The hidden gems of Auburn's 2014 class

AUBURN, Ala. -- Not every great college football player was ranked in the ESPN 300 or labeled a five-star recruit. In every recruiting class, there is always a handful of players who exceed expectations and outperform their ranking.

Here are four players in Auburn’s 2014 class who could do just that:

S Markell Boston: Prior to his senior season, Boston had a handful of offers from smaller schools but nothing major. In fact, he originally committed to East Carolina last month because it was his best option at the time. However, he turned heads as a senior with 105 tackles and four interceptions and he received offers from Auburn, Indiana, Nebraska and UCF in the final week before signing day. Alabama also came close to offering, but in the end, he signed with Auburn, giving Gus Malzahn and the Tigers a player on the rise.

Malzahn’s take: “A very good tackler, a physical guy that we got on fairly late. He got better and better his senior year. We really feel like he’ll provide some depth for us.”

DE Raashed Kennion: Similar to Boston, Kennion was a guy who didn’t receive much interest from the major schools during the recruiting process. He committed to Cincinnati back in May because just like Boston, it was his best option at the time. Then he visited Auburn over the summer and turned heads at their camp. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound defensive end showed flashes of brilliance, and that, combined with his size, was enough to convince Auburn’s Rodney Garner to offer him a scholarship. Kennion committed a month later.

Malzahn’s take: “A very, long athletic guy. Coach Garner had him in camp, offered him in camp. We recruited him hard, and we really think that he has a lot of potential moving forward.”

TE-H Jakell Mitchell: There was a time when Mitchell was ranked in the ESPN 300. He had offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida, Florida State and LSU and when he committed to Auburn, it was a huge coup for the Tigers. Then, shortly after his commitment in May, Mitchell tore his ACL during a 7-on-7 competition, and everything changed. He dropped out of the rankings and became just another member of Auburn’s class. Now he’s fighting his way back -- he says he's 100 percent -- and if all goes well, he could be in line to replace Jay Prosch in the Tigers’ offense next season.

Malzahn’s take: “He’s a guy we identified when he was a junior. He runs a very similar offense. He can block. He can catch the ball. He’s got running back skills -- he played a little bit of Wildcat when he was a junior. We really feel like the sky is the limit for this guy.”

RB Kamryn Pettway: It’s easy to forget about Pettway. He’s coming to Auburn alongside ESPN 300 running back Racean Thomas, the top-ranked commitment in the Tigers’ 2014 class. However, Pettway rushed for 1,402 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior at Prattville (Ala.) High School against top competition. Because of his size and strength, Pettway is also a candidate, along with Mitchell, to replace Prosch at fullback, or "3-back" as Auburn calls it. He might not be as talented as Thomas, but he can still make an impact.

Malzahn’s take: “A big, physical, hard-nosed guy. We feel like he has great potential. He’s a big man. He can run. He’s got very good ball skills. He’s going to give us a lot of versatility.”