It has only been two weeks but Auburn’s new TE/H-Back coach is already helping Auburn out on the recruiting trail. It's hard to confirm 100% that some of the recent moves are tied to him but knowing his background it doesn't seem like a coincidence.
Recruiting is all about relationships. For some reason, though, it seems like that is even truer in Louisiana where the purple and gold roots run deep. High school coaches can be a bit political but it just seems like it’s taken to a different level in Louisiana where recently high school coaches considered boycotting LSU because a coach they liked was demoted, another coach was fired for claiming Alabama was banned from campus due to Brandon Harris's recruitment and six LA kids committed to Kansas thanks to their new RB coach Tony Hull, who used to be a head coach at Warren Easton High in New Orleans. All of that went down just in the past month. So ya things are taken to a slightly different level down there.
Really the only out of state team who has recruited that area with any sort of consistent success has been Alabama, who just so happen to be on one of the greatest runs in college football and whose head coach once coached at LSU. Also, RB and associate head coach Burton Burns is from New Orleans, LA. That means the Tide have both coaching ties to the area and championship rings to show off. For Auburn, success has been hard to find in the Bayou. The Tigers landed Duke Williams out of JUCO, who is an LA native, but that's been the only Louisiana recruit signed in the Malzahn regime and we didn’t even sign him out of a Louisiana school. Before Malzahn, Auburn was able to pull out Trovon Reed and Greg Robinson but there was some serious drama surrounding both of those recruitments. It’s disappointing the Tigers haven’t had more success considering the amount of elite WR, CB and DL talent that gets pumped out of there each cycle.
Enter Larry Porter. There is a case to be made that during his tenure at LSU from 2006-2009 he was one of, if not the best recruiter in the SEC winning National Recruiter of the Year twice. He was the lead man on some of the top talents that signed with the Tigers during that period such as Craig Loston, Terrance Toliver, and Russell Sheppard. Since then he has bounced around some with a rough stint as head coach at Memphis then assistant gigs at Texas and UNC. But now he's back in the SEC and the Tigers are hoping he can help them out not only in Wesley McGriff’s old areas like Atlanta and South Florida but down in Louisiana as well. Just look at the recent offers Auburn has doled out to players from the Pelican State:
- 2019 WR Quinton Torbor
- 2019 RB John Emery (teammates with Torbor)
- 4* WR Kenan Jones (LSU Commit)
- 4* DT Dare Rosenthal (Former Bama commit)
- 3* OT Cameron Wire
- NR S Derek Turner
It could be a tremendous coincidence the timing of these offers and Larry Porter's hiring but it's also not a stretch to say he played a role in these moves being made. To consistently get kids out of Louisiana you need someone who has credibility down there and can at least get a foot in the door. Porter gives Auburn that. Now if the Tigers can actually reel some of these kids in remains to be seen but it's something to watch this cycle.
4* TE Tyneil Hopper
There is no reading between the lines on Larry Porter’s impact on Auburn’s top TE target in 2018, Tyneil Hopper. Hopper’s brother currently plays at North Carolina where Porter used to coach. Porter is close with the Hopper family after that recruitment and once it was announced that Porter was heading to Auburn on February 11th, two days later on Monday, Hopper was on campus for an unofficial visit. He said something interesting to AL.com's Drew Champlin about his recent visits to Auburn and Alabama.
"(Auburn) really wanted me to come to their Junior Day (Jan. 24), but I went to Alabama instead," Hopper told AL.com earlier this week. "Coach Porter invited me to come down today. I really enjoyed everything."
Porter was not on staff for the big junior day and Hopper chose to visit Alabama over Auburn. However, just two days after Porter’s hire Hopper was on campus visiting Auburn on a weekday. That’s all Porter’s doing. Now it’s going to be a battle to get him away from North Carolina and others but it’s clear the Tigers went from a team fighting for a shot to a true contender with Larry Porter’s hire.
Some other notes from the recruiting trail:
- AL.com has been going position by position through Auburn’s top 2018 targets. Here’s quick links to all the different position group previews:
- There are four SEC caliber in-state running backs this year and Auburn had previously only offered two of them. That changed last Monday when 4* Asa Martin from Decatur, AL received the offer he's "been waiting for" from the Tigers.
- Camp season is in full swing and one of the biggest events is Nike's “The Opening”. A regional event was held in Orlando, FL this past week and 12 recruits earned invites to the Finals. AU commit Joey Gatewood was there but did not earn an invite. He did, however, reaffirm his Auburn commitment.
- Plenty of other offers went out to non-Louisiana kids over the past week. The two big names to watch are 4* OT Tommy Brown and NR ILB Michael Harris. Harris has some of the best ILB film I have seen this cycle and has jumped near the top of my want list.
- 3* ATH Quindarious Monday named Auburn his leader this week as well.
- Auburn also added a probable final piece to their 2017 class in the form of Jacksonville State transfer Casey Dunn.