Over the next few weeks, I’ll be taking a closer look at some of the top early targets for the Tigers in the 2022 class.
Ah my annual tradition of starting a series where I breakdown the top names to know early in the next recruiting cycle only to stop after an article or two.
But not this year! This year we finish the drill and I can confidently state you will get at least four articles. Progress!
Today, I take a look at five names to know at quarterback. You might be wondering why there are five names on this list considering Auburn already has a QB commit. While there is no official confirmation this will be the case, it’s widely believed Auburn will look to sign two QBs this class if they can.
So here are some names to pay attention to over the coming months.
Simpson is set to make his decision on February 19th. The nation’s #2 ranked dual threat QB has cut his list down to a final 7 featuring Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Texas A&M. He was a top target for Auburn’s previous offensive staff and that has not changed under Bryan Harsin. It sounds like the initial conversations have left a positive impression on Simpson. Here’s what he told 247Sports’s about Auburn:
“I feel like Auburn is going to have a great culture there with Coach (Bryan) Harsin and Coach (Mike) Bobo is a quarterback genius with Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray and I’d love to be a first round pick like Matthew Stafford was.”
However, I think everyone is chasing Clemson right now. The Tigers continue to reel in elite QBs each class and that looks likely to continue in 2022. If not Clemson, keep an eye on the Crimson Tide who have made Simpson a priority early this cycle.
I get serious Bo Nix flashbacks when watching Simpson’s tape. Like Bo, Simpson has a big time arm and impressive athleticism. Also like Bo, he spends a lot of his time running for his life behind an offensive line that is far from elite. But you can see the potential and it’s easy to understand why every major program in America is trying to get him on their roster.
Brown was considered a major Florida lean up until the Gators offensive coordinator Brian Johnson left for the NFL. Now his recruitment is wide open and I expect Auburn to be a major player in this race. Miami though is coming on strong and Rhett Lashlee is working hard to make Brown the QB of their 2022 class. Texas A&M and Arizona State are also major factors.
Brown is a fascinating eval. He’s unquestionably an elite athlete. This is a kid who is a nightmare to tackle when the ball is in his hands. At 6’4” 205 lbs, Brown has some scary burst and elusiveness. However, as a passer, he’s got a ways to go. He completed less than 50% of his passes last season while throwing 7 picks. Dude has a cannon and there are moments where you can see the potential but the consistency just isn’t there yet. If he can ever put it all together he’s got some serious Justin Fields vibes.
This has been an interesting recruitment to follow. Gus Malzahn was slow to offer Bailey but did so not long after Alabama jumped into the race last spring. However, new head coach Bryan Harsin and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo have not yet done so. There has reportedly been conversations but no offers just yet. If Auburn plans to make a move they will likely need to do so soon because if Alabama misses on Simpson, I could see them making Bailey the QB of their 2022 class.
A multi sport athlete, Bailey bounced back from a collarbone injury his sophomore season to lead Gordo to the 4A state championship. Excels at pushing the ball down the field and does a great job keeping plays alive in the pocket. There’s some float to his ball when he goes deep but overall he’s clearly a blue chip QB prospect.
Following Auburn’s miss on 5-star Gunner Stockton, Auburn moved quickly on Holden Geriner landing his commitment on February 1st. While his rating isn’t flashy, his offer list is impressive featuring the likes of Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, and Tennessee. He’s someone whose stock you should buy now because he’s going to fly up the rankings when he gets a chance to camp this summer.
In 2019, Geriner struggled. He completed less than 47% of his passes, threw 12 picks and threw for under 1,500 yards as sophomore. 2020 was MUCH different. The Auburn commit bumped that completion percentage up to 68% while throwing for over 2,700 yards, 25 touchdowns and only tossing 3 picks.
What’s most impressive with Geriner’s tape is his accuracy in the intermediate passing game. In most QB highlight tapes, you see prospects chucking the ball 40+ yards and while those are plays are present in Geriner’s highlights, you also see him consistently fitting passes through tight windows to pick up first downs. Being able to throw accurately in traffic is something that’s sometimes hard to evaluate with high school quarterbacks because the elite players are often chucking it deep most of the time. But you can see Geriner has the ability to be effective in the intermediate game on top of being able to take the top off a defense. I really believe this kid is a top 10 QB in the 2022 class.
I am keeping an eye on Harrell this cycle. He started for the first time this past fall at Thompson where he put up some gaudy numbers. Most QBs tend to do that at Thompson but throwing for over 3,500 yards while completing 73% of your passes, tossing 42 touchdowns and only being intercepted 3 times is impressive wherever you play. Harrell doesn’t yet have an offer from Auburn but he’s reportedly had conversations with Mike Bobo. If Auburn is set on bringing in a 2nd QB and can’t convince someone like Simpson or Brown to come in with Geriner, Harrell ain’t a bad direction to go.
Harrell’s ball placement jumps out on tape. Whether it’s hitting a wideout in stride 40 yards down field or fitting a pass over a linebacker’s head, Harrell consistently demonstrates the ability to put his throws right where he wants them. A solid arm, Harrell can be effective throwing it deep. While I wouldn’t necessarily consider him a dual threat QB, he’s got enough athleticism to keep plays alive and pick up some yards on the ground when you need him. Don’t be surprised if his offer list grows over the summer.