Originally thought up by Curtis Luper, Big Cat Weekend has become Auburn’s premier offseason recruiting event. When the first event went down back in 2009, it was a unique idea. Invite 30-40 top targets and let them come just hang out and have fun. No football related activities are planned but instead eating contests and water balloon fights. The focus is on building relationships not only between the coaches and recruits but between fellow prospects.
It was a hit the very first year and has become an annual event on the Plains. Many other programs have similar events too now where they try and get their most coveted prospects all on campus for some bonding time and hopefully a commit or two. This Saturday, the Tigers will welcome quite the list of top targets. The list below is compiled from what has been reported by 247, Rivals, SECCountry and what I have seen on Twitter:
- 4* WR Justyn Ross
- 4* OG Trey Hill
- 4* LB JJ Peterson
- 4* WR Jacob Copeland
- 4* CB Kyler McMichael
- 4* WR Kearis Jackson
- 4* LB Channing Tindall
- 4* WR Matthew Hill (not certain he can make the trip but he’s trying to)
- 4* LB Quay Walker
- 4* DT Coynis Miller
- 4* LB Zakoby McClain
- 4* RB Asa Martin
- 4* RB Harold Joiner (Rivals reported he would visit, 247 reporting he might not make it)
- 4* S Quindarious Monday (SECCountry reported that he might not make it due to 7v7 tournament)
- 4* LB Michael Harris
- 4* DT Daquan Newkirk (AU Commit)
- 4* OG Tank Jenkins (247 reporting that it’s not 100% certain he will visit)
- 4* S Myles Mason (Rivals reported he would visit, 247 reporting he might not)
- 3* DE Caleb Tannor
- 3* S Jamien Sherwood
- 3* S Joseph Foucha
- 3* DE Andres Fox
- 3* ATH Ricjard Jibunor
- 3* WR Shedrick Jackson
- 3* OT Jerome Carvin
- 3* DE Azeez Ojulari
- 3* RB Tae Provens
- 3* ATH Kolbi Fuqua (AU Commit)
- 3* CB Juanyeh Thomas
That’s quite the list. In fact, there are very few guys you would label as top targets not on that list above and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few more names get added to this list Saturday. There’s always a few surprise guests and always a few disappointing no shows.
As for commits, I could see as many as five guys join the 2018 class this weekend. Now, let me make it clear that I don’t expect five guys to commit this weekend just that there are five guys I would have on commit watch. From most likely to commit to least likely, they are:
- 3* WR Shedrick Jackson
- 4* WR Matthew Hill
- 3* CB Juanyeh Thomas
- 4* S Quindarious Monday
- 3* DE Andres Fox
I will be more shocked if Jackson doesn’t commit than if he does. Bo Jackson’s nephew recently released a top 5, which is usually the sign a player is drawing closer to a decision. He’s even adjusted his timeline from having a decision sometime later this year to any day now. The question always was whether Auburn would push for him or not. It appears the Tigers have made him a priority and I fully expect he jumps on board this weekend, but then again, I have been wrong before.
As for Hill, if he can make the trip with his family like he wishes, then I feel pretty good about him pulling the trigger too. He also dropped a top 5 list recently and the general feeling seems to be the Tigers have a big lead. After Hill, I am nowhere near as confident in the rest of that list committing. Thomas has said he wants to wait until around August to have a decision while Quindarious Monday this week told multiple reporters he wants to take a step back in his recruitment and make sure he takes more visits before committing. Fox has said before he has wanted to commit to Auburn but they have to get his family on board namely his mom. If that happens, who knows, he might decide to commit but I don’t think it’s incredibly likely at the moment. Either way those are names I will be keeping an eye on this weekend.
The most important visitor this weekend, in my opinion, is Trey Hill. Auburn is always listed as one of his top schools but getting him on campus for big events has been hard at times this year. He was expected to visit for A-Day but instead went to Clemson. If Auburn wants to stay in that race I think it’s critical they get him on campus this weekend.
Finally, you might notice some AU commit names missing. Auburn currently has six commitments but only two are listed in the expected visitor list. I wouldn’t make too of that. More than likely one of 3* OL Jalil Irvin, 3* OL Kameron Stutts and 3* RB Shaun Shivers will end up making the trip, it just hasn’t been reported yet. Even if none do, all three appear very solid at this point. The only commit that will for sure not be there is 4* QB Joey Gatewood who will be out on the West Coast competing in the Elite 11.
Big Cat Weekend is always an important weekend for Auburn recruiting. The Tigers typically make a run on commits in the summer and Big Cat Weekend is usually the kickoff. I am hopeful the Tigers will see that commit list grow some this weekend but more importantly, I think you will see Auburn establish bonds with recruits that down the line result in the all important signature.
The evaluation period has officially come to an end so this section will probably be shorter moving forward. In fact, it’s pretty short this week but that could just mean I missed a few offers. With that said here’s who landed an offer this week:
- 4* CB D’shawn Jamison - Pretty sure he landed an offer last week, I just missed it as he his teammates with Anthony Cook and Al’vonte Woodard who both were offered last week. Jamison isn’t the biggest of DBs but this kid plays fast and angry. Looks like a Texas/TCU battle right now.
- 2019 WR Shamar Nash - The Tigers were the 2nd team to offer (according to his 247 profile) the 6’1” WR out of Memphis, TN. There is very limited film available on him right now but considering both Auburn and Tennessee have offered early you have to think he will be a name to know in the 2019 class.
- With it being Big Cat Weekend this week, 247 writer Michael Niziolek put together three different slideshows recapping the history of the event. There’s one showing the notable Big Cat attendees that signed with Auburn, one recapping the notable attendees that signed elsewhere, and of course one reviewing all the past Big Cat commits.
- It’s been a weird collegiate career so far for Stephen Davis Jr. He was an AU commit, then he wasn’t, then no one really knew where he was going, then he ended up at AU only to redshirt because of injury before magically disappearing off the roster. Well now he’s enrolling at South Carolina where he will be a walk on because Auburn blocked any transfer in the SEC. No idea what happened with him at Auburn but wish him luck with the Gamecocks.
- Rivals released their updated 2018 prospect rankings. Lots of positive moves for top AU targets such as Channing Tindall, Jamien Sherwood and Michael Harris. The recruiting sites are finally starting to give Harris his due, except for of course ESPN who somehow had Tadarian Moultry as the #292 player in the country last season. But that’s a rant for another day....