Believe it or not, Early Signing Day is less than a month away. Given the fact the NCAA has extended the dead period all the way to April 15th of next year, it’s unlikely the ESD moves since there won’t be any opportunities in the spring either for players to take official visits. That means the 2021 class will be signing with programs they may have never officially visited, some may see the campus for the very first time when they arrive on move in day.
It’s been a rocky road to this point for Auburn’s 2021 recruiting class. A slow start had many fans concerned only to see the Tigers catch fire on the trail in the summer and surge up the rankings. Then the season started and things came to a screeching halt. Some top targets like 5-star LB Smael Mondon (UGA), 5-star CB Ga’Quincy McKinstry (BAMA), 4-star Jeremiah Williams (UF), and 4-star CB Kamari Lassiter (UGA) who were all thought to be trending Auburn’s way back in August have all committed elsewhere. Pair those losses with the lack of top end targets left on the board and it’s unlikely the Tigers crack the top 10. Top 15 is far from guaranteed.
But all hope is not lost. Auburn recently pulled off a flip landing 3-star WR Hal Presley who the Tigers have had near the top of their WR board since the spring and yesterday made a big time move snagging former Oklahoma tight end Grant Calcaterra. There are some other late rising studs the Tigers have their eyes on and I fully expect Auburn to hit the transfer portal hard in the coming months as well.
Let’s break things down and see where things stand for the Tigers as ESD quickly approaches.
The Tigers currently sit at #18 in 247’s Composite Team Rankings which is 7th in the SEC. A commit average of 89.85 would be Auburn’s lowest since 2017. However, the top end of this class is excellent and despite some struggles on the trail in recent months, Auburn has some impact players in this class.
- 4-star DT Lee Hunter | 6’5” | 292 lbs | Eight Mile, AL
- 4-star RB Armoni Goodwin | 5’8” | 190 lbs | Trussville, AL
- 4-star OG Jaeden Roberts | 6’5” | 340 lbs | Houston, TX
- 4-star S Ahmari Harvey | 5’10” | 171 lbs | Tallahassee, FL
- 4-star QB Dematrius Davis | 5’10” | 200 lbs | Houston, TX
- 4-star DT Marquis Robinson | 6’3” | 300 lbs | Milton, FL
- 3-star WR/DB Tar’varish Dawson | 5’10” | 175 lbs | Lehigh Acres, FL
- 3-star OT Caleb Johnson | 6’7” | 295 lbs | Ocala, FL
- 3-star WR Hal Presley | 6’3” | 190 lbs | Arlington, TX
- 3-star DE Tobechi Okoli | 6’5” | 250 lbs | Kansas City, MO
- 3-star S Phillip O’Brien Jr | 6’0” | 169 lbs | Deerfield Beach, FL
- 3-star TE Landen King | 6’5” | 220 lbs | Humble, TX
- 3-star OG Garner Langlo | 6’7” | 270 lbs | Ocala, FL
- 3-star CB Kamal Hadden | 6’2” | 185 lbs | Independence, KS
- GT TE Grant Calcaterra | 6’3” | 234 lbs | Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
Keeping this current class committed has to be Auburn’s top priority over these final weeks. Right now Auburn is in a dogfight to keep its only high school offensive tackle on board in Caleb Johnson. Notre Dame almost landed Johnson’s pledge earlier this year but were beat out by Auburn. However, Auburn’s slow start reopened the door for the Fighting Irish and they appear close to pulling off the flip. Losing Johnson would be a devastating blow to this class and would likely lead to Auburn once again not signing a single prep offensive tackle prospect.
Other than Johnson, Auburn will also have to fight to hang onto Hunter, Goodwin, Roberts and Dawson. All four appear solid but are feeling pressure from a number of other programs to flip. As of today though, I think Auburn signs everyone listed above sans Johnson.
Spots To Fill
Teams don’t want the number of players they will take out in public because it can be used against them by other programs in these late battles. That’s why it’s hard to say for certain how many spots Auburn has left to fill but we can take some educated guesses.
Auburn holds pledges from 14 prospects and landed a graduate transfer yesterday. Oscar Chapman was a late blue shirt addition last cycle which means his scholarship counts towards this cycle putting Auburn’s current number of filled spots at 16. Assuming Auburn can sign 25 players this cycle, the Tigers have 9 spots to fill. Here’s a guess at how those numbers could play out.
- QB: 0
- RB: 0-1
- WR: 1
- TE: 0
- OL: 2-3
- DL: 2-3
- LB: 1-2
- DB: 1-2
I fully expect Auburn to hit the transfer portal hard especially if they end up losing Caleb Johnson. Remember that there will be a vote early next year over allowing players a one time penalty free transfer which will likely result in even more options to choose from in the portal. So my guess is you will see Auburn attempt to bring in 5-6 more high school/JUCO prospects and leave 2-3 spots open for transfers.
Top Remaining Targets
I’ll be honest, figuring out Auburn’s board right now is quite difficult. I didn’t even know Calcaterra was on Auburn’s radar until two days ago and I suspect there are some prospects out there high on the Tigers board that we won’t learn about until right before they make their decisions. But here’s my best take at the names to track in the coming weeks.
The longtime Vols commit continues to say all the right things publicly about his pledge but he’s still in communication with the Tigers. I don’t believe he’s Auburn’s top BUCK target at the moment but I do believe Auburn would love to have him if possible. This weekend’s showdown with Tennessee could be huge in this recruitment.
I only included Byrd because he listed Auburn in his top 5 this past weekend. Most see this as an Oklahoma-SMU battle but the Tigers remain in the hunt. Chad Morris has done work in the state of Texas this cycle so maybe he’s got one more trick up his sleeve. It goes without saying that landing Byrd would be monumental for this class especially with Johnson looking likely to flip. As of today though I don’t see him being a Tiger.
At best Auburn is 4th for the IMG standout but I decided to include him because the Tigers will likely have a hat on the table come decision time. Florida appears to be the team to beat with Alabama and Georgia still very much in play.
Remember when Auburn had a shot at signing a DB class that included Green, McKinstry and Lassiter? All the good ole days.... Now it looks like the Tigers are on track to go 0-3 on their top 3 CB targets. However, Green’s been very quiet for a couple of months now and the Tigers are still in this race. This recruitment has been all over the map so it would not be a shock if he surprised some folks come signing day. As of now, Georgia is the likely pick.
Auburn is probably done at running back but they are tracking a few stud backs committed elsewhere. Brown was someone the Tigers were high on early this cycle but lost out on to the Vols. Could Tennessee’s struggles cause Brown to reassess things? Possibly and if he does then Auburn could be an option.
Again, I think Auburn would be perfectly happy to just sign Armoni Goodwin this cycle but they continue to communicate with some talented backs committed elsewhere. Mafah’s name has always been mentioned as someone the Tigers liked so that’s something to keep an eye on.
If Wallace isn’t Auburn’s #1 remaining target then he’s at worst 1B. The Georgia native has put together a monster senior season and vaulted up 247 Rankings this week to #74. Auburn has been on Wallace for awhile now but not as early as Boston College. South Carolina and Tennessee are involved though both have some work to do given their struggles on the field. Whomever misses on Sorey between Florida and Georgia could circle back to Wallace as well. While he’s still committed to the Golden Eagles, Auburn reportedly feels good about where they sit as Early Signing Day quickly approaches.
I haven’t heard Auburn’s name mentioned much in Tatum’s recruitment recently. Ole Miss looks to be the team poised to poach the nation’s #26 ranked OLB from a very vulnerable Cocks class but if the Tigers miss on Wallace they might really turn the heat up.
Missing on Scooby was a blow and has forced Auburn to reevaluate their BUCK board. In recent weeks, Wilson has moved up Auburn’s board and become a top target. Florida State, Penn State and TCU are also heavily involved.
Auburn slow played Taylor early and it came back to hurt them when the Oxford standout chose the Vols. The Tigers have since kept after the Alabama native and are hoping a strong finish could help them pull off the flip. He’s another player who will be paying close attention to Saturday night’s game in Jordan-Hare.
Robinson landed an Auburn offer early this cycle and looked likely to be the #3 man on the Buck board after Williams and Brooks. But things have changed. The Tigers have focused in on another JUCO Buck target along with George Wilson as the priorities heading into the early signing period. Still, Robinson is a name to track if Auburn doesn’t feel good about those other targets. I don’t think he’s a BUCK at the next level but could grow into a pass rush capable strong side end.
I’m only mentioning Jackson because it looks like Auburn will lose its lone remaining OT commit this class and I gotta think Jack Bicknell wants at least one prep OT in 2021. Jackson is a former Florida commit that Auburn has been in communication with previously. I don’t know where he sits on Auburn’s board at the moment but he’s at least a name to file away in the coming weeks.
I mentioned earlier that if Wallace isn’t #1 on Auburn’s board he’s #1B. In that scenario, Young is likely #1A. The JUCO standout has exploded this fall as one of the top pass rush prospects in the 2021 class. He’s landed offers from the likes of Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State and South Carolina in recent weeks but his top 3 currently consists of Auburn, Florida State and Tennessee. He’s an early enrollee who plans to sign in December. To date, he’s only visited Auburn (last weekend) and is hoping to visit for the Auburn-Tennessee game this weekend.
I don’t see Auburn bringing in a JUCO DT this cycle with Lee Hunter and Marquis Robinson on board. But if the Tigers were to lose either commit (I don’t think that happens) or had some surprise attrition in the interior of its DL then the staff could turn the heat up on Williams. Ole Miss appears to be the current team to beat.
Balfour’s recruitment has exploded in recent weeks and Auburn has emerged as the team to beat. A rangy DB with surprising speed, Balfour could play corner or safety at the next level for the Tigers. While there’s been some frustrating misses at DB this class, it’s the one position that Auburn has consistently proven in recent years they know how to evaluate and develop.
Mathews claimed Auburn offered earlier this month though there is some questions over whether that offer is committable or not. Still, he’s become an Auburn DL target to know down the stretch. My guess is Auburn wants to see how numbers shake out before taking a 3rd DT but Mathews were to get the green light I have to imagine it would be difficult for him to say no.
Auburn will definitely take at least one OL transfer this cycle, likely two. Wilson appears to be Auburn’s top target at the moment. A preseason All-American, Wilson was expected to anchor Harvard’s offensive line this fall until the season was cancelled due to COVID-19. Now he’s looking for the opportunity to cement himself as an NFL calibre prospect by finding a new home for 2021. He told AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr that he will be at Auburn’s game this weekend. Don’t be surprised if Wilson joins Calcaterra in the near future as a graduate transfer commit.