STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. — Jalil Irvin got swept up in Jim Harbaugh’s satellite camp push into SEC territory early in his recruiting process. But two years after committing to Michigan, the offensive lineman is getting ready to play for Auburn football.
Irvin, one of two offensive linemen whom Auburn signed in the 2018 class, will arrive on the Plains later this month. He’ll room with fellow incoming interior lineman Kam Stutts and get to work at center under new position coach J.B. Grimes.
Irvin, who is a Detroit native whose family relocated to the South, committed to the Wolverines the summer before his junior year but de-committed a couple of months later after a lack of contact from the school. (That didn’t last long, though, as he visited Ann Arbor in February 2017.) By March 2017, he was committed to play for Gus Malzahn and the Tigers.
SEC Country caught up with Irvin at Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., on Wednesday. Here is some of the conversation with Irvin about his recruiting process, why he ultimately picked Auburn and how he thinks the Tigers are about to hit their “peak” as a program.
SEC COUNTRY: How excited are you to finally get on campus later this month?
JALIL IRVIN: I’m really excited just to get on to the next chapter in my life — a new football chapter, a new academic chapter.
So it’s going to be exciting for me to get to experience college life soon. I can’t wait for it. Ready for the new challenges.
What ultimately got you to Auburn over a lot of those other schools?
The biggest thing was the coaching staff and the family vibe I felt. When I take visits to say, Florida, Georgia or Florida State, it wasn’t really a family vibe. I felt really different. I felt really comfortable at Auburn.
It was the best fit for me. I couldn’t really complain about anything — academics are good, players are cool. We’re in it for the SEC every year. I can’t complain about anything. It’s the best fit for me all-around.
You were committed to Michigan as a sophomore. What made you decide to go in a different direction?
The de-commitment, it was mainly just … I really didn’t enjoy the recruiting process, so mainly, I had to make the best decision for me. Michigan was my dream offer because I’m from Michigan. That’s home to me, but I had to make the best decision for me.
It was a business decision for me at the end of the day. I just had to make the right choice. I took a lot of visits, and I found Auburn to be the best fit for me.
When did you move to Georgia?
I was very young. But I used to go up there [to Michigan] every summer with my family, holidays, stuff like that. I know a lot about the place.
What was it like to commit to Auburn the spring before your senior year and then stick with it? You didn’t have to worry about a lot of the drama that comes with recruiting.
It was really good. I didn’t really have to worry about other colleges after I committed. Colleges were still hitting me up like Ohio State, but eventually, they gave up because they saw that I was done with the process.
The second time I committed, I knew I was going to be done with it and that it was the right choice. Schools stopped coming after me. It was nice to not have coaches hit me up during class or stuff like that. It was really relaxing. I was back to myself.
You played the role of a recruiter after you committed. Did you like that?
It was really cool. I felt like I could give a real good pitch to them and get them to see why we’re one of the best schools in the country. You can come here and help us play and beat Alabama every year — which we plan on doing — beat Georgia, beat those types of schools. Why go to those schools when you can come to Auburn?
We’ve got the best coaching staff in the country. It’s a family vibe. No kid wants to go to college and feel left out and feel like they don’t fit in. It’s the best of both worlds here.
How great was it for you to see Auburn have the season it had last year after you made your decision?
I was even more excited. We’re heading toward our peak as a program. Coach Malzahn, he knows what he’s doing. He took them to the National Championship Game early on. People started to doubt him, but he’s one of the best offensive minds in the country — him and Coach [Chip] Lindsey.
We’ve got one of the best defenses in the country. We’re heading to our peak as a program, and that got me excited for what we could be as a program.