You shouldn’t measure the success of a Junior Day by how many commitments it lands though it sure doesn’t hurt to snag a few. Auburn’s first Junior Day resulted in two commitments shortly afterward in the form of Avery Jernigan and Daniel Foster-Allen. But in a lot of ways, this past weekend was a stronger weekend for the Tigers on the trail than their first event. Why? The sheer star power of whom made the trek to the Plains.
Auburn welcomed a large number of top prospects on campus this past weekend and while none announced their intentions to play for the Tigers next season, plenty left with positive impressions and promises of return trips. These weekends are more about getting prospects on campus for the first time and embedding your program as a top contender than getting early pledges. That’s exactly what Auburn accomplished.
Nation’s Top Linebacker Visits
The biggest name on campus this past weekend was 5* LB Justin Flowe. He’s ranked as the #3 overall prospect in the country by 247 Composite but for my money, he’s the best player in the 2020 class. A California native, Flowe was in the southeast to visit a handful of SEC programs including a stop by the Plains on Friday. Apparently, he’s been in contact with Auburn linebacker coach Travis Williams for some time and the two are building a strong relationship. He told InsideTheAuburnTigers.com’s Jason Caldwell that he enjoyed his time on campus and plans to return to the Plains in the near future.
As of now, Flowe’s recruitment appears wide open. It’s hard to be too optimistic a top 5 player in the country from the state of California will end up playing for the Tigers but it looks like they will at least be in the race early. The big storyline to track over the coming months is whether or not he does, in fact, make that return trip. If he does, then you might need to keep a close eye on this recruitment as we move forward.
But do yourself a favor and watch this kid’s tape. It’s a ton of fun.
Auburn Impresses Standout Offensive Tackle
Auburn needs offensive tackles. This is a fact of life we are all aware of as Auburn fans. To the coaching staff’s credit, it appears they are finally very aware of it too and have spread an extremely wide net this cycle at the position, a nice change from the past strategy of hyper focus on a few elite prospects. That wider net has caught one fish in the form of JUCO 3* Jonathan Buskey. But Auburn desperately needs some underclassmen in this class, specifically some top end talent who could see the field early.
Enter 4* Mitchell Mayes.
Listed at 6’4” 305 lbs, Mayes could honestly play anywhere along the offensive line. Auburn, though, wants him at offensive tackle. The North Carolina native made a few stops this past weekend at some programs including Auburn on Friday. He spent the whole day at the Plains and it appears it was time well spent. He told AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr that his visit was “amazing” and that he especially enjoyed spending time with Gus Malzahn and his wife. He plans to return to the Plains and has the Tigers in his top group along with Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, NC State, Ohio State, and Penn State. I think he’s a name to keep a close eye on moving forward.
Package Deal To Watch
Every cycle, there are prospects who break out the dreaded “package deal” claim. However, rarely do such scenarios actually play out. But there does appear to be one legit package deal in the 2020 cycle. High school teammates 4* OT Jalen Rivers and 4* DE Chantz Williams have been very vocal about the fact that they plan to play together at the next level. It seems legit too. They take all their visits together and both released the same top 5.
If you noticed, Auburn did not make that cut which is unfortunate. But that could be changing after this weekend.
Despite not making their initial cut, Auburn was able to host the pair on a visit for Junior Day and it might result in a shakeup to their top group. Both Rivers and Williams stated after the trip that at worst Auburn was #6 on their list and might soon break into their top five. There’s obviously more work to be done here and getting them back on campus will be big but it does appear the door is not yet completely closed on Auburn landing a pair of top 150 players from Oakleaf.
AU Leads For JUCO Linebacker
While the Tigers didn’t land any commitments it does appear they made a major step towards landing one in the near future. Junior college prospect Tyrus Wheat told AuburnSports.com that Auburn had vaulted to the top of his list after the trip.
“Auburn would be my top school right now,” Wheat said. “It feels like home and they treat people well. It was my first time here and it was nice. My girlfriend, mom and grandma came with me and they treated us well. Everything went good. I liked it.”
Wheat spent time with area recruiter Marcus Woodson and linebackers coach Travis Williams.
“Both are recruiting me and both are nice people,” Wheat said. “They treated me like I’m their son today.”
Wheat signed with Missouri out of high school but was forced to take the JUCO route after not qualifying. He was electric last year for Copiah-Lincoln Community College recording 37 tackles and picking off 2 passes. He actually lined up at safety for his JUCO team but given his large frame, Auburn likes him at linebacker. The big question will be whether or not the Tigers decide to take a JUCO linebacker considering the top prep talent they are chasing at the position. But supposedly Travis Williams wants four backers in this class and considering Wheat is a hybrid type of player, Tigers might decide he’s worth the spot.
Other Visitor Notes
Outside of the names mentioned above, here’s a look at the rest of the prospects that made it to campus this past weekend. I should note that chances are good I’m missing some folks but these are all players that were publicly confirmed as having made it to campus.
- 4* LB Phillip Webb - The son of an Auburn grad, Webb appears to be an early lean to the Tigers after making his 2nd trip in four weeks to the Plains. But this recruitment is far from over with Alabama, Clemson and Georgia all chasing.
- 4* LB Trenton Simpson - Simpson now resides in North Carolina but his father reportedly was stationed in Fort Benning for a time so he grew up an Auburn fan. He’s definitely a name to track in the coming months as a summer decision is expected.
- 4* WR Mike Wyman - Thought to be a major South Carolina lean, Wyman appears set to make a decision early this cycle. He’s already set official visits to South Carolina and Oklahoma. Auburn is hoping to land one as well.
- 4* ATH Kristian Story - Auburn has yet to offer the nation’s #147 player but it sounds like it could come soon. The Tigers like him on defense but you have to think they are behind in this race considering the lack of an offer.
- 4* CB Javier Morton (Alabama Commit) - Morton is a long time Bama commit but it was interesting to see his name pop up on the confirmed visitor list.
- 4* DE Will Anderson - It looked like at one point Anderson was close to committing to the Tigers but he seems to have stepped back from that in recent months. Still, Auburn sits in a good spot for the big time lineman out of Hampton, GA.
- 4* WR Michael Redding - With 2 elite WRs already committed, Auburn is aiming big for that last spot and Redding is a top target. FSU is considered the team to beat the moment.
- 4* TE Jeremiah Pegues - Pegues was one of the few prospects to make it to both Junior Days. It seems clear Auburn is a top threat to land the Mississippi native.
- 4* CB Isaiah Dunson (Florida State Commit) - Dunson committed to the Noles last August and as of now seems fairly solid.
- 4* LB Jayion McCluster - FSU is the favorite but he lists Auburn as his #2 school.
- 3* DL Bryce Mostella - The son of former AU letterman Marcellus Mostella, Bryce listed Auburn as one of his top 3 schools after his recent visit.
- 3* DT Damarjhe Lewis (Auburn Commit) - Big for Auburn to get Lewis back on campus given the recent strong pushes by Georgia Tech and Tennessee.
- 3* RB Deondre Jackson - Former Auburn commit was back on campus.
- 3* ATH Jecoryan Davis-Hamilton - I believe Auburn likes Davis-Hamilton at DB.
- 3* OT Bradley Ashmore (Vanderbilt Commit) - If Auburn pushes this one could get interesting.
- 3* LB Demarkus Cunningham (UAB Commit) - Cunningham doesn’t yet hold an offer but he’s a name to monitor during the evaluation period.
- 2021 RB Cody Brown - Will be one of the top prospects in the 2021 class.
- 2021 TE Cane Berrong - An elite TE target in next year’s class.