Yesterday, Auburn got some good news they’ve been waiting on for awhile. 4-star DL Caden Story announced his intentions to be an Auburn Tiger.
Despite publicly claiming he was wrestling with this decision, Story has been trending Auburn’s way pretty heavily for over a month now. A big reason being his connection with Auburn’s new coaching staff specifically new defensive line coach Nick Eason. The big man held offers from Florida State, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Texas A&M and many others. However, his final two came down to Auburn and UCF. The Knights were heavily involved due to the Story family’s long time relationship with Gus Malzahn and Travis Williams. In the end though, the opportunity to stay close to home while playing in the SEC and for a former NFL defensive line coach was too much for the Lanett native to pass on.
Story is the first major win for Nick Eason. Eason has earned plenty of praise early in his Auburn recruiting career from top prospects and has probably done the best job of consistently getting elite talent on campus this summer. However, until Story, he had not actually won a recruitment yet. Now he’s got his first blue chip on board and has a chance to build a strong debut class.
As for what Story brings to Auburn’s defense, the first thing that jumps out is his versatility. That’s a buzz word you are going to hear a lot about Auburn defensive targets as new defensive coordinator Derek Mason wants to be able to do a lot of different things with the same personnel. Story was incredibly productive last fall recording over 60 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, and 18 sacks. He is an excellent athlete at 6’4” 260+ lbs. He can set the edge on the outside or slide inside and rush the passer. He will need to improve his quickness, specifically his first step to be a more effective disruptor at the next level but he possesses a lot of the raw tools to develop into a high quality SEC defensive lineman. He’s someone I can see needing a year in the program to hone his skillset before breaking into the rotation as an impact player as a 2nd year player.
He’s unlikely to be the only addition to Auburn’s 2022 class this week.
On Wednesday, 3-star athlete Ja’Kobi Albert will announce his decision. He’s down to a final 3 of Auburn, Maryland, and Michigan. Most believe this is a Tigers-Wolverines battle with the instate Tigers likely the favorite. Albert could play wide receiver or safety at the next level. The Tigers like him on defense, specifically at the field safety spot. He’s only 0.01 points from earning a 4th star on 247 Composite.
Another name to watch is 4-star safety Tre Donaldson. A true two sport athlete, Donaldson announced a commit date of August 19th. He holds commitable offers from both Bryan Harsin and Bruce Pearl. Donaldson took a basketball official visit to the Plains over the summer and Auburn reportedly made a big move. Does that lead still hold? Not much has been reported either way but it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Tigers be the pick. I have a hard time though seeing Bruce let his point guard miss half the season so we will see if he truly gets an opportunity to play both sports if he commits to Auburn.
I will be announcing my commitment August 19 ‼️‼️ . @nightrydaselite @CoachRasheedW @Coach2Bless @GoodmanHoops @PaulBiancardi @ChadSimmons_ @FSUSRecruiting @FSUS_Athletics @FSUSBoysBBall pic.twitter.com/FOg4RjH9xm— Tre Donaldson (@tredonaldson3) July 31, 2021
While neither have set commit dates, both 4-star WR Omari Kelly and 3-star OL Drew Bobo could have decisions next month. Kelly made it to campus for Big Cat Weekend where he reportedly had a great time and the Tigers made a big move. This has been a recruitment that’s been hard to get a handle on but it seems things could be trending Auburn’s way. If he does decide to commit before the season starts that would likely be good news for the Tigers.
As for Bobo, he too visited for Big Cat Weekend but he was also in Athens this past weekend. This a legitimate Auburn vs Georgia battle with both programs wanting the versatile lineman in their class. His dad is Auburn’s new offensive coordinator which some might think would make him a lock to the Tigers but there’s more at play here. First off, Mike Bobo is a former quarterback at Georgia and spent a significant part of his career in Athens so it’s a program Drew is very familiar with and fond of. Second, Drew might be hesitant to play for his dad given the volatility of the coaching profession and along with the possible desire to not have to play for his dad. Having your dad as a coach in college could be both a blessing or a curse.
With that said, I still think Auburn is the favorite mostly due to his close relationship with Will Friend and his respect for new Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin. Auburn has no offensive lineman committed at the moment so obviously getting Bobo on board would be a big boost for this 2022 class.
I think it’s unlikely that Auburn adds all four targets before the season starts but it’s not impossible. Either way, Bryan Harsin should have a solid foundation in place for the 2022 class with hopes that a solid product on the field this fall will allow the Tigers to close strong when it counts.