We are less than two weeks from National Signing Day and the Tigers are hoping to close as strong in February as they did in December. With the news that Jay Hardy did in fact sign with the Tigers, Auburn’s current class sits at 23 signees meaning they have somewhere between 2-4 spots remaining. That has allowed the staff to focus all their energy on just a handful of recruitments while also beginning to lay the groundwork for next year’s class.
Special Teams Commits
Auburn picked up two under the radar but important commitments in the 2020 class in the last two weeks. The first boom came last week when long snapper Reed Hughes announced his intentions to play for the Tigers next season.
Momma told me to go be a story. I’m excited to say that the next chapter of my story will be attending Auburn University! Excited about this opportunity is an understatement!! War Eagle !! @CoachJRut @CoachLPorter @CoachGusMalzahn pic.twitter.com/iqCS9KwCSi— Reed Hughes (@reedhughes22) January 17, 2020
An Arkansas native, Hughes was actually a highly productive linebacker for Conway High School racking up over 100 tackles his junior season. At Auburn though he will be working as a long snapper but those linebacker skills sure won’t hurt when he’s running down field to cover punts.
The second big news came yesterday when Evan McGuire finally decided to pull the trigger and commit to Auburn.
WAR EAGLE Committed!!! #outkickemall @CoachGusMalzahn @CoachLPorter @CoachJRut @AuburnFootball @_Mike_McCabe @OneOnOneKicking @coachmarkf @WARRIORNATION20 @PlayBookAthlete @AL7AFootball pic.twitter.com/szuhyc0vXm— Evan McGuire (@evanmc30) January 23, 2020
Left footed, McGuire could help Auburn both in the kicking and punting game. As a senior he went 8/9 on field goals with a long of 44 (his career long is 49). He hit 89% of his PATs as well and punted 39 times averaging 37 yards per attempt. Ten of those kicks landed inside the 10 yard line.
Both players are joining Auburn as preferred walk ons which means they won’t count against Auburn’s scholarship limit in the 2020 class. I would expect McGuire to end up on scholarship before his time is over on the Plains.
Recapping Last Weekend’s Official Visitor
It was a purposefully quiet week on the Plains last weekend. That allowed Auburn to focus all their recruiting efforts on one important offensive target, 3* TE Brandon Frazier. It appears it worked as the nation’s #23 ranked tight end left Auburn with the Tigers firmly in his top 2. A big reason Frazier is giving the Tigers a long look is because of his trust in Chad Morris, a coach he was once committed to when Morris was the head man at Arkansas.
“He showed us a whole presentation of what he did at Clemson, SMU and Arkansas,” Frazier said. “That’s why I originally committed to Arkansas because I knew what he does with the tight end. I trust him.”
Frazier will take a one day official visit to Arkansas today before making his decision. This is clearly an Auburn-Texas Tech battle with both sides feeling optimistic about their chances. For my money, I think the long standing relationship with Morris wins out and the Tigers sign another talented tight end prospect come February 5th.
Three Official Visitors This Week
Things will be busier on the Plains this weekend though most of the staff’s energy will be on the 2021 class. However, there will be three official visitors including one extremely important uncommitted target.
Signees that have not enrolled early can in fact still take an official visit to their school of choice. Tidsol was one of Auburn’s major early signing day wins when he chose the Tigers over Tennessee and South Carolina. Given what Auburn has returning at the 2nd level of its defense in 2020, chances are slim he will see many meaningful snaps this year but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him making an impact on special teams in 2020.
Travis Williams will have 2/3 of his 2020 signees on campus this weekend. Riley contemplated waiting to sign in February but ended up pulling the trigger back in December. He had a highly productive senior campaign and of Auburn’s three LB signees might be the prospect with the highest upside
Butler will get the VIP treatment this weekend seeing as he’s the only uncommitted 2020 prospect on campus. He’s been one of the breakout stars this cycle after a huge freshman campaign at Independence Community College where he actually lead the team in tackles with 66 while recording 22 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. Making him even more attractive is the fact that 2019 was his redshirt freshman season which means he has three years of eligibility remaining and would step on campus as a redshirt sophomore.
Butler was in Norman, OK last weekend were the Sooners feel like they made a strong push while the Oregon Ducks lurk as a threat with plans to host him next weekend. But the current buzz is Auburn has become the team to beat. I believe he plans to wait until NSD to announce his decision but it wouldn’t be a stunner if he shut things down after this trip. Rodney Garner is looking to restock his front four in a big way this cycle.
2021 Junior Day
Next weekend will likely be Auburn’s big junior day but the Tigers are expected to host a number of top 2021 targets this weekend. Unsurprisingly, Auburn’s staff has wanted these big events to coincide with Auburn basketball home games. I would pay close attention to who makes it to campus the next two weekends as it will give an early indication of which prospects seem to have legitimate interest in the Tigers.