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2021 Class Preview: Cornerback

In today’s world, you can never have too many high quality cornerbacks and the Tigers are hoping to keep the backend of their defense well stocked.

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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.

It’s a new era for Auburn’s secondary. Gone are any DBs recruited by Will Muschamp. Stud recruiter Marcus Woodson is also no longer on the Plains meaning that moving forward the backend of Auburn’s defense is the sole property of Wesley McGriff. His DB class from his previous stint as Auburn’s DB coach hasn’t turned out great with Jordyn Peters the only member to see meaningful action to date. But last year’s class was outstanding and McGriff played a big role in Auburn’s ability to land blue chip DBs Chris Thompson and Marco Domio. The Tigers are likely to sign a large class given the departures from last season plus the expected ones to come over the next 2 seasons. Let’s see if Coach Crimedog can get it done in 2021.

5* Ga’Quincy McKinstry | 5’11” | 172 lbs | Pinson, AL

Recruitment

In the modern recruiting era, Auburn has never signed a 5* defensive back. They have come close a few times, specifically Andrew Booth just two cycles ago. But close doesn’t cut it in recruiting. With the proliferation of explosive passing attacks in the SEC, it’s important Auburn figures out a way to start landing some of the top DB talent in the country. The man they call Kool-Aid might be Auburn’s best chance to end that drought.

The Pinson Valley standout’s recruitment started when he was a freshman. He spent two years as Bo Nix’s teammate and last fall there was growing confidence Auburn could land the elite athlete. But as things typically do in recruiting, especially for elite instate DBs, things have begun to trend toward the Tide. A decision doesn’t appear to be coming in the near future which is probably good news for Auburn. Clemson, LSU and Tennessee are programs to keep an eye on as well.

Another interesting angle to this recruitment is McKinstry would like to also play basketball at the next level. Auburn, Florida and Kansas have not only offered him a football scholarship but a basketball one as well. I don’t believe Alabama has done the same so if that becomes an important part of McKinstry’s decision, the Tigers could have the edge there. Still, Alabama is likely the team in the best spot right now but Auburn will be in this until the end.

Scouting Report

The first thing that jumps out when watching McKinstry’s tape is his speed. An extremely fluid athlete in and out of his breaks, McKinstry has the top end speed to get past the defense as a wideout for big plays. On the defensive side, that translates into the ability to stay step for step with explosive wide receivers. He’s also got great ball skills undoubtedly helped by his time on the hardwood. He’s also not afraid of anyone and brings the swagger you want form your top cover corner. He will be day 1 impact player wherever he goes.


4* Nyland Green | 6’2” | 183 lbs | Covington, GA

Recruitment

Early on, Auburn looked to be a top choice for the Newton star but things have trended the wrong direction in recent months. UGA made a strong push but it’s actually Clemson right now that is likely the team to beat. Dabo’s squad has had tremendous success poaching the top DB prospects from the Peach State and are looking to do so again in 2021. The good news for Auburn is it doesn’t look like a decision is expected any time soon so if the good looking Tigers can get him back on campus this fall, they could get back into this race.

Scouting Report

It would not shock me if this kid ended up being the top rated CB of this 2021 class. A long athlete with elite burst, Green is everything you want in a shutdown corner. He’s got fluid hips, great length, outstanding instincts and the size to hang with any wideout. He’s versatile enough that he could play safety at the next level if needed but he strikes me as a future 1st round CB. Big time player.


4* Markevious Brown | 6’0” | 170 lbs | Bradenton, FL

Recruitment

This is a name to track in the coming months. Wesley McGriff is reportedly hard after the IMG standout and it seems the feelings are mutual. He dropped a top 7 a few months ago that did not include the Tigers but apparently that has changed. Auburn, Florida, Miami, Tennessee and Virginia Tech appear to be the top contenders at the moment but his list appears to be pretty fluid. But it’s clear he’s a top priority for the Tigers and they will work hard to get him on campus this fall.

Scouting Report

Brown transferred to IMG last season and didn’t get to see a ton of action so his tape is a bit limited. However, you can see from his sophomore film this kid is a baller. He excels in man coverage showing the ability to mirror the receiver, stay in phase and consistently make a play on the ball. I expect Brown to have a strong senior campaign and is a candidate to see his stock rise considerably this fall.


3* Kamari Lassiter | 5’11” | 165 lbs | Tuscaloosa, AL

Recruitment

Speaking of stock up, Lassiter’s recruitment has exploded this spring with offers coming fast and furious. Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Mississippi State have all offered in recent weeks adding to a list that already included Alabama, Florida, Ole Miss and plenty of others. The Tigers appear to be a major factor in this race but the competition is stiff. It’s not easy to pluck big time players out of Saban’s backyard but Auburn will try. I expect the Tigers to land an official visit when things open back up.

Scouting Report

A productive two way player, Lassiter is a big play waiting to happen. Versatile, Lassiter could get a look at the Nickel at the next level given his combination of speed and physicality. But personally I think his future is on the outside. He spends a lot of time on an island with little help but seems to consistently win those matchups. I fully expect Lassiter to be a 247 Composite 4* before it’s all said and done.


3* Tar’Varish Dawson | 5’10” | 175 lbs | Lehigh Acres, FL

Recruitment

Auburn looks to be a top contender for one of the fastest players in the 2021 class. He dropped a top 6 at the end of April consisting of Auburn, South Carolina, UCF, Miami, Minnesota and Louisville. I think of those six, the three teams to watch are the Tigers, Gamecocks and Canes. He will likely be on campus as soon as possible and the Tigers are reportedly recruiting him to play both WR and DB something he’s very interested in doing.

Scouting Report

You aren’t going to outrun Dawson. Clocking in a 10.58 100 meter last spring, that speed translates to the football field. As a receiver, he’s a threat to take it to the house after the catch. As a DB, he excels playing with outside leverage, eyes on the QB and attacking the ball in the air. Interestingly, 247’s comp for Dawson is Javaris Davis and I could see him playing the same role for the Tigers. Sliding inside sometimes at the Nickel then bouncing back outside at CB. While I know he wants to play some offense at the next level, I think his future is likely on the defensive side.


3* Javon Bullard | 6’0” | 183 lbs | Milledgeville, GA

Recruitment

Auburn was the first SEC program to offer Bullard. Tennessee and Vanderbilt quickly followed while South Carolina could be the next to jump into the race. It’s early so it’s hard to tell where Bullard is on AU’s board but if the Tigers decide they want him, I think chances are good they snag the Peach State’s 60th ranked prospect.

Scouting Report

Bullard plays both ways for Baldwin High School but is likely a defensive back at the next level. A long, lanky athlete with good top end speed, Bullard isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty in the run game. Possessing a high motor, you are gonna get the best out of Bullard most every snap.


3* Kameron Grays | 6’1” | 194 lbs | Eight Mile, AL

Recruitment

When Grays landed an offer at Auburn’s Junior Day earlier this year, it looked like a commit could soon follow. The teammate of Auburn DT commit Lee Hunter, Grays never ended up pulling the trigger. Pretty soon after landing the offer, Marcus Woodson left for Tallahassee, FL and the Noles vaulted to the top of Grays list. Not much though has been reported on his recruitment since early April. If he pops in the near future, that’s likely good news for FSU but it doesn’t appear a decision is imminent.

Scouting Report

Grays is a big kid with nice speed and quickness. He plays both sides of the ball with a lot of his tape featuring his WR highlights. But he’s being recruited to play in the secondary at the next level. His offensive tape though shows a kid with the hip fluidity, ball skills and quickness to play cornerback at a high level in college.


3* Daniel Edwards | 5’11” | 155 lbs | Winter Park, FL

Recruitment

There was buzz a commit could be coming in early April. If so, it would likely had been good news for the Tigers but no announcement came. Still, Auburn is sitting pretty in this recruitment for the time being though I think there are questions over whether the man they call Snook is a take just yet. The DB board is hard to pin down at the moment but Edwards is definitely a prospect to keep an eye on in the coming months.

Scouting Report

One of the quicker players in this class, Edwards is Nickel or a corner at the next level. He will need to get bigger to play in the SEC but the frame is there to add muscle without losing his explosiveness. I think Edwards is someone that would have really benefited from the camp circuit in terms of his recruitment and evaluation. Don’t be surprised if his offer list blows up some later this fall.

War Eagle!