In one of the most painful college decision announcements I've ever watched at a school assembly covering a multitude of topics, Antwuan Jackson made his college decision.
Even with no defensive coordinator on staff, 4* Defensive Tackle Antwuan Jackson from Ellenwood, GA (Cedar Grove High School) decided to pick the Tigers. I know a lot of people blame Rodney Garner for Auburn's lack of a pass rush without Carl Lawson, but you really can't fault him on the recruiting trail. He and Lance Thompson (and Travis Williams) have done a fantastic job of keeping people on board.
Jackson is 6'2.5, and weighs 285 lbs. He's absolute beast on the interior line. While he boasted offers from just about every school imaginable, the only real threat to Auburn over the last months of his recruitment was from Urban Meyer and Ohio State. The Buckeyes just tabbed Greg Schiano to be their DC and Auburn hasn't given a clue who it will name, but Jackson still decided he wanted to stay down south.
Antwuan is the 8th ranked DT in the nation and 5th best recruit in the state of Georgia according to his 247Sports composite profile. He will be playing in the US Army All-American Bowl.
Good pursuit, good vision, and an absolute beast at crashing through lines even while being double teamed. I'll take it!
Prior to Jackson's commitment, Auburn had just cracked the Top 10 in the 2016 cycle. Now Auburn jumps two spots to #8, pushing Florida and Penn State back. That's good for 4th in the SEC behind Ole Miss, Alabama, and LSU.
That's with only 18 commitments, too. Auburn plans to sign in the neighborhood of 23, and the Tigers are in the running for a number of other big names, as I mentioned in the comments to the Marlon Davidson article, yesterday. It's crazy to think about, but Auburn still has an outside shot at the #1 class in the nation. It would take landing a few more four and five stars, but Auburn is very much in the running for people like WR Nate Craig-Myers, WR Ahmmon Richards, and DB Jayvaughn Myers. If the Tigers somehow snagged those three, they'd definitely be in the Top 5. Add someone like five star Derrick Brown, and you are looking at a chance for #1.
Will it happen? Probably not. What will probably happen, though, is that Auburn ends up with yet another Top 10 class under Gus Malzahn. The talent is there on the field. Hopefully the new defensive coordinator will be able to work with it. I'm not worried about the offense. One bad year in a history of great ones is far more likely to be an anomaly rather than the new norm.