Auburn Football Recruiting: The Impact of Will Muschamp on Six Top Targets

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Nov 8, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn shakes hands with fans as he goes through Tiger Walk prior to the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Daron Payne, Massive Defensive Tackle

Auburn needs defensive linemen. The Tigers struggled this season to get a consistent pass rush, and were forced to use interior linemen like Gabe Wright and Montravius Adams at defensive end because of a lack of depth created by the graduation of Dee Ford and an ACL injury to Carl Lawson.

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  • At 6-foot-2, 330 pounds, Daron Payne isn’t a pass rusher. However, he will occupy a lot of space and multiple blockers in the middle of the line, which should free up pass rushers to make plays on the outside. As a consensus top-50 player nationally, he’s got the talent to contribute immediately.

    And he’d like to get on the field as quickly as possible, which could give Auburn an edge over co-favorite Alabama. According to’s John Talty:

    "Payne has repeatedly insisted that early playing time will play a big role in his decision — he doesn’t want to redshirt — and is intrigued about early opportunities on the Plains. He’s developed a close relationship with Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Garner, who is expected to join head coach Gus Malzahn in the in-home visit. Payne’s faith in Garner is the reason why he isn’t all too concerned about who will be the next Auburn defensive coordinator. “Coach Garner is a great coach so either way he’ll develop me for where I want to be,” Payne said."

    Now with Muschamp on board, Payne will have a few coaches with a great track record of developing defensive players to where they want to be, and Coach Boom is expected to visit with Payne very soon.

    Payne is expected to announce his decision at the Under Armour All-American Game.

    Next: A Four-Star Linebacker and Top 100 Player