National Signing Day is quickly approaching and Auburn has plenty of spots still left to fill. This past weekend went a long way towards hopefully filling a few of those positions with some big time players.
Tigers Lead For Two Top Targets
Auburn is also now in the lead for 3-star LB and Brevard County, Fla. native Octavius Brothers after his official visit.— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) January 13, 2019
That’s two players in two positions of need as the Tigers look to round out their 2019 class.
Both are incredibly important targets for the Tigers. Auburn signed only two offensive lineman in December after only signing two offensive lineman in the 2018 class (though they did snag junior transfer Jack Driscoll). The Tigers also only signed one linebacker in the early period and are hoping for two more in this class. Both Bell and Brothers are at or near the top of the want list for both of those positions.
Now Auburn will have to hope no one else can top last weekend’s visits. Bell will be in Louisville this weekend before traveling to Tallahassee, FL at the end of January. That FSU visit is the one that looms large in my opinion. The Noles can sell immediate playing time and that will play a huge role in Bell’s final decision.
As for Brothers, he is no longer expected to visit Ole Miss this weekend but instead travel to Atlanta and spend the weekend with the Yellow Jackets. Miami will then host him late in January and they are probably Auburn’s biggest threat at the moment. As of today though I think both end up Tigers.
Auburn Making Push For Robinson
It’s pretty clear Auburn would like to sign one more defensive back in the 2019 class. Back in December, Auburn hosted LSU commit 4* CB Maurice Hampton who is still mulling over his final decision. The Tigers sent the whole coaching staff sans Gus Malzahn to Hampton’s home over the weekend to let the young man know how badly Auburn wants him on the Plains.
But Hampton isn’t the only DB target at the moment. 3* ATH Jammie Robinson is one of the most exciting players in this class. He played at Crisp County the last two seasons with SEC signees Big Kat Bryant and Quay Walker before transferring to Lee County in Leesburg, GA. People would go to see those two play and leave talking just as much about Robinson. He can play all over the field though most schools have him pegged as a defensive back, specifically at the nickel position. Heading into this past weekend, this race was thought to mainly be a Kentucky vs South Carolina contest. Not anymore.
Robinson brought his mom on campus for the first time and it appears the visit was a hit with her. Even more important, Kevin Steele took some time to break down how the Tigers plan to use Robinson’s unique skillset if he were to don the orange and blue next season. This will be a fight to the finish line and he still has one more official visit left with a trip to Knoxville this upcoming weekend. I think the Tigers have turned the heat up in this race and are very much a threat to land the talented athlete. But it could be hard to beat longtime favorite South Carolina. You also wonder if Auburn could take both Robinson and Hampton if they wanted on board. I imagine that’s a problem the Tigers would like to have come signing day.
Griffin In Play?
One of the most interesting official visitors this past weekend in my opinion was NC State commit 4* RB Jamious Griffin. Auburn won a wild race for 3* DJ Williams in December and are considered the favorites for 4* Mark-Antony Richards. But Griffin landed an offer in December as well and has quickly become a name to watch in recent weeks for the Tigers. Might Auburn be making a strong late push for the talented back out of Georgia?
Griffin left the Plains saying that Auburn “stands up there with N.C. State” and that a final decision wouldn’t come until around Signing Day. He also stated that the news about Tim Horton no longer coaching running backs would not factor into his final decision. He’s expected to officially visit Georgia Tech (notice how their name is popping up more?) next weekend and Miami the last weekend in January.
I’m a big fan of Griffin but I’m not sure yet if Auburn would be willing to take both he and Richards if they wanted on board considering they signed Williams just a few weeks ago. I also think the Rambling Wreck are a team to watch in this race considering his older brother signed with them last year. The Wolfpack will fight hard to keep the Georgia native in the fold but this race is going to come down to the very end. My super early prediction is that he lands in the ACC with either NC State or Georgia Tech but he’s absolutely a name to track over these final weeks.
Interesting Monday Visitor
It seems like every single transfer QB has been linked to Auburn so far. The Tigers tried to land Kelly Bryant last month but lost him to Missouri. I’ve seen Auburn’s name mentioned as a school of possible interest for former Ohio State QB Tate Martell though there’s been little actual intel on Auburn’s real interest. There continues to be buzz that the Tigers might be in play for Jalen Hurts as well but yesterday a new name went from speculation to possibly a legitimate transfer target.
Looks like Oklahoma transfer quarterback Austin Kendall is in Auburn, per his Instagram (@bmarcello saw it first).— Josh Vitale (@JoshVitale) January 14, 2019
He would be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer. Was a four-star pro-style recruit in the 2015 class. Completed 28 of 39 passes in three years. pic.twitter.com/q64TLJxolO
Austin Kendall was once the nation’s #9 ranked pro style quarterback in the 2016 class and someone the Tigers pursued hard that cycle. He landed with the Sooners and was thought to be the next man in line in Norman, OK. But surprisingly his name appeared in the transfer portal last week. Very quickly, Auburn’s new QB coach Kenny Dillingham and head coach Gus Malzahn were following Kendall on Twitter. But yesterday’s visit is real concrete evidence that the Tigers are pursuing the talented signal caller.
So what does this mean? Well it could mean Gus Malzahn is simply doing his due diligence. Auburn really liked Kendall when he came out of high school and there’s a relationship already there. But it could also mean that in a do or die year for Malzahn, he has no interest in turning this offense over to anyone on the roster or a true freshman QB.
Gus has never been shy about pursuing transfer QBs. The success he’s had with them makes it understandable. But this move would be more surprising to me than the pursuit of Kelly Bryant or Jalen Hurts. Kendall will be a redshirt junior next year meaning he will have two more years to play. That’s more than a stopgap solution. It would virtually eliminate any dream of Malik Willis being the guy and would mean Joey Gatewood and Cord Sandberg are redshirt juniors on the roster when Kendall leaves.
I don’t actually know how real or not real this recruitment might be but it’s definitely something to follow in the coming weeks. Kendall doesn’t appear to me to be the same type of sure thing Jarrett Stidham was a few years ago and does not bring any threat of mobility like Bryant or Hurts. But Gus can’t really afford to take any lumps next year with a young QB. If you don’t trust Willis to be the guy and aren’t ready for Gatewood/Sandberg/Nix to take over then maybe Kendall can be the answer. Fascinated to watch this recruitment unfold.
Charles Moore Has New Leader
Last week, one of Auburn’s top targets in 4* DL Charles Moore reopened his recruitment. He quickly tabbed the Tigers as his leader and it was hard not to get excited about the possibility of adding the talented defensive lineman in February. But it appears things might have changed following his official visit to Gainesville.
Defensive lineman Charles Moore named the Florida #Gators his leader on Sunday after visiting Gainesville. Moore says the #Gators impressed him with their presentations about life after football. Moore talks visit here https://t.co/4NGaPstyd6— Andrew Spivey (@AndrewSpiveyGC) January 13, 2019
Dan Mullen was the head coach in Starkville when Moore originally committed to Mississippi State so this isn’t a complete shock. He already has a good relationship with that staff and the Gators undoubtedly rolled out the red carpet this past weekend. But I also don’t think it’s time to panic. Moore appears to be a kid prone to visit highs and I would not be surprised to see Tennessee become his top team after that official visit. In the end, Auburn has built some really strong relationships in this recruitment and I still think the Tigers are the team to beat. I would not be surprised at all if he took an unofficial visit to campus too before making his final decision. Either way, this is gonna be a hotly contested recruitment until signing day.
Offensive Line Thoughts
Finally, I wanted to touch on the subject that I know most Auburn fans are concerned about this cycle - offensive line recruiting. The Bell news was big this past weekend and I do think the Tigers are gonna be tough to beat in that recruitment. But even with Bell, Auburn needs at least one more offensive lineman in this class and he should probably be an offensive tackle prospect. The two names that have been most mentioned are JUCO prospect 4* Bamidele Olaseni and 3* Dawand Jones. Olaseni has already officially visited the Plains but still has more visits to go while the Tigers are fighting to get Jones on campus. I don’t feel great about Auburn landing either one at the moment.
More surprising has been the fact that Auburn hasn’t sent out any new offers on the offensive line in recent days. They might have and they just haven’t gone public but I’m gonna speculate they haven’t for another reason. With the adoption of the brand new Transfer Portal, recruiting has expanded even further from just high school/junior college prospects and graduate transfers to any player that wants out of their current situation. Given the limited talent pool now available due to the early signing period, I wouldn’t be shocked if Auburn is evaluating some transfer options that might have to sit out next season but would have at least two years of eligibility remaining starting in 2020.
The Tigers don’t have a clear successor at left tackle on the roster right now. I think Austin Troxell is going to be a very good right tackle for the Tigers next season but besides him, I’m not sure Auburn has ANY SEC calibre OTs available. There are a lot of questions around whether Calvin Ashley will even be with the team next season and even if he is I’m not sure if he will be ready to go in 2020. I would not be surprised if Prince Michael Sammons transfers at some point and I would be stunned if 2019 signee Justin Osborne is ready to start as a redshirt freshman. That’s a pretty bleak picture looking ahead...
So don’t be shocked if instead of landing a 3* backup plan, Auburn instead attempts to add a transfer from a Power 5 program with the hope that he will be ready to start in 2020. Who that might be, I have no idea but I at least wanted to throw out the possibility that Auburn could be looking at non high school and graduate transfer targets. This will continue to be one of the most important spots to fill in the 2020 class.