There are many different ways you can grade a recruiting class. Most recruiting sites measure both quality of talent and the amount of new talent a class is bringing in. Another way is to look at a class’s average player grade. Clemson finished outside the top 10 the last 2-3 years in recruiting because they signed smaller classes but their average player rank puts them in the top 10.
One way I like to evaluate the success of a recruiting class is seeing whether or not a team is bringing in impact players at positions of need. One reason I was really high on last year’s class despite it having a lower ranking is Auburn signed guys like Jarrett Stidham, Calvin Ashley and Big Cat Bryant who could all potentially step in and help Auburn at positions of possible weakness in 2017. Obviously, you would love to sign a well balanced class that brings in studs at every position but unless you are Alabama or Ohio State that’s just not going to happen consistently. So, instead, it’s important that you hit on the major positions of need that cycle in order to plug holes for the next season.
So, what are Auburn’s needs this cycle and how are they doing in the early going? Let’s take a look.
Auburn has been pretty stable at the safety spot the past 2-3 seasons. The Tigers return three guys with a lot of experience in 2017 in Tray Matthews, Nick Ruffin and Stephen Roberts. In 2018, all of those guys will be gone. Add in the dismissal of Markell Boston earlier this spring and all of a sudden a position of experience gets real thin and youthful at once. There is some talent waiting in the wings that I am excited about, most notably 2017 signee Carlito Gonzalez, but it’s clear Auburn will need some guys ready to help next season.
In the early going, three main targets have emerged at this spot: 4* Quindarious Monday, 4* Brendon Harris and 4* Myles Mason. Of that group, Monday looks like the most likely to sign and is honestly my favorite of the bunch. The 6’3” 175 lb safety out of Atlanta, GA has consistently named Auburn his leader and chances are good he will jump onboard in the near future, possibly at Big Cat Weekend. Monday is a guy that could help AU immediately in 2018.
As for the other two targets, Auburn has some work to do. Harris appears to be a Tennessee lean in the early going while Myles Mason had been all Alabama up until about a month or so ago. Recently, the Tigers have made this a fight but some of that might be from uncertainty of where Mason is on the Tide’s board. If Alabama decides to pursue other national targets more heavily, that will give the Tigers a great chance at swiping a very talented instate player. Either pair of these three targets would be considered filling a need in the 2018 class.
There is a lot of upside to Auburn’s current group of corners. Carlton Davis could take that next step this year and become elite, Javaris Davis had a breakout year last season, Jeremiah Dinson is back from injury and there’s been a lot of praise coming out about Jamel Dean when healthy. But both Dean and Dinson have dealt with and are still recovering from major injuries. Carlton Davis could leave for the NFL next season, as well, so Auburn’s CB depth might become a major concern in 2018. The Tigers are looking to land at least 2 studs at this position in this year’s class.
The clear top target appears to be 4* Jalyn Armour-Davis from Mobile, AL. The talented athlete has seemed close to a decision for a few months now but has yet to pull the trigger. Auburn is battling Florida State for the highly recruited 4* and both sides seem to have some confidence in landing him. Armour-Davis is a guy that at a minimum I think would bolster Auburn’s CB depth in 2018 and could possibly challenge for a larger role.
After Armour-Davis, I think there are three names to keep an eye on: 4* Jordan Miner, 3* Juanyeh Thomas and 3* Kendric Torain. Auburn became a player for Miner after offering earlier this year. The Gators appear to be their top competition but this looks like a battle that will last awhile. Thomas is another AU/UF battle with Georgia Tech lurking as a darkhorse. Thomas has a low rating but his offer count and his film suggest that will change sometime this cycle, apparently Greg Brown loves him. He will be on campus this weekend and is my early bet at being the other corner to join this class (I think Armour-Davis eventually commits to AU). Finally, there’s Torain who just recently emerged as a target. He too has a low early rating but I LOVE his film and I think by the end of this cycle he will be a top 200 player with a 4* ranking.
I debated a few different position groups for this spot. An argument could be made both wide receiver and defensive line need some impact players this cycle but with Auburn losing at least 3 if not more starters after this season off the OL, Herb Hand is going to need some guys ready to go in 2018 or at least be ready to provide depth.
Auburn is off to a strong start, something that seems to be a trend under Hand. The Tigers have commitments from 4* Jalil Irvin and 3* Kameron Stutts. Both project to be interior players and I like both of their upsides. Irvin has consistently finished in the top 5 at camps this spring and I personally think Stutts has one of the highest ceilings in this class.
Hand is looking to land some talented tackle prospects, however, in the early going, the Tigers seem to have a lot of work to do. Their top four targets in 4* William Barnes, 4* Richard Gouraige, 4* Nicholas Petit-Frere and 3* John Campbell are all trending elsewhere. Barnes and Gouraige look to be leaning Florida, while Petit-Frere likes Notre Dame and Campbell could commit to Miami any day now. The Tigers will obviously keep working on these guys but expect more names to emerge in the coming weeks at this spot. 4* Dylan Wonnum is one name to keep an eye on. Auburn recently picked up their recruitment of the tackle in part because of his close relationship with Irvin. Don’t be surprised if Auburn goes after a JUCO OT later this cycle.
It was a busy week for offers. Interestingly enough, it appears they all went out to 2019 and 2020 prospects.
- 2019 ATH Jammie Robinson - Crisp County is on a roll right now when it comes to producing D1 defensive players. Big Cat Bryant signed with AU in 2017, Quay Walker will land somewhere in the SEC this year and now Robinson has emerged as a top prospect. Robinson blew up this past month landing an offer first from Alabama and now Auburn.
- 2019 WR Jeremiah Payton - Payton is expected to be one of the top players in the 2019 class. 247 ranks him #24 OVR currently.
- 2019 LB Ja’len Sims - I fully expect this kid to be a top AU target next year. He has great size and delivers pain when he arrives at the ball.
- 2019 S Cortez Andrews - 6’2” 205 lb safety out of FL will be near the top of AU’s wishlist in 2019.
- 2020 QB Max Johnson - Johnson is the son of former NFL QB Brad Johnson and a probable top rated recruit in two years.
- 2020 RB Miles Friday - Tigers offered another rising sophomore peach state RB.
- 2020 WR Darin Turner - The 6’3” 190 lb Memphis native will be a name to know in 2020 class.
- When your 3 biggest rivals all have a spring game one weekend and you don’t there is always concern that some targets might jump off the board or a current commit will have a look around. Fortunately for AU, they only saw one top target commit elsewhere in 2019 OT Pierce Quick to Alabama (not a surprise) and no Tiger commits visited anyone. Not a bad weekend for Auburn.
- Two top targets released some top lists this week on Twitter that included Auburn. First, 4* CB Jordan Miner tweeted a top 11 and then 3* DE Caleb Tannor tweeted an SEC heavy top 10. Auburn is probably in the top 2-3 for both players.
- Keith Niebuhr released a free road trip recap slideshow that’s worth a look.
- Finally, Benjamin Wolk over at SECCountry put out a way too early 2018 class prediction. Some interesting names listed there. FWIW I will be doing something like this in a few months, probably after Big Cat Weekend and the evaluation period when it’s easier to understand Auburn’s recruiting board.