Auburn has moved out in front for one of the top prospects in the state of Alabama, but the gap between the Tigers and other contending schools can easily be closed.
“The lead is not that big,” said four-star athlete Malcolm Askew, who declared the Tigers his leader following an unofficial visit on the Plains on Thursday.
“They just got to that leading spot after that visit. Everything felt perfect there right now, which is why I have them as my leader.”
Askew, rated the No. 12 athlete in the country, maintained that schools like Florida, Clemson, Alabama and Ole Miss — though not his official leaders — are still very much in contention.
“Those are kind of the strong schools that are coming hard and that me and my parents have sat down and talked about multiple times,” said Askew. “I’m going to try to take in spring practices mostly at those schools. Maybe to Mississippi State, but mostly those schools. I’ll try to take in spring practices, look at the depth charts of their defensive backs there now and continue to talk to coaches.”
However, it’s clear at the moment that the McCalla, Ala., native has been swayed by the Tigers. Askew credits his good standing with Auburn to his relationships with defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and secondary coach Wesley McGriff, both of whom were hired in January.
“I have a great relationship with Coach Steele,” Askew said of the first-year coach. “He’s been recruiting me for a long time. I knew him when he was at Alabama. He was recruiting me when he got to LSU. Now, he’s on me again real hard. My parents love Coach Steele. And I met Coach McGriff when I went a couple of weeks ago. We clicked immediately. It was a great feel. Coach (Gus) Malzahn and I talk multiple times. Auburn has a great family feel right now.”
Askew never intended to name Auburn his front-runner prior to Thursday, but after watching the Tigers’ fast-tempo practice and in speaking with several coaches, he conceded it was the program he felt most comfortable at. Askew also grew closer with McGriff, a former assistant coach for the New Orleans Saints.
“When we went over my film together, that was the first time a coach actually did that with me,” Askew said of McGriff. “Also, he showed me his resume. He has a great resume of getting guys to the league. He got a Division II guy, who nobody knew of, and he’s one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL right now. His track record with defensive backs … he was just real with me. I heard some things other coaches haven’t told me. And that’s what I really like about him and what stood out.”
Askew told SEC Country he plans to enroll early, which will likely accelerate his recruitment. He will evaluate all of his options in the coming months.
“Auburn is the leader,” Askew said. “I’m going to continue to touch base with other schools that are recruiting me pretty hard. I’ll go through the summer, take those visits, return to some other schools and see some more spring practices. Then, I’ll narrow it down to either a top eight or top five depending on how everything goes. I’m kind of thinking before the season as a timetable for a commitment or early on in the season.”
When asked what other contending schools could do now that he’s named a leader, Askew responded: “Some schools may feel like I’m a lock to in-state schools. But I feel like Ole Miss has done a great job of recruiting me. They’re not afraid of Auburn or Alabama as well as Clemson and Florida. As long as they stay in touch with me and have pitches for me why I should choose a different school or Auburn, that’ll continue to open my eyes.”
All rankings are according to the 247Sports Composite