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Auburn Football Recruiting: What’s Next?

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Breaking down where things stand right now for the Tigers in the 2022 recruiting class.

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Auburn John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn has come a long way in a short time. Entering July, Auburn’s class was outside of the top 70 due to having the fewest commits among Power 5 programs. But that changed quickly over the the next 2 months with the Tigers landing 9 commits over 44 days. They are still last in the SEC due to still having the fewest commits in the conference but now sit inside the top 40 and are poised to continue climbing up the rankings.

It was a good summer on the Plains.

But there is still plenty of work left to do and the Tigers have to win some big time battles if they hope to finish with a class Auburn fans have become accustomed to seeing over the past decade. Here’s a breakdown on where things stand currently for Auburn’s 2022 recruiting class and what names to know as the kickoff off to the 2021 season quickly approaches.

Commitments

  • 4-star DL Caden Story
  • 4-star QB Holden Geriner
  • 4-star S Tre Donaldson
  • 4-star RB Damari Alston
  • 4-star WR Omari Kelly
  • 3-star S Ja’Kobi Albert
  • 3-star TE Micah Riley-Ducker
  • 3-star WR Jay Fair
  • 3-star LB Powell Gordon
  • 3-star S Caleb Wooden
  • 3-star K Alex McPherson

Auburn’s class is now ranked #40 in the country. Despite the flurry of commitments, Auburn still has one of the smallest classes in the conference which is why they sit behind programs like Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, and Kentucky. The good news is Auburn’s player rating average has improved to 88.33 which is 7th best in the SEC. Again there is still room for improvement but that’s closer to where Auburn has typically landed in the rankings. That number is also lower than it should be due to Alex McPherson’s comically low rating. Removing his number moves Auburn’s average player rating to 89 which has them knocking on the door of a top 5 class in the conference.

Something interesting about Auburn’s class is that subscription sites have mixed opinions on the majority of the Tigers class. Only Caden Story is a consensus 4-star on all four recruiting sites (I am including the recently launched On3) but 7 other commits are rated a 4-star by at least one site. We will see if sites start coming to a consensus on Auburn’s class and if that consensus is positive.

Spots To Fill

Earlier this cycle I thought Auburn’s open spots were around 20 or 21 but there’s been some recent speculation that AU could have as many as 23 available. That number could grow further if the NCAA passes some proposed scholarship relief ideas that would give programs more space in the 2022 class. So to keep things simple, I am just going to stick with the always safe number of 25 to guide the scholarship breakdown.

  • QB: 0
  • RB: 1
  • WR: 1-2
  • TE: 0
  • OL: 4-5
  • DL: 3-4
  • OLB: 1-2
  • LB: 2
  • CB: 2-3
  • S: 1

Barring any surprise attrition at the quarterback spot, I don’t expect the Tigers to add a 2nd signal caller in the 2022 cycle. I’ll touch on later why I have 1 safety listed above because I believe it will be a specific player Auburn fans already know well.

Obviously the most work to be done is at the line of scrimmage. The Tigers have 0 offensive line commitments and only 1 on the defensive line. No matter how much the game changes being strong along the line of scrimmage is still a must for any team aspiring to compete for championships and there’s no doubt the Tigers have a lot of work to do up there this cycle. The success of this class will really be determined by Auburn’s ability to find impact players up front specifically at offensive tackle.

Top Team

Below are players I believe the Tigers are the team to beat right now.

  • 4-star WR Darrius Clemons - Most of the members of Auburn’s 2022 class reside in Alabama or Georgia, something that will likely always be true when it comes to the Tigers’ recruiting. But Bryan Harsin isn’t afraid to recruit outside the Tigers usual stomping grounds and already has one major win under his belt in Micah Riley-Ducker. He could be closing in on a 2nd with Clemons who is set to unofficially visit Auburn for their season opener against Akron. He will reportedly be joined by his mom, dad, stepmom, and two coaches. There’s also a very real chance he has a decision shortly after that trip. Auburn is very close to snagging one of the most impressive prospects this cycle.
  • 3-star OL Drew Bobo - I am a little surprised Bobo has yet to announce a decision. The versatile lineman is reportedly down to Auburn and Georgia. The Dawgs were seen as the leader earlier this summer but his trip to the Plains for Big Cat Weekend seems to have swung things back in Auburn’s favor. Don’t be surprised if a decision comes soon.
  • S Juwon Gaston - Gaston signed with Auburn in February but never made it to campus. It turns out though that it wasn’t because he didn’t have the grades but because he failed to qualify per the timeline Harsin outlined. AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr explained earlier this summer:

Well, Gaston actually was not a non-qualifier; he told us he simply qualified later than Auburn hoped. Because of that, Gaston added, Tigers coach Bryan Harsin and defensive coordinator Derek Mason wanted him to spend at least one semester at Hutchinson to prove to them he was serious about being a student. Because he isn’t a non-qualifier, that means he doesn’t have to spend two years in junior college.

So barring any surprises, Gaston will join Auburn’s roster in January. That would give the Tigers a 4 man safety class. However, Tre Donaldson could end up just playing basketball for the Tigers. Also Albert could play wide receiver and Gaston might be a better fit at nickel. Either way, Derek Mason has worked hard over a short period of time to bolster the backend of Auburn’s defense

Top Targets

A breakdown on where Auburn stands for a number of top targets. I tried to trim this list to prospects I believe the Tigers have a legitimate chance at landing. There are likely names missing but here’s at least who I think will heavily consider Auburn come commitment time.

  • 4-star DL Khurtiss Perry - Probably the most important defensive target on the board for the Tigers, Perry appears to be heavily considering three programs: Auburn, Alabama, and Ohio State. The Buckeyes are a legitimate threat and impressed the Perry family over the summer. However, Auburn has always been heavily involved and Perry has reportedly really clicked with new DL coach Nick Eason. Throw in his close friend Marcus Harris now playing for the Tigers and it’s easy to see why there should be some optimism on the Plains.
  • 4-star LB Robert Woodyard (Bama Commit) - The last time Auburn flipped a commitment from Alabama came in 2014 when Stephen Roberts and Kalvaraz Bessent saw the light. So you’d be forgiven for rolling your eyes at seeing an Alabama commit on this list. But there are reasons Auburn fans should be cautiously optimistic. First, Woodyard took an official visit over the summer. Second, he was back on campus for Big Cat Weekend. Finally, he’s expected back for some games this fall and reportedly has really clicked with Auburn’s new staff. Now will he actually flip? It’s hard to say because Saban rarely loses kids he wants but this is the first prospect in quite awhile where Auburn has a legitimate shot at coming out on the positive side of an instate flip.
  • 4-star WR Antonio Williams - Auburn has very quietly been a factor in this recruitment since the spring. But over the weekend, AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr dropped some major news reporting that Williams plans to take an official visit to the Plains. Given Auburn already has two wideouts committed and are trending the right way with Clemons, would they seriously take a 4th wideout? Absolutely if that wide receiver were to be someone like Antonio Williams.
  • 4-star CB Austin Ausberry - Considering his dad works in the LSU athletic department it’s hard to see Ausberry going anywhere other than Baton Rouge but the blue chip DB claims his recruitment is open and will likely take an official visit to AU this season. His father was publicly reprimanded for his handling of the Derrius Guice situation so maybe they are looking for a fresh start somewhere.
  • 4-star OT Riley Quick (Bama Commit) - Another Alabama commit makes the list but this is a very different situation. Quick actually committed to play baseball for the Tide but per InsideTheTigers’s Jason Caldwell, Bryan Harsin’s staff never let up and the dual sport athlete is still very receptive to idea of playing football for the Tigers. I would not be surprised to see him take an official visit this fall. We’ll see if it leads anywhere.
  • 4-star ATH Marquez Dortch (OM Commit) - Dortch is committed to play wideout for the Rebels but Auburn’s new staff has been hard after him since they arrived on the Plains. Dortch was at Big Cat Weekend and plans to take an official visit this fall. Auburn wants him at cornerback but he prefers to play offense. We’ll see if that ends up playing a decisive role in his signing day decision.
  • 4-star OT Malik Agbu - So far Harsin has shown he’s not afraid to pursue talent outside of Auburn’s usual recruiting grounds. That trend continued earlier this month when the Tigers offered Washington native Agbu. The big man was once committed to LSU but has since reopened things. Bryan Harsin was recruiting Agbu previously when coaching at Boise State and that relationship likely gives Auburn a really good chance to get him on campus for an official visit. Keep an eye on this recruitment...
  • 3-star OT Eston Harris Jr - Truthfully, Auburn is not Harris’s top school. However, he might still end up on the Plains due to his top programs filling up. He very publicly over the summer made it clear that if Nick Saban gives him the green light he’s headed to Tuscaloosa. That green light might never come so FSU emerged as his new top team. The Noles though are having a heck of a cycle recruiting OL and are close to filling up their class. That leaves Auburn as the best bet battling the Gators to keep him instate. Not the most encouraging of updates I know but AU needs OTs anyway they can get them.
  • 3-star DT Maxie Baudoin IV - It seemed AU was close to adding Baudoin to the class earlier this summer but the big man out of Louisiana has elected to slow down his recruitment and takes some visits elsewhere this fall. While I imagine they will stay in contact, it’s looking like the Tigers are going to prioritizing some other targets moving forward.
  • 3-star OT Percy Lewis (OR Commit) - The #1 ranked JUCO in the 2022 class is currently committed to the Ducks but there has been speculation that the big man might want to stay closer to home. Auburn continues to recruit the 6’8” 360 lb behemoth and are hoping to get him on campus for an official visit this fall. Also keep an eye on the Rebels who are reportedly hard after Lewis as well.
  • 3-star CB Andre Stewart (UK Commit) - Stewart was once committed to Auburn but backed away following Malzahn’s ouster. He’s since committed to the Wildcats but he seems open to still being recruited. He was back on campus for Big Cat Weekend and if the Tigers decide to push it wouldn’t be shocking to see him back in this class.
  • 3-star RB Quinshon Judkins - There’s mixed reports on how hard Auburn is pursuing Judkins. If they decide to push they’ll likely be the team to beat otherwise keep an eye on Ole Miss.
  • 3-star DL Quentel Jones - With AU and Baudoin appearing to be heading their separate ways, keep a close eye on Jones out of Fort Valley, GA. He’s a perfect fit for the nose tackle position in Auburn’s 3-4 scheme and would have a chance to contribute early. The Tigers offered earlier this month.
  • 3-star EDGE Joshua Josephs - The Tigers were slow to pursue Josephs early this cycle and that’s hurt them some but they’ve worked hard to get back involved. He’s set to commit on October 1st with Auburn, Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee all heavily involved. If he visits for a game this fall, I think Auburn could make a move.
  • 3-star OT Austin Kawecki (OKST Commit) - Kawecki was a recent OT offer. He’s committed to the Cowboys and Mike Gundy has a “no OVs elsewhere when committed” policy so we will see if he makes it to campus. Obviously if he elects to break that rule it’s a positive sign for Auburn’s chances.
  • 3-star EDGE Carlton Madden - Madden was committed to Colorado at one point but an offer from UGA changed everything. Now he’s set to make a decision on September 18th. Most see UGA as the overwhelming favorite though the Tigers have gotten involved in recent weeks.
  • OT Tyrone Webber - Webber is the other JUCO offensive tackle Auburn is pursuing. Orginally from Canada, Webber’s recruitment has exploded within the last month landing offers from Auburn, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M. He’s scheduled to commit on September 25th so it’s imperative that Auburn get him on campus before then if they hope to have any shot.

Names To Know

I expect a number of new offers to go out in the coming weeks as the staff gets a chance to review some early film of targets they like but want to see if they’ve continued to develop this off-season. This is likely especially true along the offensive line where Auburn might be targeting some late bloomers.

  • 3-star RB Justin Williams (WV Commit) - Auburn was reportedly close to offering Williams during the spring but it never happened. Per AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr though the Tigers have been in contact again. A strong fall could help Williams land that AU offer he covets. His 175 yard, 2 touchdown debut last week undoubtedly helps his cause.
  • 3-star LB Khalid Moore (MSST Commit) - According to AuburnLive’s Jeffery Lee, Auburn remains in contact with the Mississippi State commit. Auburn is likely to lose its top 3 linebackers so it’s important the Tigers sign a strong class. We’ll see if Moore climbs up Auburn’s board in the coming weeks.
  • 3-star OL Isaiah Montgomery (PITT Commit) - Per AuburnLives’s Cole Pinkston, Auburn is evaluating long time Pitt commit Isaiah Montgomery. He’s got the size you want to see at offensive tackle though there are some questions about his quickness. If he shows early this season that he’s got the feet to play on outside don’t be surprised if the Tigers get involved in his recruitment.
  • 3-star RB Jordaan Bailey (PITT Commit) - The other running back target to know is another Pittsburgh commit in Jordaan Bailey. The Tampa native is one of the more explosive backs in the 2022 class and would provide some nice lightning to Alston’s thunder.
  • 3-star OL Carter Edwards (COL Commit) - Currently committed to Colorado, Carter Edwards has been in contact with Auburn offensive line coach for a number of months now. If the Mississippi native were to land an offer from the Tigers that would likely change his commitment status.
  • 3-star TE Michael Hawkins - The #12 ranked player in the state of Kentucky had a private workout with the Tigers in June and is expected back on campus this weekend for Auburn’s season opener. I doubt the Tigers would take a 2nd tight end with current scholarship restrictions but if any of the proposed scholarship increases are passed then things could change quickly.
  • 3-star OL Anez Cooper - Cooper is listed as an offensive tackle but his future is likely in the interior. He attended Big Cat Weekend and the Tigers are keeping a close eye on his early season performance. Georgia officially offered earlier this month so another Tiger/Dawgs OL battle could be emerging.
  • DL Terrell Jones - Another under the radar instate prospect that attended Big Cat Weekend and is on Auburn’s radar is Hoover’s Terrell Jones. He won the DL MVP at a camp earlier this summer. Last season, he mostly worked at nose but is hoping to show more versatility in 2021. I love his frame but have questions about his quickness. Nonetheless, he’s an intriguing prospect whose getting a lot of attention from SEC programs like Auburn, LSU, and Ole Miss.
  • ATH Jalyn Daniels - You’d be hard pressed to find a player with a more dazzling 2021 debut than Jalyn Daniels’s 302 rushing yards and 3 touchdown performance. He’s one of the faster players in the state and someone Auburn has been tracking for awhile now. The question though is where would be play at the next level? Not sure he’s an SEC back but he could get a long look at defensive back. Either way, he’s a playmaker that’s likely to land at a D1 school come signing day.

War Eagle!