This will be a shorter than usual post for me this week as I am currently writing this late Wednesday night from a hotel in College Station, Texas. Why am I doing that? I’m on an epic 12 day, 10 state road trip with my wife and 9 month old daughter visiting pretty much every family member possible. Because of that, I also fully expect all sorts of news to come out this weekend while I am in nowhere Oklahoma with limited internet access because that’s just how life works.
Anyways, here’s what’s happening in the Auburn football recruiting world...
Auburn has had quite a few important visits go down this past week. Here’s a taste of the top talent that’s stopped by the Plains since last Thursday:
- 5* QB Justin Fields
- 4* QB Joey Gatewood
- 4* WR Matthew Hill
- 4* OG Tank Jenkins
- 4* OT Badara Traore (official visit)
The big name of course is Justin Fields. His recruitment has become the premier recruiting story this offseason due to not only his elite ability but also due to the lack of clarity on where exactly he will be playing football in 2018. Not much information (at least non paywall information) has come out on his Auburn visit, though from what I can gather overall, it was positive for Auburn. He was in Athens the next day for Georgia’s big barbecue event and apparently left many there feeling he will end up a Bulldog. However, no one really knows what’s going on with this kid and until it doesn’t happen, I am just going to believe he picks Auburn because that’s more fun.
You might notice that there is a name missing from above. 4* WR Kearis Jackson was supposed to accompany Fields to Auburn last Thursday. However, the 6’0” 200 lb Fort Valley, GA native did not make the trip. He did make it to Athens though two days later. Even if Auburn lands Fields, I am starting to think chances of this kid not wearing black and red in 2018 are very slim.
Matthew Hill did make it Thursday to throw with Fields but still has not jumped on board. Rumors are that South Carolina has made quite the push but I still think he ends a Tiger. Tank Jenkins is another AU lean that could be close to pulling the trigger as well. There was even smoke coming out Sunday it was going to happen at end of his visit but he decided to hold off. The big man isn’t exactly sure when he might commit but things are definitely trending up for Auburn in the hunt for the top rated OL in the state of Alabama.
It was good to see Joey Gatewood back on campus. Fields will eat up the headlines this recruiting cycle but don’t underestimate the importance of Gatewood. He’s a kid that’s not ready to take the field right now but he just might have the most upside in this class at the QB position given his combination of size, speed and raw ability. He’s also an important leader in Auburn’s recruiting class, telling Jeffery Lee of Rivals that he’s working hard on recruiting guys like Justyn Ross, Asa Martin and Tank Jenkins to Auburn. Even if Auburn gets Fields, it’s important the Tigers also keep Gatewood. As of now, that seems likely but it can always change.
Auburn’s Big Weekend
It’s become pretty common for team’s to have another Big Cat Weekend type of event later in the summer before fall camp kicks off. Georgia had a barbecue this past weekend, Alabama is having a “Champions Cookout” Friday and Florida is having a “Friday Night Lights” event this weekend as well. Auburn is joining in on the fun this weekend with some sort of cookout/picnic/barbecue/brouhaha event and are expecting plenty of top targets to visit. Benjamin Wolk of SECCountry has put together a preliminary list:
4-star WR Matthew Hill
4-star RB Harold Joiner
4-star RB Asa Martin
4-star LB Zakoby McClain
4-star safety Quindarious Monday*
4-star LB JJ Peterson
4-star LB Quay Walker (Alabama commit)
4-star WR Seth Williams
3-star CB JaKorey Hawkins
3-star OL Jalil Irvin*
3-star WR Shedrick Jackson*
3-star safety Jamien Sherwood
3-star RB Shaun Shivers*
3-star OL Kameron Stutts*
3-star DT Tramel Walthour
Maybes: 3-star DE Andres Fox, 3-star OL Jerome Carvin.
No-gos, confirmed: 5-star QB Justin Fields, 4-star WR Justyn Ross, 4-star DT Coynis Miller.
Due to my abysmal track record at accurately predicting when commitments are going to happen, I am going to abstain from putting any names on commit watch. With that said, AL.com has a piece out on who Auburn’s next 3 commits might be that line up with visitors on this list. Just throwing it out there.
Juanyeh Thomas Trending Away
Let me repeat, things change fast in recruiting. For the past few months, Thomas has seemed a lock to Auburn. Not anymore. Crystal Ball picks are flying in right now for the Niceville native to land at Georgia Tech, including picks from top AU insiders Keith Niebuhr and Benjamin Wolk. Wolk earlier this week explained the change:
For starters, Auburn is looking at him more as a safety than a cornerback, which means the recent addition of Quindarious Monday could have some effect on Thomas. Monday joins Kolbi Fuqua as prospects who project as safeties for the Tigers. Jamien Sherwood and Joe Foucha, in that order, fall next in line.
The other item? Thomas identified a school he said is starting to trend upward for him — Georgia Tech.
There was a point in time that Thomas seemed almost a guarantee to land at Auburn. The Tigers seemed to be moving in the wrong direction for Monday and the out-of-state uncertainty of Sherwood and Foucha made the underrated Thomas seem like a useful option. But that time appears to have passed as Auburn fills up at the safety position.
I always thought he was a cornerback prospect but that’s apparently not true. This might end up being a case where a kid waited too long to jump on board and now there’s no spots left. He’s a talented player and frankly I am a little disappointed he’s not a top cornerback prospect. However, Greg Brown sure knows way more than me and he’s earned some trust after Monday’s commitment so we will see what happens. Cornerback recruiting has proven hard to follow this cycle and I suspect that will continue to be the case this cycle.