Former Tiger QB making a difference in recruitingPublished 11:00am Thursday, May 16, 2013
By Andy Graham
The Auburn Tigers received two very big commitments from the Mobile area this past week when top linebacker prospect Tre Williams from St. Paul’s and top defensive end prospect Justin Thornton from Vigor both verbally pledged their allegiance to the Tigers.
As we’ve all been made perfectly aware the last couple of years, a verbal commitment means very little in the grand scheme of things especially at this time of year.
However, the simple fact that these blue-chip recruits are from Mobile is significant.
In fact, four of Auburn’s seven current commitments are from that particular talent rich area.
Coastal Alabama has long been a hotbed for Division I prospects and the Tigers have landed their fair share over the years.
Unfortunately for AU though, Nick Saban and the recruiting machine in Tuscaloosa have recently had a firm grip on the region.
The Tide will certainly continue to sign top prospects, but their dominance in the area may be at an end.
Some of it has to do with Auburn’s fresh new coaching staff and attitude as a whole, but the main reason is Dameyune Craig.
Craig is from Prichard in the Mobile area and played his high school football at Blount.
If you’re old enough to be reading a newspaper, you definitely remember Dameyune as Auburn’s starting quarterback in 1996 and 1997.
He still holds several University records, including passing yards in a season (3277) and completions in a season (216).
He also still holds the single-game record for most net yards gained with 445 against Army in ’96.
In my opinion, Craig is the third best overall athlete I’ve ever seen play at Auburn University in any sport, behind Bo Jackson and Cam Newton.
Dameyune played professional football in the NFL, NFL Europe and Arena League with his greatest success coming in NFL Europe.
He finished his playing career in 2002 and began his coaching career where it all started at Blount High School.
He was a graduate assistant at LSU in ’04 and a special teams assistant with the Miami Dolphins in ’05.
He made stops at Tuskegee, South Alabama and most recently was the recruiting coordinator and quarterback coach at Florida State the past 3 years.
In his brief tenure as a Division I college assistant, Craig has already made a name for himself as a dynamic recruiter and a rising star in the profession.
When the word came down that Gus Malzahn was going after Craig, it sent a shockwave of excitement through the fan base.
Of course, that quickly dissipated when it looked like Dameyune had turned Gus down.
I’m not sure what exactly took place in that second meeting (other than a co-offensive coordinator title), but the results are speaking for themselves.
Auburn has seven commitments at the moment and Dameyune Craig has been the lead recruiter on five of them.
24/7 Sports ranks recruiters just like it ranks recruits.
They list Craig as the No. 3 ranked recruiter in the country.
I don’t have any doubt that a significant pay raise and promotion in title were big reasons for him to come back to the Plains, but I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss another factor as well.
Dameyune Craig loves Auburn and Auburn loves Dameyune Craig more and more everyday.
Graham is a sports columnist for The Outlook.