We are in the midst of a dead period which means no in person contact between coaching staffs and recruits of any kind. Both high school and college programs are in the middle of their preseason camps, preparing for the start of the 2019 season. That doesn’t mean recruiting stops (far from it) but it does mean there is a bit of a lull in the cycle as teams and players begin to focus more on the current tasks at hand and less on the future.
So now feels like a good time to stop and take inventory of the 2020 class thus far. The Tigers have come a long way since late April and have arguably been one of the hottest programs on the trail this summer. They have vaulted up the recruiting rankings to #7 overall and are 8th in average player rating.
Today, we are going to take a look at the offensive side of the ball where the Tigers are honestly almost finished with their class. They’ve hit on almost every need to date, sans a tight end, which is where you want to be at this time in the cycle in this early signing period world. It’s a class to be excited about featuring a star running back, playmakers at wide receiver and depth at offensive line. Here’s a look at each offensive commit in Auburn’s 2020 class.
Auburn’s most recent commit also happens to be their highest ranked commit at the moment. The nation’s #31 overall player is only 0.0026 points away from being a 5* on 247 Composite and with Rivals dropping an updated 2020 rankings today, there’s a chance he could be one by the end of the day. 5* or not, Bigsby has the potential to make an impact as a true freshman. You would be hard pressed to find a more balanced back in this class than Bigsby and I expect some big time numbers from him this fall.
Hudson is one of the leaders of this 2020 class. No member of the 2020 class has been committed to Auburn as long and he remains firm to the Tigers as long as Gus Malzahn roams the sidelines. Hudson broke out as a sophomore playing wide receiver but was forced to move to QB last season. The move worked out just fine as the Troup County standout put up almost 5,000 yards of offense and scored 50 touchdowns. You could make the case that between Bigsby and Hudson, Auburn has snagged the two best offensive prospects in the state of Georgia this cycle.
The former gem of the Arkansas class, everything changed for Capers after he visited the Plains for Big Cat Weekend. He decommitted not long after the visit and then verbally pledged to the Tigers at The Opening in Frisco, TX on July 1st. He’s a big bodied kid who looks destined to man the 5 spot for the Tigers in the future. He plays at Denmark High School where he will pair up with recent transfer and 2021 AU commit 4* QB Aaron McLaughlin in an offense that is expected to be high powered.
One of the most prolific WRs in the southeast, Evans looks to be a likely future deep ball man for the Tigers. He finished 2nd only to Auburn freshman Ja’Varrius Johnson in receiving yards last season. He’s still receiving plenty of attention from top programs, including Alabama, but his pledge seems solid at this time.
Auburn’s incredible run on the recruiting trail this summer all started with Cohen’s pledge the morning of Big Cat Weekend. Since that day, the Tigers have been winning a lot more than they have been losing battles for their top prospects. As I seem to mention in every recruiting article, Auburn’s offensive tackle recruiting has not been great in recent cycles so Cohen’s commitment was a breath of fresh air. He’s one of the top players in the state this season and it wouldn’t surprise me if his stock only gets higher by signing day. I don’t expect Cohen to see the field as a true freshman but I do think he finds his way into the starting lineup pretty quickly into his Auburn career.
Johnson was a strong performer on the camp circuit this spring and enters his senior year with his stock going in the right direction on recruiting sites. Auburn had to fight off Florida State and Georgia Tech to earn his pledge and since then he’s been one of the most vocal recruiters on Auburn’s commit list. He will be looking to pave more open lanes for Auburn commit Tank Bigsby this fall.
Jernigan is one of my favorite commits in this class. He made his pledge not long after National Signing Day and has been actively working to bring more talent on board since. He’s expected to play in the interior at the next level. Like most high school offensive lineman, he will need a year or two to put on the strength to play against SEC competition. But I expect him to be an impact player before his career is up on the Plains.
My pick for breakout player in Auburn’s 2020 class due to a strong senior season is Canion. He plays at Chaminade-Madonna which is a powerhouse high school in south Florida that churns out D1 talent such as Alabama redshirt freshman Xavier Williams, Penn State freshman John Dunmore, Miami freshman Keontra Smith and Auburn sophomore Shaun Shivers. It’s Canion’s turn now to be the man and I expect some gaudy statistics in 2019.
Probably the biggest shock of this summer was Auburn landing the nation’s #1 JUCO offensive tackle prospect Kilian Zierer. Long thought to be a heavy UCLA lean, Zierer surprised everyone in July by announcing his intention to sign with the Tigers. The German native is still new to the game of football but the raw tools are there to be a successful offensive tackle at the next level. He will step on campus next spring looking to earn a starting job at left tackle.
Despite the low rating, Wright has been near the top of Auburn’s want list for this class for quite awhile. The coaching staff was reportedly thrilled to get him on board in late July at their picnic event beating out the Tennessee Vols for his pledge. Wright could end up at guard or tackle at the next level depending on how the numbers shake out and how he develops. He’s a big, powerful kid that plays with a lot of aggression and intensity most every snap.
A Dillingham special, Garnett is the type of prospect you don’t mind bringing on when you have two young stud QBs on the roster already. After a highly productive junior season at Lake Wales, the Auburn commit transferred to Florida high school powerhouse Lakeland this offseason. Unfortunately, his debut will be delayed as he recently suffered a chipped bone in his throwing hand which will sideline him for the first 2-3 weeks of the season. When he does get on the field, he will be sharing the backfield with Clemson 5* commit Demarkcus Bowman so he’s going to have an opportunity to put up some numbers. A true dual threat QB, Garnett is a very good fit for Gus’s system and will have time to develop behind either Bo Nix of Joey Gatewood over the next 2-3 years.
Funny enough, the prospect rated the lowest on Auburn’s commit list just might be the one to make the biggest impact on the field in 2020. The Tigers will be looking to replace all five starters on the offensive line next season and are bringing Buskey in to compete for one of the starting tackle spots. Personally, my early pick for starting tackle opposite of Austin Troxell (if he’s healthy) is Buskey (though watch out for Brodarious Hamm). He’s a massive kid with surprisingly quick feet and a strong punch. Look for him to challenge Zierer for that top JUCO OT spot before this cycle is over.
Tomorrow we will take a look at Auburn’s defensive class. A unit that consists of quite a few highly ranked prospects but still has some obvious holes that need to be filled to round this class out.