Yesterday we looked at Auburn’s top targets in the front four, today we look at the back seven. The Tigers have the potential to bring in some big time players at both the linebacker and the defensive back position. Here are some names to watch over the coming months.
Travis Williams had quite the freshman campaign as an FBS football coach. Deshaun Davis and Darrell Williams emerged as legitimate SEC LBs under his watch and he signed an outstanding 2017 LB class. Now the hope is he can build on that in 2018 both on the field and on the recruiting trail. It's still early, but the Tigers are in the conversation for some more great LB talent, most notably Big Cat's teammate and buddy 4* Quay Walker. At one point in time, Walker was considered "Mr. UGA" by many other recruits. However, two weeks ago he named Auburn his new leader. So why the change? Well, first off, he is very close with Big Cat Bryant. Two months ago Bryant seemed like a heavy Dawg lean but ended up instead signing with Auburn. Then there are the rumors that his high school coach might be joining Auburn's staff as a defensive analyst. Finally, Travis Williams has made Walker a priority and the two seem to have really clicked. If T-WILL can get Walker onboard early that would be a huge momentum boost for this class.
Walker isn't the only big fish Williams is trying to reel in. 4* JJ Peterson and 4* Nathaniel Watson are top targets as well. Peterson plays at Colquitt County where Auburn just signed 3* TE John Samuel Shenker from. Chip Lindsey is close with head coach Rush Propst so there's definitely some relationships already built there. In the early going though it's hard to get a read on where Peterson is leaning. His highlight film though is pretty odd for a LB target. He returns kicks, catches passes and plays wildcat QB on top of being an outstanding LB so there's no doubt he is an elite athlete. Things are a little clearer with Watson. He named Auburn his leader last July and that appears to still be the case. He could play WR or LB in college but the Tigers want him at LB. Watson is the great nephew of Tommie Agee so that should help Auburn as well though we don't always have the greatest history of signing legacies. Overall though there is a lot to like about where Auburn stands in the early part of this cycle at linebacker.
The 2018 cycle is loaded at the CB position. It’s also loaded with the sons of former big time CBs. 5* Patrick Surtain Jr, 4* Al Blades Jr and 4* Asante Samuel Jr are three of the top 14 rated CBs in the 2018 class. Unfortunately for Auburn, none of them appear very high on the Tigers right now though we were thought to be Blades #2 team until McGriff left for Ole Miss. Instead, the top guy on the board is 4* Jalyn Armour-Davis who is ranked the #2 player in the state. Armour-Davis attends St. Paul’s in Mobile, AL where Auburn has made some inroads. We were also his first offer, which seems important to him, and it sounds like he is clicking with new DB coach Greg Brown. I don’t like labeling guys must-signs, especially this early, but I do think Armour-Davis would be a more important get than someone like Coynis Miller or Justyn Ross because the Tigers usually struggle to sign big time CBs. Armour-Davis is a guy that could come in and compete for a starting spot day 1 in 2018.
After him, the board is a bit fuzzy for the Tigers. Per usual, Auburn is recruiting the state of Georgia hard for defensive back talent and two names that have popped up a bunch are 4* Christian Tutt and 3* Chris Smith. Both might be UGA leans early but these days every Georgia DB is labeled an UGA lean to start the cycle. I expect over the coming months we will get a clearer picture on guys that not only Auburn wants but have a good chance at landing.
Auburn’s top need this cycle has to be the safety spot. Auburn will lose three senior safeties after the 2017 season in Tray Matthews, Nick Ruffin, and Stephen Roberts. The Tigers have been bringing in some guys with some high upside but there isn’t a ton of proven talent behind those three seniors. A must get this class is an impact safety who could step in as a freshman and contribute. Auburn could get that guy in someone like 4* Myles “Spider” Sims. Before McGriff left, Auburn seemed like the leader for the talented safety but since then there hasn’t been a lot of news. Sims actually played a bunch of CB last season but due to his frame, he will probably end up at safety at the next level.
After him, like the CB board, it’s really hard to tell who might be the next realistic target. Instate wise, 4* Myles Mason would be a guy Auburn would love to have but considering he seems to have only visited Alabama ever I think chances are pretty slim right now. Quindarious Monday is an interesting prospect whose recruitment has blown up just recently. He’s another big kid that could play either on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. It will be interesting to see who Brown prioritizes over the summer and whether the allure of early playing time can help the Tigers land one or two big time S targets in 2018.