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Auburn Football Recruiting: Loaded Visitor List Last Weekend

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Quite a few top prospects got to see Auburn’s romp over the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Mississippi State v Auburn Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

Auburn’s schedule has done them no favors on or off the field in 2019. It’s Week 6 and the Tigers are already set to play their 3rd top 20 opponent of the season, none of these matchups occurring in the comfy confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium. While recruits could attend Auburn’s neutral site opener against Oregon, they weren’t allowed to have any interaction with the coaching staff.

Auburn’s first two home games against Tulane and Kent State weren’t exactly the type of enticing primetime contests to attract a long list of elite prospects so this past Saturday was a big opportunity for Auburn. Not only because it was an SEC night game that looked like one of the most attractive games on the slate that day but also because it was the last time Auburn will play at home until November.

It appears the Tigers made most of that opportunity.

It was an impressive list of top talent that made their way to the Plains to watch Auburn absolutely lay a beating on the hapless Bulldogs of Mississippi State. The list below comes from AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr and AuburnSports.com’s Jeffrey Lee’s expected visitor lists. There is a good chance some names below didn’t make it to campus while others not listed did but it gives a good picture overall of the talent level Auburn had in the stands Saturday night.

2020 Commits

Tank Bigsby raised some eyebrows last weekend when he showed up in Athens to watch the Dawgs escape with a win over Notre Dame. Considering the long list of former Auburn commits flipped by Kirby Smart, there was some understandable angst amongst some Auburn fans at the news. However, Bigsby was back on the Plains this past weekend and made it clear he’s solid to the Tigers.

Look I won’t hand wave away any visits by Auburn commits to Alabama or Georgia. There is just too long a history there to not take those seriously. But I do think that as of right now, Auburn feels really good about keeping Bigsby. He’s been to every home game thus far and plans to be at every one in November. It wouldn’t be shocking though if he showed up somewhere else again in the coming weeks but unless he schedules an official visit to any other programs or he misses any of Auburn’s remaining home games to attend a game elsewhere, I don’t think there is any reason to doubt Bigsby’s word.

Speaking of paying close attention to Auburn commits visiting Alabama or Georgia, 4* WR J.J. Evans decided not to attend Auburn’s home game against Mississippi State but instead travel to Tuscaloosa to watch the Tide beat down the Rebels. Evans continues to say all the right things about his recruitment but has also made it clear he’s keeping his options open. He’s definitely someone to monitor moving forward.

Finally, Auburn’s top ranked commit 4* LB Trenton Simpson decided to stay close to home this past weekend and watch the Tar Heels almost takedown formerly top ranked Clemson. UNC finished with UGA as runner up to the Tigers for Simpson earlier this summer but have not relented in their pursuit of the elite backer. More concerning for Auburn is that he’s now been to two Tar Heel games this fall and with no Auburn home games in the next month, Auburn’s coaching staff can’t get him back on campus soon to slow down UNC’s momentum. He told 247 last week that he’s locked in with the Tigers and as of now has now official visits scheduled elsewhere but UNC is a very real threat selling the idea of being apart of his home state team’s return to glory. Ironically enough, former Auburn enrollee Cam’Ron Kelly has taken a lead role in recruiting the Tiger commit to Chapel Hill.

2020 Targets

Rodney Garner is still on the hunt for some top DL talent to sign in the 2020 class. One of his top remaining targets, 4* DL Jay Hardy, returned to campus for the first time since June. Based off his comments to AuburnSports.com’s Jeffrey Lee, it sounds like the visit went as well as Auburn could have hoped Saturday night:

“It was great. The atmosphere was crazy,” Hardy said. “I liked it a lot. I like how the crowd was loud and the players and the coaches were into the game, too.

“I also liked Tiger Walk, the eagle flying and what the students did with the other team’s ball when they kicked a field goal … they threw it out of the stadium.”

Tennessee has been considered the leader in his recruitment for some time now but with the uncertainty in Knoxville and Auburn’s success on the field in 2019, this could be one of those late Garner specials. Hardy plans to be back for an official visit which is big. He’s a kid that could see the field early for the Tigers in 2020.

One of the more interesting visitors Saturday evening was Florida State wideout Malachi Wideman. Considering Auburn already has 4 WR commits on board it seems odd the Tigers might go after a 5th. But I am not sure how solid JJ Evans and Elijah Canion are currently plus Wideman is a special enough talent that you pursue regardless of the numbers. It’s hard to say how much a shot Auburn has at the flip right now but if the Tigers can get him back for an official visit then watch out.

The Tigers want one tight end in this class and there has been little debate over who they want it to be. It has been and continues to be J.J. Pegues. The Mississippi native reiterated after his visit that Auburn is still the team to beat though Alabama now lurks as a threat with Ole Miss. He’s expected back on campus at least two more times this fall with a decision coming in the next 3-4 weeks. If the Tide miss on Arik Gilbert then this recruitment could get hairy but as of today Auburn is still in the driver’s seat for Pegues’s commitment.

Finally, given the possible drama developing with Trenton Simpson, it’s not a huge surprise to see Desmond Tidsol on the visitor list. Auburn has always been high on the Georgia native but he lost his spot in this class to Wesley Steiner earlier this summer. If Simpson were to decommit then Tisdol would probably pounce on that open spot. Ideally Auburn would keep Simpson in the fold (as of now I think they do) but in terms of plan B options it’s hard to find one better than Tisdol.

2021 Commits

Goodwin was off to a strong start in 2019 but suffered a season ending knee injury two weeks ago. Now you just hope he can get healthy and back to full speed because he’s an explosive weapon with the football in his hands.

McLaughlin is off to a strong start this season leading his Denmark squad to a 4-0 record thanks to almost 1,000 yards through the air and 10 touchdowns. Unsurprisingly his favorite target has been 2020 Auburn commit Ze’Vian Capers who put up 300+ yards two weeks ago.

2021 Targets

With only 5-6 spots remaining in the 2020 class and the majority of those spots going to one position group, Auburn can really get a jump start on the 2021 cycle. The Tigers welcomed a number of highly rated juniors to campus Saturday night including two 5*s.

James Williams dropped his top 5 list last week which included the Tigers. He’s a unique athlete playing DB standing 6’5” and weighing 218 lbs. He’s a freak on the backend of the defense who could challenge for a starting spot day 1. Early on, Auburn and Georgia appear to be the top competitors for his signature.

Always pay attention to visits which is why Auburn fans should be concerned about Simpson and Evans but also excited about instate 2021 5* DE Dylan Brooks. Brooks has made it to every home game so far this fall and has family ties to the program. I am not sure when a decision is expected but the Tigers are clearly the team to beat early in this recruitment. In fact, they are also the team to beat for 2021 5* DT Lee Hunter as well. 2021 could be a special class for Rodney Garner.

While currently unranked, Auburn fans might want to get familiar with Shambre Jackson. The 6’6” 260 lb lineman out of Orlando, FL received an offer on his visit to the Plains this past weekend. He also reportedly got some one on one time with Gus Malzahn while Auburn warmed up before their thrashing of the Bulldgos. His offer list isn’t super long at the moment but it includes Florida, Georgia and now Auburn. Chances are high he will be a top 200 player in next year’s class.

2022 Commits

Stewart is reportedly having a strong sophomore season for Marietta. Always good to see commits make it to campus for home games even if they are over two years away from signing.

2022 Targets

Like I said above, Auburn is beginning to turn their focus to future cycles. Yes that even means 2022. Auburn hosted some of the top sophomores in the country this past weekend. It’s obviously stupid early to make any sort of guesses at the direction of these recruitments but getting them on campus is obviously a positive. Keep an eye on Rogers over the next 2 cycles. Auburn has never signed a 5* DB but given the fact Rogers is from Mississippi and plays the same position group as Marcus Woodson coaches, I fully expect the Tigers to be in that race until the end.

War Eagle!