The truth is I don’t really have much to talk about this week. It appears Clemson has asserted themselves as the possible leader for 4* WR Justyn Ross after Saturday night and LSU has emerged as a legitimate contender in the 5* QB Justin Fields race. But those are not happy things to talk about and I am tired of talking about not happy things this week...
So, like any great recruiting writer lacking content, I am going to do a class prediction today. Two warnings though before diving in. First, I am not an insider. Unlike apparently 50% of Auburn fans on the internet, I don’t have any close connected sources to the Auburn coaching staff or recruits. I do, however, spend way too much of my free time reading/writing/following the wild world of recruiting so there’s that. Second, this is probably going to be wrong. So much changes in recruiting that it’s impossible to really understand or know what’s going to be happening months from now. What if Auburn gets their offense figured out and goes 11-1? What if they don’t, defense collapses and Gus is sent packing after a 3-9 season? What if AU finishes 9-3, Malzahn sticks around but half of the assistant coaches on staff leave? There are so many different scenarios that can have a major affect on a recruit’s decision that confidently stating what’s going to happen is sheer lunacy.
But the internet loves lunacy, so here’s my 100% accurate 2018 Auburn signing class prediction.
Quarterback - 1
- 4* Joey Gatewood (Committed) - Gatewood entered the 2017 season with a lot of question marks about his ability to play quarterback at the next level. So far he’s sent a clear message that he’s more than capable. At 6’4” 230 lbs, Gatewood is one of the best athletes in this class and has shown outstanding improvement as a passer early in the season. He is still a bit raw and will probably need some time to develop but his ceiling is as high as you will find in this class.
Running Back - 2
- 4* Asa Martin (Committed) - I am still hyped about this commitment. Martin is off to a a ridiculous start and making a strong case to move up in the rankings. He’s flashed a little bit of everything but I have especially enjoyed how strong he’s looked running in between the tackles. Tigers are getting a good one.
- 3* Shaun Shivers (Committed) - One of Auburn’s longest committed recruits, Shivers has become an important recruiter for the Tigers. He’s far from the biggest kid on the block but is one of the fastest players in this class and is a little ball of muscle making him capable of running between the tackles some at the next level. I expect Auburn will find ways to get this kid the ball down the road.
Wide Receiver - 3
- 4* Seth Williams - Just a few months ago this would have seemed ludicrous but not now. Kodi Burns has done an outstanding job recruiting Williams and the big bodied WR out of Cottondale, AL seems to be trending Auburn. Bama is always a threat but they seem to have their sights set elsewhere for now. Auburn might need to start showing more of a passing threat to seal this commitment but as of today I think Williams ends up a Tiger.
- 4* Matthew Hill (Committed) - I love Hill’s skillset. He’s got great length, big time speed and is just a playmaker. Landing him last month was a big boost for this recruiting class.
- 3* Shedrick Jackson (Committed) - So far this season, Jackson has proved unstoppable. He’s snagged 13 catches for 250 yds and a TD through two games and there’s a chance that at least on 247 he will get that 4* bump. Seems like every time he takes the field he gets better.
Tight End - 1
- 3* Tyneil Hopper - The tight end position has been a mystery this recruiting cycle which shouldn’t be surprising given how it’s use in our offense is also a mystery. FWIW Auburn did attempt to target both Jalen Harris and Salvatore Cannella against Clemson but good coverage or poor execution prevented either from making a catch. Hopper looks a lot like the type of player Lindsey wants in this system moving forward. Keep an eye on Michael Parker as well.
Offensive Line - 4
- 4* Trey Hill - Hill’s recruitment has been hard to track. For a long time, most people just assumed he would end up at Georgia but that certainty seems to be fading. That week 1 visit to Auburn should not undersold. I think the chance to get on the field early with Austin Golson and Braden Smith graduating along with him being close with the Auburn coaching staff helps the Tigers land the top 50 player. Auburn must win this year if they want to land Hill though, he’s made it clear he wants to go play for a competitor.
- 4* Dylan Wonnum - Auburn quietly built momentum with Wonnum over the summer up to the point that now some think he’s a major AU lean. South Carolina is a real threat as his brother currently plays for the Gamecocks. The Tigers have made Wonnum a major priority and that could pay off in December when he plans to commit.
- 3* Jalil Irvin (Committed) - No idea why this kid isn’t rated higher. Irvin plays tackle for his high school but will probably end up at center or guard at the next level. He’s an outstanding player and is working hard to help the Tigers land one of his long time buddies, Dylan Wonnum.
- 3* Kameron Stutts (Committed) - Stutts is a monster up front. At 6’4” 329 lbs, this dude crushes people in the run game. Auburn has done an outstanding job of consistently recruiting road graders in the interior and Stutts is no different. I think he’s got NFL potential and will leave Auburn a multi year starter.
Defensive Line - 5
- 4* Coynis Miller - Miller continues to say that the Florida Gators are his top team. However, it wasn’t all that long ago Asa Martin was saying the same thing. Bottom line, it’s hard to get kids out of the state of Alabama that the Tigers or Tide want. Miller is close with Martin and has a great relationship with Rodney Garner. Oh and his former teammate Tadarian Moultry is on campus too. In the end, I think relationships and location swing this in Auburn’s favor.
- 4* Richard Jibunor - There’s a very good chance Jibunor will be making his decision very soon. He will visit Gainesville this weekend and a decision is expected not too long after. Right now, Auburn appears in the driver’s seat and this would be an outstanding pickup for the Tigers.
- 3* Kayode Oladele - Based off 247’s Crystal Ball feature, Auburn is trending up with Nigerian native Oladele. He’s a guy with a great frame at 6’4” 237 lbs and has a lot of the raw tools you love to see in an end prospect. If Auburn were to sign Oladele and Jibunor that would give them four Nigerian born players on the team. Pretty cool.
- 3* Daquan Newkirk (Committed) - Newkirk is off to a strong start at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He’s a big dude and though he is listed as a DE, he will more than likely play DT for Auburn next year. He’s a guy that will join Auburn’s DL rotation the moment he steps on campus.
- 3* Caleb Johnson - Johnson has long been on Auburn’s radar. With things not looking great for Andres Fox, I suspect you see Auburn start to really push for the Columbus, GA native. Johnson is listed as a LB on 247 but at 6’4” 250 lbs, his future is on the defensive line. The Tigers will have to beat out Georgia and Tennessee if they want to land Johnson.
Linebacker - 3
- 4* Channing Tindall - I have about 5% confidence in this pick and honestly probably shouldn’t have included him. The Gamecocks appear to be the clear cut leader for the freak athlete out of Columbia, SC. However, Auburn has two reasons for hope. First, he’s very close with linebacker coach Travis Williams who played high school football at Tindall’s school. Second, he’s become pretty close with AU lean 4* Richard Jibunor. The two plan on visiting Florida this weekend together. This is a long shot but if Auburn can reel in Jibunor and get Tindall back on the Plains for a visit soon, there’s a chance.
- 4* Quay Walker - I actually feel a lot more confident in this prediction than Tindall. It seems a matter of when not if Walker flips from Bama. The Crisp County star has visited multiple other schools and some seem to think that both Auburn and Florida State have a great shot of flipping him. Personally, I think having Big Kat Bryant on the team along with Travis Williams and Kevin Steele helps Auburn steal this talented backer away. It might end up that the team that gets him to visit last wins.
- 4* Michael Harris (Committed) - No matter what, Auburn has done a great job at linebacker already having this kid committed. I am very high on Harris and think he is one of the top ten linebackers in this class and possibly the best in the southeast. Excited to see him suit up for Auburn next year.
Cornerback - 2
- 3* Joseph Foucha - This is more of a hope than a prediction. Over the summer, it looked very likely that Foucha would end up with the Tigers. Then, Auburn went on a roll at safety landing Monday, Sherwood and Marsh. All of a sudden, Foucha didn’t have a spot. However, now Auburn is evaluating Foucha as a CB or Nickel prospect. I am extremely high on this kid and hope Auburn finds a way to get him on campus. Personally, I think he could play all three DB spots in Auburn’s defense.
- 3* Derek Turner - It appears Turner wants to be an Auburn Tiger but the staff is taking it slow at the cornerback position. However, Turner brings a nice combination of size and physicality that I think the Tigers won’t pass on when given the chance. Turner and Foucha would give Auburn two commits from Louisiana in one class, something Auburn hasn’t done since 2007.
Safety - 4
- 4* Quindarious Monday (Committed) - Monday just might be Auburn’s most important commitment in this class. The Tigers will lose three outstanding senior safeties this year to go along with the two underclassmen that left the program. Auburn will need guys ready to go day 1 and Monday is that type of player. Keep an eye on Clemson who has not given up on flipping Monday but for now I think orange and blue Tigers hang on.
- 3* Jamien Sherwood (Committed) - Sherwood is an old school football player. He does pretty much everything for his high school team from running back, to tight end, to linebacker, to cornerback and of course safety. Don’t be shocked if he finds his way onto the field early on in his career. A Monday/Sherwood safety combo gives Auburn two long, hard hitting athletes back there.
- 3* Kolbi Fuqua (Committed) - Originally, Fuqua committed as a wide receiver. Since then, he’s agreed to flip to safety which I think is a smart decision. Unfortunately, his high school team isn’t really that good but from the limited film I have seen, I think Fuqua has a bright future on the defensive side of the ball.
- 3* Josh Marsh (Committed) - Marsh was a star at Auburn’s last camp this summer, earning an offer and committing on the spot. He’s a tackle machine who could end up playing linebacker at the next level but will probably play more of a hybrid role.
According to 247’s Class Calculator, this group would give Auburn a score of 264.27 which puts them in the 8-12 range historically. It’s important to note that rankings aren’t finalized and there’s always a chance that some of these guys rise in the rankings helping Auburn’s score. Also, there are still some other big fish out there in the likes of Justin Fields, Justyn Ross and JJ Peterson that Auburn is fighting to land. What happens on the field moving forward is not only important for Gus Malzahn’s career but for Auburn’s recruiting class as well. I still believe that if Auburn can put together a 9+ win season, you will see the Tigers sign another top 10 class.