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Auburn Football Recruiting: Tough Decisions Ahead

Auburn’s class is filling up fast and there are still a lot of big time names out there. The Tigers’ coaching staff might have to make some tough decisions in the very near future.

Alabama v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Believe it or not, Auburn is playing in a pretty important game Saturday. That might be hard to remember considering most of the talk this week has been on the newest coach to turn Tennessee down, how Arkansas is going to waltz in and steal Gus Malzahn and that Jimbo Fisher prefers brisket over pulled pork (I feel ya Jimbo). But this Saturday, the Tigers have a chance to beat a hated rival twice, tie up the overall series with said hated rival, win an SEC Championship and punch a ticket to the CFB Playoffs. So kind of some big stuff happening.

With all those distractions, it might be hard to miss the big stuff happening off the field as well. When you knock off two #1 teams in three weeks in front of one of the best atmospheres in college football, you tend to become a trendy name on the recruiting trail. Since that wonderful beatdown of the then #1 ranked Dawgs, Auburn has reeled in five 4* commitments from the 2018 class and landed one of the top prospects in the 2020 class for good measure. They have also emerged as big time player for a number of top 100 prospects who got to witness either the UGA beatdown or the Iron Bowl win, possibly even both. The Tigers are rolling.

But it also means that numbers are starting to get tight. The Tigers are expecting to sign a total of 25 prospects in this class and already have 18 committed. I don’t see any of those guys flipping anywhere, especially with Asa Martin and Coynis Miller recently reaffirming their commitments, so Auburn has seven spots to work with in the final three months of the 2018 recruiting cycle. But that number might already even be lower.

4* DE Kayode Oladele (landed his 4th star yesterday when 247 removed Scout’s rankings from their composite score) seems as close to a lock to commit to Auburn as an uncommitted prospect can be. He was on campus to witness Auburn’s win against Alabama Saturday and is expected back for an official visit in two weeks. He’s then committing on December 12th which also happens to be his birthday. Barring something wild happening, it appears the Tigers will be adding their 4th Nigerian native to the roster and another high upside defensive lineman.

Then there’s the case of 4* WR Anthony Schwartz. He’s long thought to be a UF lock but Auburn never gave up their pursuit. Now it appears that hard work might pay off. Florida recently hired Dan Mullen and it doesn’t appear the former Mississippi State head honcho has made Schwartz a priority. Pair that with Schwartz’s lukewarm reaction to Mullen’s hire in the first place and it’s hard not to think the Tigers are in a good spot here. He hasn’t yet set a firm commit date but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him jump on board this month as well.

So assuming Auburn lands those two talented players, that would mean the Tigers have five spots left in this class. Here’s the pool of players I believe would be allowed to commit to Auburn tomorrow if they wanted to and are guys that the Tigers have a legitimate shot at landing. Obviously not stating Auburn is the favorite for all of these prospects, only that Auburn is in their top 2-3 and it would not be a huge shock if they committed to the Tigers.

Auburn appears to have made a serious push for Jones, Ford and Gouraige. I don’t see all three landing with the Tigers right now but Auburn went from not even really in the conversation to possibly in the top 2 for all three prospects. All three were at the Iron Bowl with Ford’s visit being an official visit. The top 50 player said after the game that “Coach [Malzahn] is probably the coolest head coach I’ve talked to”. My how the times have changed.

Then there’s the group of players who either I am not sure if they would be allowed to commit right now or are waiting on an offer and would jump on board if given one. It’s important to note that I could be wrong and a few of these names should be in the group above, this is just what I think is the case right now.

That’s a whole lot of names for just a few spots. But that gives Auburn a lot of leverage in their recruiting. If they feel they are closing in on a prospect, they can simply point to the limited amount of availability and push an important target to jump on board instead of waiting longer.

But there are also prospects like Justyn Ross and Luke Ford who don’t plan on making a decision in the near future but are guys that you would want to hold a spot for in case they decide they want to commit in January or February. So Auburn will have to be very picky about who they take right now and who they don’t. But it could also mean that Auburn doesn’t have to wait around for those guys if they feel they have properly met their needs at a position. So again, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

What I do feel confident in saying now is that Auburn will more than likely land their 6th straight top 10 class under Gus Malzahn. That seemed unlikely just a month ago but with the way things are going right now for the Tigers, I would be more shocked if they didn’t than if they did. Malzahn has always closed strong even despite the fact that Auburn has finished poorly on the field the last three seasons. Now that Auburn is finishing hot on the field, it should be really fun to see how that translates into the 2018 signing class. I have a feeling this 2018 class is going to be one of Malzahn’s strongest yet.

War Eagle!