Another weekend, another busy time for Auburn football recruiting. The Tigers hosted a big time 7v7 tournament Thursday, had their 2nd high school camp Friday, hosted two big time official visitors and landed a commitment all in the past few days. Don’t expect news to slow down this week either.
Auburn hosted two top targets at a major position of need this past weekend. 5* OT Devontae Dobbs and 3* OT Justin Osborne both took official visits to the Plains. This was Dobbs 3rd known trip to the Plains and his 2nd this year. Heading into his visit, Michigan State and Ohio State were considered his top schools. However, the fact Dobbs used one of his 5 OVs on the Tigers means he’s at least giving Auburn some serious consideration. After his visit, he confirmed that Auburn is a major factor in his recruitment and also said he will be back for the LSU game this fall. Because he took his OV this past weekend, if he wants to return for a game this fall he will have to pay his own way. So if Dobbs does indeed fly back to see Auburn in person later this year, that will be a huge sign that the Tigers are indeed a threat to land his signature. For now though, I think the Spartans and Buckeyes are the clear favorites. Dobbs will officially visit USC this weekend.
Osborne doesn’t have as flashy a rating as Dobbs but he might be just as valued by the coaching staff. The TCU commit transferred to IMG this offseason and has emerged as one of JB Grimes’s top targets. The question has always been whether or not the Tigers could get a visit. Spoiler alert, they got that visit. Osborne, like Dobbs, could also play inside at the guard position if needed but considering the Tigers need for OTs in this class, my guess is he will mainly be an OT target. Osborne did not do any interviews after his visit, common for prospects committed elsewhere, so it’s hard to know just how good a chance or not the Tigers have at flipping the 6’4” 275 lb OL prospect.
One more OT note before moving on. Auburn hosted 4* Xavier Truss on an unofficial visit this past Saturday. He told reporters he plans on returning to the Plains for an official visit during the season and that he had no favorites at the time. He then drove over to Athens and promptly committed to the Dawgs...
It always seemed like a longshot for Auburn to pull the top prospect out of Rhode Island but it’s never fun to see a top guys pick your rival. It’s especially not fun when that top target is at a position of need and going to a rival that’s loading up at that spot. We will see if Truss makes that official visit this fall but for now, Auburn will have to look elsewhere at offensive tackle.
There were two big updates that came last week on transfers. First, it was reported Thursday morning that former Alabama center, Brandon Kennedy, was enrolling at Tennessee. Kennedy is a graduate transfer with two years of eligibility left who was looking at Auburn and Tennessee as possible landing spots. The Vols were always considered the team to beat and honestly I was under the impression Auburn was at the 25 man scholarship limit for incoming players in the 2018 class so this isn’t a huge surprise. Still, with injuries the Tigers suffered over the spring at center, it wouldn’t have been a bad thing to see Kennedy make his way over to the Plains.
Thursday afternoon, however, Auburn did get some good transfer news. Former Minnesota safety Kendarian Handy-Holly has apparently decided to transfer to warmer weather and will be a walk on for the Tigers in 2018. He won’t be eligible next season per NCAA transfer rules but starting in 2019 he will have four years to play three.
Handy-Holly was once a 3* prospect out of Jackson, AL. At 6’2” 210 lbs he has outstanding size and should add a very physical presence to the back end of the Tigers’ defense. He saw limited action last season for the Gophers recording 12 tackles, a forced fumble and recovered a fumble in 8 games. His strongest performance came against Nebraska when he posted 6 tackles. Joining Smoke Monday, Jamien Sherwood and Kolbi Fuqua from the 2018 signing class, it’s clear the Tigers are putting more emphasis on size at the safety position. Chances are good Handy-Holly will go on scholarship after the 2018 season which means he would count towards Auburn’s 2019 signing class.
Official Visit Changes
The Tigers got some good and bad news as well when it comes to this weekend’s official visitors. Originally, 5* LB Nakobe Dean was expected to take an official visit to Plains this weekend but that has apparently changed. After officially visiting Alabama last weekend, he told reporters he no longer expects to visit Auburn this weekend but does still plan on taking an OV at some point. Auburn has struggled to get Dean back on campus after a visit earlier this year. Since then, he’s visited Alabama, Ole Miss and Georgia multiple times which gives you the idea of where AU stands on his list.
But then some good news came when 4* DL Nathan Pickering announced that he will be in Auburn this weekend.
June 22-23rd Auburn University Official Visit #WDE pic.twitter.com/0HEamO3mFr— Nathan Pickering Jr. (@therealnathanjr) June 17, 2018
Pickering is probably the top prospect among that loaded MS class which is saying something. I’m not quite sure if he’s a DT or DE at the next level but wherever he plays he can make an impact. He visited for a junior day earlier this year but Auburn has been unable to get him back on campus. That should change this weekend. The Tigers more than likely trail Alabama, LSU, Florida and Mississippi State in this race but can change things on his official visit. The Tigers are attempting to raid Mississippi for some elite prospects, specifically on the DL, and Pickering is probably near the top of that wishlist.
Another Boom Coming Soon?
Speaking of raiding Mississippi. Late last night, 4* DL Jaren Handy announced that his plans had changed and he will commit soon.
Plans CHANGED!!!!— Alm!ghty Turbo™️‼️ (@Jarenhandy2) June 18, 2018
COMMITTING SOON STAY TUNED‼️— Alm!ghty Turbo™️‼️ (@Jarenhandy2) June 18, 2018
Handy’s recruitment has been a little all over the place including being committed to LSU for just two weeks. He’s not gone on record officially to say who his leader is currently but there’s been a strong feeling it might Auburn. He was on campus for Big Cat Weekend and echoed his previous thoughts about Auburn having that “different feeling”. Needless to say this would be a huge victory for the coaching staff if they can pull Handy. More than likely the decision will come down to Auburn, Alabama or Ole Miss. Hopefully Gus will be tweeting a “Boom” in the very near future....