Funny how fast things can change in recruiting. On Tuesday afternoon and evening, the Auburn family wasn’t feeling great about the direction of this 2020 class. 3* OT Jeremy Flax had just chosen Kentucky over Auburn, Alabama was trending for 4* TE Jeremiah Pegues, 4* DB Eric Reed Jr still seemed like a pipe dream and it was hard to tell what exactly was going to happen with 3* Buck Romello Height. It looked like Auburn might only be adding one more player to its 2020 class and would head into January with quite a few spots still left to fill.
But a lot changed in 24 hours. By the end of the day Wednesday, Auburn had gone 4/5 on their top targets, signed 18 of their 20 commits and surged to just outside the top 5 of 247 Composite team rankings. So much for a poor close huh?
If you want a full play by play of what happened yesterday, checkout the live thread. I did my best to document things as they happened so if you are a normal human being who spent their day working instead of following the decision of high school athletes, you can at least get a feel for the flow of the day.
Here’s a breakdown of who signed yesterday.
3* Chayil Garnett (EE)
It was going to be hard to find a blue chip prospect willing to sit for at least 2 years behind Bo Nix. So Auburn went out and tried to hunt down a developmental player who has the tools they believe can be successful in Auburn’s scheme and can develop over the next 2 years. They found that in Garnett.
He’s a true dual threat QB with the raw tools to be a very good player at the next level. His senior season did not go as hoped in large part because of a nagging injury but he will be on campus this spring and have a chance to compete for the back up spot. It’s vitally important Auburn have confidence in their #2 trigger man so that they feel comfortable using Nix’s legs in the offense. It wouldn’t be a shock if AU went out and found a 2nd QB in the late period.
5* Tank Bigsby (EE)
One of the reasons Gus Malzahn decided to move on from long time running back coach Tim Horton was his desire to add a more dynamic recruiter to the staff. Horton is an outstanding coach and a very good recruiter but it was clear that Auburn’s rivals had an edge on the trail in terms of signing elite talent.
Enter Carnell Williams.
In his first year as Auburn’s running back coach he reeled in the #4 RB in the country per 247 Composite and the Tigers’ only 5* prospect. Not bad for a debut.
As for Tank, he’s everything you want in a running back. Malzahn called him a “one-play drive type of guy” and that’s a great description of what he brings to AU’s backfield that’s missing right now. This was a huge win for the Tigers and I fully expect Bigsby to be apart of the offense next year. With Boobee, DJ, Shivers, Joiner, Mark-Antony Richards and Bigsby, the Tigers are as deep at that position as they have been in quite awhile.
4* Kobe Hudson (EE), 4* Ze’Vian Capers, 4* J.J. Evans, 3* Elijah Canion
Kodi Burns once again did work on the trail. He’s been a very good recruiter since joining Auburn’s staff but this 2020 group might be his best yet.
Kobe Hudson was the leader of this 2020 class, committing the earliest of the signees and staying loyal through an 8-5 season. He’s a playmaker that has a knack for making defenders miss in space and elite short area quickness. Hudson actually reported yesterday afternoon to Auburn and will participate in bowl practice. Don’t be shocked if he’s apart of the WR rotation in 2020.
Capers, Evans and Canion provide Auburn with some much needed size to Auburn’s WR corps. All three are listed at 6’3” plus and bring some physical traits the Tigers have been lacking. Capers is an explosive weapon in the open field who can also stretch a defense vertically while being a nightmare matchup in the redzone. Evans is a true deep threat who isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty blocking on the edge. The staff thinks Canion is one of the more underrated prospects in this class with Malzahn comparing his skillset to Seth Williams. At least one, possibly two signees from this group will make an impact next season.
4* Jeremiah Pegues (EE)
One of the most unique athletes in this class, Auburn was able to hold off a late surge by the Crimson Tide to ink their top tight end target. Pegues is penciled in to play the 3-back position in the Tigers’ offense and brings as complete a skillset to that position as any player Auburn has had. He can carry the football, block on the edge, split out wide or even play a little Wildcat QB all at 6’2” 290+ lbs. Pegues is an early enrollee and will have a chance to push for playing time behind John Samuel Shenker in 2020.
3* Avery Jernigan (EE), 3* Kilian Zierer (EE), 3* Brenden Coffey, 3* Tate Johnson (EE), 3* Jeremiah Wright
Gus Malzahn promised that the 2020 OL class would be one of his biggest yet last signing day and has delivered on that promise. Avery Jernigan and Tate Johnson were the stars of social media yesterday accurately predicting every single one of Auburn’s commitments. They also give Auburn two outstanding interior players for the future. They became leaders of this 2020 class and I suspect will one day be leaders for Auburn’s football program. Both are enrolling early and will be roommates their freshman year on the Plains.
Wright is an interesting prospect. Malzahn stated in his press conference yesterday that he believes Wright would be more highly regarded if he played in more highly trafficked areas such as Atlanta. The gist being they think they’ve found an underrated gem. He’s a massive human being at 6’5” 340 lbs who could play tackle or guard for the Tigers. I personally think his future is inside but he will likely start out at right tackle.
Finally, Auburn reeled in two of the top three JUCO offensive tackles in the 2020 class. Kilian Zierer only started playing football a couple of years ago but has already blossomed into a top JUCO prospect. Unfortunately, an ACL injury will keep him out of spring practice which likely impacts his chances of winning the starting job. Coffey won’t be an early enrollee but might be the best pure athlete of Auburn’s 5 OL signees. He will arrive in the summer and will attempt to at least crack the two deep in 2020.
It wasn’t all roses though on the trail for Auburn at this position. Losing Flax hurt because he was an early enrollee and had three more years of eligibility. Auburn also lost their top ranked prep prospect last week in Javion Cohen. I fully expect Auburn to sign at least one more offensive tackle in February.
4* Zykeivous Walker (EE), 3* Romello Height (EE), 3* Daniel Foster-Allen (EE)
Always trust Rodney Garner. Jay Hardy not signing early takes a little luster off this group but overall hard not to be very happy with this threesome. All three are early enrollees who will have a chance to find a way into Auburn’s rotation next season.
Walker was one of Auburn’s biggest victories on the trail beating out the Dawgs for the nation’s #7 SDE. The staff is extremely high on this kid and there is a strong belief he will be an impact player in 2020.
Height was a surprise flip from Miami who brings a skillset to Auburn’s defensive line they don’t really have right now. He has a combination of length, quickness and bend that is needed to be an elite pass rusher. Auburn’s defensive line was the best in the land this past season but if there was a weakness it was the lack of a truly dominant edge rusher ala Jeff Holland or Carl Lawson. Height has the skillset to make that type of impact.
Finally, Auburn likes Foster-Allen a lot. He’s only 17 years old and still growing so don’t be surprised if he’s eventually a 6’5” 300 lb force in the interior. He will need to get stronger if he wants to play immediately but getting him on campus early is big. I expect him to eventually develop into a very important piece of Auburn’s DL rotation.
4* Wesley Steiner, 4* Desmond Tisdol, 4* Cam Riley
It’s been a wild year for Auburn’s linebacker recruiting. They lost two top 50 players in Trenton Simpson and Demouy Kennedy that absolutely hurt. But Travis Williams still signed a three man blue chip class who look likely to continue Auburn’s resurgence at linebacker.
Steiner is a special athlete. As I have mentioned pretty much every time I write about Steiner, he beat Owen Pappoe’s SPARQ score this past July which should tell you what type of athleticism this kid possesses. Desmond Tisdol is a big time athlete as well who WANTS to be an Auburn Tiger and looks to be a future starting MLB. Then there’s Cam Riley who had an incredibly productive senior campaign and could play any number of positions for the Tigers moving forward.
Losing 5*s hurt but this is still a durn good linebacker class that should have fans excited for the future.
4* Eric Reed Jr, 4* Ladarius Tennison (EE), 4* Chris Thompson Jr (EE), 4* Marco Domio (EE)
Auburn is starting to show some encouraging consistency in signing blue chip defensive backs. In the past, Auburn often relied on overlooked athletes that they developed into DBs. Now the Tigers are beating top programs in the country for big time talent. That’s an important change considering the continued growth of dynamic passing attacks in the SEC.
Reed Jr, in my opinion at least, was the big time win yesterday. He’s an elite talent that UGA really wanted. Auburn was able to beat out the Dawgs for the LA native who can do a little of everything. It’s likely he will start out at cornerback but he can play almost anywhere in the secondary.
If Noah Igbinoghene leaves early that would mean Auburn is down four starting DBs including both corners. Roger McCreary was a de facto starter and will lock down one spot next season. But the Tigers will need someone ready to go day 1 next season from this 2020 class. That’s where Marco Domio fits in. Auburn fought off LSU and A&M for his commit earlier this summer. He’s an early enrollee so don’t be surprised if he’s starting for the Tigers September 5th, 2020.
Then there the Bash Bros (I am trying to make this a thing) in Chris Thompson Jr and Ladarius Tennison. They have completely different body types but produce the same results - pain. Auburn plucked Thompson away from the in state Longhorns in a shocker over the summer. Tennison is a former Miami commit (Manny Diaz is probably not an Auburn fan) who is a freaky athlete that isn’t afraid to deliver some punishment. Both will practice this spring and have a chance to carve out role in Auburn’s defense in 2020