Heading into June, Auburn was in desperate need of some positive news on the trail. At the time, they had only 6 commits while the majority of their rivals held double digit pledges. The once promising 2020 class had been ravaged by decommits and some top targets had gone elsewhere. Big Cat Weekend on June 1st came at the exact right time for the Tigers and they hoped it would give them the shot of adrenaline needed to kickstart a strong summer.
It did that and more.
4* OT Javion Cohen’s commitment the morning of Big Cat Weekend got things going. A week later, 3* WR Elijah Canion made his public pledge. Just three days later, 4* OG Tate Johnson hopped on board. Then came the huge double boom the following week. 4* LB Trenton Simpson chose the Tigers over UNC and UGA. The very next day, 4* LB Cameron Riley joined him by publicly committing to the Tigers. All of a sudden, Auburn had 11 commits and found themselves in the top 25 in the rankings.
Now the calendar turns to July and the Tigers don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon...
All eyes in the recruiting world will be on Frisco, Texas as The Opening takes place this week inside the confines of The Star. It’s a chance for some of the premier prospects in the country to test their skills against other highly regarded prospects. It’s also a chance for some top prospects to end their recruitments. Two of Auburn’s top targets appear set to do just that and that’s more than likely welcomed news to the Tigers’ staff.
First, there’s 4* WR Ze’Vian Capers. Once the gem of Arkansas’s 2020 class, Capers reopened his recruitment after taking successive trips to the Plains in early June. He made it known then that he would have a decision at The Opening in July. The tea leaves in this race aren’t hard to read. Three trips to the Plains in the month of June (one being an official visit) seem to have been more than enough for the Auburn Tigers to make a serious move in this race. Chances are very good, Auburn fans will hear a loud “BOOM” emanating from the Plains later today.
But Capers might not be the highest ranked prospect to join Auburn’s commit list this week. 4* LB Wesley Steiner, the nation’s #72 overall prospect according to 247 Composite, told AuburnUndercover that he plans to make his pledge Tuesday. Steiner is down to Auburn and Stanford, a battle that has not gone well for the Tigers in recent classes. But it looks likely that is about to change. Steiner was another prospect who made it to campus for Big Cat Weekend and has since been trending to the Tigers. Auburn entered June without a single linebacker commit. By the end of July 2nd they might soon have a full class.
The Opening Preview
The biggest news to follow this week is obviously whether or not Auburn can land Capers and Steiner. But a few current Auburn commits and some more top targets are also on hand to test their skills. Here’s a quick rundown of who to watch out for this week in Texas.
Auburn’s Buck recruiting has not gone great recently. Former commit Quandarrius Robinson was a perfect fit for the position but is now committed to the Tide and their other top target will be his teammate in 4* Will Anderson. That really makes it do or die for Phillip Webb who the Tigers have been on for a couple of years now (though there might now be a new name to track at this position as well). There are reasons to be optimistic. His dad is an Auburn grad, he’s been a frequent visitor to the Plains and he’s reportedly close with Auburn linebacker coach Travis Williams. But there are plenty of reasons to be concerned considering the Tigers are battling Alabama, Clemson and LSU for his pledge, three teams recruiting as well as any programs in the nation right now. The Bayou Bengals have surged recently due to his official visit there on June 21st. Would be big for Auburn to get him on campus again later this month.
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.
The Hogansville native promptly visited Auburn’s campus three times in the following week.
All of a sudden the Tigers are trending in this race but I must still preach caution. South Carolina has long been the leader in his recruitment but UGA is a very real threat that can’t be ignored. I’m feeling a lot better about Auburn’s chances but I think he’s far from a Tiger lock.
Auburn’s best chance at signing a 5* in 2020 might already be on the commit list. Simpson was mentioned by 247 last week as a prospect that could be on the verge of earning his 5th star with a strong performance in Texas this week. I am telling you folks. If Simpson, Steiner and Riley all stick (which as of now seems likely) and sign with the Tigers. Auburn will have as athletically gifted a group at linebacker on next year’s roster as they have had in a VERY long time. Travis Williams is doing some things on the trail right now.
This is a very interesting recruitment. If Auburn had not just signed Bo Nix in the 2019 class, I very much believe they might be the team to beat in this race. But they did sign Nix and will start a freshman in 2019 which makes it hard to see a highly ranked prospect like King jumping on board. The Aggies appear to now be the favorite but don’t sleep on Tennessee.
I am a big time Kobe Hudson fan. Like thinking he’s a top 25 player in the country type of fan. But Hudson has seen his stock fall slightly (he’s still a top 100 player in 247 Composite) due to playing QB as a junior last year and not wide receiver. This week he has a chance to remind everyone why he was a top 50 player in the country following his sophomore campaign. If Capers jumps on board later today, Auburn has as good a WR class as you will find in the country committed this cycle.
That class could get even better if Auburn can somehow also convince E.J. Williams to end the Central High to Auburn University drought. As of now, that looks very unlikely as Williams named the Tide his #1 team at yesterday’s check in with Clemson #2. Auburn appears to be sitting at #3 with LSU and given that AU might soon have 4 WRs committed this cycle, it seems highly unlikely Williams will be donning the orange and blue next season.
Keep an eye on this recruitment in the late stages of this cycle. It just smells like a Rodney Garner special. Auburn isn’t a getting a ton of national pub in this race but Jackson has been to the Plains a handful of times already this year. He’s also very close with 4* TE J.J. Pegues who has Auburn #1 at the moment. Jackson told reporters yesterday at check in he plans to wait until National Signing Day to make his decision. There are very few people better at closing late than Rodney Garner. Remember that in the coming months...
Finally there is the interesting case of Nazir Stackhouse who despite being committed to Georgia has been to Auburn four times already this year. Yet yesterday he named the Tide as the Dawgs top competition. I’m not sure what to make of this recruitment just yet but as long as he continues to take trips to the Plains, you can’t help but think Auburn has a shot at the big time flip.