Ya so... Uh... Hmm...
Tomorrow is the start of the early signing period which is usually an exciting time for Auburn fans as members of the current class make things official by signing their National Letter of Intents while longtime targets announce their final decisions. While there is technically a signing day in February, the majority of recruits will elect to sign early.
Up until Sunday, everything was on track for Auburn to have a strong close. Yes, this was still going to be a disappointing class that fell outside the top 10 and possibly the top 15 but Auburn was setup have 5-7 booms this week including a 5-star.
Things have obviously changed.
Gus Malzahn is gone and no replacement has yet been announced. Kevin Steele is running things currently on an interim basis and will attempt to keep most of the class on board. But obviously this is a very unique experience for everyone involved so I am not quite sure what happens in the coming days.
The Tigers class is still comprised of the same 12 commits who have to make a tough decision this week. Do they go ahead and sign without knowing who their head coach might be? Do they wait and sign in February to see who Auburn hires or to better explore their options? Do they jump ship and sign with someone else so they can lock down a spot?
I don’t envy these kids. Not only have they not been able to take official visits anywhere but now their head coach is gone and it’s uncertain who might be leading the program when they arrive on campus. It’s doubly complicated for early enrollees who must sign this week.
I don’t begrudge any commit that elects to sign elsewhere this week or hold off until February. I have extra respect for any kid willing to sign with Auburn despite there being no head coach in place. It’s easy to say kids should commit to a school rather than a coach but those relationships are often the main reason a kid signs. Anyone who elects to put pen to paper for Auburn tomorrow is someone who wants to be an Auburn Tiger. No matter how you feel about this class overall that’s something to celebrate.
The good news is it appears quite a few recruits plan to go ahead and sign. Per AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr and AuburnSports’s Jeffery Lee, here’s who have confirmed they will sign tomorrow:
- 4-star QB Dematrius Davis
- 4-star OG Jaeden Roberts
- 4-star DT Marquis Robinson
- 3-star WR Hal Presley
- 3-star S Phillip O’Brien Jr
- 3-star OG Garner Langlo
- 3-star CB Kamal Hadden
Next are players who could sign early but aren’t yet sure either if they will or if they will sign with Auburn:
- 4-star DT Lee Hunter
- 4-star S Ahmari Harvey
- 3-star TE Landen King
Finally, players who do not plan to sign early and will wait until February to make a decision:
- 3-star ATH Tar’Varish Dawson
- 3-star DL Tobechi Okoli
As of today, I think the only name on this list that could flip tomorrow is Hunter. He’s incredibly close with Kevin Steele so with him as interim it might be enough to keep him in the class. However, if Georgia or Alabama decide to go all in on Hunter, it might not matter.
Harvey is the other guy to keep an eye on. He’s been one of Auburn’s most vocal supporters on social media but seemed genuinely shocked and frustrated by the Gus Malzahn news. Florida State, South Carolina and Texas A&M are all trying to get involved.
On Friday, I believed Auburn was going to have a busy day tomorrow landing 5-star LB Terrence Lewis, 4-star RB Armoni Goodwin, 4-star LB Trevin Wallace, 3-star CB Dontae Balfour, 3-star BUCK George Wilson & BUCK Byron Young. Maybe even a surprise flip in the form of 4-star DL Dylan Brooks or 3-star WR Roc Taylor.
Now? Well now I don’t really have a clue other than any target that elects to sign in February should be considered a win for Auburn.
Auburn was the favorite to land Lewis up until Gus Malzahn was fired. After that news broke, Lewis dropped a final 2 that did not include the Tigers.
This recruitment has been a wild one featuring many twists and turns. In the end, I think Lewis ends up back with the Vols but knowing Lewis anything can happen. But that anything will not include the nation’s #1 ILB signing with the Tigers
I believe any hope of Auburn pulling this flip off ended with Gus Malzahn’s firing. Even with the rumors around Pruitt’s job, I just don’t see Brooks signing with Auburn without a head coach. The Vols will be getting a good one.
UPDATE: Per AL.com, Brooks will wait to sign in February meaning Auburn is still very much in play.
Probably the biggest news of the week outside of Malzahn’s firing was Williams’s announcement late last night that he will not be signing early with the Gators. This decision likely has more to do with Auburn than Florida. If the Tigers new head coach clicks with Scooby it would not be a shock to see him end up in Auburn’s class after all.
I’ve decided to not sign Wednesday . I’ll be signing in February to make sure I’m making the right decision— SCOOBY (@officiallscoob) December 15, 2020
UPDATE: Nevermind... Scooby has decided to stick with Florida
after longs talks Ik where home is Signing tomorrow @ 11 !!— SCOOBY (@officiallscoob) December 15, 2020
Auburn was trending up until Sunday for Goodwin, now it’s not really clear what might happen. Earlier today he tweeted that he plans to sign early so that’s probably not great news for Auburn. LSU is the Tigers top contender and given their big win Saturday paired with Malzhan’s departure I gotta think they are in the driver’s seat once again.
I will be signing Wednesday— Armoni Goodwin (@ArmoniGoodwin24) December 15, 2020
Last week, Wallace named Auburn his leader. Obviously the news over the weekend has changed things for the nation’s #13 ranked ILB. The good news for Auburn is Wallace is electing to sign in February instead of this week. That also opens the door for Florida who are likely to miss on 4-star LB Xavian Sorey and now have to worry about Williams being committed. I expect the Gators to make a push here during the late period but if T-WILL is retained Auburn might still win out.
This recruitment was trending in Ole Miss’s favor before Sunday’s announcement, now I would place Ole Miss’s chances at almost 100%. Lane Kiffin is closing strong in Oxford.
Wilson is a smart kid. He purposefully chose Friday for his signing day so he could see if there would be any staff turnover. Specifically, he wanted to see if Gus Malzahn would survive the weekend. He obviously did not and now Auburn is likely on the outside looking in for the Virginia based pass rusher. Florida State was nipping on the Tigers heels and now will likely land him on Friday.
Taylor’s recruitment has waffled back and forth between him being solid with Tennessee and him trending towards Auburn. Given the coaching change and some of the losses in the Tennessee class, I expect the Oxford native to stick with his Vols pledge.
UPDATE: Per AL.com, Taylor will wait to sign in February meaning Auburn is still very much in play.
Young seems unsure what he might do this week. Auburn was considered the favorite and Young seemed genuinely shocked at the Malzahn news Sunday. Both Tennessee and Florida State are heavily involved in this recruitment. He’s an early enrollee so he will have to make a decision this week.
No way ♂️ ♂️ ♂️ ♂️ ♂️ ♂️ ♂️ ♂️ ♂️ ♂️ https://t.co/sQ7iLgqMVj— Byron young (@byron_97) December 13, 2020
Like Wallace, Auburn was the clear team to beat for Balfour. But with the news that Malzahn was being let go, Balfour has chosen to push back his signing. That’s good news for the Tigers as it likely means he wants to see who Auburn hires. If Auburn’s new head coach wants Balfour, I think he will end up with the good guys. However, his offer list keep getting better by the day and this will likely be one of the more highly contested recruitments in January.
After a good talk with my family I have decided to push my signing day back to February 3!!! Recruitment 100% open‼️— Dontae Balfour (@BalfourDontae) December 14, 2020
Heading into the weekend it was believed that if Auburn were to miss out on Lee Hunter or if they wanted to add some more beef to the interior DL, Mathews would get an offer. Now, however, it’s likely he’s getting an offer no matter what. Auburn is in his top 2 with Georgia Tech and it appears highly likely he will choose the Tigers tomorrow. Mathews is a raw but talented athlete who could play DE, DT or even OT for Auburn.
Another name to monitor tomorrow is Armani Diamond. The Louisiana Tech commit had a strong showing at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game and is earning interest from Auburn, Florida State and others. If the Tigers offer he could sign tomorrow too. I should note he’s teammates with Auburn commit Lee Hunter.
Hard to know what to think on White now after the coaching change. I imagine this greatly helps NC State but if Rodney Garner remains on staff then Auburn might still be in the hunt. Either way, I expect plenty of transfers to be on the table for Auburn this offseason
UPDATE: White will sign with Georgia Tech