Auburn goes into National Signing Day with almost all its big fish committed and ready to put pen to paper, but there are still a few big ones out there, and one huge in-state recruiting battle that, quite frankly, Auburn has to win.
No ifs, ands or buts about it: The Tigers have to land five-star linebacker Rashaan Evans out of Auburn High School. Auburn got a bit of a free pass last year with Reuben Foster flipping to Alabama due to the disaster that was 2012 and the entire coaching staff getting canned and leaving the program in what seemed to be ruins. Gus Malzahn turned Auburn into a powerhouse once again, and powerhouses don't lose recruits out of their own backyard when said recruit's father played for said powerhouse. It doesn't matter if another powerhouse that's roughly three hours away is also recruiting him. Auburn can't miss on Evans. Simple as that.
Auburn landed three-star safety Markell Boston on Monday, filling a need in the 2014 class. Boston is a big-bodied, physical safety at 6'1, 200 pounds, and he flashes good ball skills and instincts. This doesn't affect the recruitment of Evans, who is being recruited at "star." It does however slightly affect the recruitment of safety Steven Parker, which I will touch on in a moment.
Now, on to the predictions. As I stated earlier, Auburn has limited space left in the class, so outside of a few big-time announcements, the Tigers will have quiet signing day compared to years past.
Four-star offensive guard Braden Smith
Auburn got in on the recruitment of Smith late but has made quite the push to land the big guard's signature. Smith will be a tough haul for Auburn but would fill a huge need. Smith's sister is on the track-and-field team at TCU, and Texas A&M has been after him since day one. The thought is that TCU leads, but Auburn and A&M aren't far behind. I think Auburn has real shot at landing Smith, but I just think that the fact that TCU has been recruiting him much longer, along with his sister being in Fort Worth, will be too much to overcome for the Tigers.
Four-star defensive end Andrew Williams
Williams would fill another big need for Auburn at defensive end. He is speed rush end with great quickness and flashes really good use of his hands, although inconsistent at times. The Tigers love his upside and feel good about their chances to land him on Wednesday. Williams visited Auburn on Jan. 17 then followed that up with visits to Clemson and Georgia. Auburn has been the leader for Williams for a while now, but Clemson has always seemed to be his second choice. Clemson got the last visit, which can play a big role because that school is fresh on the recruit's mind. I think in the end Auburn holds on to Williams even with the late push by Clemson.
Four-star defensive end Davon Godchaux
Godchaux would be an amazing haul for Auburn in the grand scheme of things. He has been committed to LSU and has remained committed, but the Tigers were able to get him on campus for an official, and Godchaux really enjoyed his time on the Plains. Rodney Garner has done a really good job of forming a relationship with him and at least has Auburn in the mix. Godchaux is a bigger, more physical end than Williams, and Auburn would love to close with both. The Tigers have made a heck of a pitch to Godchaux, and it's really surprising that they're is even in the conversation. But when it comes to LSU and the state of Louisiana's top prospects, it's always tough to pull them away from the Bayou Bengals.
Four-star QB/ATH Treon Harris
I've thought for the longest time, along with most others, that Harris was a lock to stay with FSU, but Auburn and Florida have both moved into the conversation, and of those two, Auburn has piqued Harris' interest the most. Dameyune Craig has really recruited Harris hard, and he has taken notice. FSU has promised him a shot at QB, but the Seminoles' offense doesn't intrigue him nearly as much as Auburn's. He has really taken notice of what Malzahn has done with Nick Marshall, and Harris sees himself in that same mold. Plus, if he were to switch positions, he really likes how Malzahn and Lashlee use athletes in multiple ways in the offense. I think the late push by Auburn, along with recruiting wizard Dameyune Craig, will be enough to land Harris in a National Signing Day surprise. Call this one my "upset pick."
Four-star safety Steven Parker
With the commitment of Boston, Auburn doesn't really have a "need" for Parker, but that doesn't mean the Tigers won't take him. Parker, like Boston, is a true safety. He's not as thick as Boston, but has fantastic range and ball skills. Oklahoma looks to be the front-runner to land Parker's signature, and I don't see that changing before Signing Day. If Auburn were to land Parker, I would be very surprised. But, crazier things have happened.
Update: Parker committed to Oklahoma Tuesday.
Five-star LB Rashaan Evans
Now on to the biggest fish in the pond, the one Auburn has to reel in no matter what, the one the Tigers cannot, under any circumstance, lose to Alabama. Auburn has long been thought to be the leader by some margin for Evans, who fits perfectly at the "star" position in Ellis Johnson's 4-2-5 defense. I have been saying all along that Evans is a lock for Auburn, that his relationship with the coaches and current commitments was too much for Alabama to overcome. Evans father played at Auburn. He stormed the field when Auburn beat Alabama in unbelievable fashion in late November. There's no way in hell this kid goes to 'Bama, right? Wrong. His intrigue in the star position was at one time an advantage for Auburn, but he wants to rush the passer. Alabama will let him do that at the outside linebacker "jack" position, and Evans may have doubts about Auburn since Robenson Therezie didn't get after the QB much from the star in 2013. Don't hate me. I hope I'm wrong.
Update: As of Tuesday evening, my mind is changed. The new prediction is Auburn.