Auburn’s defensive line should be filthy again in 2018. The Tigers lose only Jeff Holland and Paul James from last year’s dominant group and are hoping to see guys like TD Moultry, Big Kat Bryant and Tyrone Truesdell take the next step. The truth is Auburn didn’t really need a ton of early impact potential from last year’s DL class which is why the Tigers could take guys like Richard Jibunor and Kayode Oladele who might need a year to develop before being asked to play meaningful snaps.
That won’t be the case for this 2019 class. Dontavius Russell and Andrew Williams are seniors while Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe are all NFL draft eligible. The Tigers could be replacing as many as five guys from this current crop including their top 3 defensive tackles. While I am high on the next group of DTs in Truesdell, Alec Jackson, Coynis Miller and Daquan Newkirk, they are all unproven talent and it sure wouldn’t hurt to add some 1st year impact players to that group. Lets’ take a look at who that might be.
Players marked with an asterisk (*) do not yet hold an Auburn offer.
Defensive Tackle - 2
One thing to remember about Auburn’s defensive line recruiting under Garner is that he likes to recruit guys that can play all over the place. I could see Auburn not signing a “true DT” this class but instead bring in a bunch of guys ranked as SDE’s who Garner believes can develop into SEC defensive tackles. With that said, I do think he will shoot for a minimum of 2 prospects that can play in the interior in this year’s signing class.
This is the guy. If any team could pick any prospect to land at the DT spot it would be Sopsher. He’s everything you want in the interior. He’s massive, quick, insanely athletic and just an overall freak. While Auburn made his top 10, this will probably end up another Bama/LSU battle where the Bayou Bengals think they have a guy locked up for most of the cycle only for him to choose Alabama. Still, I expect Auburn to work hard to get him on campus and try to get involved in this recruitment because he’s the absolute perfect replacement for Derrick Brown.
While Sopsher is probably a pipe dream at this point, I think Pickering is a very realistic candidate. While listed as a strongside defensive end, I expect him to transition to the interior DL if he were to sign with the Tigers. Pickering first visited back in February and came away loving Auburn. In fact, he told AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr that it was his favorite visit so far. The competition, however, will be insanely intense. Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Florida State and plenty of others have all made the talented DL prospect a top target. It’s still very early but I am optimistic on Auburn’s chances of landing the elite prospect.
I am pretty sure that 265 number is off on his profile and that he’s somewhere closer to 300. Dale is a powerful force in the interior. He won’t blow you away with elite athleticism but understands leverage and how to control would be blockers in order to make a play on the ball carrier or free his teammates up to do the same. To me, Dale is the guy you want replacing Dontavius Russell. Unfortunately, Alabama appears to be the overwhelming early favorite.
I am a little surprised neither Auburn nor Alabama have yet to offer the big man out of McGill Toolen High School. Cox, however, does hold some big time out of state offers from the likes of Georgia, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Tennessee. At 6’5” 300 lbs, Cox is an imposing figure in the interior and the prototype for what programs want at the nose guard position. I would not be shocked to see the big man land an AU offer during the evaluation period this spring.
Lucas recently transferred from Prattville to Wetumpka who fell just short of claiming a 6A Alabama High School State Championship last year. This recruitment has the early look of an Auburn/Tennessee battle though if the Crimson Tide were to throw their hat into the ring they would probably immediately become the favorite. Garner loves guys like Lucas who can not only play in the interior but slide outside as well in certain fronts. I expect Lucas to be a priority target for the Tigers this cycle.
It wouldn’t be a class preview without a Buford kid on the list. While Holley’s rating isn’t all the impressive his offer list is 4* calibre. Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Michigan State, Tennessee and many others have offered the stout defensive line prospect. I’m not sure where exactly on Auburn’s board Holley sits but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on campus a bunch in the coming months.
The final name on this list is a bit of a wildcard. There is very little information out on the 6’4” 250 lb Florida native but considering he holds offers from Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee and at least fourteen others, it’s safe to assume he’s going to be highly recruited prospect in this 2019 class. Watching his tape, I have a pretty good feeling this is a guy Garner is going to prioritize in this 2019 class. He’s got great length, a quick first step and is athletic enough to play inside or at SDE. He’s currently unrated but that will definitely change in the near future.