Auburn football recruiting: An early look at the Tigers' top Class of 2015 targets

Top recruiter Dameyune Craig was key in putting together a top-10 2014 class. Can he and Auburn do even better in 2015? - Jeff Gross

National Signing Day 2014 is over, so it's time to start looking ahead toward next February.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and his staff have just completed a successful 2014 recruiting campaign that saw the Tigers finish with the No. 6 class in the 247 Sports composite rankings. But, it's never too early to look ahead to 2015, and Auburn hopes to be a major player for many top recruits.

Signing Day 2014

The Tigers like most SEC programs, feel like they don't have to go far from home to get top guys, and they'll stick to that plan in 2015. We'll touch on who we think are the their top five targets from each side of the ball, although that is subject to change once recruiting really picks up and the coaching staff weeds out guys who are not interested and/or didn't evaluate as highly as they would have hoped.

Auburn has just two commitments for the 2015 class: four-star QB Tyler Queen, and ATH Jason Smith. As you may remember, Smith committed to Auburn out of McGill-Toolen High School in 2013, but failed to qualify. Smith was the No. 202-ranked player, per 247 composite, coming out of high school. He played quarterback at McGill-Toolen, but projects as a wideout at Auburn. He will attend Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. this fall before transferring to Auburn in 2015. Tyler Queen is the 248th-ranked player, the No. 9 pro-style QB and the No. 26 player from the state of Georgia. Queen looks to be firm to Auburn, but the Tigers would like to add another quarterback, probably a dual-threat prospect.

Top Offensive Targets for 2015

Torrance Gibson (DUAL) Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (American Heritage)

Gibson is the No. 1-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2015 class and the No. 29 player in the nation. The thought is that Ohio State leads with Miami not far behind, then Florida, LSU and Auburn all bunched up behind them. He recently said he is interested in Auburn. The Tigers hope to get him on a visit sometime this spring.

John Burt (WR) Tallahassee, Fla. (Linclon HS)

Burt has already visited Auburn once, and the Tigers hope to have him back on campus in the spring. He's the No. 81 overall player in the class and the sixth-ranked wide receiver. Florida State leads, but Auburn is not far behind.

Kerryon Johnson (ATH) Madison, Ala. (Madison Academy)

Johnson is officially listed as the No. 3 athlete, No. 33 overall and No. 2 in the state of Alabama, and Auburn likes him at running back. Johnson has already visited the Plains and has serious interest in the Tigers. FSU and Alabama, along with Auburn, are the top contenders for Johnson's services.

Garrett Thomas (OT) Many, La. (Many HS)

Thomas is the No. 152-ranked player, No. 16 tackle and the No. 6 prospect in Louisiana for the 2015 class. Thomas visited Auburn recently and he came away impressed. LSU is the leader in the clubhouse at the moment, but Auburn is a major player. Offensive tackle seems to be a top priority in the 2015 class, and Thomas is near the top of Auburn's list at the position.

Javon Patterson (OT/OG) Petal, Miss. (Petal HS)

Patterson is rated as the No. 53 player in the nation, the no. 2 offensive guard and the state of Mississippi's second-best player. Ole Miss is the undoubted leader here, but we think Auburn has much more of a shot than most think. Alabama is also in the mix. This could be one of the more heated recruiting battles in the SEC.

Top Defensive Targets for 2015

Jeffery Holland (OLB) Jacksonville, Fla. (Trinity Christian)

Holland is the Tigers' top linebacker target in 2015. He's the 27th-ranked player in the class, the second-ranked outside linebacker and the No. 6 ranked player in the state of Florida. He has already visited Auburn and plans to visit more. The Tigers and Florida have the early lead.

Roquan Smith (OLB) Montezuma, Ga. (Macon County HS)

Smith is Auburn's second-biggest target at outside 'backer in 2015. The No.. 105 player overall, No.. 6 outside linebacker and No. 11 in his home state, Smith looks to be a battle between Auburn and Georgia. He has already visited Auburn once.

Daron Payne (DT) Birmingham, Ala. (Shades Valley HS)

Payne is the state's top-ranked recruit for 2015, the No. 6 player overall and the No. 2-ranked defensive tackle. Payne visited Auburn for the Iron Bowl and currently has Auburn and Alabama at the top. 'Bama may hold a slight edge, but Auburn is definitely a contender. Payne is one of the Tigers' biggest targets on either side of the ball in 2015.

Trent Thompson (DT) Albany, Ga. (Westover HS)

Thompson may be even higher on Auburn's board than Payne. He's the third-best country, second-best in Georgia and the top defensive tackle in the class. Georgia is currently Thompson's leader, but Auburn, FSU, 'Bama and Michigan State are all factors.

Jamal Peters (S) Bassfield, Miss. (Bassfield HS)

Peters is the top-ranked player in Mississippi, the No. 2 safety and the no. 41 player overall in 2015. Auburn's lead recruiter on Peters is Melvin Smith, the Tigers' top recruiter in the state of Mississippi. Ole Miss may lead, but it's probably all square between the Rebels, Auburn, FSU, 'Bama and Mississippi State. Peters could end up playing the star position at Auburn or at true safety. He's a big-time athlete.

Auburn has many more top targets in 2015 and is also a major contender for many other four- and five-star recruits. The Tigers are also high on many three-star guys in 2015, especially at athlete and offensive line. It will be fun to watch Malzahn and his staff put together a class over the next year, and with a returning top-five team, Auburn is sure to get plenty of exposure. Another SEC championship run, and Auburn will undoubtedly close with a big-time class.

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