While it is still likely Auburn lands a transfer or two, for all intents and purposes the 2019 cycle has come to an end. That means the 2020 class is now on the clock. I’ve touched already on Auburn’s current commits (or at least who was committed at the time) along with some names to know early this cycle. But over the coming weeks, I plan to dig a bit deeper into each position group and highlight who appear to be Auburn’s legitimate options in the 2020 class.
We start today with quarterbacks. It’s been a while since Auburn hasn’t already had their QB of the class committed. Both Joey Gatewood and Bo Nix jumped on board very early in their respective cycles. Already eight of the fourteen QB prospects Auburn has offered have already committed. Quarterbacks tend to end their recruitments early so that they can help build their signing class which tends to lead to a game of QB dominoes that SBNation’s Bud Elliot does a great job tracking year to year.
Another interesting observation about Auburn’s early recruiting efforts is that the Tigers have already offered fourteen prospects. That’s more than any previous class under Malzahn and we are only in February. That tells you this staff is having to spread a wider net this cycle which is understandable. Auburn will enter spring ball with three freshman QBs on the roster (two being redshirts). That’s not a favorable situation for a QB who wants to play early and QBs wanting to play early has become a major thing.
So all that to say, Auburn will definitely try and sign a QB this cycle but it might take longer than usual. Who wins the starting job could have a major impact as could any possible transfers by those that don’t win the job. I don’t expect a high profile name this class but if Auburn can get a kid with high upside but maybe needs time to develop, I would consider that a success.
I feel safe in saying we can eliminate a number of quarterback targets already. First, there are those committed elsewhere. Obviously, Auburn could always flip one of these kids but none have been linked to the Tigers in some time.
- 5* Bryce Young (USC) - Might have the most entertaining tape of any QB I’ve seen this class
- 4* Jack Miller (Ohio State) - Good chance he ends up the #1 QB overall
- 4* Harrison Bailey (Tennessee) - I expect his ranking to drop some over the cycle but a definite top 200 player
- 4* Max Johnson (LSU) - Surprised he’s listed in top 100, solid player but not sure he’s elite
- 4* Hudson Card (Texas) - Would be my pick for Auburn to sign in this class if I had that power
- 4* Drew Pyne (Notre Dame) - Will be a very good fit for Brian Kelly’s system
- 4* TJ Finley (LSU) - Massive frame but very raw as a passer
- 4* Luke Doty (South Carolina) - Could start as a true freshman for Will Muschamp
Next, I think there are two more prospects that look extremely unlikely to land at Auburn so I’ll eliminate them as well.
- 5* DJ Uiagalelei - The current #1 QB in the nation dropped a top 12 that did not include Auburn. Clemson looks like the early favorite and he would be the perfect successor to Trevor Lawrence
- 4* Malik Hornsby - I believe Auburn is very high on Hornsby but not sure feelings are mutual. Texas A&M is the overwhelming favorite at this time.
That leaves four realistic targets left on the board but I wouldn’t be surprised if no one from this list ends up in Auburn’s class. I expect we see more offers doled out in the coming months as Kenny Dillingham does his own evaluations. But for now, here are the four targets to track closely for the Tigers.
4* Robby Ashford | 6’4” | 210 lbs | Hoover, AL
Top Teams: Auburn, Georgia
Recruitment: If Auburn signs someone mentioned in this article it will most likely be Ashford. The Hoover standout broke out in 2018 with an outstanding performance in the Bucs win over Bo Nix’s Pinson Valley squad on ESPN. He plans to play baseball at the next level so this is a joint recruiting effort by Gus Malzahn and Butch Thompson. Early on in this race, it looked like the Tigers were the team to beat. However, UGA has come on strong and with their recent flip of 5* WR George Pickens, they might now be the team to beat. A decision is expected in March. As of now, I believe Ashford is Auburn’s top target this cycle.
Scouting Report: It’s all about potential with Ashford. He has a massive frame, a great arm and is a tremendous athlete. However, his accuracy can be spotty at times and he has the benefit of working behind an OL that’s typically better than their opponent. Against more talented teams his numbers cratered. However, he’s a guy that if given time to develop could be a weapon at QB. Interested to see how he progresses as a senior this season.
4* Haynes King | 6’3” | 180 lbs | Longview, TX
Top Teams: Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, LSU, TCU, Tennessee
Recruitment: King’s recruitment is just now taking off and I expect more teams to jump into the fray in the coming months. He visited the Plains for Auburn’s battle with LSU in September and left having positive things to say about the Tigers though Chip Lindsey was heading up that recruitment at the time. Will he be a priority for Dillingham moving forward? We will have to wait and see. His last visit was to TCU for their Junior Day. Let’s see if he makes it to the Plains this spring.
Scouting Report: I’m a big fan of King’s game. He’s gonna need some time in the weight room to handle being hit by SEC defenders but I could see him causing problems at the next level. King can hurt you equally as well with feet and arm. He plays in a system that asks him to do a lot of things from 5 step drops out of an I-formation to quick-hitting passing concepts out of the gun. King can make pretty much every throw with tremendous accuracy. He’s a very good football player that I would love to see land in Auburn’s class if possible.
3* Chandler Morris | 6’0” | 170 lbs | Dallas, TX
Top Teams: Arkansas, Auburn, SMU
Recruitment: I probably could have put Morris in the unlikely column seeing as he is the son of current Arkansas head football coach Chad Morris. You would think then he’s a virtual lock to the Hogs. But if he didn’t want to play for his father then I think Auburn is the team to watch. As you probably well know, it was Morris’s adoption of Gus Malzahn’s system that saw his career take flight. The two are still good friends and if Chandler decides to blaze his own trail then Auburn would immediately become a top contender. With that said, all early signs point to him playing for his father in Fayetteville.
Scouting Report: Being the son of a collegiate head football coach, Chandler is clearly a kid that understands football. I love his processing speed and ability to work through his progressions quickly. He’s deadly accurate throwing a nice flat ball that jumps out of his hand. He can make plays with his feet when needed as well though that skill might not be as dominant at the next level. Overall though the makings of a really good college quarterback.
Jaden Walley | 6’0” | 170 lbs | Biloxi, MS
Top Teams: Auburn, Mississippi State, Southern Miss
Recruitment: Not a lot out there on Walley’s recruitment at the moment though he visited the Plains for Auburn’s most recent Junior Day weekend. Being a Mississippi kid, it’s likely the in-state programs will be top threats if they want him. At this time though I’m not really sure where he sits on anyone’s boards especially seeing as he might be better listed as an athlete than quarterback.
Scouting Report: As of now, I don’t think Walley is a Power 5 quarterback prospect. He’s an elite athlete who can shred defenses with the ball in his hands but it’s all based off his feet. As a passer, he’s inaccurate and reluctant. Arm strength seems average as well. My guess is if AU is actually recruiting him it’s to play WR or DB because I just don’t see him playing QB in the SEC. But then again, Auburn could take a chance on someone like Walley this class, see if they can develop him and if not transition him to another position.
Up Next: Defensive Tackle