Heading into the early signing period, the Tigers were hoping to do two things. Sign sixteen of their current twenty commits and encourage some key uncommitted targets to hold off signing early. Fifteen of those sixteen commits signed last week. The one holdout was 4* Richard Jibunor who just frankly seemed unprepared for the signing process. So overall part one was a success. However, 4* DL Andres Fox signed with Stanford, 4* LB Channing Tindall signed with Georgia and 4* TE Luke Ford also signed with Georgia. We will call part two not an ideal result...
But we move onward and there are still plenty of big fish out there for this staff to reel in. The Tigers have twenty commits so technically they have just five spots left to fill. However, given the news that the coaching staff asked 3* S Kolbi Fuqua to push his signing date back to February and have already floated the greyshirt idea out there, I think the coaching staff is moving forward with a plan of hopefully landing six more commits. So that’s the number I will use for this breakdown. Here’s a guess at how the board looks heading into January.
Offensive Line - 2
- 5* OT Nicholas Petite-Frere
- 4* OL William Barnes
- 4* OT Richard Gouraige (Florida)
- 4* OT Dylan Wonnum
- 4* OG Tank Jenkins
- 3* OG Ed Montilus
- 3* OT Jalen Goss
There is one glaring need in this class right now and it’s at offensive tackle. The Tigers signed two interior players in 4* Jalil Irvin and 3* Kameron Stutts this week but are still on the hunt for an OT. The good news here is all the big names AU has been chasing, outside of 4* Badara Traore, are still unsigned and can still be recruited. Petite-Frere, Barnes, Gouraige and Wonnum are all planning on taking an official visit to Auburn. At this time I think Petite-Frere is the biggest longshot of the group but the fact he might visit means Auburn has a shot. Herb Hand really needs to reel in one of those talented OT prospects.
As for the 2nd OL spot, it could go a number of ways. In a perfect world the Tigers land two of Petite-Frere/Barnes/Gouraige/Wonnum and call it a day but as of right now I just don’t see that happening. My guess is Goss will end up as the final OL in this class and I am a little surprised the coaching staff didn’t push to get him in early. Michigan and Miami are both hard after the 6’7” big man as well.
Keep an eye on Montilus as he and Barnes are high school teammates and would like to play together at the next level. He’s a very solid interior player in his own right so I am sure the coaching staff would have no problem taking that package deal.
Jenkins’s recruitment continues to be a hard one to nail down. The fact that Auburn already has two interior players is probably hurting his chances of joining this class but the Tigers are still recruiting the Montgomery native. Right now, it looks like Louisville and Oklahoma are Auburn’s biggest threats though don’t count out Ole Miss. If Jenkins’s official visit in January goes well for both sides (meaning both Jenkins and AU are happy with each other) he very well could end up signing with the Tigers. He was one of the top performers at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.
Cornerback - 1
Cornerback continues to be one of the positions this cycle that has been the hardest to track. The Tigers’ lone signee, 4* Christian Tutt, was a guy always on Auburn’s radar but never seemed that likely until he visited for the UGA game. At various times, guys like Derek Turner, Jamari Brown, Cam Taylor, JaKorey Hawkins and CD Daniels all seemed like the next player to join the class but the coaching staff has remained patient, refusing to take a guy too early if they felt like there was someone higher on the board more likely to sign.
I believe Joseph is Auburn’s current top target but it would be a shocker for him to not sign with either LSU or Alabama. Joseph’s name has popped up a few times as a possible visitor for Auburn but has yet to actually make it to campus I believe. Unless he actually visits, I don’t see the Tigers landing him but he’s definitely a name to keep an eye on this January. Auburn will work hard to get him on campus for an official visit.
The new name that has emerged in recent weeks is Junior College product Benjie Franklin. The Tigers offered in early December and just a week later both Tennessee and West Virginia did as well. He’s a guy I fully expect to land more offers in the coming weeks as teams search for an impact player at corner. It sounds like Auburn has a real shot at the Texas native and he plans to officially visits January 12-14th.
But a name from the summer has reemerged as well as a top target. Joseph Foucha apparently still has Auburn as his leader and the Tigers are recruiting him to play really anywhere in the secondary. I am a big fan of Foucha. The Louisiana native plays with a bit of an edge you can’t help but love out of a defensive back and is explosive on the backend of the defense. If Auburn can get either Franklin or Foucha for that last spot, hard not to consider it a win.
Finally, there is a long list of instate names to follow. Both Cam Taylor and CD Daniels are hoping to land an offer. If they do, they probably will end up Tigers. McCreary surprisingly earned an offer in December and is expected to officially visit January 12th. It will be very interesting to see which of these three, if any of them, get the green light to sign in February. All three are kids have outstanding potential but are probably not day one impact players. I honestly have no idea how this position ends up shaking out but it seems clear the Tigers will sign one more in February.
Tight End - 1
- 3* Tyneil Hopper
- 3* Nic McTear (Louisiana-Monroe)
- 3* Nathaniel Watson (Mississippi State)
- 3* Matt Alaimo
No loss this week hurt more than Luke Ford. The Tigers were always fighting an uphill battle in this recruitment but it felt like in recent weeks that Auburn had made this a real race. The coaching staff was hoping Ford would wait until February and give the Tigers more time to recruit him but right now Kirby Smart is getting who Kirby Smart wants. The UGA head coach was able to convince both Channing Tindall and Ford to not wait any longer and claim their spots in that impressive class.
So honestly, when I first wrote this article yesterday afternoon, I had no idea who Auburn might pursue for this spot now. Hopper and Watson are both players that have been on Auburn’s radars but aren’t necessarily the size the Tigers like at this spot. It seems the Tigers want someone 6’4+ at this position and both of those guys are more around 6’2”. I planned on listing four or so other names of guys that maybe end up targets. But then this happened last night.
Blessed to receive an offer from Auburn University pic.twitter.com/pPXP3tNBMB— Matt Alaimo (@Matt_Alaimo) December 28, 2017
I think Auburn has a new top target. His dad told Keith Niebuhr of AuburnUndercover that they plan on taking an official visit on January 12th. Alaimo seems to check all the boxes Auburn is looking for in it’s tight ends moving forward. He’s big at 6’5” 235 lbs, has outstanding hands and is a solid blocker. It seems like Auburn is dead set on taking a tight end this class and it’s looking like Alaimo might end up being that guy.
Wide Receiver - 1
Auburn has three wideouts committed currently and will more than likely add a fourth in January. The name that looks most likely right now is Anthony Schwartz. At one point in time, he appeared a lock to the Florida Gators. However, Kodi Burns kept hard after the speedster and it appears the coaching turnover in Gainesville has more than opened the door for the Tigers. He plans on committing at the Under Armour All-American Game next week and currently has Auburn as his leader. I would be surprised if he does not put on an Auburn hat next week.
If Schwartz does commit that doesn’t mean the Tigers would stop pursuing Justyn Ross. The top player in the state has been and will continue to be one of Auburn’s top targets. He plans on taking official visits to both Alabama and Auburn in January. However, it’s out of state Clemson who is believed to be the current leader right now. He has already taken an official visit to Clemson so he might not take another visit east before making his decision. I would be very surprised if Ross ended up an Auburn Tiger at this point. I would love to see him don orange and blue but a guy like Seth Williams makes Ross a luxury and not a necessity. That’s a nice change for Auburn recruiting.
Best Available Player - 1
- 4* LB JJ Peterson
- 4* LB Quay Walker (Alabama)
- 4* ATH Harold Joiner
- 4* DE Caleb Tannor
- 3* RB Kavosiey Smoke
I think five of the six possible final spots are very clear. Two offensive lineman, a cornerback, a tight end and probably a wide receiver. But that 6th one could come down to the player and not the position. Auburn doesn’t necessarily need another linebacker or defensive lineman but if someone like JJ Peterson or Quay Walker wanted to jump on board, Auburn isn’t saying no.
The two names to really watch are Caleb Tannor and Kavosiey Smoke. Tannor was once one of Auburn’s top targets before committing to Georgia this summer. But it appears the Dawgs didn’t have room for him and forced him out of the class with the “academic concerns” excuse. The Tigers don’t appear to have any concerns about his grades but might not have a spot for him now with four defensive lineman already committed. I would love to see him end up in this class because he’s incredibly talented but not at the expense of an offensive lineman or a cornerback.
As for Smoke, it came out yesterday that he is apparently taking an official visit this January. The Tigers already have two running backs signed so why with limited spots would they consider taking a third? If both Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway were to leave early, the Tigers would have six players left at the running back position. That might be enough but if the staff are worried about those numbers and if they are impressed enough with Smoke, they might try and take him late to ensure they have enough bodies at one of the most critical positions in this offense. I would be surprised if Auburn took a 3rd back but if they end up having an extra spot available, he could be the guy that gets the nod.