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Auburn Football Recruiting: Wild Week Ahead

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Next week should be an interesting week in the recruiting world.

NCAA Football: Alabama A&M at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Next week is going to be an interesting week on the recruiting trail. The current dead period ends July 24th which means prospects can once again visit the campuses of their top schools. However, a new dead period begins in August as both high school and college football teams return to the practice field. That means teams have one week to get kids back on campus before football returns. The result is pretty much every college in the country plans on having a big recruiting event either July 27th or 28th. With many prospects wanting to commit in August before their senior seasons, where they visit could prove very important in the coming weeks.

A visit though doesn’t mean that school is the clear favorite either. Some prospects have already said they want to go check out a certain school they didn’t get to visit in June. But next week is going to be fascinating to watch unfold as teams push to get their top targets back on campus one last time. So here are some storylines I am keeping an eye on in the coming days.

Commit watch

There’s a chance Auburn could have two new names on the commit list by August. 4* WR Jalen Curry and 3* DB Nehemiah Pritchett are both expected back on campus for Auburn’s big picnic/bbq/cookout event on July 28th. Both are trending to Auburn and wouldn’t be shocked if the coaching staff pushed for commitments.

For Curry, the big question will be whether or not he can actually make the trip to campus. He’s said he “wants” to visit and will “probably” be there but being a Texas native it’s not exactly a sure thing. Curry’s been to campus twice previously, once as a true freshman and once on an official visit, so it’s not like it’s been easy for him to get to the Plains. If he does make it to campus, keep an ear out for some booms.

As for Pritchett, the big question for him is whether he currently has a spot in the class. Auburn is in a fierce battle for Andrew Booth (more on him later) and lead for Zion Puckett. If they were to get those two that would give Auburn 4 DB commitments to go with Jaylin Simpson and Jashawn Sheffield. Remember, Auburn also landed a transfer from a former Minnesota safety earlier this summer. So I could see a case where AU slow plays Pritchett to see how those other two recruitments play out or to see what happens with top targets at other spots. But my understanding is the Auburn staff LOVES this kid so if he wants to pull the trigger next weekend, I think the Tigers would take him.

But it might not just be 2019 kids to watch. Auburn could add another name to the 2018 roster. Former 4* QB and Phillies minor leaguer Cord Sandberg is set to take three official visits next week and will have a decision shortly after as he plans on enrolling to his school of choice in August. Earlier this week, Sandberg told AuburnSports.com’s Jeffrey Lee he’s down to three schools:

“Those are the three schools I want to visit,” Sandberg said. “I have definitely enjoyed my conversations with those coaches staffs and I feel good about those situations.”

Sandberg also had offers and interest from UCLA, Florida and UCF, among others. In the end, Sandberg felt his best opportunity was with one of his three finalists.

“Offensively, N.C. State and Auburn are a little more similar as far as the spread (offense), and LSU is maybe working to be more of a spread,” Sandberg said. “I feel comfortable with the conversations I’ve had with all of those guys and what my role would be playing quarterback at all of those schools.”

With Kayode Oladele not making it to campus, Auburn has one spot left in their 2018 class and the Tigers are hoping Sandberg takes it. The Tigers are the only school of his three finalists that have a scholarship spot for him available in August which could prove important. Throw in the fact there will be a wide open QB competition in 2019 and you can see why the Tigers are enticing option for the former Manatee standout.

Does Andrew Booth make it back to campus?

It’s reaching crunch time in 5* CB Andrew Booth’s recruitment. The nation’s 2nd ranked cornerback is down to Auburn and Clemson with a decision coming at any moment. More than likely though he will announce in early August. Booth is not your normal high profile recruit. He doesn’t post a ton of stuff on social media, do any type of top group lists and has not participated in any of the premier recruiting camp events like The Opening. He often ducks interviews all together on visits so not a ton gets reported on his recruitment. However, he has said recently he wants to visit both Auburn and Clemson again before making his decision. He’s confirmed he will be at Clemson’s cookout event on July 27th but no set date yet for Auburn. Can the Tigers get him on campus the next day for their big event?

Can the Tigers convince Travon Walker to visit?

Auburn is trying really hard to get become a factor for the 24th ranked player in the country 5* DL Travon Walker. Not only for his skill on the gridiron but for what he can do on the hardwood as well. Walker has an offer from both Gus Malzahn and Bruce Pearl which is something you don’t see everyday. At this point Auburn has a ton of work to do if they want to pull this off. Walker hasn’t committed to where he will visit next weekend but has said that Auburn is an option. I suspect he visits Athens, GA instead and ends up on their commit list soon after. But if the Tigers can in fact get him on campus things could start to get very interesting for one of the top prospects in the country.

Flip targets

Auburn has already landed three commitments this cycle from prospects previously committed elsewhere. The Tigers’ coaching staff hope a few more are added to the list in the coming months. Right now there are five names I would keep an eye on when it comes to flip candidates for the Tigers: 5* WR Jadon Haselwood (Georgia), 5* OT Wanya Morris (Tennessee), 4* LB Trezman Marshall (Georgia), 4* DL Charles Moore (Mississippi State) & 3* DT LeDarrius Cox (Tennessee).

Haselwood has already said he’s going to be in Coral Gables for Miami’s big event next weekend but could Auburn get him on campus for an unofficial earlier in the week? It’s possible considering he seems to pop up a lot out of the blue on the Plains. Georgia seems confident they will hang on to the nation’s #1 wideout while Auburn believes they have a real, if not good shot at flipping him. Both Oklahoma and Miami are involved in this recruitment as well. This race won’t end until he puts pen to paper.

Chances are good if Wanya Morris does visit it won’t be reported. He took a number of unreported visits to AU before he announced his commitment to the Vols and you have to think now being publicly committed if he wanted to visit the Plains he would really not want anyone to know about it. I don’t expect he visits next week as he seems pretty locked in with the Vols but Auburn is expected to have him on campus this fall for an official visit and Auburn commits Owen Pappoe, Keiondre Jones and Jakai Clark are all working hard to convince the big man to join them at Auburn.

For much of Marshall’s recruitment, Auburn wasn’t involved at all. That changed once Owen Pappoe landed with the Tigers. The two are close and have said repeatedly in the past they would like to play together at the next level. Auburn had Marshall on campus twice in three weeks earlier this spring but buzz has really died down since then. Can Auburn convince the talented backer to take a trip to the Plains instead of Athens next Saturday?

I’ve written a bunch about Auburn’s efforts to hit the state of Mississippi harder this cycle and so far it’s paying off. Auburn holds commitments from a pair of Magnolia State residents in 4* DL Jaren Handy and 3* DL Jamond Gordon. They are also the slight favorites for 4* Buck Derick Hall out of Gulfport, MS. Can they add a 4th MS DL prospect? Charles Moore has been to AU multiple times this spring and is close with AU commit Jaren Handy. He said after his most recent visit to the Plains that AU had made this race close. It wouldn’t hurt the Tigers chances if they could get him on campus again before kickoff. He’s scheduled to visit Starkville on July 28th.

Finally, there’s LeDarrius Cox, a guy I haven’t written about much this cycle. The McGill-Toolen standout committed to Tennessee earlier this spring but after landing an offer from the Tigers at Big Cat Weekend has seen increased attention from the AU coaching staff. I believe that he is tentatively set to visit the Plains on July 28th. I think if Auburn really pushed they could flip Cox the question though is are they willing to do so while still pursuing guys like Travon Walker and Charles Moore. I expect Auburn to sign another good sized DL class so it wouldn’t shock me if they took Cox regardless of anybody else. He’s definitely a name to keep an eye on in the coming months.

What AU commits visit elsewhere?

While Auburn’s working to flip a number of top targets, other programs are hoping to do the same when it comes to Auburn’s commits. The two guys I would watch closely are 4* WR George Pickens and 4* DL Jaren Handy. Alabama has really turned up the heat on Pickens and he’s expected on campus for their big event on the 28th. However, don’t be surprised if Auburn convinces him to come to the Plains instead. This will be a tough flip for the Tide but considering Nick Saban’s success at landing elite instate prospects, it’s a real threat to monitor.

As for Handy, he’s already decommitted once (from LSU) and remains in communication with a number of programs including Alabama and Ole Miss. I personally think the Rebels are the major threat and I wouldn’t be shocked if he turned up in Oxford next week. Still, guys that click with Rodney Garner tend to stick with the Tigers (see Coynis Miller) so this won’t be an easy flip for Matt Luke’s staff. As of today, I think both Pickens and Handy sign with the Tigers but I am very interested to see if either visit elsewhere next week.

War Eagle!