Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Wednesday, and SEC Country spoke with top tight end target Luke Deal to get the latest on his Midwest official visit tour and what he expects from his upcoming Auburn trip.
Tight end Luke Deal gives latest with Auburn visit ahead
Heading into his Auburn official visit, Luke Deal will have plenty to compare it to.
The Greenwood, S.C., tight end has been a busy man the last two weeks. From April 14 to April 22, Deal took three official visits. He took back-to-back weekend trips to Michigan and Ohio State and made a mid-week stop in South Bend, Ind., to check out Notre Dame.
“It was more plane rides than I’ve been on in my life,” Deal joked. “But they were fun. … I knew I had to do this pretty early if I wanted everything done before my senior year. I went up there and saw what I needed to see.”
- On Michigan: “They’re very involved. When I got there, everybody, we just got along really well with the coaches and players. I really like coach [Jim] Harbaugh, coach [Sherrone] Moore. We had a great time. We enjoyed ourselves. I definitely could see myself playing there.”
- On Notre Dame: “Notre Dame’s a lot different from everyone else. That’s just how it is. It’s tough to compare Notre Dame to other schools because it’s unique, a smaller school, only 8,000 people. It’s a great football program and great academic program. Every school has its pluses and minuses, but Notre Dame has a lot to like about it.”
- On Ohio State: “Coming fresh off the Ohio State visit, I really, really like coach [Urban] Meyer. He’s an intense dude, and you can tell his priority is faith, family, football. That’s it. Nothing else. It was pretty cool getting to meet with him.”
With a prior N.C. State official visit already taken, Deal’s final official visit will be this weekend to Auburn. The South Carolina native is being heavily recruited by Clemson, but Deal won’t take an official visit there because he’s already been on several overnight visits there. He decided to use his official visits at schools he can’t access as easily.
A few other schools have a chance to stay relevant in Deal’s recruitment, but time is ticking. LSU offered earlier this week. That might be enough to keep those Tigers around.
He is a 3-star prospect and the nation’s No. 16 tight end in the Class of 2019, according to the 247Sports composite. Deal has a May 25 commitment date set, so time is limited. That date is flexible, however.
That’s why Auburn receiving one of these official visits will be so crucial.
Deal took an overnight visit earlier this spring. After that trip, he knew Auburn was a school he’d want to return to on an official visit.
“Growing up, I grew up watching Clemson and Georgia, but I always had a fondness for Auburn. I don’t know where it came from, but I always have,” Deal said. “When I went, I just had the feeling it was a really strong family atmosphere. That’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for big-time football and a strong family atmosphere combined together. I saw that last time, and I just want to see it again after I take all these other ones.”
On his last trip, Deal received some 1-on-1 time with several coaches.
He spent much of his day with tight ends coach Larry Porter. Deal wrapped up his time with a long conversation in Gus Malzahn’s office where he became convinced the Auburn coach fulfilled the “faith, family, football” prerequisites he wants to see from his future college coach.
With an official visit upcoming, Deal hopes to have much more time to just talk ball.
“Last visit at Auburn, I got a good taste of what they’re about and got a little 1-on-1 time with everybody. I’m looking for a little more 1-on-1 time to dive into what the culture is like. I have a taste of it, but this is a school that I felt I needed to go back and see a little more of,” Deal said. “I’d like to talk some offense and where I’d see myself in that offense. That’s big for me. I know the tight end position there is pretty slender. That’s cool for me because I could probably go in there and play pretty early. That’s their biggest sell to me.”
The use of the tight end, as you might imagine, is the only question of concern Deal has with the Tigers.
That will be the main piece of dialogue Deal wants to have on this visit to the Plains.
“That’s my main question. That’s the thing I asked the first time I was there. You look on film, and they have Chandler Cox who’s a great H-back and fullback-type guy. I believe I can do some of that, too. But I don’t really see them playing with an inline tight end. That’s what I said,” Deal said. “But they stressed to me over and over that, if they have a guy who can do it all — and they think I can be that guy — that they would use them. On this official, it’s going to come up again. I’ll ask them, and I’d like to see what they can do with a guy who can do it all. If I see they are really trying to do that, that’s huge because offensive fit is a big deal for me. I like going out wide, out wide and being in that H. I want to see what they could do with.”
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