With Early Signing Day now in the rearview mirror, it’s time to turn our attention to the final weeks of the 2020 class. While Auburn did most of their work in the early period, there are still at least 3 spots to fill come February. The good thing about loading up this week is that Auburn can now focus all their energy and resources on just a select few targets. It also means some coaches will now be focused solely on 2021.
Here’s a look at the names to know as we head into the late period of the 2020 class. Chances are very good some new names will pop up in January especially at the quarterback position but for now these are the names to know.
I suspect that every recruiting article I write from now until February will have to include an update on this prospect. The nation’s #19 overall player and #2 OT has been committed to the Dawgs since April of 2018 which is quite awhile in the world of recruiting. However, Auburn has never relented in their pursuit hosting the big man multiple times on campus over the past two years including for both the UGA game and the Iron Bowl to finish the season. The Dawgs sent him a National Letter of Intent this past week in hopes of getting him to shut down his recruitment but he elected to not sign. Jones will likely take official visits to both Auburn and Georgia next month.
The Tigers have always lurked but with Sam Pittman’s departure all of a sudden the door is more than cracked open for the flip. This is far from a slam dunk and you know Kirby Smart won’t go away quietly. But this is also a very real possibility and not a pipe dream. If the Tigers could pull off the flip it would solidify this class as Gus Malzahn’s best ever in my eyes. Let’s see what happens....
The Tigers beat out the instate Vols for Hardy’s pledge back in November. However, the McCallie standout elected not to sign early with Auburn this past week. It’s not a complete shock as Hardy had said his whole recruitment that he planned to wait until February so he could sign at same time as his teammates. Auburn had hoped to convince him otherwise and there had been some hope a couple of weeks ago it would happen. But Tennessee has not stopped its pursuit and encouraged him to wait as well. In the end, he decided to hold off which means the Tigers will have to fight to keep his pledge until February.
As of today, I like Auburn’s chances of keeping the stud lineman. I know the memory of George Pickens’s recruitment is burned into all of our minds but the year before Auburn signed all three of their holdouts in Matthew Hill, Coynis Miller and Richard Jibunor. Hopefully Hardy’s recruitment turns out like the latter and not the former.
I imagine if Auburn were allowed to write their own ending to this class it would be pretty simple. Hang onto Jay Hardy, flip Broderick Jones and sign McKinnley Jackson. Mississippi’s top ranked player has been a top target for the nation’s elite since he was a sophomore in high school. For a brief period of time he was committed to LSU but has since backed away and now appears wide open. Both Auburn and Alabama hosted the big man on official visits in November. He will take three more in February to LSU, Texas A&M and maybe Ole Miss. I say maybe because UGA is looking to make a late charge in this race having recently offered Jackson. The Rebels’ former head coach, who has a close relationship with Jackson, is also on staff for the Dawgs. This one will be a circus to the finish but I truly believe the Tigers will be in it until the end. Can Marcus Woodson continue his great work in the Magnolia State?
This one is a bit of a wildcard. The nation’s #132 ranked prospect was on campus for an unofficial visit back in late September when the Tigers thrashed Mississippi State. But not much else was heard between the sides. He took an official visit to Washington State and Florida State before the Early Signing Period. After that FSU visit last weekend, it was thought things had been shutdown and he would sign with the Noles. But on Wednesday he decided to wait.
Josh Newberg of Noles247 reported earlier this week that two of the programs in frequent contact with Wideman were Auburn and Oregon. Could the Tigers look to be adding a 5th WR? I am not really sure they have the room (thinking that 25 number might be a bit more flexible than being reported) but he’s a big time player and could be someone they decided to take if they can get him. But until he takes an official visit, I am not sure how big a threat Auburn really is in this race. Just a name to file away for now.
One other note on Wideman, he’s a two way star and would want to play basketball for the Tigers too. I do not know if Bruce Pearl has offered the big man yet. That’s something else to watch as well.
Butler will likely officially visit Auburn in January and is a name to keep a close eye on over the coming weeks. Auburn hopes to keep Hardy and sign Jackson but if either of those go sideways Butler could be an option. He’s someone that could step in immediately and provide depth for the Tigers at both strong side end and maybe even defensive tackle. We should have a better feel for where things stand with him after his official visit. I suspect though that his recruitment is about to really heat up as teams scour the country for top defensive line talent to finish out their classes.
Auburn hosted the nation’s #4 JUCO defensive tackle for an official visit the weekend before the Early Signing Period which made some wonder if he would be an immediate take if the Tigers did not flip Dallas Walker. That didn’t happen, instead Burks will take his recruitment into February. My understanding is Burks would jump on board immediately if given the green light. What I don’t know is when or if ever that green light would come. If Auburn missed on Jackson would they turn to Burks or Butler? Or maybe there’s a new name that comes on the board in January. Either way, Burks’s recruitment is something to track over the final weeks of this cycle.
When Buskey committed back in February, Auburn thought they had found their starting left tackle for 2020. A lot has changed since that moment. First off, Auburn has already signed two other JUCO offensive tackles, both ranked higher than Buskey. Second, Buskey went from an expected early enrollee to possibly a non qualifier. Finally, Auburn made a serious move on Broderick Jones. Put all that together and it feels like the odds of Buskey signing in February are pretty low. My understanding is the staff is still very high on his potential and would take his signature if possible but confidence is fading he will be good to go. We will see if things trend in a more positive direction over these last months of the 2020 cycle.
The Tigers appear to already be preparing for life with out a Carlson booming field goals from 50+ yards. McGuire has emerged as Auburn’s top target the question is whether or not the Tigers have room to bring him on as a full signee. If things go well in February that probably won’t happen. Would McGuire take a preferred walk on offer? Possibly but he’s getting attention from other SEC programs as well. If one of them were to offer him a full ride I think that would be hard to turn down. The ideal finish for Auburn is to get McGuire on campus as a PWO after signing Hardy, Jones and Jackson then put McGuire on a full ride in the fall.