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Auburn Football Recruiting: Despite Loss, Tigers Impress

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The Tigers might not have won on the field but it sure sounds like they had some big wins off the field this past Saturday.

LSU v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Obviously, it’s a lot nicer to win these big games when you have a ton of talent on campus visiting than it is to lose. But despite that gut punch Saturday, the Tigers did a lot to impress a number of big time prospects this past weekend. The environment was electric and reportedly the way the team handled themselves after the loss impressed a fair number of recruits as well. Thankfully, recruits and fans tend to react very differently to tough losses.

Official Visitors

Auburn hosted five official visitors and from all accounts those trips went great. In fact, one could be closing in on a decision very soon

4* OG Williams Putnam | 6’4” | 280 lbs | Tampa, FL

Considering Auburn’s interior OL struggles, Putnam is absolutely one of Auburn’s top targets on the board right now. The big man out of Tampa, FL left the Plains feeling Auburn was a “good fit” telling AuburnSports.com’s Jeffrey Lee:

“I definitely say I fit in,” Putnam said. “I got along with all the guys really well. I think they liked me. Same with the coaches. I like the coaches and I think they genuinely like me, not just as a football player but as a person.”

He’s expected to take an official visit to Tallahassee as some point with a decision likely by November. Auburn’s chances for Putnam have greatly increased over recent months and it sounds like this past weekend’s official visit only helped their cause even more.

4* DB Cam’Ron Kelly | 6’1” | 190 lbs | Chesapeake, VA | Auburn Commit

This was Cam’Ron Kelly’s first time ever seeing an Auburn football game live and from all reports it sounds like it delivered. Kelly appeared to have spent much of his day Saturday helping Auburn commits 5* LB Owen Pappoe and 3* DE Colby Wooden recruit other defensive studs 4* Buck Derick Hall and 4* LB Kalen Deloach to join them on the Plains. Kelly seems locked in with the Tigers and will have a chance to challenge for some early playing time next season.

4* RB Kenny McIntosh | 6’0” | 218 lbs | Fort Lauderdale, FL

Maybe no prospect left Auburn as impressed as Kenny McIntosh. The brother of former Miami standout defensive tackle RJ McIntosh, McIntosh has long been seen as a lock to the Miami Hurricanes. The Tigers weren’t really seen as a major threat and McIntosh basically confirmed those impressions while on his visit.

But things have changed. The bruising tailback out of south Florida was in awe of the environment in Jordan-Hare Saturday and left the Plains saying the Tigers had become a major player in his recruitment. I still think this is probably a longshot but it’s an actual realistic longshot after his official visit. Will be interesting to see if he makes it for any other unofficial visits later this fall.

4* Buck Derick Hall | 6’4” | 216 lbs | Gulfport, MS

The Tigers could be closing in on one of their top targets this cycle. Derick Hall has been the top man at the Buck spot pretty much this whole recruiting cycle and entered his official visit with the Auburn Tigers as his top school. That has reportedly not changed. In fact, Hall admitted he could have a decision by next week. If that happens, it’s probably a good sign for the Tigers. Still, Mississippi State and Florida State are making strong pushes for the Magnolia State native. But his relationship with Gus Malzahn and the need the Tigers have for pass rushers gives Auburn a better than good shot at signing the stud playmaker. Hall was one of many recruits who felt some tough calls late in the game cost the good looking Tigers a chance at capturing the W.

4* LB Kalen Deloach | 6’0” | 206 lbs | Savannah, GA | Florida State Commit

One of the more interesting visitors to track this weekend was 4* LB Kalen Deloach. He’s long been one of Travis Williams’s favorite targets this cycle but the Tigers lost out to the Seminoles earlier this summer. However, it appears between the Noles early struggles and the Tigers relentless pursuit, that the door to his recruitment might be reopening some moving forward. Not a ton has come out on his visit outside of him giving the vibes that Auburn has a chance but keep an eye on his visits in the coming weeks. I would not be surprised to see him show up on the Plains again very soon. He and Owen Pappoe would give Auburn a pair of incredibly fast linebackers in this 2019 signing class.

Elite Prospects Everywhere

It was an impressive list of prospects on campus for the Tigers this past weekend. Depending on what site you prefer, Auburn had anywhere from 7-9 five star prospects visiting this past weekend. The big surprise visitor was 5* DT Ishmael Sopsher out of Louisiana.

I will admit, I think he was more there to see LSU play than Auburn but he reportedly stayed the night and could end up visiting again down the road. I would be stunned if he landed anywhere other than Alabama or LSU.

The other 2019 5* not committed to the Tigers visiting was 5* C Clay Webb. Webb’s recruitment is difficult to track due to the lack of interviews he gives out and the lack of information he provides in those interviews. There is some serious buzz that Georgia has made a major move in this recruitment but don’t sleep on the Tigers. They’ve made him a priority for quite awhile and JB Grimes was one of the first to offer him back in the 8th grade. Auburn will be in this until the finish though I’m not optimistic about their chances.

The real impact of this weekend might have been on the 2020 5* visitors. According to AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr 5*s DL Myles Murphy, DL McKinnley Jackson, WR Leonard Manuel and ATH Arik Gilbert were all on campus to witness that top 15 matchup. Of this group, keep an eye on Murphy. His recruitment is a heated contest between Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Clemson. Expect to hear his name a bunch next recruiting cycle.

But it wasn’t just 5* prospects on campus that are worth noting. Three Alabama commits reportedly made the trip in 4* OT Amari Kight, 2020 4* DT Jayson Jones and 2020 4* WR Dazalin Worsham. Kight specifically is the interesting name to track. He was a guy Auburn was hard after before he committed to the Tide and a guy the Tigers have apparently not quit pursuing. He said all the right things Saturday about Auburn still being a factor in his recruitment but this will more than likely be a difficult flip. Let’s see if he makes it to campus a few more times. Pretty obvious that he would fill a huge need in this Auburn recruiting class.

One of the flip candidates I mentioned in Saturday’s preview reportedly made it as well in 3* DT LeDarrius Cox. The Tigers have ramped up their recruitment of the McGill-Toolen product since offering back during Big Cat Weekend. I’m a little surprised he hasn’t flipped already but he’s definitely a name to monitor in the coming weeks. Would not be shocked if he was back this weekend as well.

Running Back Recruiting

So I wanted to follow up on what I talked about Saturday. Typically, one game does not have a major impact on a recruitment but 4* RB Noah Cain might be the exception. He’s a guy that has been pretty clear about the fact that LSU would be tough to beat but he wanted to see how they did early this season. Well, considering Ed O has now knocked off two top 10 teams in three weeks, I think you could say they are doing pretty well.

That’s not to say that Auburn is completely out of this race now having lost. But I think to pull this recruitment off they needed a number of things to go their way including LSU struggling out the gate and Auburn displaying a dominant rushing attack. Neither have really happened and so I would be stunned at this point if Cain did not end up with the Bayou Bengals.

Assuming that happens, what does Auburn do next at running back? Luckily, the Tigers have plenty of options. First, as mentioned above, Auburn has reportedly made a major move with Kenny McIntosh. Not sure if they did enough to win that battle but they are an actual factor moving forward. There’s also 4* Mark-Antony Richards who is high on the Tigers. Like McIntosh, he has a brother that attends Miami and has long been considered a lock with the Canes. But here’s the interesting factor in his recruitment. Richards says he would prefer to play running back at the next level but Miami wants him as a DB. Auburn has stolen plenty of supposed locks from Mark Richt before so it’s not out of the realm of possibility they do it again this December. Richards will take an official visit at some point probably later in the year. We will see if the Tigers can get it done.

After those two, keep an eye on 3* Tye Edwards and 3* Tahj Gary. Both are very talented prospects that the Tigers like a lot, they just appear to have them in the tier slightly below Cain, Richards and McIntosh. I am pretty confident either would jump on board with a serious push for Auburn. That very well could happen soon if Auburn doesn’t like their chances with those other three.

War Eagle!