Apologies for the delay but it appears my day job does not respect your need for #crootin content. But have no fear! I will not leave your 2020 Auburn recruiting questions unanswered. Today, we finish our review of the current state of Auburn’s 2020 class by talking defense.
The Tigers have already put together a very strong linebacker class (like arguably one of the best ever in AU history on paper) and are well on their way to assembling a very strong defensive back group. But defensive line recruiting remains the main concern. The Tigers have had three decommits up front with one (Quandarrius Robinson) now vying for 5* status on 247 Composite and a member of the Crimson Tide class. 5* Myles Murphy picked Clemson over Auburn earlier this year and it seems things have cooled down considerably between Auburn and Georgia commit 4* Nazir Stackhouse.
Put simply, I have zero idea who Auburn signs at defensive line this cycle. But if there is any coach that has earned the patience of the Auburn fanbase its Rodney Garner. Here’s a best guess though at the names to watch along with some remaining top targets at linebacker and defensive back.
Auburn offered Webb last September and he’s been near, if not at the top of the Tigers’ wish list ever since. His father attended Auburn and his former teammate, Kameron Brown, is now a true freshman on the Plains. Those connections along with the opportunity to play early and his relationship with the coaching staff give Auburn confidence they can win this battle. But it will be a fight to the finish. Alabama has turned up the heat significantly while both LSU and Clemson lurk as legitimate threats.
Where he plays at the next level will be interesting to see. Currently, most of his game is sprinting at the QB off the edge. He’s clearly got the athleticism though to be a linebacker in the SEC but he’s also got the frame to grow into a Buck. My understanding is that both Alabama and LSU are recruiting him as a pass rusher as well.
The Tiger might have 3 linebackers committed but they will always find a way to make room for a guy like Webb.
Once an Auburn offensive tackle target, Thomas is now one of the top defensive tackle targets left on the Tigers’ board. Despite initially recruiting Thomas on the offensive side of the ball, Auburn is very much a threat to land the talented lineman out of Memphis. He has already set an official visit date to the Plains for November 15th and is planning to use his four remaining OVs to Alabama, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and then either Oregon or Arkansas. He told AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr that he plans to announce his commitment on January 4th at the All-American Bowl.
Once ranked the #9 player in the country by 247 Composite, Jackson has seen his star dim a bit with recruiting services. Not that being ranked #112 in the country is anything to be disappointed about but Jackson seems to have suffered the common curse in recruiting of being discovered too soon.
Regardless of his standing with recruiting sites, he’s unquestionably one of the top remaining targets for the Tigers. The big man out of Lucedale, MS is a powerful interior player that would have a chance at seeing the field very early in his career. He was once an LSU commit and then an Alabama lean but now this could be headed towards an Auburn, Ole Miss and Texas A&M battle. A big year on the field in 2019 could help tip this thing in Auburn’s favor. Jackson won’t announce until signing day in February.
Despite being pursued by almost every big name program in the country, Walker’s recruitment has been pretty quiet. It’s clear though that right now this is Georgia’s to lose. Chances are good he will take an official visit to Athens for the Dawgs showdown with Notre Dame. It wouldn’t stun me if he committed following that trip. But if he decides to wait and if Auburn can get him on campus for an official visit this fall and the Tigers put together a good season in 2019, maybe they pull the upset. Right now though chances look slim.
Probably pound for pound the most physical player in this class, Tennison’s tape is a must watch. If he were maybe two inches taller he might be a top 25 player in the country. No one hits harder than this kid and he will bring that south Florida swagger to whichever secondary is luck enough to land him.
The good news for Auburn is that team looks likely to be the Tigers. Auburn made the diminutive but destructive athlete out of Rockledge a priority very early this cycle. It doesn’t hurt they landed his teammate O.C. Brother last cycle. Tennison was once a Miami commit and the Gators were a team that gave him a look hard this spring but as of now it looks like likely that Tennison will be a Tiger and that decision should come soon.
But seriously, if you only watch one highlight tape in this article make it this one.
Flipping prospects is never easy. Flipping kids from south Florida who have been committed to Miami for a year and a half is even harder. But this is a name to watch in the coming weeks. Auburn has hosted Moise a couple of times the past few years and he’s friends with a few players on roster most notably Hollywood, FL native Shaun Shivers. Chances are good the Tigers will get an official visit. If that happens, Auburn plays well this fall and maybe Miami struggles, who knows? But it’s usually not a good sign when you have to be reliant on that many ifs to land a commitment.
Auburn already has one of the top JUCO corners committed but have their eyes on a second. Brian George was one of the few prospects to make it to both Big Cat Weekend and the War Eagle Picnic. That’s a positive sign for the Tigers. But George has kept his cards close to the vest and it doesn’t seem anyone has a very good read on what he might be thinking. He said after his July visit that a decision could come soon but there has been no word since. Miami is probably the other team to keep an eye on in this race.
Like Domio, George absolutely has the skillset to challenge for a starting role next season. Auburn might have two spots open at corner in 2020 with Javaris Davis set to graduate and Noah Igbinoghene being draft eligible. He’s a playmaker that has a knack for showing up around the football. The Tigers will need immediate help next season on the backend of their defense and George could provide it.
Boykin was Auburn’s first commit in the 2020 class. He was also one of the first decommits. When it happened last August, it looked likely he would land with the instate Dawgs. But it turns out Kirby’s crew did not have a spot for the young man. There was some Alabama buzz at one point but again it appears things cooled. Now Boykin could soon be reuniting with his old flame. He would like to make his decision in November but he will need a strong showing on the field this year and some hard talks with Rodney Garner before getting the green light to do so. As of today, he’s probably the best bet of any defensive line targets left on the board of joining the Tigers class.
Does Auburn have two or three spots left in the secondary? That isn’t clear just yet. Tennison has a spot if he wants it and it seems very likely he will claim it soon. But if there is only one more spot left at cornerback, does Dennis or George get it? Well it will probably be which one decides to take it sooner (ala Wesley Steiner/Desmond Tidsol).
There’s been a lot of Auburn buzz for Dennis since this summer and the Tigers were able to convince him to visit that last week of July instead of taking a trip to Knoxville or Coral Gables. For my money, I think Dennis’s future is probably at safety so I would take George and Dennis both if you can get em. But I am far from an expert on defensive back evaluations so it will be interesting to see how things develop this fall.
Auburn and Miami find themselves in quite a few battles on the trail this cycle. One that could really ramp up this fall is the battle for talented edge rusher Romello Height. The Tigers have had some painful strikeouts at the Buck position this cycle but flipping Height would sure make them hurt a little less. If Auburn can get him on campus this fall (something they couldn’t do over the summer) this one could get REAL interesting.
There was some buzz this fall that Hardy might commit to the Tigers while camping this past June. That never happened for whatever reason but it’s clear that he’s a name to monitor. More than likely, Hardy needs Auburn to miss on a few top guys or put together a big time senior year to land with the Tigers this fall. But either of those scenarios are not out of the question and Hardy is absolutely a name to track over the coming weeks.
Chances are good there will be new names on this list very soon. Specifically, I expect to see some junior college defensive lineman get a close look this fall. Auburn will need immediate help up front, especially in the interior, next season when Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and likely Nick Coe head for the NFL. I also expect Auburn to work hard on getting some top guys committed elsewhere to visit this fall. The Tigers are in a very good spot for a top 10 class. If Rodney Garner closes like Rodney Garner usually closes then chances are very good this will be one of Gus Malzahn’s top ranked classes.