Auburn football: Gus Malzahn's Top 10 5-star recruits
Gus Malzahn has been posting consistent top 10 recruiting classes during his tenure at Auburn, ranging from No. 6 for the 2014 class to 12th for the 2018 class — averaging a No. 9 ranking in his 8 seasons on The Plains.
The 2020 Auburn recruiting class was ranked No. 7 by 247Sports.com, and while the Tigers don’t have any 5-stars in the class, Malzahn has had some great ones come to play at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Here are the top 10 Auburn 5-stars in the Malzahn Era.
Bo Nix, QB
Why they’re here: Along with Owen Pappoe, the most recent 5-stars that Malzahn’s Tigers have signed, the son of former Auburn QB Patrick Nix was a celebrated recruit in the 2019 class. He led the Tigers to a 9-4 season as a true freshman, finishing with 2,542 yards and 16 TDs against 6 interceptions. And an Iron Bowl victory.
Owen Pappoe, LB
Why they’re here: Pappoe started every game at linebacker as a true freshman in 2019. He made 24 solo tackles, 49 total stops, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and a forced fumble.
Calvin Ashley, OT
Why they’re here: A 2017 recruit, Ashley redshirted his 1st year and made 5 appearances with 1 start in 2018 before mysteriously disappearing from the Auburn sideline. Ashley transferred to Florida Atlantic for the 2019 season but never played for the Owls before announcing he was leaving FAU for FAMU.
Derrick Brown, DT
Why they’re here: The 4th-best defensive tackle in the 2016 recruiting class, Brown won the Lott IMPACT Trophy and was a consensus All-American in 2019. Became a starter as a sophomore in 2017, and was also an Outland, Nagurski, Bednarik finalist in his senior season. Finished with 88 solo tackles, 170 total stops, 33.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and 4 fumble recoveries.
Byron Cowart, DE
Why they’re here: The nation’s top recruit in 2015, Cowart made just 15 tackles in 25 games before leaving the Tigers in September of the 2017 season — returning home to Florida before transferring to Maryland. At Maryland, Cowart started all 12 games as a senior with 38 tackles (5 for loss) and 2 interceptions and was taken by the Patriots in the 5th round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Roc Thomas, RB
Why they’re here: Thomas was a heralded signee in the 2014 class and appeared in 12 games as a true freshman at Auburn in 2014 with starts against Georgia and Alabama. Thomas was hampered by more injuries throughout 2015 and logged 261 rushing yards and 1 TD on 43 carries. Thomas transferred from Auburn to Jacksonville State in 2016 and signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2018.
Tre’ Williams, LB
Why they’re here: Williams made 10 starts over 36 games in his career at Auburn from 2014-17 — earning team captain honors as a 2nd-team All-SEC pick in 2017. Williams finished his career with 96 solo tackles, 188 total stops, 10 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
Montravius Adams, DT
Why they’re here: The 3rd-best defensive lineman in the 2013 class, Adams totaled 79 solo tackles, 151 total stops, 21 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries and 2 interceptions in his 4-year career. Adams was selected in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Packers.
Carl Lawson, DE
Why they’re here: Lawson was a coveted defensive end recruit in 2013 and played as a true freshman that year, but a knee injury took away his 2014 season. He started the final 2 seasons at Buck linebacker, was a team captain in 2015 and was a Bednarik Award semifinalist in 2016. Made 34 solo tackles, 67 total stops, 24 tackles for loss, 14 sacks and forced 3 fumbles. A 4th-round selection by the Bengals in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Michael Dyer, RB
Why they’re here: This is an asterisk choice for this list, as Malzahn was Auburn’s offensive coordinator when Dyer chose the Tigers over in-state school Louisville in 2010. As a true freshman in 2010, Dyer rushed for 1,093 yards on 182 carries and 5 TDs, breaking the Auburn record for most rushing yards by a freshman held by Bo Jackson. Dyer rushed for 143 yards on 22 carries and was named the Offensive Player of the Game in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game.
Dyer finished the 2011 regular season with 1,242 yards rushing on 242 attempts and 10 TDs en route to the AP All-SEC first team and the Coaches’ All-SEC first team.
Before Auburn’s appearance in the 2011 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Dyer was suspended indefinitely. Dyer requested to transfer from Auburn and was granted a conditional release. On Jan. 6, 2012, Auburn released Dyer from his football scholarship to transfer, which he did to Arkansas State to play for Malzahn — who was the Rede Wolves’ head coach in 2013. Dyer never played a down at Arkansas State, transferring to Arkansas Baptist College and then eventually to Louisville for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.