In June 2021, every single weekend is a big official visit weekend. It’s a throw back to the days before the early signing period and prospects flocked to their top programs the handful of weekends in January before National Signing Day.
This weekend the list is a little lighter than the last but packs much more star power. Auburn is set to host three blue chip recruits who are all ranked within the top 150 along with arguably their top tight end target on the board. While last week was about improving leads Auburn likely already had for numerous targets, this week is about making up ground and improving Auburn’s standing with some big time players.
4-star CB Laterrance Welch | 6’1” | 180 lbs | Lafayette, LA | LSU Commit
Getting kids out of Louisiana is hard. It’s even harder when they are already committed to LSU. Kids that grow up in the boot tend to wanna stay in the boot. If a top prospect LSU really wants does actually leave the state it’s likely because they are going to Alabama. The last prospect I can remember Auburn getting from Louisiana that LSU really wanted was Greg Robinson.
But Auburn has a new coaching staff and they aren’t afraid to shoot their shot. Welch told AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr he speaks with new AU defensive coordinator Derek Mason almost daily. This visit is more than likely a courtesy trip to spend time with a coach he really respects but anything can happen once a kid gets on campus. Let’s see if this staff can get one of the top players from the boot to rethink his recruitment.
I couldn’t hunt down any junior tape on Welch but his sophomore highlights are more than capable of demonstrating why he’s considered one of the top players in the 2022 class. He reminds me a lot of Carlton Davis given his combination of size and athleticism. He can flip his hips and change directions quickly allowing him to stay with shifty wideouts and his length let’s him win 1 on 1 matchups when the ball is in the air. He’s also not afraid to hit and is a willing tackler. This would obviously be a big time flip if Auburn were able to make it happen.
4-star Omarion Hampton | 6’0” | 215 lbs | Clayton, NC
Auburn was one of the last teams to offer Hampton but the new staff made a big enough impact in such a short amount of time that the Tigers are one of the five programs hosting the top 150 player for an official visit.
Hampton is viewed by most as a heavy UNC lean with Ohio State being the program with the best shot of luring him out of state. But the Tigers are gonna take a swing at changing that this weekend and they have plenty to sell. There’s playing time available next fall and whomever signs in 2022 for Auburn will be positioned to take over as the guy in 2023 following Tank’s departure to the NFL. Both Bryan Harsin and Mike Bobo have a proven track record of getting backs to the NFL and I am sure they are going to be selling the opportunity to play in the SEC hard. If the Tigers are going to make a move and make this recruitment interesting it has to happen over these next three days.
If you were a fan of Ben Tate, you will likely be a fan of Omarion Hampton. He’s a big kid at 6’0” 215 lbs but has that ability to subtly move his body to bounce off tackles while navigating through traffic. He’s also just so dang big that he can run through arm tackles and be a nightmare to bring down in the open field. Despite his size, Hampton has outstanding top end speed allowing him to go the distance if he can get free. He’d be the perfect complement to Tank in 2022 and would undoubtedly be the Tigers’ top back in 2023 and beyond.
4-star LB Shemar James | 6’3” | 200 lbs | Mobile, AL
Despite seemingly having eliminated Auburn from his recruitment earlier this month when he announced he was down to a final two of Alabama and Florida, James will take an official visit to the Plains this weekend. I was a little surprised when it was reported but it seems James wants to evaluate all of his options thoroughly before making a decision next month. Most believe that overcoming Alabama will be impossible but the fact he’s not already committed shows that the door isn’t completely shut on everyone else. James was the first linebacker Jeff Schmedding called after being hired and is unquestionably near, if not at the top of Auburn’s linebacker board in the 2022 class. Let’s see if this new staff can rattle Saban’s cage a bit.
James is one of my favorite players in this class. He does a little of everything for Faith Academy but his future is unquestionably at linebacker at the next level. Specifically for Auburn, he’s likely destined to follow in Owen Pappoe’s footsteps as an athletic freak you line up all over the field. It’s hard to find guys with his size and explosiveness. He’d challenge for early playing time, possibly even a starting role if he came to the Plains.
3-star TE Micah Riley-Ducker | 6’6” | 235 lbs | Bellevue, NE
Sometimes my analysis can be pretty shallow. If you are a tight end recruit and Iowa really wants you then well I think it’s safe to assume you got a chance to be a big time player.
Riley-Ducker is one of TWO Power 5 tight end prospects on Bellevue West in Nebraska. He’s been traveling the country visiting colleges on his own dime before the dead period ended including taking a self guided tour of Auburn. This weekend he’ll get a chance to actually meet with the staff and get an opportunity to see how the Tigers’ new offensive braintrust wants to use his unique skillset.
The Hawkeyes are the early favorite but I get the impression Riley-Ducker is still pretty open. A strong visit this weekend could make Auburn the favorites come decision time in July. He’s unquestionably a top target for the Tigers.
It’s hard not to be impressed with Riley-Ducker’s tape. The big man spends a lot of his time lined up in the slot where he’s a matchup nightmare. Despite being 6’6” 235 lbs this man can move and he’s got great hands. You might worry that a tight end prospect lined up as a wide receiver most of the time might lack the physicality needed to line up on the line of scrimmage in the SEC and bang with the big boys. Not the case with Riley-Ducker who seems to enjoy contact. While most of his work his done on the edge where he drastically outweighs his competition, you have to love the eagerness he has in landing a block. He’d likely need a little time to develop as an inline blocker but he’s got the skillset to be a perfect fit for Harsin and Bobo’s offensive scheme.