The success of Big Cat Weekend should not be measured by the number of commits that pop that weekend. Sure, landing someone like Javion Cohen on the day of the event is awesome and I am sure if 3-4 top targets all wanted to go public the coaching staff would happily welcome the news. But the goal of that event isn’t for same day commits.
What has always made Big Cat Weekend a different event than others across the country (though many now copy its style) is the visitor list is restricted to a select group of top targets and the focus of the day is not on football but on relationships. The staff assembles as many of their top targets as possible on campus, puts them in groups with each other along with a coach and then has them spend the day doing all sorts of events that have nothing to do with football but instead are intended to give these top athletes a chance to see what life might be like when the lights are off at Jordan-Hare Stadium, hanging out at Auburn with possible future teammates. The measure of success for the event should be the amount of signees that attended Big Cat Weekend. It is often the time Auburn makes its biggest moves with its most important targets.
By that criteria, this past Big Cat Weekend has a chance to be one of the most successful in recent history. Auburn was in definite need of a shot of adrenaline on the trail and appears to have gotten that and more....
Booms Coming Soon?
The news started last week when 3* WR Elijah Canion (a Big Cat Weekend attendee) announced he wanted to be an Auburn Tiger. It continued when 4* WR Ze’Vian Capers (another BCW visitor) stepped back from his pledge to the Razorbacks. Then, the momentum accelerated further when 4* LB Trenton Simpson (took an official visit during Big Cat) tweeted his intention of announcing his commitment this Friday. And now, just this morning, 3* OG Tate Johnson (you guessed it, visited for Big Cat) tweeted a big announcement is coming later today.
All of this is more than likely great news for Auburn.
There had been questions on where Capers stood on Auburn’s WR board which is surprisingly deep with talent this cycle. But supposedly after his camp performance last week, those questions have all be answered and the Tigers want him on board ASAP. That could very well happen in early July at The Opening.
Johnson, despite a strong push from Georgia Tech and Florida State, has long been an Auburn lean. His former teammate Keiondre Jones signed with Auburn last class and Johnson is close with AU commits Javion Cohen and Avery Jernigan. I will be floored if the news that comes out at 11:15 ET today isn’t happy news for the Tigers.
Then there’s possibly the biggest boom of all in Trenton Simpson. It was believed Auburn entered his OV in 3rd place behind UNC and Georgia. That no longer appears to be the case. There were murmurs Auburn’s staff thought they made a huge move that weekend and it appears they might have done more than that. The Tigers look poised to land the nation’s #52 ranked prospect this Friday which would be a huge blow to the Tar Heels and another LB victory for T-WILL over Kirby Smart.
However, those aren’t the only names to keep an eye on. 4* LB Cameron Riley and 4* TE Jeremiah Pegues both did not make it to Big Cat Weekend but the Tigers are trending up strong in both recruitments. Riley has long been someone on commit watch but it appears he wants to fully evaluate his options before pulling the trigger. Don’t be surprised if he takes an official visit this month and leaves the campus an AU commit. The same goes for Pegues. Marcus Woodson continues to be a deadly force in Mississippi positioning Auburn as a top challenger for the state’s top two ranked prospects in Pegues and 4* DT McKinnley Jackson.
After a not so fun couple of months, it appears Auburn’s recruiting is about hit a very big upswing. Chances are good by this time next week Auburn will have added at least two more commitments. They will continue to host top targets on campus in the coming weeks and there’s always a chance someone else decides to jump on board especially as spots begin to fill up. Keep an ear out for those always welcomed “Boom”s sounding from Auburn, AL.
Official Visitors Recap
It was another busy weekend on the Plains as the Tigers welcomed four official visitors to campus. Three left with Auburn firmly in their top group while the other went as far as to say the Tigers were the team to beat in his recruitment.
Callaway has been good to Auburn in recent cycles. Keiondre Jones signed last year and Tate Johnson could be soon joining him on the Plains. So unsurprisingly, Auburn is very much a contender for the nation’s #8 RB who ran behind those two OL prospects last season. Bigsby has been a known name in this class since his breakout sophomore campaign. At various times Auburn, Alabama and Georgia have all lead for his recruitment but right now the team to beat appears to actually be the Gamecocks though after this weekend the Tigers might have made up some ground in that race. The big hangup is Bigsby is looking for an opportunity where he can make an impact early. After Auburn’s recent hauls at RB, that’s a very scary looking depth chart. Not to say someone like Bigsby would be afraid of competition (he definitely is not) but the Gamecocks’ roster might look a bit more appealing. I still think though that if UGA decides to push hard he could stay instate. Auburn will continue to pursue but as of now I am not sure they will have a tank coming out of the backfield next season.
This is an interesting recruitment. Auburn has had some recent success in the state of Texas (did you know that Jarrett Stidham played football there?) and after offering Thompson in March, became a top contender for his recruitment. Anytime a kid uses one of his official visits to come to your campus, you know he’s at least giving your program some serious thought. Kevin Steele has reportedly sold him on the idea of filling Daniel Thomas’s shoes if he were to sign and Thompson is a fan of the plan. Auburn, Texas, Ohio State and Georgia are his leaders. This year’s DB class ain’t deep so this would be a huge pull for Auburn especially if they can win out with 4* CB Ethan Pouncey as well.
No Auburn fan who has paid even passing attention to the Tigers’ recruiting efforts in recent cycles should be surprised to hear that the staff is searching high and low for offensive tackle talent. The Tigers already have two OT commits and would more than likely love to get two more if possible. It seems the plan might be to bring in four OTs with two being JUCOs and two being prep signees. Auburn already has the #4 JUCO OT on board in Jonathan Buskey and had the #1 JUCO OT on campus for an OV for Big Cat Weekend. This past weekend they had the #2 JUCO OT in Coffey on campus and he left with the Tigers on top. With Austin Troxell having suffered his 3rd ACL injury in 5 years, it’s probably a good idea to bring in at least two possible early impact players at this key position. Coffey still has some more visits left on the docket so we will see if the Tigers can hang onto their lead.
The final visitor was Coffey’s JUCO teammate T.J. Bass. It’s a little surprising that Auburn might pursue a JUCO interior lineman considering their success at that position in recent cycles but I don’t think the staff is turning away any OL talent this class. However, I don’t see Bass landing in this class though the Tigers will obviously be in the race until the end.