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Auburn Football Recruiting: Countdown to Early Signing Period

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Breaking down where things stand as the early signing period approaches

Ole Miss v Auburn Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

Fun night huh?

I have quite a few thoughts on the Bo Nix news and the potential Tank Bigsby news but that’s for another article because despite all the insanity going on with who is staying and who is going, the early signing period is about to arrive. For Bryan Harsin, building the program that fits his vision really begins this week.

The early signing period doesn’t mean the recruiting cycle is over but it’s durn close as the majority of prospects will look to end their recruitments during the early signing period. This period starts on Wednesday, December 15th and runs until Friday, December 17th. Not every prospect will sign but historically the large majority of prospects ink in the early period.

For Auburn, this week will be one of the busiest early signing periods in its short history. The Tigers could add as many as ten new faces to the class. Whether it’s positive press or not, Auburn is likely to be one of the major story lines this week (probably have already accomplished that feat tbh) as their hat will be on a number of tables. Bryan Harsin and his coaching staff appear to have quite a bit of confidence it will be a very positive day for the program but nothing is ever truly certain until that ink dries.

The dead period has begun which means no more visits for coaches or players. The next 48 hours will undoubtedly be filled with plenty of calls, text messages and social media DMs as staffs look to make one final push to land their top targets.

Today I’ll take a look at where things appear to stand by placing Auburn targets in 1 of 3 categories: Favoring Auburn, 50/50 Battle or Favoring Elsewhere. The categories are pretty self explanatory. Anyone in “Favoring Auburn” is essentially someone I believe is very likely to sign with Auburn. “50/50 Battle” features prospects that Auburn very well could sign but things still seem up in the air. The last category is for players I don’t think Auburn has much of a chance with.

I am also attempting to order them in terms of confidence meaning the higher they are in a certain category the more confident I am in that projection.

Let’s break it down.

Favoring Auburn

  • 4-star LB Robert Woodyard (Alabama) - Feels weird to have an Alabama commit at the top of this list but here we are. The Tigers have been in good shape with Woodyard for a number of months now. He told aldotcom at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game that his final decision is down to the Tigers and the Tide.
  • 3-star S Marquise Gilbert - I didn’t feel good about this recruitment a couple of weeks ago. Auburn’s staff has felt confident for awhile now but when Florida State offered the feeling was Gilbert was attracted to the idea of playing close to home. However, the nation’s #1 ranked JUCO safety left his official visit to Florida State early over the weekend and a number of FSU mods have now submitted predictions on 247 for Gilbert to end up with the Tigers. He’ll announce his commitment tonight and sign on Wednesday. He will have 3 years of eligibility.
  • 3-star CB Keionte Scott - Scott took an official visit to BYU over the weekend and Tennessee is reportedly hard after the JUCO transfer. There’s also some buzz new Oregon head coach Dan Lanning might try to make a late push as Scott has previously visited the Ducks. However, Auburn’s staff seems to feel VERY confident that Scott will end up with the good guys. There’s a belief he can come in and compete immediately to replace Roger McCreary at that open corner spot next season.
  • 3-star DL Enyce Sledge - The former Baylor commit took an official visit over the weekend and gave the trip a “10”. His final five includes Auburn, Baylor, Indiana, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech. Sledge claims this race is wide open but the feeling is Auburn holds a commanding lead. He will announce his decision on Tuesday.
  • 4-star DL Jeffery M’Ba - Not that long ago I thought that this recruitment was trending away from the Tigers. After all, it’s hard to bet against Rodney Garner closing on an elite JUCO DT. But the Vols don’t even appear to be a major factor anymore. Instead this is a Tigers battle between Auburn and Missouri. The better looking and more successful Tigers appear to hold the edge. M’Ba will sign on Wednesday but won’t announce his decision until December 19th so that he can do it on live television in France. Something I have not seen before in my years of following recruiting.
  • 4-star CB JaDarian Rhym (LSU) - It was big that Auburn got Rhym on campus this past weekend and a calculated decision by the Tigers’ coaching staff. He was initially scheduled to take an OV the weekend of the Iron Bowl but instead he took an unofficial and moved his OV to the last weekend before the early signing period. LSU tried hard to convince him to come back to Baton Rouge but failed. It appears his OV to Auburn went well as Rhym plans to announce a final decision Tuesday.
  • 4-star CB Austin Ausberry - There is a lot of confidence that despite the fact his father is an LSU alum and currently works for the LSU athletic department, Ausberry is headed to the Plains. I have a hard time being very confident in that so it’s why he’s at the bottom of this list. A decision is expected later this afternoon. I think Zac Etheridge is about to have a very good week.
  • 3-star OL Jalen Farmer (Florida) - This is an interesting one. Farmer is not expected to sign until February so there is still a ways to go in this recruitment. The Gators are under new management and Billy Napier has successfully run off the majority of the class. I am not sure if Farmer will be another casualty or not but either way the Tigers are very high on his skillset and he will be a priority during the late period. My biggest hesitation is every possible P5 OL talent will become a priority for a number of programs so I expect this to be a battle down the stretch.
  • 3-star OL Anez Cooper - Think this one is pretty simple. Does Auburn give Cooper the green light or not? I suspect if he signs with Auburn it won’t be until February but it’s something to watch this week.

50/50 Battle

  • 3-star WR Camden Brown - I am very close to moving Brown up a category but given the weirdness of this recruitment over the summer I am hesitant. He took an official visit to UGA over the weekend but not much intel has come out on that visit. The Dawgs are trending for former Gator commit Chandler Smith and pushing to flip Tennessee commit Marquarius White. His final 3 features Auburn, Georgia, and Pittsburgh. As of now, I am cautiously optimistic he ends up in Auburn’s class. Rivals recently gave him his 4th star.
  • 4-star OL/DL Tae Woody - The biggest news to drop this weekend was Woody informing the media following his official visit to the Plains that he is waiting until February to sign. This kid seems clearly torn between the Tigers and Noles. He prefers defense and Auburn is fine with giving him a chance on that side of the ball. FSU wants him on the offensive line and Woody is very close with FSU’s offensive line coach. He will take unofficial visits to both programs in January before making a final decision. This battle could still go either way.
  • 4-star WR Darrius Clemons - Heading into the weekend there was confidence on the Plains that Clemons would ultimately end up a Tiger. But the blue chip wideout took an official visit to Michigan over the weekend. He reportedly lived in Michigan until he was 10 and a childhood friend signed with the Wolverines last year so there are some real connection there. Not much information has come out on that visit so it’s hard for me to say much either way which is why I am not ready to project him to Auburn.
  • 4-star RB Justin Williams - I think the big question is whether or not Auburn has waited too long for Williams. Yes he has an offer from the Tigers and yes he took an official visit but I am still not sure the staff would take his commitment right now as they continue to pursue Tre’Vonte Citizen. Tennessee has taken advantage of the opportunity and hosted the Georgia native on an official visit this past weekend. There’s a lot of confidence in Knoxville he will end up on Rocky Top. My understanding is this kid loves Auburn so I still wonder if the Tigers call him up today and say it’s a go if he might jump on board.
  • 4-star DL Khurtiss Perry - Are you ready to be hurt again Auburn fans? This one is tough because there is real confidence on the Plains that they’ve done enough to land this kid. But Alabama’s confidence has yet to waiver and I honestly don’t remember the last time Auburn’s confidence won out over Saban’s for an instate kid. We will see what happens down the stretch.
  • 4-star RB Tre’Vonte Citizen - Auburn is all in on Citizen. The staff believe he is a future NFL back and I agree. The Louisiana native chose the home state Tigers over AU during the summer but reopened his recruitment following Ed O’s departure. The recent buzz is that he will wait until February to sign which would likely be bad news for Auburn. Bryan Harsin and Carnell Williams will undoubtedly work hard over the next 48 hours to make the jump to the Plains. We will see if they can make it happen.
  • 4-star LB DeMario Tolan (LSU) - To me this is the biggest wildcard recruitment on the board. Tolan is committed to LSU but has interest in Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee. Both the Vols and Tigers feel they have done enough to convince him to flip their way. However, he took a 2nd official visit to LSU to meet with the new staff over the weekend. There hasn’t been much reported on that visit so I don’t really know where to place him. My gut says he sticks with LSU but we will see what happens
  • 3-star LB EJ Lightsey - Lightsey joined the flood of decommits in Gainesville yesterday. He’s someone the Tigers were fans of over the summer and depending on what happens with Tolan it would not shock me to see Auburn try and get the Georgia native back on campus in January.
  • 4-star TJ Dudley - Dudley was an Oregon commit but reopened his recruitment following Mario Cristobal’s departure. He attended a number of Auburn games this fall and if the Tigers ever decided to make a move I think they’d have a great chance. But the staff does not seem to be as high on Dudley as the recruiting services and as of today don’t appear to be making a push. But we will see if that changes in January.

Favoring Elsewhere

  • 3-star CB Myles Pollard (Michigan) - Zac Etheridge loves Pollard’s upside (I do too) and has continued to pursue Pollard despite his longtime pledge to the Wolverines. There’s still a chance this could be an early signing day surprise but I think it’s more likely he sticks with Michigan
  • 4-star QB Tanner Bailey - Bailey is another Ducks commit who is back on the market. He’s an Auburn legacy and multiple games in Jordan-Hare this fall. With the news Bo Nix is on the move does the staff take another prep QB prospect? If they do Bailey would make a ton of sense. Indiana is looking to get involved and hosted him over the weekend for an official visit.
  • 4-star OT Julian Armella - I really don’t understand this recruitment from Auburn’s perspective. It appears they really didn’t get involved until a couple of months ago. He LOVED his official visit and I can’t help but wonder if Auburn had gotten involved earlier if this would have turned out differently. However, he is a Nole legacy and looks likely to sign with Florida State so maybe it wouldn’t have mattered and that connection played a role in Auburn’s decision.
  • 4-star DL Tyre West (Georgia) - I actually think if Auburn had allowed West to take that official visit last weekend he’d end up in orange and blue. But the Tigers seem concerned about West’s “fit”. He’s technically committed to the Dawgs but they won’t be sending him a National Letter of Intent. This appears down to Florida State and Tennessee.
  • 3-star WR Marquarius White (Tennessee) - New Auburn WR coach Eric Kiesau is a big fan of White and was hoping to get him on campus for an official visit this past weekend. However, he decided not to make the trip and this now appears to be a clear UGA vs Tennessee battle.
  • 3-star OT Percy Lewis - Another former Oregon commit, Auburn has tried hard to be involved in this recruitment. But the big man is likely to stay in his home state of Mississippi.
  • 3-star LB Deuce Spurlock (Michigan) - This was a major miss by the staff because Spurlock was absolutely gettable but an offer took too long coming. Auburn offered the day he traveled to Ann Arbor with the intention of committing. The Tigers worked hard to try and get him on an official visit but it never materialized.
  • 4-star DL Chris McClellan (Florida) - Auburn has been trying to get McClellan on campus since the summer but it never happened. It appears there’s a good chance he still signs with the Gators this week.
  • 4-star OT Malik Agbo - The Tigers apparently are concerned about Agbo’s fit following his official visit and are no longer heavily pursuing. It appears he will land in Austin, TX. Passing on a 4-star offensive tackle seems like a bold move to me but we will see.
  • 4-star OG Qae’Shon Sapp (Florida State) - Auburn was hoping to make a late move in this recruitment but Sapp is locked in with the Noles.
  • 4-star EDGE Nyjalik Kelly - Kelly listed Auburn in his top 5 and Nick Eason visited him this past week. But he never took that official visit to the Plains. Most see him staying close to home and attending Miami.
  • 3-star TE Colston Loveland (Michigan) - Another failed Michigan flip attempt. Loveland is one of the highest ranked prospects to come out of Idaho and is someone Harsin recruited at Boise State but the Tigers prioritized Riley-Ducker.
  • 3-star OL Drew Bobo (Auburn) - It’s looking more and more likely Bobo will end up at his dad’s alma mater this week. So for those folks who were skeptical that he was a legit take for UGA when he committed to Auburn here’s your proof....

War Eagle!