Auburn entered the month of November with a single defensive line commit in 3* Daniel Foster-Allen. While the Tigers 2020 class looked strong overall the gaping hole at the DL position made it hard to get too excited about the class just yet. At the same time, it was hard to really panic because Rodney Garner is one of the best closers in the business. Two months later he’s proven it again.
In early November, Auburn stole 4* DL Jay Hardy from the Vols. Later that month, Auburn stole 4* DL Zykeivous Walker from the Dawgs. On early signing day, Auburn flipped longtime Cane commit Romello Height. Today, Auburn just landed one of the nation’s best JUCO prospect in 4* Deandre Butler.
BREAKING: 4-star defensive end Deandre Butler has committed to #Auburn. He’s the No. 1 Juco DE in the county. More at https://t.co/7DGol0u3cr pic.twitter.com/gd3hiE7G8L— Keith Niebuhr (@Keith247Sports) January 26, 2020
Rodney Garner doing Rodney Garner things once again.
This was a recruitment that really picked up late in 2019. Butler was not on many people’s lists heading into his redshirt freshman season at Independence Community College. That quickly changed. The Covington, GA was one of the most dominant forces in the JUCO ranks this past fall and in turn became a top priority for some big time programs such as Oklahoma and Oregon. Both Tennessee and Ole Miss tried to jump into the race last week with offers but it proved to be too late. The opportunity to play for Rodney Garner and a chance to contribute immediately for the Tigers in 2020 proved too much for any other team to overcome.
Stats should not be used as the primary indicator for evaluating a prospect. That said, it’s hard not to ignore Butler’s gaudy statistical output from 2019. The Tigers’ new DL commit actually lead the Pirates in tackles from the defensive end position with 66. He also finished in the top 5 in the country in sacks with 11.5 and tied for 2nd overall in tackles for loss with 22. Put simply, this kid was incredibly productive this past season.
Butler is a fascinating prospect. You look at those totals and expect to see a speed demon rushing off the edge but that’s now what I see at all. In fact, Butler has what I would call a slow first step, often being the last player off the ball. However, he more than makes up for it with his impressive combination of hands and power. He does an outstanding job of stringing together pass rush moves to blow by would be blockers and there is no wasted movement to get to the QB. When he gets there he delivers some thunderous hits.
Given his massive 6’5” 280 lbs frame, I expect his future might be in the interior where he could become a dangerous pass rushing threat. At a minimum, he has the versatility to play out on the edge on run downs before sliding inside in obvious passing situations. I fully expect Butler to be an important piece of Auburn’s 2020 DL rotation.
Auburn is up to 24 pledges this cycle. Five now on the defensive line in Foster-Allen, Hardy, Walker, Height and Butler. Chances are good they aren’t done reloading the trenches either with eyes on 4* McKinnley Jackson, 4* Princely Umanmielen and 3* Marquis Burks. I expect one of those prospects (likely Burks) to sign with the Tigers come February. Once again, Rodney Garner has put together an outstanding defensive line class.
Butler’s commitment solidifies Auburn at the #7 spot in the 247 Composite Team Rankings. He’s also the 4th JUCO product in Auburn’s 2020 class. The Tigers likely won’t have any spots left open for graduate transfers so went hunting for impact players in the junior college ranks with great success this cycle.
There’s a chance Auburn could receive more good news in the near future when 3* TE Brandon Frazier makes his decision.
War Eagle Deandre!