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Auburn Football Recruiting: Iron Bowl Buzz

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Turns out beating your rival in one of the best games of the year is a good way to impress recruits. Weird right?

NCAA Football: Alabama at Auburn John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

After going a month without a chance to host any of their top targets, the month of November has been a godsend for the Tigers’ recruiting efforts. But no weekend quite has the star studded list as the Iron Bowl. It’s even better when all that talent gets to see the Tigers bring home the win. There was an impressive list of visitors on campus this past weekend who got a chance to experience the awesomeness that is a rocking Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Big Friday Night Boom

Before diving into the response to Auburn’s epic Iron Bowl victory, I think it’s important to talk about what happened the day prior. In case you missed it, 4* DE Zykeivous Walker told reporters Friday afternoon he planned on announcing his commitment that evening. Hours later, he announced his pledge to the Auburn Tigers.

This was an absolutely monster win on the trail for this coaching staff. Make no mistake, this is a kid Georgia not only wanted but expected to be in their 2020 class. Auburn though always felt like it had a shot. Like previous recruitments of Marlon Davidson and Big Kat Bryant, Walker just had the feel of an Auburn man. He clicked with the staff pretty much immediately but the big move came following his official visit last month. Walker is expected to not only sign later in a few weeks but will be an early enrollee as well. Don’t be surprised if Walker is making plays for this Auburn defense immediately next season.

Recapping Official Visits

This past weekend was obviously a big weekend for recruiting and the Tigers welcomed four official visitors to campus. Here’s a quick rundown on who made it and where things stand in their recruitments:

  • 4* DT Omari Thomas - Auburn’s recruitment of Thomas started slow as the Tigers liked him at offensive tackle but he sees himself as a defensive lineman. However, now that Auburn is willing to take the top 100 player on the defensive side of the ball they have become a factor. This was Thomas’s first time seeing a game live in Jordan-Hare and from all accounts came away very impressed. He’s expected to announce his commitment next Monday, December 9th. The home state Vols are thought to be the current leader in the clubhouse but we have seen already that Rodney Garner can make a move in a hurry if he wants a guy. Definitely an announcement to keep an eye on next week.
  • 4* DB Eric Reed - Reed’s commitment to Ole Miss had been on shaky ground ever since Auburn and Georgia dished out offers earlier this fall. With Matt Luke’s surprise firing, Reed announced this week he was no longer committed to the Rebels.

This is now an Auburn vs Georgia battle with the Dawgs possibly holding the edge. Auburn wants at least one more defensive back and would take Reed in a heartbeat if he wanted on board. Reed reportedly enjoyed his visit to the Plains but will be in Athens this weekend. We will see what unfolds over these next couple of weeks.

  • 4* DT Josaih Hayes - Another former Ole Miss commit, Hayes has only recently popped up as a top target for the Tigers. Like pretty much everyone in attendance, Hayes came away very impressed with the atmosphere in Jordan-Hare Stadium per AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr. Did Auburn do enough to steal the Mississippi native away? That remains to be seen but a decision is expected in December so we won’t have to wait long to find out. The Tigers all of a sudden have just a few spots left on the defensive line so Auburn can afford to get picky late.
  • CB Emmanuel Appiah - Still unranked, Appiah has had one of the more interesting recruitments. His offer list currently consists of Auburn, Rutgers and Tennessee. He’s put up video game numbers this fall for his JUCO team and the coaching staff is reportedly very high on the Ghana native. But will he have a spot come early signing day? It’s really hard to tell because there could be a major move at that position very soon...

Boom Coming Soon?

There was a pretty big late addition to Auburn’s visitor list this past Saturday. The nation’s #6 overall JUCO prospect 4* DB Brian George traveled north to the Plains to witness Auburn’s epic Iron Bowl victory. From the sound of things, the visit went as well as anyone at Auburn could have hoped.

George told reporters after the game he had made his mind up on his recruitment. He’s expected back for an official visit this weekend. It would not at all surprise me if George’s name is added to Auburn’s 2020 commit list this time next week. This has been a recruitment with a lot of twists and turns so things could always change at any moment but as of right now Auburn appears to once again be in the driver’s seat for one of the best JUCO prospects in the country.

Elite 2021 Talent On Campus

There were plenty of important 2020 prospects on campus this past weekend but where Auburn will likely really see the effects of Saturday’s game is in next year’s class. One game obviously doesn’t change recruitments but it can definitely have an affect. Look no further than Owen Pappoe who said that it was seeing Auburn take down Alabama and Georgia in person that made him really decide to consider the Tigers.

Auburn’s 2021 list was as loaded as it gets including five 5* recruits. Here’s a quick look at those recruits a long with two other names to watch in the coming weeks.

  • 5* OT Tommy Brockermeyer - Ranked the nation’s #3 overall player in the 2021 class, Brockermeyer got a chance to see Auburn in action Saturday afternoon along with his brother 4* C James Brockermeyer. Both appeared to be impressed. He’s long been pegged a Texas lock due to his family ties but Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia and LSU are all real threats in this race. I fully expect to see him and his brother back on the Plains in the coming months.
  • 5* S James Williams - I am not sure there is a more clear future NFL 1st round draft pick in the 2021 class than Williams. A 6’5” 218 lb safety, Williams is a freaky athlete you just don’t find very often. Auburn, like everyone else in the country, is working hard to snag the elite defensive back and they have a legit chance at getting it done. Williams has been to Auburn a number of times and was back for the Iron Bowl Saturday. There is a feeling that early this might be an Auburn-Georgia battle but I think Clemson is one to keep an eye on as well.
  • 5* OT Amarius Mims - It’s early and things could obviously change but this feels like a longshot for the Tigers. After all, he told AuburnSports.com he was actually cheering for Alabama Saturday evening... With that said, Mims is an elite prospect at a major position of need so Auburn is going to give it their best shot. Right now UGA is considered the clear favorite but we will see if Auburn can change things with Mims. Landing someone else on this list in a few weeks would do a lot of good in that regard....
  • 5* DE Dylan Brooks - Follow the visits is a common refrain in the recruiting world. Applied to Brooks, the state’s #1 player in the 2021 class, it points to Auburn being in a VERY good position for the Roanoke, AL native. Brooks, by my count at least, made it to every single home game this fall on the Plains including some clunkers like Kent State. He’s obviously going to get a ton of pressure from every program especially the Tide but as of right now, you really have to like where Auburn sits for the elite pass rusher. Auburn landed 5* DT Lee Hunter yesterday. Pairing Hunter with Brooks would be a monster haul for Rodney Garner.
  • 5* CB Ga’Quincy McKinstry - Nicknamed Kool-Aid, McKinstry is one of the more unique prospects in next year’s class. Not only does Gus Malzahn want the talented Pinson Valley standout but Bruce Pearl does too. He holds offers from both coaches and has been given the assurance he would be allowed to play both for the Tigers. I fully expect other programs to follow suit as McKinstry seems excited about the idea. This race is likely to go the distance and it’s going to be a battle between Auburn, Alabama and Clemson. Right now the Tigers sit in a good spot but this one is far from over and given Auburn’s history (or really the lack thereof) in signing 5* DBs, I would approach this recruitment with cautious optimism.
  • 4* OT Micah Morris - Morris has been known in the recruiting world since he was a freshman in high school. The 6’4” 316 lb lineman could play anywhere on the line at the next level but I would think Auburn wants him at offensive tackle if possible. It’s rare that he and Mims aren’t on a visit together so landing his pledge would be a major boon in Auburn’s efforts to get involved with Mims. Morris is expected to make his commitment later this month. It’s an Auburn-Georgia battle with the Dawgs having long thought to be the team to beat. This is a very important recruitment in the 2021 cycle and one Auburn desperately needs to win as they look boost their OL recruiting efforts.
  • 3* OT Caleb Johnson - Auburn was the first Power 5 school to offer Johnson. He’s since blown up sporting offers from the likes of Arkansas, Florida State, Louisville and others. It’s early so don’t let the lower rating full you, Auburn likes Johnson and would love to get him on board soon if possible. 247 national recruiting expert Steve Wiltfong Crystal Ball’d (aka predicted) Johnson to Auburn following the Iron Bowl. Will be interesting to see if a decision comes soon or not for the 6’7” 295 lb offensive tackle out of Ocala, FL

Three New Offers

At this point in the recruiting cycle, any offers Auburn doles out deserve scrutiny. With early signing day just a few weeks away and very few spots left in this class, any offers sent out now either mean Auburn is concerned about filling a current spot, expecting some attrition or stumbled onto a player that put together a big time senior campaign (think DJ Williams). So far this week, Auburn has put out three new offers of note.

The first one was probably the biggest surprise. Monday afternoon, Tennessee commit 4* ATH Jimmy Calloway announced on Twitter he had been offered by the Tigers.

At first, I thought this offer was related to Auburn’s effort to land another defensive back. But later, Calloway told AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr that the Tigers actually want him on offense, possibly at wide receiver. So does this mean Auburn could be losing a WR commit? Maybe... Ze’Vian Capers was giving North Carolina a hard look just a month ago but it looks like Auburn might have firmed up his commitment. Elijah Cannion is a name that hasn’t shown up a ton on Auburn’s visitor lists this fall while appearing in Gainesville a couple of times as well.

Or it could just mean they really like Calloway and are looking to add more weapons to the offense. His recruitment is expected to last until February so there is still time for things to get sorted out. He plays quarterback for his high school team so there’s maybe a chance he gets a look there as well. Either way, definitely a recruitment to watch over these final months.

The second came not long after Calloway’s announcement. Auburn might not be done landing JUCO offensive tackles.

3* OT Jeremy Flax just recently bumped Auburn commit Kilian Zierer from the top JUCO OT spot after a big year for Independence C.C. Auburn obviously already holds commitments from six offensive line prospects including three JUCOs so why in the world would they push after another?

Well, there’s also a very good chance we see some attrition amongst this current crop of offensive line commits. 4* OT Javion Cohen is very seriously flirting with Alabama and plans to take an official visit there this weekend. There are grade concerns with 3* OT Jonathan Buskey who no longer is expected to graduate in December and enroll in the spring. My guess is this offer is a move more directed at the latter development. Auburn will have to get him on campus soon if they want to make a move as he’s expected to make his decision later this month.

Finally, Auburn put out another JUCO offer but this time on the defensive side of the ball.

Deandre Butler plays at the same JUCO as Flax so the Tigers apparently liked what they saw in Independence, KS. Ranked the #5 JUCO prospect in the country, Butler has an impressive list of offers but Auburn’s stands out. Butler told AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr he plans to take an official visit to the Plains this weekend. It’s been expected for much of this cycle that Auburn would take a JUCO prospect on the defensive line for some immediate depth next season. Interestingly Butler has three years of eligibility left so that likely makes him an even more attractive option in Auburn’s eyes.

War Eagle!