Yesterday, we took a look at Auburn’s offensive class thus far. Today, we turn our spotlight towards the defensive side of the ball where there is much more work to be done. The Tigers still need at least two more defensive lineman, maybe three, a Buck and at least two more DBs. But the commits they have landed so far are incredibly impressive.
Simpson’s recruitment was an interesting one. The home state Tar Heels were the early favorites but both Auburn and Georgia quickly made the talented backer a priority early this spring. The Dawgs had some momentum but things swung hard Auburn’s way after Simpson’s Big Cat Weekend official visit. He ended up cancelling his official visits to Tennessee and Georgia then announced his pledge to the Tigers.
Where Simpson ends up playing for the Tigers will be interesting to see. He could go the TD Moultry route if Auburn continues to miss on their top Buck targets as Simpson is a very skilled pass rusher. However, right now I think his future is at middle linebacker where he can use his combination of size and athleticism to make plays both in the box and sideline to sideline. Simpson recently was bumped to a 5* by 247 and rose 42 spots in Rivals’s rankings yesterday which means he’s knocking on the door of earning that 5th star on 247 Composite.
Stanford has beaten Auburn in two recent cycles for top instate defensive talents. It felt like that’s the direction things were heading again for another top ranked southeastern defensive prospect in Wesley Steiner earlier this spring. But like Simpson, things changed after his visit for Big Cat Weekend. Auburn was able to convince the talented athlete that his home was just a few hours west on the Plains and Steiner made his public pledge at The Opening on July 2nd.
Speaking of The Opening, Steiner was one of the standout performers in Frisco, TX due to his record setting SPARQ score of 148.17. There’s more to playing football than running really fast and jumping really high but those sure come in handy too. Especially in today’s modern world of spread offenses, having one of the best athletes on the field on your defense doesn’t hurt. Also doesn’t hurt when that athlete is a brilliant student who can help be your eyes and ears on the field as well.
Steiner, like his future teammate Trenton Simpson, plays running back for his high school program and honestly could have probably played that position at the next level for a number of schools in the country. But his NFL future is on the defensive side of the ball where his speed, instincts and toughness shine. Defenses today often only have two linebackers on the field to counter the common 10 and 11 spread personnel sets offenses are deploying. That means it’s even more important that the two backers out there can do it all. Auburn has that in both Steiner and Simpson.
Thompson Jr’s first offer came from the instate Longhorns. He lives just 3 hours from the University of Texas’s campus. The Texas staff made him a priority from the beginning which means he there is no way he’s leaving the state.
Wesley McGriff made a huge splash this summer plucking Thompson away form the Longhorns. The ability to play in the SEC and his family’s belief he needed to get away from home along with his connection with Auburn’s staff resulted in the Tigers pulling the upset. On the field, he’s an excellent run stopper who loves to deliver blows. He seems like a natural fit for Auburn’s strong safety position where I could see him rotating in behind Jamien Sherwood next season.
Simpson and Steiner will understandably eat up most of the headlines when it comes to this LB class but don’t sleep on Riley. The Evergreen, AL native has an impressive offer list that includes the likes of LSU, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. The Aggies were the Tigers’ biggest threat earlier this spring. But Riley elected to stay instate and jumped on board right after Simpson’s commitment back in June.
At almost 6’4” 200+ lbs, Riley is a long, rangy backer with surprising speed. It will be interesting to watch his development because I could see him growing into a Buck with his size though I suspect he sticks at linebacker. Auburn is bringing in one of the best classes they have had in a very longtime at linebacker in 2020.
Auburn is set to lose at least one starting cornerback in Javaris Davis but could lose the other starter as well if Noah Igbinoghene decides to leave early. There isn’t much proven depth at this time behind those two so Auburn could very much use some impact talent at the corner position in this class.
Hello Marco Domio.
The nation’s #2 ranked JUCO cornerback was thought to be a lock to LSU earlier this spring but an official visit to the Plains in June made a huge impression on the talented DB. After a cancelled flight, his family elected to drive 10 hours for Auburn’s picnic even at the end of July instead of the shorter trip to College Station. Shortly after he was an Auburn Tiger.
Probably Auburn’s least mentioned commit, Foster-Allen is the commit I am most interested in seeing play in 2019. He reminds me in some ways of former AU target, now Stanford lineman, Andres Fox. He could end up playing anywhere along the line depending on his development but my guess is he will eventually be an interior player. I would like to see him become more dominant in 2019 but he’s got the skillset Rodney Garner likes in his defensive line signees.
The Tigers still have some work left to do on this 2020 defensive class but there are already some big fish on board. There are also some big fish still to land that can cement this group as one of the best (at least on paper) in the Gus Malzahn era. Tomorrow we will look at what targets remain on the offensive side of the ball and Friday we will examine the remaining pieces left to add on defense.