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2021 Class Preview: Safety

Auburn is hoping to keep the backend of its defense loaded with NFL calibre talent.

https://twitter.com/Kkinchens42/status/1234809678791675904

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.

For the past 2 seasons, the very back of Auburn’s defense has been lead by the tandem of Daniel Thomas and Jeremiah Dinson. After their very productive careers, they are off to the NFL to make some well deserved money. The baton has been passed to Smoke Monday and Jamien Sherwood but behind those two are a lot of question marks. The Tigers signed one of the hardest hitting safeties in the 2020 class in Chris Thompson Jr and there are rumors that Matthew Hill will be switching to the defensive side of the ball next season. But even considering those two, it’s pretty clear that there is playing time to be had on the Plains at safety in the very near future. Here’s a look at who could be next in line for the Tigers.

4* Kamren Kinchens | 5’11” | 190 lbs | Miami, FL

Recruitment

As of today, Kinchens might be the most likely name (other than Auburn’s current commit) to sign with the Tigers come signing day. The Northwestern High School standout recently dropped a top 5 of Auburn, LSU, Miami, Nebraska and Texas A&M. He was on campus in early March just before the shutdown and is reportedly close friends with AU safety commit Phillip O’Brien Jr. There is still work to be done in this race but I like where Auburn sits at the moment.

Scouting Report

How do you snag 10 interceptions in a season? Well if you are Kinchens, it’s due to a combination of outstanding instincts and great ball skills (plus some absolutely terrible passes). Kinchens excels at reading a QB’s eyes, breaking on the ball and coming down with the big play. He’s a kid that has a chance to step on campus and immediately make an impact.


3* MJ Daniels | 6’3” | 185 lbs | Lucedale, MS | Ole Miss Commit

Recruitment

With Marcus Woodson gone, Auburn might not be able to necessarily replicate the same level of success in Mississippi as they have the last 2 cycles but they are likely to still chase the top end talent in that state. One such talent is long time Ole Miss commit MJ Daniels. Auburn offered in late April so they have only recently become a factor in his recruitment but it sounds like there’s a good chance the Tigers could get an official visit. The instate Bulldogs are pushing hard for a flip and unsurprisingly with Woodson now running the secondary in Tallahassee, the Noles are expected to be a factor as well.

Scouting Report

Daniels is a big kid who plays corner for his HS team but will likely transition to safety at the next level. While not necessarily a burner, he’s got great speed given his size. He’s a very fluid athlete who shows great ability to play both off man and zone coverage at a high level. I think he’s pretty underrated at the moment and wouldn’t be surprised to see his stock continue to rise in the coming months.


3* Kyndrich Breedlove | 5’10” | 165 lbs | Nashville, TN

Recruitment

Auburn has had some success recently stealing talent from the Volunteer State. Last cycle, they devastated the Vols by snatching 4* DL Jay Hardy. Last month, they surprised Tennessee and other when they landed 3* OT J’Marion Gooch. Auburn is hoping to continue that success with Breedlove. The Nashville native dropped a top 5 of Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas A&M in late April. This could end up being another Vols/Tigers battle in the end.

Scouting Report

Breedlove is a speedster with a knack for making the big play. He’s versatile enough that it wouldn’t be a surprise if he got a look at corner or nickel at the next level. He’s not the biggest kid but has some good length and great athleticism. That offer list is no joke and neither is that top 5 list. He strikes me as the type of DB prospect Auburn has had some good success with in recent years, relatively underrated kids with great speed and versatility.


3* Phillip O’Brien Jr | 6’0” | 170 lbs | Deerfield Beach, FL

Recruitment

O’Brien’s commitment came as a pretty big surprise following his Junior Day visit. It was believed he was a virtual lock to the Noles with there being five Crystal Ball predictions logged for FSU before his pledge. However, he was on FSU’s campus the next day and gave indications he was still open to being recruited. Throw in Marcus Woodson moving down there as well and it’s Auburn will likely have to fight to keep his pledge but from all indications as of today, he seems solid to the Tigers.

Scouting Report

I am a big fan of O’Brien’s tape. Kid has great speed as shown by that incredible rundown in his highlights. He’s also not afraid to lower the boom in the run game and displays outstanding ball skills down the field. He’s versatile enough that he could play really anywhere in the secondary but apparently McGriff has made it clear that he sees O’Brien and Kinchens as the safeties in this class.


3* Jah’Von Grigsby | 5’10” | 185 lbs | Baton Rouge, LA

Recruitment

Auburn’s offer in late March was a game changer for the Louisiana native. He even told Rivals.com that he almost committed on the spot. Since then a number of other programs have jumped into the mix including Michigan State and Kansas who appear to be the two top contenders for his pledge. It’s hard to know at this stage where he sits on Auburn’s board but he’s definitely a name to watch in the coming months.

Scouting Report

It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Auburn is recruiting Grigsby to play the Nickel position in their defense. He’s got a good combination of size, physicality and speed to fit there in Steele’s scheme. A hard hitter, Grigsby thrives off contact yet still has the ball skills to be effective in coverage.


Brandon Perry | 5’10” | 180 lbs | Union Springs, AL

Recruitment

This is an odd recruitment. Perry announced last August he was committing to Auburn. In fact, that tweet is still pinned on his profile. Yet Auburn does not consider him a commit at this time because he didn’t get the green light before going public. He’s not listed on any recruiting site as a current Auburn commit. There’s also been nothing reported on him since. I suspect he’s a kid that could have used a camp to show the coaches he’s pledge should be accepted but unfortunately that won’t happen. It will be very interesting to see how this recruitment plays out.

Scouting Report

I couldn’t find any of his junior tape but you can get a feel for his talent based off his sophomore year. Perry is a two way player for Bullock County who does a little of everything from catching bombs at WR to rushing the passer off the edge. His versatility would make him an ideal Nickel back in Steele’s system though he could also fit in at strong safety.

War Eagle!