Over the next
2 weeks 2-3ish indeterminate number of weeks, we will be taking a position by position look at the top targets on Auburn’s 2021 board. This is a first pass at who might be looking at Auburn the hardest this early in the cycle and whom Auburn might have the most interest in. However, recruiting is fluid and these lists will likely change.
The Gus Bus has been a wild ride. There have been incredible highs and some insanely frustrating lows. But the one consistent each year has been Rodney Garner. Whether it’s his group dominating the line of scrimmage or him pulling in another recruiting class loaded with talent, you can always count on Coach G to do his job.
Last season was no exception. Auburn’s defense featured arguably the most disruptive defensive line in the country. He then capitalized on that outstanding season by bringing in a loaded DL class that included snatching top targets from Georgia and Tennessee. I don’t expect the 2020 season nor the 2021 class to be any different. Sure, Auburn’s DL won’t likely be the most dominant group in the country but don’t be surprised if it’s is still a top 5 unit in the SEC. And I fully expect the 2021 DL class to be outstanding once again. It’s already off to a tremendous start.
One note, I am not including Buck targets in this group since that position is now under the purview of Al Pogue. Specifically that means no Dylan Brooks. We will talk about him in the next update.
5* Leonard Taylor | 6’4” | 255 lbs | Miami, FL
The Gators are probably going to be tough to beat in this recruitment but Auburn is a factor. Taylor listed the Tigers in his top 5 back in December and was on campus in February. He’s likely to take an official visit to the Plains once campus reopens. Don’t sleep on UGA either. Kirby Smart seems to take great pleasure in snatching supposed UF locks from Dan Mullen any chance he can get. This is a recruitment that could get interesting come December.
An elite athlete, Taylor has one of the highest upsides in this 2021 DL class. Taylor is only listed at 255 lbs but has the frame to grow to 290+ pretty easily in a collegiate strength program without losing any of his explosiveness. He’s got insane length that makes him difficult to throw over even when you get him blocked. He could line up anywhere along the line and make an impact. A big time player that could elevate Auburns 2021 class if Rodney Garner were to pull it off.
4* Lee Hunter | 6’5” | 292 lbs | Eight Mile, AL | Auburn Commit
Auburn was long the team to beat for one of the nation’s best interior defensive line prospects in the 2021 class. In fact, when Hunter was asked last summer to name his top programs he answered “Auburn, Auburn, Auburn, Auburn”. Unsurprisingly, he soon pulled the trigger jumping on board in early December. But top programs aren’t going to let Auburn waltz to signing day with another elite DT in hand. Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, LSU and others are all hard after the Blount standout. He will likely take visits and make Auburn fans sweat a good bit. But unless Kevin Steele and/or Rodney Garner aren’t on staff next year, I fully expect Hunter to be wearing orange & blue in 2021.
Hunter was dropped from 5* status at the beginning of the year but he’s still highly regarded in the recruiting industry. There isn’t a lot of publicly available film on Hunter but in the limited tape you can easily see why he’s such a highly sought after prospect. His game is built on power and he’s one of the best gap stuffers in this class. He will need to expand his pass rush repertoire to be more effective in that role at the next level but Hunter has instant impact ability for the Tigers in 2021.
4* Katron Evans | 6’4” | 320 lbs | Baltimore, MD
Auburn was late to Evans recruitment only offering earlier this month but immediately became a top contender making Evans’s top 8 just a week later. It’s an impressive list of suitors including Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. But Garner’s resume and the possibility of playing in the SEC have AU firmly in this race. If the Tigers can get him on campus in the future, they could make things real interesting come decision time.
Evans’s tape reminds me a lot of Dontavius Russell. Powerful kid, who excels at using his hands to control his would be blocker and does an outstanding job executing his assignments. Well built with an extremely powerful base, Evans has a dangerous first punch and outstanding short area quickness to cause havoc for offenses attempting to run up the middle. He’s not necessarily an elite pass rushing threat but he’s got the build and tools to be a multi year starter at the next level.
4* Shambre Jackson | 6’4” | 243 lbs | Orlando, FL
Auburn offered Jackson on his visit when Auburn obliterated Mississippi State. However, there is some work to do in this recruitment if the Tigers want to be the choice. Florida State is coming hard after the Boone standout. Alabama, Florida, Ohio State and Oklahoma are all major factors as well.
Jackson is the exact type of kid Garner loves to recruit these days. Kids with long frames that can grow into versatile athletes capable of lining up anywhere from a 1 technique to two gapping on the edge as a 5. While not an elite pass rusher at the moment, Jackson has the bend, length and explosiveness needed to easily grow into one.
4* Tim Keenan | 6’1” | 340 lbs | Birmingham, AL
Keenan’s recruitment has been pretty quiet early this cycle. He sports an impressive offer list which includes both Auburn and Alabama. The question right now is where he stands on those 2 programs’ boards at the moment. If either make a serious push, I think it will be unlikely he leaves the state. If not, keep an eye on Florida, Florida State and Ole Miss.
If you are looking for a gap stuffer in this class, Keenan is your man. A stout 6’1” 340 lbs, Keenan excels at the nose guard position where he can clog up run lanes in the A-gap and get penetration with his impressive power. He is limited somewhat athletically which makes it unlikely he can move around much on the line. Garner also tends to favor kids with a bit more length but given the amount of odd fronts the Tigers deploy these days, Keenan would be a great option to plug into the center of that group and eat space.
4* Marquis Robinson | 6’3” | 300 lbs | Milton, FL
This is probably the name to pay the closest attention to on this list outside of Hunter. Auburn was one of the first programs to offer the Florida native and have been hard after him ever since. But Florida State is the team to beat right now and will be the Tigers’ top competitor to land Robinson’s signature this cycle. This fight is far from over and you can never count Rodney Garner out especially if he really wants a kid.
Robinson is a powerful interior prospect with great lateral quickness and a quick first step. He’s plays with solid pad level and does a great job using his hands to get shed blocks and make plays in the backfield. It’s very easy to see why Coach G has made him a priority this cycle.