Things are starting to pickup on the trail for the 2022 class. The Tigers added three commitments last week and two of their top targets are set to make their decisions in the coming weeks. A number of other top targets, such as 3-star WR Jay Fair and 3-star OL Drew Bobo, appear to be closing in on decisions as well.
However, regardless of the recent run, Auburn’s 2022 class is unlikely to reach the ranking Auburn fans have become accustomed to in recent years. Barring a surprising surge in the fall, I don’t see Auburn cracking the top 10 and I think even top 15 will be a reach due to a smaller number of commits and the lack of top 100 players.
But that should not be a surprise given today’s recruiting world. The early signing period has pushed the recruiting cycle earlier meaning Harsin was behind for the 2022 class when he was hired. Lack of in person visits and evaluations due to COVID restrictions hampered his ability to make an early impact even further. Add in the fact that the transfer portal now exists and a staff can easily find 5-6 impact players from there each cycle, it’s easy to see why Auburn fans should keep their expectations tempered for 2022.
Those excuses end though for 2023. That will be the cycle where this staff can honestly be graded on their ability to recruit. They won’t be behind relationship wise and will have already had a product on the field they can sell. Auburn should and must sign a top 10 class next cycle.
As such, I’ll be keeping as close an eye on that class as I do the 2022 one. Last week, ESPN released its first rankings for the 2023 class. This is actually a pretty crucial ranking as they don’t tend to make dramatic changes to their rankings over the cycle so where kids are ranked there now is likely the area they will be come signing day. That release impacts the 247 Composite which is the ranking system I use due to it including the rankings of all 3 of the major sites.
So here’s a look at where Auburn’s top targets in the 2023 class now stand in the 247 Composite
- #3.) 5-star DT Peter Woods (Alabaster, AL) - Fell one spot but remains the top player in the state. He unofficially visited Auburn in June. Alabama will be tough to beat
- #6.) 5-star DT James Smith (Montgomery, AL) - Smith remains the #2 player in the state of Alabama. He was on Auburn’s campus the very first day in person visits were reopened. I think of the instate five stars in the 2023 class, he’s the most likely to end up in Auburn’s class, at least right now.
- #11.) 5-star CB Tony Mitchell (Alabaster, AL) - Teammates with Woods, the #1 DB in the state of Alabama made the trek to the Plains with Woods in June. He was at one point committed to Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee but now most believe he’s a strong Tide lean.
- #17.) 5-star RB Richard Young (Lehigh Acres, FL) - Auburn really needs to get Young back on campus. They have hosted him twice previously including in January when he visited with AU signee Tar’varish Dawson. However, recently Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State have emerged as the top contenders
- #21.) 5-star CB AJ Harris (Phenix City, AL) - Harris is understandably a top target for the Tigers as he lives just up the road. I think Auburn has a chance but Harris is originally from Georgia and the Dawgs have long been the top contender. Clemson and Ohio State are also heavily involved.
- #23.) 5-star DL Jayden Wayne (Tacoma, WA) - Wayne took a slight tumble in the rankings falling down 10 spots to #23. He and his 7 on 7 teammates visited a number of the top programs in the southeast back in June including Auburn. I think this one is a longshot but Wayne said after his visit he plans to be back for a game this fall. Let’s see if that happens.
- #25.) 5-star LB Drayk Bowen (Merrillville, IN) - It’s unlikely Bowen leaves the state of Indiana as the Fighting Irish are regarded as the overwhelming favorite. But the #1 linebacker in the 2023 class did make it to Auburn’s campus this summer. Getting him back on campus will be key.
- #31.) 5-star CB Jahlil Hurley (Florence, AL) - That’s right, there are FIVE prospects in the 2023 class from the state of Alabama that are rated as five stars. Auburn has to get at least one, preferably two of these studs. I think Hurley though is the least likely and he’ll be one of the first commits for the Tide in the 2023 class.
- #39.) 4-star QB Dylan Lonergan (Snellville, GA) - Auburn’s likely top QB target in the 2023 class is already off the board as Eli Rothstein committed to Texas A&M. But the Tigers are involved with a number of other high profile quarterbacks in next year’s class including Lonergan.
- #44.) 4-star DB Caleb Downs (Hoschton, GA) - Downs slid down a few spots in the recent update but he’s still a top 50 prospect. He visited AU this summer but his older brother attends UNC and the Tar Heels will be tough to beat.
- #50.) 4-star DL Derrick LeBlanc (Kissimmee, FL) - The Florida native included Auburn in his top 10 back in January and made it to campus in early June. He’ll likely return this fall.
- #61.) 4-star DL Kelby Collins (Gardendale, AL) - Collins made it to the Plains not once but twice this summer. He’ll likely be back for a couple of games in the fall. This is someone I think Auburn has a real shot at. Both Alabama and Georgia are major factors as well.
- #67.) 4-star OT Bo Hughley (Fairburn, GA) - Hughley raved about his visit to the Plains earlier this summer and a return trip this fall is very likely. Obviously given the fact he’s a blue chip offensive tackle from Georgia, he’s one of the Tigers early top targets in next year’s class. He included Auburn in his top 8 yesterday.
- #68.) 4-star OG Harris Sewell (Odessa, TX) - The #2 ranked inside offensive lineman in the 2023 class was on campus the very first day of June. He seemed blown away by what he saw and I expect he’ll be someone Auburn fans should be tracking next cycle.
- #69.) 4-star DL/OLB Keldric Faulk (Highland Home, AL) - See what I mean about the state of Alabama being loaded in 2023? Earlier in the spring Faulk made some concerning comments about Auburn not recruiting him that hard but that changed quickly in June when he made it to the Plains twice and called the Tigers one of his top schools.
- #72.) 4-star RB Justice Haynes (Roswell, GA) - Despite being an UGA legacy, Haynes has consistently stated that he’s open to any school. Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, and Ohio State all like him a lot but I just don’t see him leaving the state of Georgia.
- #85.) 4-star WR Karmello English (Phenix City, AL) - Can Bryan Harsin break the Central curse? He’ll have his first chance next cycle in the form of explosive wideout Karmello English. He visited Auburn twice over the summer
- #88.) 4-star DL John Walker (Kissimmee, FL) - Teammates with LeBlanc, Walker was apart of a big group from Osceola that made a trip to the Plains in June. Of the two, it sounds like Auburn made more headway with Walker and I expect the Tigers to be a factor in his recruitment
- #97.) 4-star S Terrance Love (Fairburn, GA) - Love included Auburn in his top 12 but I am not sure if he made it to campus this summer. I expect he will this fall.
- #104.) 4-star S Sylvester Smith (Munford, AL) - Smith had a chance to get a lot of 1 on 1 time with the staff when he unofficially visited over the weekend in early June. FSU looks to be a top contender as well.
- #125.) 4-star OT Payton Kirkland (Orlando, FL) - I’d be surprised if Kirkland isn’t inside the top 100 by the close of the 2023 recruiting cycle. The big man visited virtually everywhere in June including stopping by the Plains.
- #128.) 4-star WR Cayden Lee (Powder Springs, GA) - Not a ton of intel out on Lee’s recruitment but AU appears to be an early factor.
- #133.) 4-star CB Ethan Nation (Roswell, GA) - Nation is close with AU target 5-star AJ Harris. They both visited AU for A-Day and it would not be surprising to see them land at the same college. Like Harris, UGA and Ohio State have emerged as major contenders along with the Tigers.
- #138.) 4-star QB Brayden Dorman (Colorado Springs, CO) - The #9 QB in the 2023 class camped at Auburn in June but has yet to receive an offer. If that changes I think the Tigers can become a factor.
- #151.) 4-star DL/OLB Tomarrion Parker (Phenix City, AL) - Another blue chip out of Central, Auburn has some work to do to keep Parker instate. He was reportedly very impressed with both the Tar Heels and Dawgs this summer. It’s early but it seems he might prefer leaving the state.
- #152.) 4-star QB Eli Holstein (Zachary, LA) - I think it’s safe to say that Holstein was Bryan Harsin and Mike Bobo’s top QB target in 2023. He chose to commit to Texas A&M in June. I imagine the Tigers will continue to pursue but I don’t think the odds of flipping are very high.
- #156.) 4-star RB Trey Holly (Farmerville, LA) - Blue chip running back from Louisiana? Safe to assume LSU is probably the favorite though I think AU will get some visits.
- #161.) 4-star LB Andrew Harris (Altamonte Springs, FL) - Lake Brantley’s defense features something you don’t see that often. Twins that are both rated as blue chips. Andrew’s the higher rated of the pair. Think it’s safe to say this will be a package deal.
- #162.) 4-star OT Luke Brown (Paris, TN) - Brown made it to campus in early June and I believe the Tigers will be a big factor in his recruitment.
- #169.) 4-star OG Madden Sanker (Douglasville, GA) - Sanker is one of my early favorite OL prospects in the 2023 cycle. Getting him away from Kirby though will be difficult.
- #178.) 4-star OG Knijeah Harris (Port Saint Lucie, FL) - Auburn has not had a lot of success recruiting IMG. The new staff is hoping to change that and one of their top targets is Harris. Auburn was the first team to offer him in person once visits were allowed again and that moment seemed to be big for him.
- #179.) 4-star CB Caleb Presley (Seattle, WA) - Presley was apart of Team FSP visitor group that toured the southeast. Auburn offered and Presley told reporters that he plans to return for a game this fall.
- #213.) 4-star QB Malachi Singleton (Kennesaw, GA) - The Georgian camped at Auburn earlier this summer but has yet to earn an offer. I am still trying to figure out who exactly Auburn is prioritizing at QB in next year’s cycle so Singleton is a name I am watching.
- #228.) 4-star LB Michael Harris (Altamonte Springs, FL) - Michael is the other 4-star LB twin that plays for Lake Brantley.
- #229.) 4-star S Kylin Jackson (Zachary, LA) - Jackson was reportedly planning on unofficially visiting AU in June. I am not sure if he made it to campus or not but he’s someone to track in the coming months.
- #242.) 4-star WR/TE Ethan Davis (Suwanee, GA) - One guy that increased his stock big time over the summer was Davis. The jumbo athlete landed offers from seemingly everywhere over the summer including Auburn.
This list only encapsulates known Auburn targets ranked in the top 247 on 247 Composite. It’s still early in the cycle and many new names will emerge while names on this list will likely fall away but I wanted to give a big picture of the work being done early by this staff in 2023. While the visitor lists weren’t always that flashy in June for 2022, Auburn did a really good job getting elite 2023 prospects on campus and beginning to build those relationships.
The 2023 class will be a pivotal one for Bryan Harsin and his staff. Given the amount of elite instate talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball, along with Harsin having a full year under his belt, this needs to be the class he proves he’s capable of recruiting with the best of the SEC. It’s a LONG ways to December 2023 but the Tigers are off to a good start.