There was a lot to like about Auburn’s 2018 signing class. Auburn added some impact players at major of positions of need, quality depth at positions that will need help in the near future and lots of speed. But there was one glaring hole in the class that made it feel a bit incomplete: zero offensive tackles. After signing two highly rated tackles in 2017, Herb Hand was unable to bring in any last cycle before heading off to Austin, TX. With only a few weeks to work, J.B. Grimes was able to convince 4* OT Richard Gouraige to visit but it wasn’t enough to sway him from his longtime Florida commitment.
That means 2019 needs to be the class of the offensive tackle. The good news for Auburn is this next cycle appears to have a lot more options available in Auburn’s recruiting territory compared to last year. At a minimum, the Tigers need two offensive tackles in this class. The goal, more than likely, will be three. Here’s a look at some early targets.
Offensive Tackle - 3
Chances are very low that Miller lands at Auburn but I had to include him because he’s one of my favorite tackle prospects this cycle. He’s a guy that could honestly play anywhere on the OL but his future is probably at offensive tackle. Miller is already a very polished player who could step in day 1 and compete for a starting spot. Early in his recruitment the Buckeyes appear to have the edge but keep an eye on Clemson, Georgia and Stanford as well. Auburn will no doubt pursue the top rated OL in GA hard, especially considering how many of his teammates are also top targets, but there is a lot of work to be done for the Tigers to be a real player in this race.
Morris was once a Florida State commit but after visiting for the Iron Bowl in November, he decided to open things back up. Auburn is in Morris’s top group but face some stiff competition from the likes of Georgia and Oklahoma. He’s a big kid already but could honestly put 20-30 more lbs on that 6’5” frame. Like Miller, Morris is on a team in Grayson High School that is absolutely littered with D1 talent and other Auburn targets. Expect the Tigers coaching staff to make plenty of stops in Loganville over the next year.
The state of Alabama has three elite offensive line prospects in 2019. There’s Alabama commit 5* OT Pierce Quick, 5* C Clay Webb and 4* Amari Kight. Any other year, Kight is probably the runaway top OL in the state but due to the top heavy talent in 2019 he’s currently ranked #3. He’s a massive kid at 6’7” 315 lbs with elite athleticism. Unfortunately, both he and Webb look like Alabama leans early this cycle. But considering Auburn’s need at OT, you have to think the big man will give the Tigers a long look. While Clay Webb might be the “better” prospect, Kight might be the more important one for Auburn this cycle.
This kid is strong. He’s punishing in the ground game and I love the way he plays to the whistle every snap. Auburn is very much involved in his recruitment and Putnam will more than likely visit this spring. The instate schools could be hard to beat in this race but also keep an eye on Texas A&M. Putnam will be a top target for a number of top schools in 2019.
It’s been awhile since Gus Malzahn has plucked one of the top prospects out of his home state. That could change in 2019. Thomas is a guy that has been on Auburn’s radar for a few years, receiving an offer back in March of last year after an unofficial visit. He’s visited the Plains at least twice and I fully expect he will be back on campus sometime this spring or summer. Obviously, his home state Hogs will be a major competitor in his recruitment but also keep an eye on Texas and Georgia. I would love to see this kid in orange and blue next year as his upside is through the roof.
All the tools are there for McClendon to be an elite tackle at the next level but I do think he will need a year or two of development. The big man out of Georgia is expected to be one of the top prospects out of the Peach State and appears to be a priority target for the Tigers early in the 2019 cycle. Unfortunately, he also appears to be a priority target for the instate Dawgs who might have an early lead in his recruitment. Also keep an eye on Clemson and South Carolina in this race.
While Pierce Quick, Clay Webb and Amari Kight rightfully receive most of the hype when it comes to instate offensive line prospects in 2019, don’t sleep on Spain Park’s Jayme Simmons. The big knock against Simmons is his size. He’s got the frame you want at 6’5” but needs to put on 25-30 lbs of muscle. But you have to love his athleticism and I fully expect him to be one of those late bloomers that happen every cycle. Don’t be surprised to see his name pop up on some visitor lists this spring for the Tigers.
If forced to predict Auburn’s next commitment in the 2019 class, I would probably go with Carter Colquitt. It seems like he was on campus for every AU home game in 2019 and even admitted to Benjamin Wolk back in September that Auburn “has a special place in his heart”. Colquitt’s stock is understandably on the rise given his ability to play anywhere on the offensive line. Recently Arkansas, Kansas State, Michigan and Missouri all offered the Georgia native. In fact, he’s landed eight offers so far in 2019. It would be big for Auburn to get this kid on board as soon as possible.
In three of the last four signing classes, Auburn has signed a Nigerian native. Auburn would love to make that four of the last five by landing someone like Chris Akporoghene. The recent IMG transfer came to the States three years ago and has gone from a kid that had never played football to one of the top offensive tackle prospects in the country. He holds offers from the likes of Auburn, Florida, Miami and Michigan. This past weekend he won the OL MVP at Rivals 3 Stripe Camp in Orlando, FL. Akporoghene’s recruitment is just really taking off so it’s hard to get a read on where things stand but he’s absolutely a kid high on a number of boards including Auburn’s.
Jacksonville has been good to Auburn in recent years and Auburn is hoping to keep that going in 2019. Allen earned his offer from Auburn last June at Auburn’s Tiger Night. Funny enough, the other two prospects that earned offers that night are already Auburn commits. Allen could join them down the road. He hasn’t gotten a ton of buzz from recruiting services so far but a quick look at Allen’s six offers shows that might be changing real soon. Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Nebraska, South Carolina and Virginia Tech have all already offered the talented 2019 offensive tackle prospect. The Tigers actually have a family connection in their favor as Allen is the cousin of Auburn sack master Jeff Holland. That could give the Tigers an early edge in his recruitment.