Auburn still has one football game left to play in its 2020 regular season yet the Early Signing Period starts a week from now because nothing is allowed to be normal in this hellscape of a year.
The Tigers are coming off two losses to top 5 teams in their division and have secured for the 7th time in Gus Malzahn’s 8 year tenure a 4 loss season. Those things tend to create some major angst for a major college football program’s fanbase and just a quick perusal across the AU interwebs shows that there ain’t a whole lot of folks still riding the Gus Bus.
But the Bus rolls on. Questions about Malzahn’s job security are an annual December tradition and though there are some who truly believe that THIS is the year the Bus finally crashes, I am skeptical. I believe Malzahn will get a 9th season so as such, I approached this article with the assumption that’s what happens. Obviously if that were to change, most of what I write below is pointless.
Auburn continues to slide down the class rankings as they have not added any new commits since we last discussed recruiting. However, when your pissed off Bunker friend yells at you about how Arkansas, Mississippi State and Kentucky are all recruiting better than the Tigers, remind him/her that Auburn is actually 6th in average player rating at 89.23 in the SEC. For comparison, Arkansas’s is 87.06, Mississippi State’s is 86.59 and Kentucky’s is 86.55.
Obviously, a non top 10, possible non top 15 class is unacceptable on the Plains but this isn’t Tommy Tuberville 2008 all over again.
- 4-star DT Lee Hunter | 6’5” | 292 lbs | Eight Mile, 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 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
- GT OG/C Eric Wilson | 6’4” | 280 lbs | Minneapolis, MN
No movement here though Auburn’s top rated commit Lee Hunter sent the Auburn Family into a panic when he cryptically tweeted early Monday morning that his recruitment is still open.
Up thinking about my future and I’m thankful for it IM EXHAUSTED ! I THINK THIS A SIGN GOD GIVING ME MY RECRUITMENT IS STILL OPEN— Lee_Hunter7 (@The_Fridge7) December 7, 2020
Obviously, it would be nice if your top rated commit didn’t do things like this but Hunter has a history of having some “fun” on social media. He’s changed in his profile pics to him wearing different schools jerseys on visits and has tweeted before about his recruitment still being open. However, later that morning, he told AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr he is still solidly committed to the Tigers and plans to sign early. Given the drama of George Pickens just a couple years ago paired with the numerous frustrating misses this cycle, I can understand Auburn fans thinking “here we go again”. There’s always a chance that’s true but I am of the opinion that Hunter is locked in with Auburn and will sign next week.
Spots To Fill
- QB: 0
- RB: 1
- WR: 1
- TE: 0
- OL: 2-3
- DL: 2-3
- LB: 2
- DB: 1-2
Same numbers as last week since the Tigers haven’t added any new commits. The two positions I have the most questions about heading into this stretch run is offensive tackle and wide receiver. The Tigers will likely hit the transfer portal to fill the OT spots but I am interested to see what they decide to do at wideout. Roc Taylor appears to be the only likely flip target at this moment and that seems far from certain. That position along with OT might stretch into February before Auburn fans get some clarity.
Top Remaining Targets
Sadly, Auburn did not pull of the Hail Mary and land 4-star CB Nyland Green. Instead he elected to stay home and play for the Dawgs. That means the Tigers went 0-3 on their top CB targets in Green, Ga’Quincy McKinstry and Kamari Lassiter. I still think this will be a solid DB class given commitments already on board but the Tigers had a chance at a special class this summer.
Auburn seemingly remains in the pole position for the nation’s #1 ranked ILB but keep an eye on the Florida Gators who might be trying to make a late move. I had mentioned UF as a team to monitor for Trevin Wallace if they couldn’t get Xavian Sorey but it appears Lewis might actually be the next man up. I think he lands with the Tigers next week but this recruitment has been riddled with surprises so I wouldn’t consider anything a lock until Lewis actually signs.
Brooks is competing in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game this week along with Auburn commit Lee Hunter and target Roc Taylor. I will be interested to see if following that event there’s any AU buzz. Brooks continues to give the appearance of being firmly committed and I still think it’s most likely he sticks with the Vols.
I am not saying ya’ll should be out there paying recruits but if theoretically you wanted to drop a bag at someone’s house then Byrd is probably the best candidate. Again, this is all just theoretical and I would never encourage such blatant disregard for the rules....
Believe it or not, Goodwin’s recruitment might end happily for the Tigers. Momentum is building that the former long time Auburn commit will rejoin the class next week. The two schools that stand in the way are LSU and Florida State, most notably the purple shaded Tigers. While neither of those 2 programs have had great seasons they do offer the shot of starting as a true freshman something that won’t happen on the Plains with Tank Bigsby around. Still, Goodwin and his family have such a strong relationship with Carnell Williams that it might not matter.
Wallace confirmed today what everyone has believed for a couple of weeks which is that Auburn is the team to beat. He told AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr that the Tigers are recruiting him the hardest and he’s likely to sign early. LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee continue to push but the Gators remain the program to watch. If Wallace decides to wait until Februrary that will likely mean he ends up in Gainesville. If he signs next week you gotta love Auburn’s chances.
I’ve written about Brown before but had not included him in the previous top targets list because I was unsure where Auburn sat with him. Turns out they are right near the top and will be a hat on the table next week. Ole Miss looks to be the likely choice but the Tigers remain in the race.
I will be signing on early signing day Dec 16th, 3:00pm at Pahokee High School Auditorium to the University of .... #razorbacks #olemiss #virginiatech #auburn #miamihurricanes pic.twitter.com/iVBHJcWNXB— Markevious Brown ♂️²¹ (@Brown27Mark) December 2, 2020
I think Wilson’s recruitment is pretty easy to figure out. If Auburn’s coaching staff remains in tact next week, he will sign with the Tigers next Friday. If not, he will likely go to UNC or Florida State. Wilson was a member of South Carolina’s class before Will Muschamp was fired so it’s understandable that he wants to be sure Malzahn will be there before he inks. I am a fan of Wilson’s upside and if Muschamp wants you on his defense then I want you on mine too.
Last week, Rivals’s southeast analyst Chad Simmons dropped a nugget that despite appearing solid publicly, Taylor is trending towards not being in Tennessee class. If that were to happen the home state Tigers would be the program to beat. Taylor is a big bodied athlete that would fit the 5 position in Auburn’s scheme. We will see what happens over these last days.
The Tigers are hoping to sign two BUCK prospects next week in George Wilson and Byron Young. Wilson is a high upside kid that will likely need a year in the weight room ala Romello Height before contributing. Young could step in immediately and provide help for the Tigers. Auburn is battling Missouri, Florida State and Tennessee for the outstanding pass rusher.
This is a team two race between Auburn and Missouri with most believing the better looking Tigers are the clear favorite. Balfour has the versatility to play anywhere on the back end of Auburn’s defense but the Tigers are hopeful he will follow in the footsteps of fellow FL native Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean.
If Lee Hunter were to leave the class then Mathews will likely end up with the Tigers. I don’t see that happening right now but it’s something to monitor. There’s also the chance that Auburn takes him anyway given the trouble they are having in the interior of this DL. More DTs wouldn’t be a bad idea even if one if a bit more of a project. Heck, maybe this is Auburn’s next starting left tackle...
My fellow College & Magnolia contributors can verify that I’ve had my eye on White. Earlier this week, Keith Niebuhr verified my suspicions that Auburn is a major player for one of the top transfers in the portal. The former Old Dominion star started his career at tight end before flipping to defense in 2019. He dominated totaling a school record 19 TFL along with 3.5 sacks while also forcing a fumble and recovering one. Auburn’s biggest missing piece on defense the last three years has been a true pass rush threat off the edge. White could be that missing piece if Auburn can beat out N.C. State for his services.