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Auburn Football Recruiting: Examining the 2018 Defensive Class

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A look at the current state of Auburn’s defensive recruiting board.

Auburn linebacker commit 4* Michael Harris
Michael Harris’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/NikeMikkey/status/871805788813176832

I meant for this to come out Thursday following the article on offense but the change of seasons sidelined me for a few days thus why this article is coming out randomly on Monday...

Wednesday we took a look at the current state of Auburn’s offensive board in the 2018 recruiting class. Today we flip to defense where Auburn already has a number of impact player committed. There are still some big fish out there to catch and a strong finish on the field could help the Tigers get a few of those big fish in the boat. Here’s a look back at my February previews of the defensive line board and the linebacker/defensive back board. A lot has changed and not changed at these positions.

Defensive Line - 2/4

It’s important to note that I am not including the Buck position in this group. I decided to group those targets in the Linebacker section. There’s also a chance Auburn might sign five true defensive lineman but for now I am sticking with the number four. The Tigers already have two outstanding player committed at defensive tackle and are looking for at least two more end prospects.

Commits

  • 4* Coynis Miller - Miller is Auburn’s most recent commit and was a big victory for this coaching staff. The talented Birmingham native chose the Tigers over Alabama and Florida. He’s a guy with an extremely high upside but needs to learn how to give consistent effort every down, a not uncommon problem for high school defensive tackles. Unfortunately, Milller suffered an injury recently that could require offseason surgery.
  • 3* Daquan Newkirk - It’s been a long ride for Daquan Newkirk but soon it will end with him finally arriving on the Plains. Newkirk was originally apart of the 2016 class but failed to qualify academically. But both he and Auburn remained loyal to each other and it should payoff for both next season. Newkirk has the potential to join the defensive tackle rotation in 2018 and is a player the Auburn staff is really excited about adding to the front four next season.

Targets

  • 4* Alfred Thomas - Unless Auburn misses on some other targets, I would be surprised to see Thomas land in this class but he’s definitely a name to file away. Louisville appears to be the team trending in Thomas’s recruitment and if the Cardinals do land the #26 DT in the country they will be getting a really good player.
  • 3* Andres Fox - Fox’s recruitment has been all over the place. His top four of Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Stanford have all at some point in time felt good about where they stood with the 6’4” 245 lb Mobile native. As of today, it appears the two instate schools of Auburn and Alabama have emerged as the top 2 teams on his list. He plans to wait until National Signing Day to announce his commitment but at this time I like Auburn’s chances.
  • 3* Jamarcus Chatman (Tennessee Commit) - The one time LSU commit now Vol pledge is keeping his options open. Auburn has not offered him yet but if the Tigers elect to take a 5th DL or if they feel they might not be trending in right direction with someone like Andres Fox, then he could land an offer very soon. He’s a powerful player who will more than likely grow into a DT at the next level.
  • 3* Kayode Oladele - Auburn appears to be trending in the right direction for the Nigerian native. Oladele is a raw prospect but the upside is clearly there. He’s got a great frame at 6’4” 235 lbs and could grow into a talented strongside defensive end.
  • 3* Caleb Johnson - Johnson is a name that has been continually linked to Auburn’s defensive line recruiting but it’s unclear where exactly he is on the Tigers’ board and where Auburn might be on his own list. I suspect if Auburn were to miss on Andres Fox or Kayode Oladele then Johnson would become a top target.

Buck/Linebacker - 1/3

Last cycle, the Tigers had quite the haul at linebacker and are looking for a repeat in 2018. They are off to a great start with Harris already on board. Now Travis Williams will try and convince a few more of these top targets to don the orange and blue in 2018.

Commits

  • 4* Michael Harris - I still believe that Harris is one of the top 5 linebackers in the southeast. He’s a force between the tackles and cover a lot of ground in a hurry. When watching Tucker play it’s very easy to know when Harris makes the tackle because ball carriers just stop moving forward. I fully expect him to be apart of the linebacker rotation as early as 2019.

Targets

  • 4* JJ Peterson - Honestly it’s shocking that Peterson hasn’t already committed to Alabama but a big reason why he hasn’t might be Travis Williams. The two are close and the Tigers are trying hard to stay in this race. Still, it would be shocking if he were to sign with anyone not named Alabama.
  • 4* Channing Tindall - It’s crazy how far Tindall’s stock has risen since February. When I first mentioned his name he was unranked with a handful of offers. One of those being from Auburn. However, now he’s a top 150 recruit with everybody hard after the talented backer. South Carolina was long thought to be his leader but now it appears the Georgia Bulldogs might be in front. Auburn will host the talented South Carolina native for the Iron Bowl and will hope they can make a strong sell that weekend.
  • 4* Quay Walker (Alabama Commit) - This has been a fascinating recruitment. Walker was once a Georgia lean, then Auburn lean, now Alabama commit who looks far from solid. Both Florida State and Auburn are making a strong push for Walker. Having Big Kat Bryant, a former high school teammate of Walker, and Travis Williams are two big advantages and right now, I think the Tigers have a more than good shot of flipping the Crimson Tide commit.
  • 4* Richard Jibunor - At this point I would be shocked if Jibunor is not Auburn’s next commit. Auburn’s biggest threat for the talented pass rusher has always been Florida and Tennessee. With Jim McElwain already out the door and Butch Jones looking likely to join him, Auburn looks to be in as good of shape as they have ever been in landing the Nigerian native.
  • 3* Braelen Oliver (Minnesota Commit) - I would be shocked if Oliver ended up in Auburn’s class but he’s a name to keep filed away in case things go sideways with some of Auburn’s other top targets. Oliver reminds me a lot of Montavius Atkinson coming out of high school as he’s a bit undersized but incredibly fast. The Gophers are getting a very talented player.
  • 3* La’Dedric Jackson - Jackson was once a Missouri commit but recently decommitted. He’s long made it clear he wants an Auburn offer and would jump on board very quickly if he got it. With the way things are trending for Peterson and Tindall, he may very well get his wish. I like Jackson, though I think he would need a few years of development before making an impact. Crazy enough, Auburn is actually in a place these days where they could sign someone like Jackson and let him develop due to the number of talented backers already in the depth chart. Keep doing work Travis Williams.

Cornerback

No position has been harder to follow this recruiting cycle than cornerback. It was very clear in the early going that Auburn wanted Jalyn Armour-Davis and Kyler McMichael. Unfortunately, both chose to go elsewhere and flipping either seems very unlikely. Now Auburn appears to be spreading a wider net and who or how many CBs the Tigers end up signing is all guesswork right now. So it shouldn’t be a surprise this target list is the longest of the any we have broken down so far. I would also not be shocked if a name not listed ends up committing. It’s that up in the air right now.

Targets

  • 4* Nadab Joseph - Let me go ahead and say that I do not think Auburn is much of a threat for Joseph. However, the former LSU commit is looking around and the Tigers are pushing hard to get a visit. Unless he actually visits though I think Joseph lands either at Alabama or Georgia.
  • 4* Jaycee Horn (Tennessee Commit) - This morning over at 247, Keith Niebuhr reported that Auburn might be trying to make a push for the Vol commit. At this time, it doesn’t appear all that likely that Auburn will flip the talented GA native but could be a name that pops up on an AU visitor list in the near future. I am extremely high on Horn and would love to see AU capitalize on the rockiness on Rocky Top right now.
  • 4* Christian Tutt - This has been a bizarre recruitment. At one point in time Tutt had a top group of Alabama, Florida State, Georgia and Ohio State. However, all four programs seemed to have backed away for whatever reason and now it’s the Cornhuskers who appear to have the lead. Auburn is trying to make a run though and Tutt is expected to visit this weekend for the Georgia game. Interested to see how this recruitment shakes out.
  • 3* Joseph Foucha - During the summer it looked like Foucha to AU was a done deal. But the Louisiana native never jumped on board and Auburn ended up loading up at safety in just a few months. Now the Tigers are looking at the talented playmaker at cornerback but it appears both sides have cooled some on each other. More than likely I think Foucha ends up at LSU which is a shame because I think this kid is woefully underrated and would be a star at Auburn’s nickel spot.
  • 3* Divaad Wilson (Florida Commit) - Auburn recently offered the Gator commit. Wilson has been a Florida pledge since February but with the mess in Gainesville, he might be a flippable target. However, until he actually visits Auburn not sure how big of a threat the Tigers really are at landing the 6’0” 180 defender.
  • 3* Charles McClelland (Cincinnati Commit) - This name might sound familiar to readers who have followed recruiting this cycle. McClelland visited for Big Cat Weekend but then committed to Cincinnati shortly after. Since then I have not seen much written about the star athlete from Homerville, GA. But his name popped up on Keith Niebuhr’s initial AU/UGA visitor list so I thought it would be appropriate to list his name. Interested to see if he makes the visit and what else comes of it.
  • 3* Cam Taylor - Taylor was another Alabama native that decommitted from Missouri recently. Taylor has had a tough time of it when it comes to injuries in his high school career but has finally been healthy this fall and has put together an outstanding senior campaign as the Park Crossing quarterback. Auburn initially recruited him as a safety but are now looking at him as a cornerback. I personally really like Taylor’s upside and would love to see him land an Auburn offer.
  • 3* JaKorey Hawkins (Ole Miss Commit) - The Rebels recently landed Hawkins and I think they are getting a good one. He’s got great length and got to compete against Alabama’s Henry Ruggs every practice last season. He earned an Auburn offer over the summer but it doesn’t appear either side has communicated a ton over the past few months. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if Auburn turned up the heat here in the coming months as they search for somebody at the cornerback spot.
  • 3* Derek Turner - If Auburn wants Turner he will jump on board. The question is whether or not the Tigers decide to take the Louisiana native. He plays quarterback for his school in a triple option system and is a physical runner with great speed. In some ways he reminds me of Javaris Davis coming out of high school thought Turner is a bit bigger.
  • 3* CD Daniels (Memphis Commit) - Daniels has become a frequent visitor to the Plains over the past few weeks. He doesn’t yet have an Auburn offer but it’s clear there is some mutual interest between Auburn and Daniels. He’s a fascinating prospect as he’s got great size and length. I am unsure of how fast he is or isn’t but I do like his ability to tackle in open space. He will be a name to monitor over the final home stretch.

Safety

Safety is the other position Auburn appears to be done at this cycle. If there was a position Auburn absolutely needed to have secured this cycle with impact players, it’s the safety spot where they lose three seniors off the 2017 squad. The Tigers have done just that with this group.

Commits

  • 4* Quindarious Monday - I personally believe Monday is a top 100 talent. I fully expect him to find his way onto the field pretty early in his Auburn career and has the potential to be a star. He will need to bulk up some more but his combination of instincts, size and physicality are everything you want in an SEC safety. Possibly Auburn’s most important commit in the 2018 class.
  • 3* Jamien Sherwood - Sherwood is a throwback player. He does a little of everything for this high school team. He has played every position but defensive tackle this year on defense and has starred on offense as a running back. Lots of teams are still hard after Sherwood including Miami. Unless there’s a coaching change though I expect Auburn to keep Sherwood on board. He too could find his way onto the field pretty quickly.
  • 3* Kolbi Fuqua - There hasn’t been a ton of talk about Fuqua and I don’t expect there will be until he arrives on campus. He originally committed to Auburn as a wide receiver but has since agreed to flip to safety where honestly he looks like a better fit. Film on him is pretty limited but the coaching staff feel they got a steal in Fuqua early on. Could Fuqua be the next low rated defensive back to emerge as a playmaker in Auburn’s secondary ala Daniel Thomas and Jordyn Peters? I wouldn’t be surprised.
  • 3* Josh Marsh - I am very interested to see what position Marsh plays at Auburn. My guess is he grows into a linebacker but he will probably start out at the nickel spot against run heavy teams. Marsh is a tackle machine who pounced on his Auburn offer over the summer, committing on the spot. Excited to see him play in the Alabama-Mississippi All Star Game to see how he looks on a field full of D1 talent.

War Eagle!