Palm Beach Gardens' Avery Young puts on an Auburn hat before signing a letter-of-intent to attend and play football at Auburn on Wednesday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
AUBURN, Ala. --- Auburn went down to the wire on some of the nation’s top recruits, finishing strong on a signing day that began with a few misses.
Now, the Tigers are hoping for more good news in coming days with unsigned top prospects.
Auburn beat out Georgia and Florida for highly touted offensive lineman Avery Young on Wednesday and landed wide receiver Ricardo Louis, an earlier commitment who had briefly switched to Florida State.
“We feel really, really good about the new student-athletes that we have coming to Auburn,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. “They’re what we consider to be really, really good football players and really, really good citizens and good people.”
Chizik couldn’t pull off a third consecutive Top-5 class, but did move up in the rankings after landing Young and Louis.
Rivals.com had Auburn’s class No. 11, Scout.com 13th and ESPNU 17th. Auburn still hopes to be in the mix for at least two-high-profile recruits.
Auburn’s 20-player class includes running back Jovon Robinson, receiver JaQuay Williams and in-state linebacker Cassanova McKinzy. Chizik said all the signees received four-year scholarships.
Young was the biggest catch according to recruiting services. The 6-foot-6, 292-pounder from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., was rated the nation’s fifth-best offensive tackle and No. 22 prospect overall by Scout.com.
The Tigers are still hoping to land two 5-star prospects who are announcing their plans later. Chizik noted that the class is “hopefully not complete.”
Maryland receiver Stefon Diggs is expected to pick his school Feb. 10, while offensive lineman Jordan Diamond has said he’ll announce his choice Friday.
“I don’t think there’s any question we’re heading in the right direction,” Chizik said. “There’s a couple of others out there we’d love to see become Auburn Tigers.”
The Tigers were among the finalists for the nation’s top defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (Florida State), linebacker Kwon Alexander (LSU) and defensive end Leonard Williams (Southern California). The day started on a down note when all three chose other schools.
“It was a very unique year in that regard. As we tallied it up (Tuesday) night, there were so many guys that could have gone both ways,” the coach said.
Young was one of five offensive linemen the Tigers signed. Two of Auburn’s top 2011 signees, linemen Christian Westerman and Greg Robinson, redshirted to give the Tigers a wealth of young talent on the line.
Will Adams, a high school teammate of Williams in Tyrone, switched from Georgia Tech on signing day.
“Offensive line was something we felt like we needed to, numbers-wise, shore up,” Chizik said. “That was one obvious need for us.”
The Tigers went 8-5 last season, a year after winning the national title, and had to replace both coordinators. Auburn had a void to fill when suspended tailback Mike Dyer transferred to Arkansas State, now coached by ex-offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.
Top tailback recruit T.J. Yeldon, Alabama’s Mr. Football, had been a longtime commit but switched to Alabama in December and is already enrolled in Tuscaloosa.
Robinson is rated the nation’s 10th-best tailback by Rivals.com.
Quarterback Jonathan Wallace of nearby Phoenix City, Ala., switched his commitment from Central Florida on Wednesday, joining the already-enrolled Zeke Pike.
Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley are also returning.
AUBURN'S 2012 SIGNEES:
Will Adams, ot, 6-7, 280, Sandy Creek HS, Tyrone, Ga.
(asterisk)Shane Callahan, ol, 6-6, 285, Chaparral HS, Parker, Colo.
T.J. Davis, db, 6-1, 180, Godby HS, Tallahassee, Fla.
Joshua Holsey, db, 5-11, 175, Creekside HS, Fairburn, Ga.
Darrion Hutcherson, te, 6-7, 247, Dadeville (Ala.) HS
Jonathan Jones, db, 5-10, 184, Carrollton (Ga.) HS
Robert Leff, ol, 6-6, 270, Fairhope (Ala.) HS
Ricardo Louis, wr, 6-2, 210, Miami Beach (Fla.) HS
Cassanova McKinzy, lb, 6-3, 233, Woodlawn HS, Birmingham, Ala.
(asterisk)Patrick Miller, ol, 6-7, 275, Dwyer HS, West Palm Beach, Fla.
(asterisk)Javiere Mitchell, lb, 6-2, 209, Leeds (Ala.) HS
Tyler Nero, dt, 6-2, 290, Escambia County HS, Atmore, Ala.
Ricky Parks, te, 6-4, 235, Callaway HS, Hogansville, Ga.
(asterisk)Zeke Pike, qb, 6-6, 225, Dixie Heights HS, Edgewood, Ky.
Gimel President, de, 6-4, 250, Wando HS, Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
(asterisk)Jay Prosch, fb, 6-0, 250, Illinois, Mobile, Ala.
Jovon Robinson, rb, 6-1, 220, Wooddale HS, Memphis, Tenn.
Jonathan Wallace, qb, 6-2, 205, Central HS, Phenix City, Ala.
JaQuay Williams, wr, 6-4, 204, Sandy Creek HS, Tyrone, Ga.
Avery Young, ot, 6-6, 292, Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) HS