, but a kid like Nick Marshall, that's coaching.

6. Is there a 2013 Auburn-like team on the horizon that could rise up and shock the world because its 2011 or 2012 classes are about to break out?

Scott Kennedy: You have to think Florida has the talent for a turnaround, but was there enough of a shakeup in the coaching staff for that to happen? Will the Gators get exponentially better quarterback play in 2014 than they did in 2013? Former No. 1 quarterback Jeff Driskel was a round peg in a round hole for Urban Meyer's offense, but now he's had a revolving door at offensive coordinator with systems not always fitting his skill set. Another team who has been quarterback deficient the last several years who finished with the No. 1 recruiting class in 2012? Texas.

Allen Trieu: Texas recruited very well in those years. They were number three in 2011 and one in 2012, so you would think that Charlie Strong is inheriting a roster talented enough to get the Longhorns back to the top.

7. The biggest surprise program so far this recruiting season is … ?

Scott Kennedy: Tennessee is the big one, but I went there in the first question so I'll go in a different direction and say Kentucky. Mark Stoops is getting his first full class at UK, and he's on the verge of signing a Top 20 class including keeping two of the state's highest rated players, quarterback Drew Barker and defensive tackle Matthew Elam, in state. Stoops made a conscious decision last year to recruit Ohio more heavily and that's also paying off. Ohio is roughly the same size as Georgia when it comes to D-I signees at 175 per year, but the way the last few years have gone, it's going to be easier to get Ohio kids to come south when recruiting against Indiana and Purdue than it will be to get Georgia kids to come north.

Allen Trieu: Arizona State wasn't even in the top 25 the last two seasons and this year, it's 13 with six commits in the Scout 300 making them easily my surprise team.

8. The biggest disappointment so far this recruiting season is … ?

Scott Kennedy: I won't say it's a total disappointment, but one of the teams that has to be most down is Vanderbilt. Franklin had the Commodores doing the unthinkable, beating SEC teams consistently. Now Vanderbilt is just days away from Signing Day and it has ten commitments and already lost some of its highest-profile commits including four-star quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels, who switched to Washington.

Allen Trieu: After two consecutive top 25 classes, Washington is currently in the 60's and next to last in the Pac-12. As they fill out the class, that will change, but right now, the Huskies are the school farthest off the pace they've set the last few seasons.