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2021 Class Preview: Tight End

After signing 4 tight ends in the past 2 classes, Auburn is looking to add another talented prospect in the 2021 class.

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Over the next 2 weeks 2-3ish 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.

Ah the tight end position. The savior of Auburn’s offense for many message board fans. Though some of the obsession over the position I think is a little over done, the general belief that Auburn has under utilized the position in recent seasons is completely valid. In Gus Malzahn’s first 2 seasons at Auburn, CJ Uzomah caught 22 passes for 299 yards and 6 TDs. Over the following 5 seasons, Auburn tight ends caught a grand total of 8 passes for 59 yards and 4 TDs.

Seeing those stats, it seems difficult to see how Auburn could go out and sign top TE prospects but that’s exactly what has happened the last two cyles. In the 2019 class, Auburn signed Luke Deal and Tyler Fromm. They followed that class up with an even more impressive one in 2020 signing J.J. Pegues and Brandon Frazier. Now here we are in the 2021 cycle and Auburn has already offered 15 tight end prospects.

So what gives? Chad Morris does, that’s what.

Since Chad Morris became a collegiate coach in 2010, only once has his tight end had less yards in a single season than all of Auburn’s tight ends have combined for since 2015. That was in 2017 at SMU. Chances are very good that you will see more passes thrown to a tight end in the 2020 campaign than you have seen attempted over the past 5 years. It also means that Chad Morris wants that position well stocked moving forward with legitimate playmakers which is why you see the Tigers on the hunt for a big time tight end in the 2021 class.


4* Michael Trigg | 6’4” | 208 lbs | Seffner, FL

Recruitment

The nation’s #6 ranked tight end was on the Plains just before everything got shutdown. While on campus, he spent a lot of time with new Auburn offensive coordinator Chad Morris who broke down his plans for how he wants to use the tight end position moving forward. Once visiting restrictions are lifted, expect Trigg back on Auburn’s campus at some point. The team to beat though is likely Florida State but the Tigers are very much in this race.

Scouting Report

Trigg is an elite athlete capable of doing a little of everything. He’s got a long frame at 6’4” perfectly capable of adding 20+ lbs without losing any of his explosiveness. A natural hand catcher, Trigg shows outstanding body control and ball skills. While he’s not facing the stiffest of competition and is used more as a wide receiver than tight end, it’s very easy to see the tremendous upside. He’s a great fit for what Morris likes from his tight end, someone that can do a bit of everything from lining up in the H-Back role to splitting out wide.


4* Terrance Ferguson | 6’5” | 220 lbs | Littleton, CO

Recruitment

Ferguson was actually scheduled to take an official visit to the Plains before the pandemic. He reportedly plans on rescheduling his OV to Auburn at a later point and the Tigers appear to be firmly in the mix. Wisconsin and Oregon are also considered top contenders at this point and will get official visits. Until he actually makes it to Auburn though it’s hard to really know how good a chance the Tigers have at snagging the nation’s #12 tight end.

Scouting Report

Ferguson is a big kid with excellent quickness who has had a tremendously productive high school career. While he won’t likely win many track meets at the next level, Ferguson has enough top end speed to make plays after the catch. He’s got great strength and has the size/frame you expect to see from an SEC calibre tight end.


3* Lake McRee | 6’4” | 217 lbs | Austin, TX

Recruitment

With a name like Lake, you better be from Texas. The former Longhorn commit reopened his recruitment back in early February and has quickly become one of the most sought after TEs in this class. Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Washington and Penn State have all offered in recent months. He dropped a top 10 list last week that included the Tigers.

Scouting Report

McRee is another fluid athlete with the frame to put on the muscle needed to play tight end in the SEC. He’s a sharp route runner with great hands. Can line up anywhere on the field which is a must for Chad Morris. I fully expect McRee to be a consensus blue chip prospect before this cycle is over.


3* Trinity Bell | 6’7” | 256 lbs | Albertville, AL

Recruitment

Probably one of the more interesting prospects in this class, Trinity Bell is getting plenty of attention from SEC programs. Auburn and Tennessee are reportedly his top 2 schools with the Vols probably the team to beat at the moment. But if the Tigers decide to go all in on the Albertville product they will likely be tough to beat.

Scouting Report

What makes Bell so intriguing is that while he’s listed as a tight end, he’s got the frame to be an offensive tackle at the next level. An outstanding basketball player as well, Bell has apparently been given the green light by both Gus Malzahn and Bruce Pearl that he will be able to play both sports for the Tigers if he were to sign. It’s hard not to get excited about this kid’s upside but it will be interesting to see if teams try to convince him to make the move to offensive line or stick with him at tight end.


3* Elijah Arroyo | 6’4” | 210 lbs | Frisco, TX

Recruitment

Arroyo’s coming off a strong junior campaign where he caught 47 passes for 648 yards and 5 TDs. Plenty of major programs took notice as the Texan sports offers from the likes of Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Texas A&M, Michigan and plenty of others. Auburn is reportedly very high on the Independence standout and will likely push hard to get an official visit this fall.

Scouting Report

Arroyo might be my favorite target on this list. You just don’t see many tight end prospects with his type of burst. An extremely gifted athlete, Arroyo is a playmaker from the tight end spot. He can line up in-line or split out wide at wideout. Flashing consistent hands, he’s a nightmare matchup in the redzone and has the athleticism to make plays after the catch. Very easy to see why he’s got such an impressive offer list.


Gunnar Helm | 6’5” | 225 lbs | Englewood, CO

Recruitment

He’s not ranked yet but that will likely change considering his offer list. Prospects that are getting attention from Auburn, Alabama, Georgia and LSU tend to see their stock rise in the eyes of recruiting services. Auburn though was one of the the first SEC teams to offer the Colorado native and are hoping to get him on campus as soon as possible. His family isn’t averse to sending him away considering his older sister is currently attending Alabama. We will see if Auburn can turn the Helm’s into a house divided this cycle.

Scouting Report

Helm was very clearly Cherry Creek’s redzone weapon last season. He turned 8 of his 25 catches into touchdowns and feasted inside the 20 yard line. A long athlete with great hands, Helm does an excellent job creating consistent separation with his routes and his big frame makes him an easy target for quarterbacks.

War Eagle!