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Auburn Football Recruiting: Big Cat Weekend Recap

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Auburn making some major moves on the recruiting trail.

Noah Cain, Khris Bogle, Kenny McIntosh, Tyler Fromm & Luke Deal
Luke Deal’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/lukedeal5/status/1003065552250818561

There were no booms this weekend but it sure sounds like the Tigers have put themselves in position for some pretty big ones in the future. Auburn hosted 30+ top targets this past weekend for a day focused not on football but instead on building relationships between the staff, current players and other top prospects. From all accounts, it was one of the best Big Cat Weekends Auburn has ever put on.

One of the biggest hits this weekend, especially among prospects’ family members, was getting to hear and meet some former Auburn football legends. Cam Newton, Montravius Adams, Chris Davis, Carlos Rogers and Ronnie Brown all returned to the Plains to share with recruits about how Auburn University impacted their lives and to help answer any questions or concerns prospects had. Auburn’s new athletic director Allen Greene and Auburn’s new president Steven Leath also made appearances.

Pretty awesome to see this kind of involvement not only from big time former players but also from Auburn’s new administration. 247 has a really good article on why Montravius Adams decided to make the trip back down to Auburn and help Gus Malzahn’s recruiting efforts. Hopefully he can stay healthy this year and have a breakout season for the Green Bay Packers in his NFL sophomore campaign.

It wasn’t just former players though that were working hard behind the scenes this past weekend to help the Tigers land a top class. It was current players as well. Most notably, Derrick Brown and Deshaun Davis were spotted spending a lot of time with some of the top prospects. Both of those guys will be gone when any of these recruits come to campus next season so it’s pretty cool they still want to help Auburn continue to build a strong program. Both have been major player recruiters in their time on the Plains.

Now for the updates. I highly recommend going back and reading through AuburnUndercover’s Big Cat Weekend live thread and also checking out SECCountry’s recruiting insider. Both Keith Niebuhr and Benjamin Wolk do an awesome job covering Auburn Football recruiting.

No Shows

Let’s start with the bad news first. It’s pretty typical for a few names expected to attend a big recruiting weekend to end up not making it for a variety of reasons. Auburn had two major no shows this weekend in 4* LB Donte Starks and 4* LB Kalen Deloach.

I was pretty bummed to see Starks not make it. I know it’s a longshot for the Tigers to pull this one off but getting him on campus for this major event would have really helped their odds. Throw in Starks taking a quick trip down to Baton Rouge on Sunday and I think this race might be pretty much over. Auburn won’t give up though until he signs so I expect they continue to work to get him back on campus this summer.

As for Deloach, I wouldn’t read too much into him not making it. AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr said leading into the weekend it wasn’t a sure thing he would make the trip. Honestly, there’s not been a ton of info on Deloach’s recruitment this cycle but I do know Auburn is a major factor. I’m a big fan of his tape and would love to see him land in this class. I expect him back on campus at some point this summer.

Surprise Visitors

The good news is there were a number of surprise visitors that made it to campus Saturday. Alabama commit 4* LB King Mwikuta, Miami commit 3* OG Kingsley Eguakun and Tennessee commit 3* DT LeDarrius Cox all turned up despite not being listed on any early visitor lists.

I wouldn’t read too much into Mwikuta’s visit. While the Tigers would love to flip him from the Tide that seems very unlikely. He’s teammates with 2020 Auburn commits Andy Boykin and Kobe Hudson so more than likely he just visited to hang out with his buddies. Auburn will continue to recruit Mwikuta hard over the coming months but I think getting him to flip will be very difficult.

Not so much the case with the other two visitors. This was Eguakun’s second visit to the Plains and he admitted that his recruitment is basically down to Auburn and Miami. I think this is going to be a hard pull for the Tigers but the more he visits the better the chances. Honestly, the biggest reason I don’t think Auburn flips the Jacksonville native is because they land at least two of three from Keiondre Jones, William Putnam and Hunter Rayburn this summer.

The most likely of these three to flip is probably Mobile native LeDarrius Cox. He left the event with an Auburn offer in hand and although he claims he’s still committed to the Vols, Cox admitted his recruitment is still “open”. The Tigers have been very picky when it comes to offering instate talent this cycle so this is definitely something to pay attention to moving forward. Cox is a massive kid at 6’4” 305 lbs and would more than likely play the nose tackle position in Auburn’s front. It will be interesting to see if and when Cox visits again.

Tigers #1 For Elite Athlete

Only one prospect came out and told everyone that Auburn is now his leader. 4* ATH Zion Puckett didn’t play games when asked where the Tigers stood in his recruitment. His answer? “Auburn is No. 1”.

Puckett is an absolute stud and could play a number of different positions at the next level. He holds offers from some of the top programs in the country including Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia. He’s become one of the Tigers top targets so this is huge news for Auburn. The Tigers want him on the defensive side of the ball at either safety or cornerback. Puckett’s already set an official visit for the Tennessee game this fall but don’t be shocked if he’s back on campus again before then or if he pulls the trigger before the season.

Here’s just a little taste of how talented of a player this kid is

Flip Watch?

Two of the biggest visitors this weekend were Georgia commits 5* WR Jadon Haselwood and 4* LB Trezman Marshall. This was Haselwood’s third visit this year and Marshall’s 2nd. Despite being Dawg commits, both are giving the Tigers a really hard look and it sounds like Auburn is making some headway.

Of the two, Marshall is probably the more likely flip candidate which is crazy considering where things stood just a few months ago. This was Marshall’s 2nd trip in three weeks and this time he was on campus for four days. He left saying Auburn had a made a major move though claimed he was still an UGA commit. Don’t be shocked if that changes in the very near future. Give Owen Pappoe all the credit in the world for getting Marshall to actually consider the Tigers. He’s opened the door for Travis Williams who has turned the heat up on the Homerville, GA native. If had to make a prediction today, I think Marshall joins Pappoe in Auburn’s class. Long way to go though and Georgia won’t go down without a fight. Also, Alabama ain’t backing down either.

I probably felt like Auburn had a 5% chance of flipping Haselwood before this weekend. I might change that number to 25% now. For the first time, Haselwood actually sounded like he is seriously contemplating his commitment to the Dawgs. He admitted that the Georgia coaching staff is probably concerned about the volume of trips he’s taken to Auburn and dodged a question about the status of his current recruitment. I still think he ends up in red and black come signing day but for the first time I am starting to think that isn’t a lock to happen. If the Tigers can continue to get him on campus then you give them a chance. It could come down to how well or not well Georgia’s passing attack looks this fall. I know it’s hard to do but you might have to cheer for Georgia to lose this year....

Package Deal?

One of the most common comments on the recruiting trail is that a player is a “package deal” with another player. That means that two or more prospects fully plan on playing with each other at the next level. Very rarely though do those package deals come to fruition. Still, it’s something to pay attention to at the very least because it shows which prospects might have influence over other prospects (see Owen Pappoe and Trezman Marshall).

That’s why Mississippi State commit 4* DE Charles Moore’s comments after his multi day visit were very interesting.

“If I come here, it’s a 10 out of 10 chance that you’ll see Jaren beside me,” Moore said. “Here over the last couple of months me and Jaren we’ve grown real close. He’s almost like a brother to me. ... Me and Jaren coming here this weekend, we enjoyed ourselves, visualizing ourselves in the uniform out on the field before the game, being on campus, coming up just being in Auburn.”

Jaren is 4* DL Jaren Handy who was on campus for three days this past weekend. He and Moore are two of Auburn’s top targets in this class and are part of that loaded Mississippi DL class.

When Handy committed to LSU originally there was some serious smoke that Moore was about to flip as well. It ended up not happening and Handy decommitted but the signs were there that these two are linked. This is the 2nd time they have visited Auburn together as well. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this is a very realistic package deal that Auburn could pull off. Even if it isn’t, Auburn would love to land either of these studs and odds are good they will get at least one.

Full Visitor List

I could ramble on all day about each individual prospect but instead I am going to try and break things up a bit and will hit on some other guys (like Noah Cain, Tye Edwards and Will Putnam) in other articles later this week or next week. But here’s the full list of prospects that made it to Auburn this week courtesy of AuburnUndercover:

That’s 9 top 100 players and 14 top 150 players. I am not 100% sure but pretty confident that’s the the most top 150 players Auburn has hosted at Big Cat Weekend. Not bad at all....

Like I said above, I will have more in the coming weeks but the feeling is Auburn has put themselves in a realistic position to land some big time players. Like top 5 class calibre type of big time players. This summer has a chance to be one of the best under Gus Malzahn. It’s not a slam dunk though as Auburn is battling some other big time schools for these guys. But it’s clear Auburn has some serious momentum on the trail right now and if they can get a few of these prospects to start pulling the trigger, it could really get fun fast.

War Eagle!