Five-star running back Tank Bigsby highlights a recruiting class packed with players who have the potential to make an immediate impact for the Tigers next season.
Bigsby is one of about a dozen signees who will enroll early, arrive in January and get the chance to go through spring practice.
The 6-foot, 209-pound Bigsby was a beast in the backfield at Callaway High (Ga.), rushing for 1,636 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior after gaining more than 2,200 during his junior campaign.
"He's a one-play drive type of guy," said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. "I mean from anywhere on the field, he can take it to the house.
"He has great balance, great instincts, can break tackles, which you have to break tackles in this league if you're going to be a successful running back."
Bigsby will join a crowded and talented running back room that will include Boobee Whitlow, D.J. Williams, Shaun Shivers, Harold Joiner, Mark-Antony Richards and Malik Miller.
"You can't have enough depth at the running back position in our league," said Malzahn. "A lot of those running backs are pretty versatile, too. There could be times you could see two running backs on the field at the same time, moving forward, too."
Joining Bigsby on The Plains this spring will be junior college cornerback Marco Domio, rated a four-star and the nation's No. 8 junior college prospect overall. Don't be surprised if Domio shoots up the Tigers' depth chart and sees the field early and often next year. Domio comes to The Plains from Blinn Junior College, where Auburn great Cam Newton won a national championship before coming to Auburn and doing the same.
"I recruited a guy named Cam Newton 10 years ago from Blinn Junior College, so I got a chance to go back there for the first time. That was a lot of fun," said Malzahn. "Really think Marco — first of all, he's got a very good skill set. Really think he could come in here and help us right off the bat."
Four-star safety Ladarius Tennison could also make an early impact in the defensive backfield. The 5-10, 195-pound prospect out of Rockledge High in Florida is an early enrollee and will go through spring practice. He could also find a spot on special teams as a return specialist at some point in the future. He was rated as the No. 4 athlete and No. 186 player overall in the class of 2020 by 247Sports.
"We felt like he was one of the better all-around football players in the country, said Malzahn. "I know our defense wanted him. The offensive side wanted him. He’s very good with the ball in his hands. He’s a special type of returner. I really think he’s going to come in here and have a chance to play right off the bat and help us."
Auburn is also looking to get some help, be it starting or depth-wise, along the offensive line next season. After losing six senior linemen, the Tigers will need some of the early signees to help out.
Guard Tate Johnson, center Avery Jernigan and tackle Kilian Zierer, a 6-7, 284-pound junior college transfer, are expected to enroll early, although the earliest Zierer could see the field is this summer as he will spend the spring recovering from a torn ACL. The Tigers will also welcome junior college tackle Brenden Coffey, although he is not set to arrive until the summer, when 6-5, 340-pound lineman Jeremiah Wright is also set to arrive on The Plains.
"We felt like we had to have a few guys we felt were ready to play," said Malzahn. "And that's why we signed the two junior college guys. We could take another grad transfer, possibly two if the opportunity presents itself."
Other early enrollees to keep an eye on during spring practice include safety Chris Thompson Jr., defensive end Zykeivous Walker, buck end Romello Height, receiver Kobe Hudson and dual-threat quarterback Chayil Garnett.