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Auburn Football Recruiting: Top Defensive Targets

A quick look at Auburn’s top targets on the defensive side of the ball.

One of Auburn’s top targets, Zion Puckett, is expected to make his decision next week.
SBNation Recruiting

With another dead period upon us and summer almost in the rear view mirror, now feels like a good time to take a step back and revisit who sits where on Auburn’s recruiting board. Today we will focus on the defensive side of the ball where the Tigers already hold some big time commitments and are hoping to add a few more in the coming weeks.

Defensive Line - 2/5

I am including Buck targets as defensive lineman in this breakdown. Auburn already holds commitments from two DL prospects, both hailing from Mississippi, in 4* Jaren Handy and 3* Jamond Gordon. The Tigers would like to add at least three more if possible.

  • 4* Charles Moore (Mississippi State) - Despite being a Bulldog commit, Moore has been a frequent visitor to Auburn’s campus this year and is expected to take an official visit this fall. However, optimism seems to be fading on Auburn’s side that they can flip the talented Mississippi native. He is close to Auburn commit Jaren Handy but he lives just 30 or so minutes from State’s campus and seems to be extremely close with the new coaching staff.
  • 4* Derick Hall - This is turning into an interesting showdown between Joe Moorehead and Gus Malzahn. Both coaches have taken a personal involvement in the Gulfport, MS product’s recruitment and are hoping to get the young man on board by kickoff. The Tigers probably hold a slight edge at this point though Mississippi State is a legit threat. Auburn likes Hall at the Buck spot and the young man could have a decision in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on Florida State as well, the longer this recruitment goes on the bigger the threat they become.
  • 3* Colby Wooden - As a DL, if your top 2 schools are Auburn and Clemson you’re probably a pretty good football player. Auburn missed on Wooden’s teammate, 5* CB Andrew Booth, recently but seem to be in a good spot to win this battle against Dabo. Wooden is expected to announce his decision August 16th. Right now, I fully expect that decision to be Auburn.
  • 3* LeDarrius Cox (Tennessee) - Jeremy Pruitt has unsurprisingly made a strong push in the state of Alabama since being tabbed as the Vols new head coach but he could be in danger of losing one of those commits. Cox landed an offer at Big Cat Weekend from Auburn and since then has emerged as a top priority for the Auburn coaching staff. He’s a gap plugger that could help Tyrone Truesdell fill the massive hole Dontavius Russell will leave behind. I think if Auburn continues to push for the Mobile native, they will pull off their 4th flip of this cycle.
Other Names to Watch: 4* Nathan Pickering (Mississippi State), 4* Khris Bogle, 3* Patrick Lucas (Ole Miss)

Linebackers - 1/2

Owen Pappoe’s Twitter:

Auburn would probably prefer to sign three linebackers if possible this cycle but I am listing two for now since I am having a hard time making the numbers work otherwise. The Tigers already hold a commitment from the #1 linebacker in the country in Owen Pappoe and so can afford to be patient at this position moving forward. They will need to be as the majority of their top targets are currently committed elsewhere.

  • 4* Trezman Marshall (Georgia) - For much of Trezman Marshall’s recruitment, Auburn was not a factor. However, after landing Owen Pappoe in March (Marshall’s close friend), the Tigers were able to get the talented backer on campus twice within three weeks. There seemed to be some legit buzz Auburn might make this thing interesting. But since then, he’s visited UGA a few times and the Dawgs seem to have shut things down. Still, both Travis Williams and Owen Pappoe are working hard on Marshall behind the scenes and I think chances are good he will take an official visit this fall. But it’s clear this is an uphill battle for the Tigers.
  • 4* Mohamoud Diabate - Auburn dug themselves a hole in this recruitment by being so late to offer. Supposedly the staff thought Diabate was only really an edge prospect and liked others more (such as Derick Hall). But after an impressive showing at their 7v7 camp the coaching staff extended him an offer as a true standup linebacker. Since then, Travis Williams has been working hard to repair some bridges and from a recent report by 247’s Florida affiliate, it sounds like it might be working. Alabama and Florida appear to be the top options right now but the Tigers are making up some ground. The longer he waits to make a decision the better the odds Auburn can make a push. Still, the Tigers have a lot of work to do if they wanna keep this talented athlete home.
  • 4* Kalen Deloach (Florida State) - Auburn got Deloach on campus last Friday and he left the Plains saying he had a top two of Auburn and Florida State. Unfortunately for the Tigers, it turns out they were #2 as just a few days later he announced his commitment to the Seminoles after a trip to Tallahassee. He’s expected to still take an official visit to Auburn this fall so the Tigers still have a chance but I think this will be a tough flip to pull off.
  • 4* Tyron Hopper (Florida) - There’s a new name to follow in Auburn’s pursuit of another top tier linebacker. Tyron Hopper is a 6’2” 205 lb playmaker out of Roswell, GA who took an unofficial visit to the Plains during the quiet period. He’s been committed to the Gators since April but Auburn appears to be making a move. It should be noted that Larry Porter is close to his family having recruited a Hopper to North Carolina and had his brother, Tyneil Hopper, on campus a bunch last fall.
Other Names to Watch: 5* Nakobe Dean, 4* Rian Davis (Georgia), 4* Christian Harris (Texas A&M), 4* Donte Starks (LSU), 4* Mikel Jones

Cornerback - 1/3

Jaylin Simpson
Jaylin Simpson’s Twitter:

Having lost Carlton Davis to the NFL last season and a chance at losing both Javarius Davis and Jamel Dean to the pros this season, Auburn has made cornerback a priority this cycle. They already hold a commitment from 4* Jaylin Simpson and are in the hunt for a number of top ranked prospects. The team of Kevin Steele, Greg Brown and Marcus Woodson is proving to be a force on the recruiting trail.

  • 4* Zion Puckett - Puckett is planning on announcing his commitment August 17th (a day after Colby Wooden) and chances are REALLY good he’s gonna pick the Tigers. He lists a top 3 of Auburn, Tennessee and Alabama but has consistently stated the Tigers lead the pack. While there’s no sugar coating the loss of Andrew Booth, it’s important to understand that Auburn’s coaching staff reportedly believe Puckett is the same type of talent. He could honestly play anywhere in the defensive backfield where needed and even could flip over and play wide receiver. This is an absolute must land for the Auburn coaching staff.
  • 4* Cam’Ron Kelly - The former Virginia Tech commit has had a wild recruitment already featuring a number of different leaders and already one decommit. He was on campus this past weekend and it appears Auburn is beginning to make a serious push. However, Kelly only has one more official visit left so landing that final visit is undoubtedly a top priority for this staff. It’s probably too early to really know how big a factor Auburn might or might not be with Kelly but it’s safe to say he’s a name to track in the coming months.
  • 4* Jalen Perry (Georgia) - Perry is another new name on Auburn’s DB board. Like Kelly, he took his first visit to the Plains this past weekend. From his post visit interviews, it sure sounds like Perry isn’t all that confident in UGA’s commitment to him being in their class. He’s already said he plans on taking official visits to Auburn and Florida this fall. South Carolina could also end up a major factor in his recruitment.
  • 3* Nehemiah Pritchett - I’m pretty surprised that Pritchett isn’t already on the Auburn’s commit list. The Jackson, AL native blew the staff away at a camp this summer resulting in an offer. Since then the feeling has been when, not if he would join Auburn’s class. However, the longer his recruitment plays out the less confidence I have on him being a Tiger. I am not sure if it’s Auburn or Pritchett who is being patient right now but if he’s not on board by kickoff I will be surprised. A decision could come any day.
Other Names to Watch: 5* Andrew Booth (Clemson), 4* Tyrique Stevenson, 4* Dreshun Miller (LSU), 4* Adonis Otey (Arkansas)

Safety - 1/2

Auburn puts a priority on flexibility when it comes to their DB prospects so really any of the guys listed under cornerbacks could end up a safety as well. However, the names below are prospects I have seen specifically projected to play safety or nickel for the Tigers. Auburn already holds a commitment from 4* Jashawn Sheffield (though he could play WR too) and want at least one more in this class.

  • 4* Jaylen McCollough - I think if given the chance, McCollough would jump on board with Auburn or Alabama right now. However, both programs seem to have prioritized some other targets ahead of the Georgia native. The main concern with McCollough is his speed. If he can prove this fall that he’s got the type of quickness and top end speed to cover SEC wideouts then don’t be surprised if both SEC West powers make a serious push. Both Tennessee and South Carolina really like McCollough so no matter what he will be in the SEC next season. Big question is will it be in the west or the east?
  • 4* Jammie Robinson - This name is probably familiar to Auburn fans. Robinson is former teammates with Big Kat Bryant and Quay Walker back when he attended Crisp County. He’s been on campus a bunch over the past two seasons and remains a guy the Tigers really like, especially at the nickel position. However, it’s the South Carolina Gamecocks who appear to be the team to beat though both Auburn and Georgia remain major factors.
  • 3* Kenny Logan - Logan’s teammate Tye Edwards (more on him tomorrow) has gotten most of Auburn fans’ attention but it sounds like they should get familiar with Logan quickly. The Florida native was on campus for a 2nd time two weekends ago and left with the Tigers #1. He’s said that a decision could come soon as well. Logan is a talented athlete who could play anywhere in the secondary and maybe even on the offensive side of the ball as well. I am not sure if Auburn has room for both Logan and Pritchett but we should get an answer to that in the coming days.
Other Names to Watch: 4* Nick Cross, 4* Cortez Andrews, 3* Cornelius Nunn (Syracuse), 3* Jamal Hill

War Eagle!