In less than 24 hours the faxes will start rolling in and staffs will finally get a more complete picture of what type of class they will be signing in 2020. These final hours are crucial as coaching staffs across the country work the phone lines in hopes of offering that last minute pitch to convince an elite prospect that their program is the place to be.
Before though we dive into the decisions to come and who will/won’t be signing tomorrow, let’s start with another strange recruitment that took another weird turn.
Brian George Commits to A&M
One of the prospects it seemed Auburn felt best about heading into this week was the nation’s #5 JUCO 4* DB Brian George. He was on campus for the Iron Bowl and returned the next weekend for an official visit. After that visit, he told reporters a commitment video would soon drop. But just like in late July, a pledge never came.
Then on Sunday night, AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr dropped a pretty big bomb reporting that Auburn had moved on from George. He didn’t provide much further context on the decision either. The gist of it was that the staff felt like it was in both sides best interest to part ways. That the 3rd time this month there has been a parting of ways with former top topics. First, there was 4* LB Phillip Webb cancelling his official visit. Second, came 4* OT Javion Cohen’s not so pleasant flip to the Tide. And now finally, there’s Brian George. I think all three instances are very different but it’s still worth noting there’s been a lot of sudden ends to recruitments this cycle.
Earlier this afternoon, George FINALLY dropped a commitment video. It wasn’t the one many people were expecting to see just last week as it ended with George announcing his pledge to Texas A&M.
The Aggies were listed as his #2 school following his OV to the Plains so it’s not a huge surprise that’s where he would land following Auburn’s decision to move on. A&M is also having some struggles finding early impact players at that position so this might turn out to be a big win for both George & the Aggies.
As for Auburn, the focus now turns 4* DB Eric Reed. I will have more on him later but if the Tigers were to miss there it appears they won’t make a move on JUCO DB Emmanuel Appiah and instead evaluate the DB prospects that remain following this week. Things change fast in recruiting and that has sure been the case these past 2 weeks for the Tigers.
Early Signing Day Preview
With that out of the way, it’s time to focus on what should be a very busy day tomorrow. Auburn is hoping to sign the majority of its current 2020 class and add a few crucial late pieces Wednesday. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect along with some guesses on what goes down.
Auburn Commits Signing AND Enrolling Early
- 5* RB Tank Bigsby
- 4* WR Kobe Hudson
- 4* DL Zykeivous Walker
- 4* DB Ladarius Tennison
- 4* S Chris Thompson Jr
- 4* CB Marco Domio
- 3* OL Avery Jernigan
- 3* OT Kilian Zierer (ACL Injury)
- 3* DL Daniel Foster-Allen
- 3* QB Chayil Garnett
Auburn Commits Signing Early
- 4* LB Wesley Steiner
- 4* WR Ze’Vian Capers
- 4* WR J.J. Evans
- 3* OT Brenden Coffey
- 3* WR Elijah Cannion -> Will be “announcing” final decision between AU & UF. Confident he sticks with AU
- 3* OL Jeremiah Wright
Auburn Commits Possibly Not Signing Early
- 4* DL Jay Hardy -> Mixed messages on this one. Has told staff he would sign early but has also told UT he won’t. Reportedly will be at a basketball tourney all week in Florida. As of now, lean towards him not signing
- 4* LB Cam Riley -> Has mentioned wanting to take some OVs in spring. I lean though towards him signing early
- 3* OT Jonathan Buskey -> Reportedly academic concerns with Buskey so staff might want him to wait until February & see where his grades stand. Would be surprised if he signed early
Auburn Targets Announcing
Here’s a look at who is expected to announce their decisions and sign during the early period. A big domino (both literally and figuratively) will fall tonight. As for my predictions, I am gonna add a confidence level of Lock (VERY confident in pick), 50/50 (leaning that direction but far from certain) and No Idea (literally just me guessing).
Contenders: Auburn, Kentucky, Texas Tech
On paper, Auburn’s JUCO plan made a lot of sense. Go out and target the top JUCO tackles, sign a bunch of him, get them on campus in spring and let them battle for starting roles for 2020. Auburn currently has three JUCOs committed ranked #1, #3 & #6. Problem is none of those three will be participating in spring practice. Zierer tore his ACL so will be out until next fall, Coffey is a summer enrollee and there are concerns that Buskey will even qualify at all.
That forced AU to go on the hunt for a 4th JUCO OT and they have made a tremendous push for the #2 JUCO in the country Jeremy Flax. Following his official visit last week there was a lot of confidence on the Plains he would land with the Tigers. But after an official visit to Lexington this past weekend, that confidence appears to have evaporated. UK has been after Flax much longer than Auburn and those relationships are looking to prove the difference. He will announce his decision later this afternoon and there’s always a chance the Tigers make a late push but it’s not looking good for the good guys right now.
If Auburn were to miss on Flax that would mean none of their 2020 offensive tackle signees would be participating in spring ball. No good way to spin that other than hoping some of the young guys on campus can take the next step.
Prediction: Kentucky (Lock)
Contenders: Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss
It will be hard for me to ever classify the tight end position as a “need” but it is a spot AU would like filled in 2020 and there’s been a clear target to fill it this whole cycle. The #4 ranked player in the state of Mississippi is a unique athlete who does have the skillset to combine the different roles of the 3 back position. Instead of having to sub Jay Jay Wilson in for pass plays and Spencer Nigh to run the ball, you could trust Pegues to do both. He’s the exact type of player that Chad Morris has proven to use successfully in the past (think Jordan Leggett).
For much of this race, Auburn has been the team to beat with Ole Miss chasing. After Matt Luke’s firing, Pegues effectively eliminated them from his recruitment which should be good news. The bad news? The Crimson Tide have always lurked and given the fact they are probably going to end up whiffing on their top 2 tight end targets, expect Nick Saban to turn the heat up on Pegues before his announcement. A week ago I probably would have had this as a lock. Now? I still think AU will be the pick but it’s way closer than you wish it would be. It would not be a stunner if Pegues were to pick the Tide tomorrow but I am banking on his long time flame being the choice in the end.
Prediction: Auburn (50/50)
Contenders: Auburn, South Carolina, Tennessee
In happier news, things appear to be trending in the right direction for Auburn and Desmond Tisdol. The thumper out of south Georgia has always wanted to be a Tiger but the class filled up in a hurry this summer before he was ready to make a decision. But Trenton Simpson’s decommitment appears to have opened up a spot for Tisdol’s taking and barring a late change of heart, I think Auburn fans will be hearing a Boom coming from the Plains early tomorrow morning.
Prediction: Auburn (Lock)
Contenders: Auburn, Texas A&M
Last week, I think AU had moved ahead for Walker. He had been on campus three times in the last four weeks including an official visit. But Jimbo ain’t no shrinking violet on the recruiting trail. He was able to convince Walker to take one final trek to College Station this past weekend before making his final decision. Actions speak much louder than words in recruiting and Walker being willing to pay his own dime to go see A&M one more time makes me think that AU might not have done enough to pull off the flip. It would not be a shocker if were to still happen but I think right now the Tennessee native will stick with his commitment.
Prediction: Texas A&M (50/50)
Contenders: Auburn, Miami
I am not sure I have written much on Height. His recruitment has been a bit bizarre. Publicly he looks as committed as you would want a prospect. He made his pledge to the Canes over the summer and has consistently stated he’s solid including announcing that he had shut down his recruitment last week.
But Auburn has been after him the whole time. Height has denied it but reporters for Miami believe that he was on campus this past weekend for an official visit to the Plains. No Auburn reporters have said much other than the Tigers feel like they have a legitimate shot at flipping Height. This feels a bit like maybe AU is on the other side of a Pickens deal. Anyone saying with any sort of confidence they know what Height will do tomorrow is probably a bit full of it. But I am going to go out on a limb and say AU does pull of the surprise and land their pass rusher for the 2020 class.
Prediction: Auburn (No Idea)
Contenders: Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame
This is a race that is trending in the right direction for the Tigers. Last week, I would have listed Reed as a Lock to UGA but there is significant buzz this is still a true 2 team race between AU & UGA. The Dawgs might still have an edge but I am not sure a decision has been made yet. UGA just recently landed 4* DB Major Burns and are believed to be the leader for 5* CB Kelee Ringo. Would they also take Reed? Does Reed see a chance to get to the field sooner at AU, especially with George no longer in the picture? No idea. I am not bold enough to pick the upset but I do think this is more of a battle than first believed.
Prediction: Georgia (50/50)
I am listing Jones only because I have seen some out on the AU interwebs hoping that the player Tate Johnson and Avery Jernigan have been buzzing about on Twitter is the 5* UGA commit. However, Jones has told both AU and UGA folks he plans to wait until February before making a decision. Considering he’s yet to even meet with UGA’s new OL coach, I would be shocked if he decided to out of nowhere flip to AU. It would be a nice surprise if it were to happen but I think you are setting yourself up for disappointment if you think something goes down this week. I do, however, very much believe AU can flip Jones. It won’t be easy but they will get their shot in January.
Assuming that my predictions prove true (they won’t) that would mean Auburn signs 18 of their 20 commits tomorrow and add 3 more to the class. That would leave only 2 spots left to fill which is a very good place to be heading into January. The focus would then be on top targets such as Jones and McKinnley Jackson along with keeping Hardy in the fold.
The Tigers have a good shot at landing another top 10 class and barring a collapse at the finish I think that’s exactly what happens. Whether good or bad, there will definitely be plenty of news to follow tomorrow on the trail.