Auburn heads into August with 11 commitments and the No. 34-ranked recruiting class in the nation.
No. 34 doesn’t sound good but, all in all, the Tigers sit is a safe position. They have enough top targets left on the market to sneak into the top 10 with the right additions. But the month of August will be more about setting the groundwork for that, rather than actually creeping up into being one of the top recruiting classes in the nation.
SEC Country is here to start a new monthly piece: An Auburn recruiting to-list.
Here are the three orders of business the Tigers need to accomplish to have a successful August in recruiting:
Secure a top pass-rush target
The Tigers remain in search of their top Buck position option in the 2018 recruiting cycle. They’ve missed on one recently when Caleb Tannor chose Georgia over Auburn. But the Auburn coaches look at a wide variety of options at the Buck, so there are plenty of uncommitted targets remaining who the Tigers would be glad to add to that spot.
But it needs to happen.
In the last recruiting cycle, Auburn might not have landed that Buck pass rusher until National Signing Day. That’s when Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant surprisingly chose Auburn over LSU and Georgia.
But Auburn won’t want to wait that long to get a player for that spot this year.
On top of that, of the guys mentioned above, Jibunor and Fox have communicated that they’re the most ready to decide, though none of the pass-rush targets have explicitly stated their desire to commit this month, which could logjam the to-do list.
Either one of those would be a great option, but really, any addition of a potential Buck option would be a major win in August.
Beat out Alabama for an in-state prospect
Auburn and Alabama always will go head-to-head for the top in-state talent in Alabama. The 2018 recruiting cycle will be no different.
As of now, here are the prospects who I would consider to have a legitimate decision ahead between the Tigers and the Crimson Tide: Justyn Ross, Seth Williams, Harold Joiner, Asa Martin, Coynis Miller, Andres Fox, Jalen Cunningham and Jalyn Armour-Davis.
Armour-Davis has already committed to Alabama, so even though Auburn will still try to sway him, the Tigers should narrow in on some of the other names available.
Martin is the only one with a known commitment date set for August. That’ll come on Aug. 24 and would be a big land for the Tigers over the Crimson Tide. Miller, Williams, Cunningham and Fox could all go either way at this point, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see decisions from any of the three before the football season begins.
Joiner is a bit of a mystery right now, but Auburn and Alabama are both the most likely landing spots for him at this point. So if he were to opt to decide before summer ends as he originally did, then it could be another classic Iron Bowl recruiting battle.
That leaves Ross, who isn’t planning to decide until National Signing Day, or slightly before. Whoever wins the Ross sweepstakes earns the major Yellowhammer prize in 2018, but that won’t be decided until after the 2017 football season, at the earliest.
Auburn should aim to win at least one Iron Bowl recruiting battle before August ends.
Finish off with some late-summer momentum
Auburn had a successful close to July recruiting.
The Tigers hosted a camp and landed a 2018 commitment from defensive athlete Josh Marsh. During the same event, Auburn secured a 2019 commitment from wide receiver George Pickens. The next day, Auburn hosted its summer cookout, which resulted in two silent commitments.
On the Monday and Tuesday that followed, those silents went public when 4-star linebacker Michael Harris and 3-star safety Jamien Sherwood committed to the Tigers. It was a good stretch of momentum that Auburn hopes to carry over into August.
A source close to the program said the Tigers are shooting for 15 commits by the start of the 2017 season, which coincides with this to-do list. I don’t think it takes four more additions to be a successful August, as long the Tigers are able to check off one or both of the aforementioned to-do list items.
So this might end up having some subjective analysis at the end of the month based on who commits and what the momentum means.
But if Auburn heads into September with some recruiting steam, watch out. The Tigers might have more to gain than anyone once the season actually gets underway.