The bedrock of every Auburn recruiting class is built on three states: Alabama, Georgia and Florida. The Tigers have 10 commits so far in the 2021 class with six hailing from Alabama and Florida. As of today, none of Auburn’s commits come from the Peach State.
While it’s early, that’s a pretty noticeable characteristic of this class considering Auburn signed more players from that state the last two seasons than any other. In fact, Auburn hasn’t signed less than 8 from the state of Georgia since 2017.
So what’s going on?
Well first, it’s still very early and chances are extremely good the Tigers will land their fair share from their neighboring state. Auburn has only offered 29 Georgia natives so far this cycle which is lower than any previous cycle under Gus Malzahn. Undoubtedly the pandemic has had an effect on those numbers as the Tigers were unable to evaluate kids in person. Auburn is also prioritizing Texas this year, most notably on the offensive side of the ball, which is already proving a successful strategy.
I also think the talent level is a little down this cycle. As always, there are quite a few elite prospects at the top of the list but I am not sure if the 2021 Georgia class is as deep as previous ones. Only 28 Georgians are rated as a 4-star or higher by 247 Composite. That’s the lowest number since 2016. Again, the pandemic has undoubtedly played a factor in the rankings and that number could skyrocket up after the fall, assuming there is a high school football season in the state.
Finally, competition is as fierce as ever in Georgia. Kirby Smart is the best recruiter in the country right now, consistently signing top classes and is doing a great job keeping most of the top talent in the state this cycle. Under Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee has been making inroads in the Peach State and already has two blue chip Georgians committed. Then there’s Clemson, a program right now that rarely loses a recruiting battle and excels at plucking elite kids out of Georgia.
Auburn will sign some kids from Georgia but it might not be as long a list as it has been in recent cycles. That’s ok as long as the Tigers continue to do a good job finding top talent elsewhere. However, how good a class this ends up being will likely come down to Auburn’s ability to win some of these high profile battles in the Peach State. They’ve won just enough over the years to stay competitive against the best in the country. They will need to do the same in 2021.
Here’s a rundown of the battles Auburn fans should pay attention to this cycle. If the Tigers can land at least two from this list, no matter the number of players signed from the state, you could consider Auburn’s Georgia based recruiting efforts a success.
5-Star Offensive Tackle Amarius Mims
6’7” / 315 / Bleckley County / Cochran, GA
I remain skeptical that Auburn is a legitimate contender in this race but reportedly Auburn’s coaching staff believes it has a real chance. Despite Mims consistently naming Alabama as his top team, most everyone believes UGA is the team to beat. Both Auburn and Tennessee lurk as threats. The Tigers are selling early playing time, something that reportedly matters a lot to Mims. It also reportedly mattered a lot to Dylan Fairchild and Broderick Jones too. So until Auburn actually beats out the Dawgs for an elite offensive lineman they want, especially an instate one, I will assume it’s not going to happen to be safe.
5-Star Linebacker Smael Mondon
6’4” / 193 / Athens Academy / Athens, GA
Mondon cryptically tweeted last month that a decision could come to June but that’s looking less likely these days. Confidence appears to be dropping in Athens while rising in Knoxville and Auburn. The Dawgs are unquestionably still the team to beat but it no longer appears a certainty as it did just a few months ago. For Auburn, it’s Mondon’s relationship with Travis Williams that has the Tigers contending for the nation’s best linebacker’s pledge. Will it be enough? The longer this plays out the more hope rises it will though do not count out Tennessee. The Vols are in the thick of this race with some even believing they might have taken the lead. This will be a heated recruitment up until signing day.
4-Star Wide Receiver Deion Colzie
6’4” / 193 / Athens Academy / Athens, GA
A former Notre Dame commit, Colzie is another Peach State product that doesn’t appear to be as big a lock to the instate Dawgs as first believed. Rumors abound the nation’s 9th ranked wide receiver wants to leave home for college. Auburn and Alabama appear to be the top contenders. I fully expect Auburn to host Colzie on an official visit this fall. This is definitely a recruitment to keep an eye on in the coming months.
4-Star Cornerback Nyland Green
6’2” / 183 / Newton / Covington, GA
In my amateur opinion, Green is the best cornerback in this 2021 class. Up until a few weeks ago, Clemson was thought to be the clear favorite but things have changed. There is buzz that Auburn might now be the team to beat. Green is reportedly close with the Tigers’ coaching staff and is very good friends with 2020 signee Dre Butler. Auburn needs to sign one of Ga’Quincy McKinstry and Nyland Green in this class. Right now, Green is looking the more likelier of the two.
4-Star Defensive End Jonathan Jefferson
6’4” / 255 / Douglas County / Douglasville, GA / UGA Commit
Auburn has yet to flip a prospect committed to Georgia since Kirby Smart’s arrival in 2016. If there is any coach that could make it happen though it’s Rodney Garner. The Tigers love Jefferson and continue to pursue despite his pledge to the Bulldogs. He reportedly is still in communication with Auburn’s staff. This is a recruitment where the spring shutdown really hurt the Tigers. But if Auburn can get Jefferson back on campus for an official visit in the fall maybe they can make things interesting again.
3-Star Linebacker Trevin Wallace
6’2” / 225 / Wayne County / Jesup, GA / BC Commit
Wallace is a name to file away for later. Auburn is swinging for the fences at linebacker hoping to land one of Smael Mondon/Xavian Sorey. If they were to miss on both, Wallace is a name that could jump to the top of the list. He recently committed to Boston College but if the Tigers turn the heat up this fall, it’s hard to imagine that pledge sticking. Travis Williams has proven in just a few short years he knows how to evaluate linebackers so don’t also be surprised to see Wallace’s rating rise as well this fall.
3-Star Cornerback Javon Bullard
6’0” / 183 / Baldwin / Milledgeville, GA
Despite his low rating, Bullard holds offers from both Auburn and Georgia. Both programs are reportedly recruiting Bullard pretty hard and it would not shock me to see him land in either class. If Kevin Steele, Wesley McGriff, Kirby Smart and Charlton Warren all think a kid can play, he’s probably a name to pay attention to no matter where recruiting sites have him rated.