Aubserver Mailbag 150: How much of the 2024 roster will be Hugh Freeze's guys?
This week: The portal, roster management, Holden Geriner, RBs, Chad-Baker Mazara, BLOBs and SLOBs, Will Wade and a lot more
HC Hugh Freeze (Austin Perryman/Auburn Tigers)
Are you ready for one of the biggest and busiest weekends for Auburn football and men’s basketball that doesn’t include an SEC game in either?
That’s what’s in store over the next couple of days on the Plains.
On Saturday, the football team is going to start Music City Bowl practices — including a Hugh Freeze press conference — while hosting its last visit weekend for high school recruits and transfer portal targets before the dead period that leads into the early signing period Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Auburn basketball is going to host USC in what might be the most anticipated non-conference game in Neville Arena history. USC might not be ranked or have a sparkling record right now, but the Trojans are star-studded with the likes of potential top-3 pick Isaiah Collier and second-generation phenom Bronny James.
It’s a loaded time for the two sports we cover here at The Observer. So let’s get this weekend started with a loaded mailbag, starting with some football roster management questions and rolling into some fun basketball topics.
Thanks so much for reading and subscribing. As a reminder, our $5/month and $50/year deal — along with the free months for any current subscriber who gives a gift this month — is still going on strong. Click the button below for more. Let’s go.
With the players currently in the portal or declared for the draft as out, what percentage of the roster is now Freeze’s guys? After signing day with the current number of commitments, what would that percentage be?
According to the (unofficial) Auburn football roster tracker here at The Observer, the Tigers currently have 80 players set to be on the 2024 roster. Of course, that comes with several caveats: it’s not an official scholarship count, the 2024 recruiting class could change in size, other players have decisions to make, there will be a second transfer portal window, etc.
Of those 80 players, counting current commitments, 50 of them were brought in by Freeze and his staff. That’s 62.5% of the roster. And that percentage should only get bigger moving forward, as any new roster member would obviously be a Freeze Era pickup. Both the offensive and defensive lines, along with the secondary, are quite tilted toward recent additions than they are to carryovers from the last staff.
But you should also keep in mind that Auburn’s 2023 roster was already more of Freeze’s guys than returning pieces. Between all the work the Tigers did in the transfer portal and the 2023 class, more than half were newcomers. Additionally, more than half (12) of the 23 confirmed departures so far this offseason were Freeze Era additions.
This is why I believe that the state of Auburn’s roster isn’t about who brought them in as much as it is who they are from a talent perspective. This roster has already been overhauled. Instead of this being a “wait until Freeze gets his guys in” situation, I think it’s much more of a “wait until Auburn can stack multiple strong recruiting classes” situation.
Of course, Auburn’s 2023 and 2024 rosters had to undergo these big makeovers because of the lack of recruiting success — and the attrition — from the previous staff. While I personally think that Auburn should have won more games in 2023 than the six it got, there’s no question that this is a true rebuild. The key to competing consistently with the likes of Alabama, Georgia and several other powerhouses in a growing SEC is recruiting consistently with those same teams.
Do I think Auburn is going to seriously contend for an SEC title or a playoff spot in 2024? Probably not. The Tigers have more work to do. But they should be able to take a noticeable step forward in terms of on-field results as the program gets closer to Freeze’s long-term vision. Signing a strong 2024 recruiting class and turning it loose early could go a long way in that process.
Does the Auburn results from the transfer portal appear sluggish? Excellent depth pieces that scream breakout, but no plug-and-play, All-SEC type starters yet.