We are rapidly approaching the end of June which has been one of the busier months in college football recruiting history. Prospects have been on the road pretty much daily to visit their top programs while colleges from across the country have had players from everywhere on campus every single day. Programs and players alike have rushed to make up for 15 months of lost time knowing that another dead period arrives in July and that many decisions will be made over the next 2 months to lock down spots heading into football season.
With the return of in person recruiting, it’s been easier to get a read on who Auburn is recruiting hard and who in turn is most interested in the Tigers. Using that information, here’s who I think are the five most important Auburn targets in the 2022 class.
Auburn has had higher rated backs on campus this month for official visits. But when it comes to who is more likely to sign with the Tigers, location to campus, and how long Auburn’s new staff has been recruiting that target, Judkins is easily Auburn’s most important RB recruit on the board. The Pike Road standout took an unofficial visit to the Plains earlier this month where he spent over 2 hours meeting with new Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin. The Tigers are fighting to keep the talented back instate as both Florida and Penn State have made Judkins a priority. He’ll likely take his official visits in the fall and a decision won’t come until closer to signing day but right now I think Auburn will be tough to beat.
New defensive line coach Nick Eason has wasted no time making the state’s #11 ranked player a priority. Story has been to Auburn’s campus twice this month including an unofficial this past Saturday. He’ll be back for an official in the fall and will make his decision during his senior season. His older brother plays for Alabama but the Tide have yet to offer Caden. Meanwhile, the Tigers have made it clear he’s wanted and a top player on their board. They recently hosted his cousin 3-star LB Micah Pollard on an official visit (#4 in the picture above) and the two have discussed wanted to play at the same school this fall. Right now, Auburn’s top competition appears to be Indiana, Kentucky, and UCF with the Knights the only program to have hosted him on an official visit. But keep an eye on the Tide and the Aggies. Both have been involved this summer and could make a move this fall. Auburn right now though appears to be the team to beat.
There’d be no better proof that Auburn can recruit nationally than snatching a top 150 prospect from halfway across the country. That’s exactly what Auburn’s new staff is trying to do with 4-star wideout Darrius Clemons. Bryan Harsin recruited Clemons while at Boise State and that relationship allowed the Tigers to get Clemons on campus for an official visit earlier this month. He was reportedly blown away and said the Tigers had emerged as his leader with the caveat that this was his first official visit. He’s since taken official visits to USC and Penn State. The Nittany Lions along with the instate Ducks are likely to be the Tigers top competition. A decision could come this summer or he could wait until the fall. This would obviously be a monster win on the trail for this new staff. He plans to return to the Plains this fall for the Iron Bowl.
Right now, Nick Saban tends to get who he wants to get. There just aren’t many programs beating him head to head for top targets. But it does happen and while I don’t expect Bryan Harsin to immediately start snatching top ranked instate kids from the Tide, he does need to win some battles to keep Auburn within striking distance. This is one of those battles I think he can win. Nick Eason has made a major impact in this race and Auburn’s reemphasis on the Montgomery area definitely helps. His former high school teammate Marcus Harris is now on the Plains too. Still, this will be a difficult recruitment to win but if the Tigers can pull it off it would be a sign that Harsin’s staff can go toe to toe with the best in the country.
It might seem crazy to have a 3-star as the most important target on Auburn’s board but it’s the truth. It’s well known that offensive tackle recruiting has been a struggle for the Tigers ever since Jeff Grimes departed. This new staff has some major rebuilding to do up front especially considering how veteran heavy that OL room is right now. Very quickly after being hired Harris emerged as a top priority for Auburn’s new staff. He was on campus the very first day that in person recruiting was allowed. This is a recruitment Auburn must win. Yes, it won’t be easy. Harris really likes Alabama and if the Tide give him the green light it might be hard to stop him from committing. Mario Cristobal and the Ducks hosted the big man recently and appeared to impress while Florida State is also making him a priority. This is one of those recruitments that Auburn just has not won in quite awhile. Bryan Harsin’s staff needs to prove it’s a new day on the Plains and keep the big man home.