Fanbases tend to get a bit antsy after a month of no commitments. That concern only doubles in intensity when it goes to two. Thankfully, we didn’t reach three months when people start questioning their existence and whether or not Auburn will ever field a football team again. That could just be me... Either way, 3* WR Shedrick Jackson’s commitment Monday was a welcomed boost to Auburn’s 2018 recruiting class.
Who is next? That’s usually the very next question after a commitment. Well, there are plenty of names to choose from especially with so many targets planning to announce in July and especially in August. Many of these recruits are hoping to have their decision made before their senior year so they can just focus on their final season of high school football. Add in the new early signing period and it makes sense for August to be a busy commit time.
Some of these expected announcements should go Auburn’s way while others not so much. Here’s a break down of whom Auburn has a good chance, 50/50 and not good chance of landing in the next 2 months.
As of today, it’s hard to see 4* WR Matthew Hill, 4* Buck/LB Richard Jibunor and 3* CB Juanyeh Thomas not landing at Auburn. Hill is an admitted Auburn fan who has said the Tigers lead, a big reason being his childhood fandom along with his relationship with Kodi Burns. Justyn Ross tends to get most of the attention from Auburn fans and understandably so as a top 25 player. However, do not sleep on Hill. This kid is an elite WR in his own right who can do a lot of different things from the WR position. He has big time speed on a long frame with great hands and elite playmaking ability. There’s no question he would be Burns’s biggest commit to date.
I have talked a bunch about Jibunor before and like I keep saying this kid has a chance to be special. It’s not easy to win MVP awards at these camps with big time talent on hand. Jibunor has done it twice at two different positions. I honestly can’t remember another player doing that. He’s a guy that like his good friend Prince Tega Wanogho is probably going to need some time to develop but there aren’t many players in this class with higher upsides.
Finally, there’s Juanyeh Thomas who at this point just might be a must sign for Greg Brown. My opinion is Auburn had a top 3 at the CB spot of Jalyn Armour-Davis, Kyler McMichael and Juanyeh Thomas. With the first two off the board, Brown REALLY needs to get his guy in Thomas. And Thomas is definitely his guy. He sports a much lower rating than those other two but was one of, if not the first offer Greg Brown sent out upon arriving at Auburn. Since then, he’s become a top priority and a frequent visitor to the Plains. He’s even mentioned that committing has crossed his mind but has held off. There’s a very good chance that changes in July though his recruitment could last until August. Either way, the Tigers need to reel in Thomas otherwise they risk going 0 for 3 on their top CB targets.
This group right here is what will make or break this class. If Auburn wins more of these battles than they lose then Auburn fans will be feeling really good about this class as we enter the season. Strikeout and there might be panic. There’re a ton of guys who want to commit in August that I am just not sure where they end up, starting with the biggest fish of all in 5* QB Justin Fields. There’s a chance his recruitment could get pushed into the season which would probably be beneficial to Auburn as it would hopefully give them a chance to demonstrate a resurgent passing offense. As of right now, I honestly do not know where Fields goes as all four sides (Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Florida State) seem to think they are in great position. If I had to make a pick, my guess is he ends up a Tiger due to the fact that Auburn is both close to home and he has really good relationships with the staff and some players. But I don’t have a ton of confidence in that pick.
After Fields, there are two big instate dominoes that are expected to fall in 4* RB Asa Martin and 4* DT Coynis Miller. A month or so ago my prediction would probably be Martin to AU and Miller to Bama. I think I would flip those now. With Zamir White’s commitment to Georgia earlier this week, Alabama has made it clear that Martin is their one and only guy this class at RB. It’s just darn hard to beat Bama out for instate guys when that happens.
On the other hand, there’s a strange sort of confidence coming out of the Auburn camp when it comes to Miller. I am a bit skeptical of it as the Tigers have never signed an instate 4* DT since Nick Saban arrived but the thought of early playing time and Miller’s close relationships with the staff and players, most notably Tadarian Moultry, seems to have Auburn feeling good. So as of this exact moment, my picks would be Alabama gets Martin and Auburn gets Miller but it’s not out of the question either team could get both or they flip the other way.
Auburn’s top two DE targets should also have decisions in the near future. First there’s 3* DE Andres Fox. Auburn was the first “big school” offer Fox landed after a dominating state title performance in Jordan Hare last fall. Since then, Auburn has made Fox a #1 priority and he’s even said the thought of committing has crossed his mind. But this is a battle for sure right now. Ed Orgeron has stepped in and taken the lead in Fox’s recruitment which has lead to Fox saying LSU is recruiting him the hardest. There seems to be some renewal of effort on the Alabama side as well to land the stud DE. I personally think the orange & blue Tigers end up snagging Fox but again it’s just really hard to say. Whomever gets him will be landing one of the highest upside athletes in this state.
The other DE is 4* Caleb Tannor. Tannor’s recruitment exploded this past March when he landed offers from seemingly everyone over a month’s time. This race appears to have turned into an Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee battle with the Dawgs and Tigers probably the top 2. UGA probably has the edge being the instate school and Tannor’s most traveled too destination but Auburn did receive 3 straight visits this spring and Tannor was back on campus recently. Auburn really needs one of Fox and Tannor but I would not be shocked if they pushed for and landed both. As of right now, I am sticking with Fox to Auburn and Tannor to UGA.
The final 50/50 is a different type of battle. There’s no confusion about where 4* LB Michael Harris would like to sign. It’s Ohio State and it’s always been Ohio State. The big question though is whether or not they will take him. Chances are very good that Ohio State knocks Alabama off the recruiting throne this year and it seems like if they want a kid they get him right now. They have a few other big fish they might be waiting on before taking Harris. If he decides to pull the trigger this summer and the Buckeyes won’t take him, he more than likely picks Auburn. It will really come down to what Urban Meyer decides to do more than anything Auburn tries.
Now we get to the depressing section. It wasn’t all that long ago that 4* S Quindarious Monday would have been part of the “Good” section but those days are long gone. Now that Clemson has thrown their hat in the ring it’s not looking good for Auburn. Monday has always said that the wrong shade of orange Tigers have been his “dream school” but many thought with their smaller class they wouldn’t have room. Well, Clemson has apparently decided that it would not be wise to pass on a player of Monday’s calibre and offered a few weekends ago. Unless something radically changes, Monday probably lands at Clemson in the near future.
4* CB Jordan Miner was a name mentioned a bunch early in this cycle as a guy the Tigers might make a major push for this summer. That never seemed to materialize and now the talented DB out of Florida is expected to pick the Nittany Lions on July 6th.
The last two names to watch are 4* WR Kearis Jackson and 4* ATH Harold Joiner. Jackson just last night dropped the news he plans on committing in August. Auburn is probably a solid #2 but it’s a distance #2 to Georgia. The Dawgs have been all over Jackson and it would be a shocker if he didn’t pick them this August. The wildcard to watch though is Justin Fields. The consensus among not only insiders but recruits seems to be that where Fields goes, Jackson is likely to follow. So even if Jackson picks UGA in August, don’t be shocked if he becomes a flip candidate if the Tigers can land Fields.
As for Joiner, his recruitment has just been weird all around. It appears he has decided that he not only wants to only play running back but that he wants to be “the guy” for that recruiting class. In other words, if he isn’t your #1 RB prospect you are probably not getting him. Well it looked like LSU was that school. They were telling him all the things he wanted to hear and he reiterated over and over again they were his #1 school. Then this past weekend they took 3 running backs (including 3* Tae Provens) in 3 days. His #2 school in Georgia landed the #1 RB prospect in the country on Tuesday. All of a sudden things were different. Joiner now claims that he’s dropped those two schools and even though that might give Auburn a window of opportunity the Tigers are still recruiting him as an athlete. Meaning they would let him play some RB but want him also to flex out at WR and possibly work some at the H-back. Now it appears that Michigan State is the frontrunner. I am starting to doubt he will commit in August but if he does I just don’t see Auburn being the pick.
That was probably information overload but the next two months are going to get busy. August especially should be a wild month. When September rolls around, chances are really good we will have a much better picture of just how good or bad things are looking for the Tigers on the trail. A strong fall is a necessity for Auburn to close big but it would sure help if a few of these top guys were already on board before the first kickoff.