There are still 3ish weeks left in the 2020 cycle but with Auburn having signed 22 players in December, focus has already begun to shift for some on the staff to the next class. Last year, I did an article similar to this highlighting 20 players to know. It’s entertaining to read back over the names seeing as only 3 ended up signing with the Tigers. Goes to show just how much changes in recruiting month to month and attempting to make any sort of predictions this early in the cycle is foolish. Nevertheless, I thought I would at least take a stab at some early names to track for the 2021 class.
If they can, Auburn will likely take 2 QBs in this class and it’s hard not to see Vandagriff as the top choice. Once an Oklahoma commit, Vandagriff reopened his recruitment on New Year’s Day. As expected, every program with a pulse tried to jump back into the fray. Auburn is one of those programs and there’s reason to feel optimistic. He grew up a die-hard Auburn fan, attending most every home game as a child. The flip side of that is he’s seen Auburn’s struggles with QB development and it was a big reason why he chose the Sooners initially over the Tigers. Georgia and Florida are thought to be the top 2 as of today but can the hiring of Chad Morris shake things up? That’s what the Tigers are hoping and chances are good he will be on campus this month.
The Tigers already have a pretty good quarterback on board in the 2021 cycle. McLaughlin looks like an elite QB is supposed to look at 6’4” 225 lbs with a cannon for an arm. For him it’s all about consistently putting those tools together on the field. He had a solid junior season and will have a chance to climb the rankings this spring. Arkansas was considered his other top choice before he chose the Tigers so you have to think Chad Morris jumping on board only makes his commitment that more firm.
Tank Bigsby is the gem of Auburn’s 2020 class and proved that Carnell Williams will be a formidable recruiter on the trail. But Bigsby wasn’t Cadillac’s first big crootin win. That was Armoni Goodwin. One of the breakout players in the state back in 2018, an ACL injury robbed the explosive playmaker of his junior season. He will look to bounce back in a big way in 2020. Goodwin is as explosive a back as you will find in this 2021 class.
An early favorite for the name of the year in the 2021 class, Lovasea Carroll will be one of the most highly pursued prospects in the state of GA next cycle. A former South Carolina commit, Carroll reopened his recruitment not long after a trip to the Plains. The Dawgs are thought to be a major factor in this race though I expect Auburn to be involved as well. The Tigers already have a stacked RB room and a big time player committed so it will be interesting to see if they try to sign 2 back this class. My guess is they will.
Auburn offered Brown all the way back in the fall of 2018 so the Georgia native has been very much on the Tigers radar for some time now. Brown possesses an impressive blend of power and explosiveness. This will likely be an Auburn/Clemson/Georgia/Tennessee race to the finish though most every major program in the country will try to get involved in his recruitment.
If forced to pick the next 2021 commitment, Julian Nixon would be on my shortlist. A physical presence on the outside, Nixon has the skillset to come in and make an immediate impact at the next level. Auburn is unquestionably the leader at this time. Let’s see if the Tigers can finish the drill.
I think Bell might be one of the more unique athletes in the 2021 class. Given his frame and athleticism he could conceivably play tight end, offensive tackle or defensive line at the next level. Right now, I believe Auburn is pursuing him as a tight end but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him end up an OT target by the end of this cycle. He was a frequent visitor to the Plains this past fall.
One game rarely leads to a commitment. But one game can change the course of a recruitment for a player and program. The 2019 Iron Bowl was absolutely that type of game for Brockermeyer and Auburn. The nation’s #3 ranked player and his twin brother 4* C James Brockermeyer took the trip to the Plains this past November likely to watch one of their long time favorites, Alabama, play in one of the biggest games of the year. But by the end of the trip Auburn had emerged as a major contender in this race landing in Tommy’s top 6. Clemson is thought to be the early favorite and you can’t sleep on Alabama or their father’s alma mater Texas. But if the Tigers can get Brockermeyer back to campus this spring, they can continue to make this race very interesting.
Morris was on the verge of making his pledge this past December when a few days out the news hit that Sam Pittman was leaving Athens to take the Arkansas job. Not long after that broke, Morris announced his intention to hold off committing. Given this race was thought to be mostly down to Auburn and Georgia, I think it’s probably a good thing for the Tigers that Morris elected to postpone making his decision. So the Tigers have new life but plenty of work to do if they want to snag the Camden County standout. Georgia will be a threat until the end, Florida is attempting to make a push and Clemson just recently joined his top group as well. Let’s see if Auburn can get him on campus for one of their major junior days this month.
Before the news of J.B. Grimes’s departure, Johnson was likely the favorite to be Auburn’s next 2021 commit. The Florida native has been trending Auburn’s way for some time now but with the coaching staff shake up it will be interesting to see if he remains a top target or if Auburn remains one of his top programs. He’s expected on campus this weekend so we should know more next week
For the first time in Rodney Garner’s tenure as Auburn’s defensive line coach, he will not have a former 5* prospect in the rotation in 2020. That drought looks likely to last one year though as the Tigers already have the pledge from the nation’s #4 ranked defensive tackle in 2021. The Tigers will have to fight hard to hang onto Hunter (Alabama won’t go away quietly) but as of today I expect him to be one of the leaders in Auburn’s 2021 class.
Auburn will lose at least two interior defensive lineman following the 2020 season in Tyrone Truesdell and Daquan Newkirk. Since Dontavius Russell’s signing, Auburn has consistently had a talented space eater in the rotation. Right now I don’t see one of those on campus for 2021. That makes Keenan a very intriguing prospect in next year’s class.
When Rodney Garner makes a player a top priority early, you pay attention regardless of rating. Washington is someone Auburn fans should keep a close eye on next cycle. His rating isn’t the flashiest but his offer list continues to grow each week and most recently includes Florida. I expect Washington to make it to campus in the very near future.
It doesn’t always prove true but typically a player’s visits says a lot about where they might be trending. Auburn fans should hope that is the case for the state’s top ranked player. Brooks made it to every Auburn home game in 2019 and will likely be back on campus this month. He’s unquestionably one of Auburn’s most important targets of the 2021 cycle. Adding him and Hunter would got a long ways towards restocking Rodney Garner’s room with NFL talent.
Jackson’s recruitment blew up this fall landing offers from the likes of Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee and Oklahoma. Possessing a long frame with room to grow, Jackson’s future is likely in the interior at the next level. He got a lot of face time with Gus Malzhan and Kevin Steele on a visit this past fall so he’s a name to pay attention to in the coming months. Auburn will likely work hard to get him back on campus this spring.
Travis Williams put together another outstanding linebacker class in 2020 and will look to do the same in 2021. Given the amount of talented underclassmen in that room right now and the fact Auburn spends most of its time in 2 linebacker sets, I think you will see Auburn take a smaller backer class this go around after signing 3 in the past two. That means T-WILL will likely focus in on a few elite prospects, Mondon being one of them. UGA is thought to be the team to beat at the moment but let’s see if T-WILL can shake things up in the coming weeks.
Carter is unquestionably one of Auburn’s top linebacker targets next cycle. The North Gwinnett standout was offered back in May and was on campus this past summer. He’s expected back for Auburn’s big Junior Day the weekend of February 1. The nation’s #100 ranked player wants to make his decision this summer. I think it’s likely Auburn will be one of the hats on the table come announcement time.
In the modern era of recruiting rankings, Auburn has never signed a 5* defensive back. They came close two year’s ago with Andrew Booth but close doesn’t cut it in recruiting. Auburn’s best chance at ending that drought this season is with the man they call “Kool-Aid”. McKinstry’s top 3 likely features Auburn, Alabama and Clemson. All three programs like where they sit in the early going but there is a long way to go in this race. To add more intrigue to his recruitment, McKinstry is also an outstanding basketball player. Bruce Pearl offered him over the summer as did a few other programs including Kansas. It will be interesting to see how much a role being able to play both sports in college plays in his recruitment.
Auburn is looking to keep the backend of its defense well supplied with elite talent. The past few classes have been outstanding and Auburn will need to keep that rolling given this new world of explosive passing attacks spreading in the SEC. Green is another Georgia native that will likely receive plenty of attention from the Tigers in the coming months.
Williams is one of the more unique athletes in this class. Built almost like a linebacker but with the range and skillset of a safety, he has a chance to be a special weapon for whichever defensive coordinator can land him. Auburn has been a factor in this race for some time and I expect will continue to be so moving forward.
Perry “committed” back in August but apparently never actually got approval from Auburn’s coaching staff. At this time, the Tigers don’t consider him a commit. Now that doesn’t mean they won’t take his pledge at a later date. Perry is an outstanding instate athlete who is obviously very high on the Tigers. My guess is they will bring him in for a camp this spring and evaluate him further there.
The dead period ends today which means coaching staffs will hit the road again and prospects will check out their top programs. I’ll have something later today on expected official visitors this weekend. I expect some names on this list to pop up on campus in the coming days.