Aubserver Mailbag 104: Fear and Mailbagging in Las Vegas
This week: Signing Day superlatives, roster needs, staff observations, basketball minutes, nicknames and a way-too-long food recap
I’m writing this mailbag on my phone.
I am sitting in the Las Vegas airport, waiting out a long layover before a red eye back to Atlanta. A mixture of holiday excitement, energy, dread and frustration is all around me — and that’s just at the slot machines in here.
I have had an incredible time covering Auburn basketball on the West Coast this week. Getting to follow this team into Pac-12 country for a trip that I think could be a real turning point for the season was a blast, and I was able to check Seattle off my list of cities I’ve always wanted to visit.
The winter storm wasn’t fun, as I hate the cold weather. I can handle snow and below-freezing temperatures, though, when it doesn’t affect my travel.
My flight out of Seattle on Thursday was canceled due to weather, and I scrambled to get a last-second flight to Vegas, with a ton of help from my father back in Auburn. (Hi, Dad!) It was so late in the game that the gate agent wasn’t sure why I was able to get a ticket.
That leads us to the phone situation. As I rushed to get through security onto my new flight, I left my trusty MacBook Pro sitting in a tray at the TSA checkpoint. I didn’t realize this until my plane started moving on the runway.
Painter and I had already planned on taking the Christmas weekend off here at The Observer, and zero laptop turns that from a smart decision to a necessary one on my end. But I still need to get a mailbag done, and I have all the time in the world in the Vegas airport.
Maybe I’ll run into Daniel Carlson while writing this.
So, everything you see written below was via my thumbs on an iPhone. If you see any typos or wording issues, I’m just going to blame it on that.
But I wanted to make sure the Mailbag kept rolling ahead of the holiday break. After all, you guys made the trip out west possible with your subscriptions and your support of The Observer.
If you’re still looking for a last-minute gift for the Auburn obsessive in your life, click the button below. You can buy a month or a full year, and all you need is the recipient’s email address. You can even schedule it to go live at a certain time, like Christmas morning or a particular gift exchange. And if you’re a subscriber, I’ll add some free time to your subscription for giving the gift of The Observer.
Thanks again for your support, and I hope every single one of you have a wonderful holiday weekend.
Special thanks to Painter for going above and beyond yet again while I was in travel survival mode. There’s no one better.
Are you writing this mailbag while also sitting at a Buffalo Rush slot machine?
I’m sitting across the way from a Wheel of Fortune slot machine, but I can see 12 different Buffalo Rush ones from where I’m at right now. People love their buffalo here.
I might throw some money in one to kill time later. However, that feels like a “home stretch of an 8-hour layover” move. Stay tuned.
Which offensive line recruit has the best chance for an instant impact — and which non-OL recruit?
And who was the biggest surprise of the ESP? Someone who signed or didn’t?
The instant-impact pick along the offensive line has to be Izavion Miller. He is the JUCO transfer of this group, and it’s extremely hard to start on the offensive line in the SEC as a true freshman. Miller is also an offensive tackle, which helps his cause tremendously. Auburn will most likely try to get some FBS or FCS transfers up front this offseason, but Miller is gonna have a chance to contribute early.
For non-offensive line, this might be too easy of a pick because he’s the highest-rated signee — but it’s hard to go against Keldric Faulk. The prized flip from Florida State on Early Signing Day is an edge rusher by trade, and Auburn needs as many of those as possible right now. Faulk might be a little on the raw side, coming from a small school, but the Tigers just need dudes who can rush the passer and set the edge up front. He’s probably gonna have to learn quickly.
I’ll also pick Faulk as my biggest surprise of the period. Of all the flip candidates over the past week, he felt like the most up in the air, according to the recruiting experts. And Auburn landing him was so, so huge in a number of ways.
After early signing day, how would you re-rank Auburn’s biggest roster needs going forward?
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