Much like Justin Ferguson does on the Auburn team side, recruiting reporter Benjamin Wolk will answer the Recruiting Question of the Day every day of the week. You can ask him questions on Twitter or Facebook. Look for our Question of the Day. Go here to see our previous answers.
I’ll play. 2016 AU WR class vs. 2018 AU WR class — who ya got? Two of the better wr classes signed by AU in the modern era of recruiting rankings but who will be the better one when it’s all said and done?
— ¯_(ツ)_/¯ (@SkyeUnderwood) February 9, 2018
When Auburn signed its 2016 wide receiver class, many fans thought it would turn out to be the best ever for that position.
After all, how could the Tigers ever top three top-20 receivers all inside the top 125 nationally, according to the 247Sports composite rankings? Nate Craig-Myers once ranked as the top overall prospect in the 2016 class, so he looked to be a surefire No. 1 receiver. Kyle Davis and Eli Stove became camp superstars who had all-SEC upside. Marquis McClain seemed like he’d be a down-the-board steal.
None of those things have materialized to the degree most people would have expected — though time remains, for some.
Two years later, after a one-receiver class in 2017, a new question has arisen: Could the 2018 receiver class — of Matthew Hill, Seth Williams, Anthony Schwartz and Shedrick Jackson — actually be more productive than the 2016 class?
Before we answer that, let’s look at the four-receiver haul in each class.
Class of 2016
- Nate Craig-Myers (No. 6 receiver, No. 45 overall)
- Kyle Davis (No. 10 receiver, No. 75 overall)
- Eli Stove (No. 20 receiver, No. 124 overall)
- Marquis McClain (No. 98 receiver, No. 618 overall)
Class of 2018
- Matthew Hill (No. 17 receiver, No. 92 overall)
- Anthony Schwartz (No. 30 receiver, No. 163 overall)
- Seth Williams (No. 35 receiver, No. 185 overall)
- Shedrick Jackson (No. 67 receiver, No. 392 overall)
Senior season production
|Class of 2016||170||2,819||33|
|Class of 2018||170||3,473||32|
Those group numbers are impressively similar. The fact the 2016 class and 2018 class had the same number of receptions as seniors in high school seems statistically impossible. In 2016, the core four had more touchdowns, but the 2018 class had more receiving yards.
Those numbers, of course, are skewed by a couple factors:
- Many of them — Matthew Hill, Marquis McClain and Eli Stove — served much bigger roles than just catching passes and playing wide receiver. Still, that’s something worth factoring in when projecting eventual college production.
- There were a few senior season injuries that prevented Stove and Shedrick Jackson from putting up the numbers they would’ve been capable of during a full season. But again, durability probably matters some when measuring these two classes.
Productivity-wise, the 2018 class provided much more senior-season consistency than the 2016 class. Craig-Myers created a top-heavy perception of that 2016, especially when you count the 16 touchdowns he had his senior year, which makes up roughly half of the 2016 class touchdown total.
Now, all of these figures are nice for seeing how well they did, but what’s important for the purposes of this is how well they will do.
Here are the total numbers Auburn’s 2018 class will shoot for, through two seasons: 93 receptions, 1,349 yards and 6 touchdowns.
A quarter of those 2016 class members will no longer be able to add to those totals, as Davis was dismissed from the team and landed at Florida Atlantic. The other three likely will see boosts in production in the 2018 season and could see more integral roles in the 2019 season, assuming they don’t blow up enough this season to leave early (however, if they do, it’ll be a positive sign for the 2016 class vs. the 2018 class).
Those two-year figures will be somewhat difficult for the 2018 class to top — as tame as the numbers may be — because depth-chart availability isn’t favorable in their first-year freshman seasons. With that said, I think all four will find paths to the field in their first season on the Plains, even if it’s in smaller roles.
In fact, by the time both class careers end, yes, I fully expect the 2018 class to outperform the 2016 class. As is always the case with recruiting, however, only time will tell.
To see all the answers to prior Auburn questions, click here.
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