AUBURN, Ala. — It’s crunch time in the recruiting world.
There are 20 days between the day of this post and National Signing Day. In between, it will be a smorgasbord of in-home coach visits, official visits, last-minute offers, surprise flips, commitment announcements, commitment videos and probably some hurt feelings along the way (looking at fans, mostly).
Throughout the 2017 recruiting cycle, I’ve provided a month-to-month projection of the 2017 class. This January 2017 edition might be the final one barring a potential pre-Signing Day wrap-up. The number Auburn has been shooting for all cycle has been 25. A few projections have shorted that mark. This one will not.
Auburn supporters will be happy to know that zero de-commitments have been projected in this version — unlike Tray Bishop in the last attempt, which turned out to be a worthwhile prediction. There are a couple of academic concerns, but I’ve been given enough confidence about each of the potential additions that all of those borderline qualifiers remain in the class projections.
A couple of reminders.
- As it stands, Auburn has 20 commitments in the 2017 class and is No. 8 in the national rankings. The Tigers aim to add five more, which is reflected in this projection. Based on current rankings, the subsequent ranking gives Auburn a 259.82 composite score, which (warning, Auburn fans) generally puts a team in the 10 to 15 range. That’s not ideal, of course, but this also is a projection. Auburn has its hat in the ring for several prospects who didn’t make this list. As you know, plenty can happen between now and Signing Day to change how this projection might look 20 days from now.
- All position totals are based on what recruits have communicated, Auburn’s history at certain positions and areas of need for the Tigers. Auburn’s recruiting staff doesn’t put its big board in front of me, nor should it. These are all educated approximations.
- Recruits with (*) next to their names are commitments.
- The (**) requires a further position explanation
- 4-star QB Jarrett Stidham*, Waco (Texas): Already on campus, Stidham is likely the odds-on favorite to be Auburn’s 2017 starter despite never playing a down for the Tigers. He will be the centerpiece of the class when it’s all said and done.
- 3-star QB Malik Willis*, Roswell (Ga.): The latest addition is one of the more unknown members of the class because of his last-minute switch to the Tigers. His athleticism is impressive, and I’d expect the Auburn world to grow to love Willis once he develops for the Tigers. Willis is already on campus, too, so this is a done deal.
Running back (3)
- 4-star RB Devan Barrett*, Tampa (Fla.): Barrett reportedly has some late interest in Clemson and Tennessee. The Clemson talk is understandable with its national championship in hand. But I expect Barrett to stick with Auburn. He is the feature back of the 2017 class. Official visits might happen elsewhere, but he’ll ink with Auburn.
- 4-star ATH Alaric Williams*, Gadsden (Ala.): The only question here is whether Williams qualifies. I check in regularly with Williams to discuss ACT score qualification. He’s always honest and up front about his situation. Williams hasn’t met standards yet, but he feels confident that his most recent attempt will be the difference. As long as that works out, Auburn is keeping Williams.
- 3-star ATH Octavius Matthews*, Stevenson (Ala.): On a similar note, the one question mark with Matthews is his ability to graduate from Itawamba Community College. He planned on enrolling at Auburn in January. That isn’t happening. Now Matthews will try to finish up at the Mississippi junior college and enroll at Auburn in the summer.
- Jump to linebackers for a more detailed explanation here. I do think there the position will be put in mind for this class.
Wide receiver (2)
- 3-star WR Noah Igbinoghene*, Trussville (Ala.): He committed on Thanksgiving Day, and — for now — is the heart and soul of the wide receiver position in the Class of 2017. Auburn might not be big on numbers at the position in 2017, but the Tigers hope to score big with Igbinoghene’s diamond-in-the-rough addition. Similar usage to Eli Stove.
- 3-star WR Marlon Williams, Mobile (Ala.): Williams hasn’t been offered, but he told SEC Country on Tuesday shortly after his USC de-commitment that he’s been talking with Kodi Burns “over the last couple of weeks.” Auburn is in the picture for Tamorrion Terry, but he has qualifying issues. Florida State should be considered the favorite here anyway. If Auburn offers Williams, it almost would be a no-brainer for him to commit. He is leaving his Jan. 20 official visit weekend open for now, so Auburn would want to do it soon.
Tight end (1)
- 3-star TE Salvatore Cannella*, Arlington Heights (Ill.): Cannella is one of Auburn’s early enrollees. It’ll be interesting to track how Auburn uses the lanky tight end. He has the skill set to be a force in the passing game. I’d expect Cannella in passing situations and Jalen Harris in run-block situations for most of 2017.
Offensive line (4)
- 5-star OL Calvin Ashley*, Washington D.C.: Publicly, this has felt like a saga, as oftentimes is the case in recruiting. But, in reality, it’s been a relatively fluid process. Ashley committed to Auburn in June 2015. The man himself has never publicly stepped away from that commitment despite reports otherwise. He has twice verified his firm commitment to Auburn in the last two weeks. Ashley isn’t going anywhere.
- 4-star OL Nick Brahms*, Navarre (Fla.): One of Auburn’s early enrollees is on campus to start the offensive line work on the Plains. He is rooming with Chandler Wooten and will have a head start against his fellow incoming freshmen offensive linemen.
- 4-star OL Austin Troxell*, Madison (Ala.): This is someone Auburn shouldn’t have any concerns about. He committed shortly after Big Cat Weekend and never looked back. Alabama was the only other school Troxell truly considered throughout the process, and the Crimson Tide are set at the position in the 2017 class. Troxell to Auburn is a done deal.
- 3-star OL Jordan Tucker, Roswell (Ga.): Here’s another non-offered prospect making the projection. It all seems to fit too much here. Tucker absolutely loves Auburn. He raved about his unofficial visit for the Vanderbilt game. His quarterback, Malik Willis, just joined the 2017 class as an early enrollee. Tucker has mentioned publicly that he and Willis would like to play college ball together. Only thing missing: the offer. If that comes, count Tucker as a member of the Auburn recruiting class.
Defensive line (2)
- 4-star DL Ryan Johnson, Mobile (Ala.): Johnson has a top 6. Auburn is in it. Johnson has been relatively coy with his public comments, but most believe Auburn is steady near the top of his group. Auburn, Alabama and Stanford are the perceived leaders. With Alabama, is he a top choice? With Stanford, can he qualify? On top of all that, is Auburn the place he wants to be anyway? My answer to that, for now, is yes. Auburn it is for Johnson.
- 3-star DL Alec Jackson*, Montgomery (Ala.): Don’t look too much into Jackson’s planned official visits in January. He’ll take one to Auburn, as well. He didn’t plan to commit until National Signing Day, but the fact he chose Auburn on Christmas Day should give the Tigers all the confidence they need. If he had committed to another school, I still would’ve liked Auburn’s chances for a flip. The fact he chose Auburn, call it a wrap.
- 4-star LB KJ Britt*, Oxford (Ala.): He’s already on campus. Britt picked Auburn on Halloween and has been one of the most useful recruiting assets since then. The linebacker will have a little bit of an edge on Moultry and others who come in, but he is joined by Chandler Wooten among linebacker early enrollees.
- 4-star LB Tadarian Moultry*, Birmingham (Ala.): One thing you don’t have to worry about with Moultry — loyalty. He’s one of the most loyal recruits I’ve covered. Once he decided, he decided. Moultry is adamantly against the commit-and-flip game. Alabama showed some late interest, but once Auburn was the choice, Moultry was a Tiger for life.
- 3-star LB Chandler Wooten*, Kennesaw (Ga.): Again, Wooten is already officially on the Auburn roster. He didn’t make it for bowl practice like Britt, but Wooten already has made the move from recruit to scholarship athlete.
- 4-star LB Tyler Taylor, Buford (Ga.): Here is option No. 1 for Auburn among remaining linebackers. Travis Williams has been successful everywhere else during the 2016-17 circuit, and that isn’t going to change as this recruiting cycle closes. Oklahoma and LSU are the biggest competition for Taylor, but Auburn is going to make a strong push for him after missing on Monty Rice.
- 3-star LB Thomas Johnston**, Spanish Fort (Ala.): Auburn wanted to add four — maybe five — linebackers in the 2017 class. The way they add Johnston here kind of fits that “four — maybe five” mantra. Johnston is one of the best linebackers in the state (the best according to some historical metrics). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If I were Williams, Johnston would be my priority linebacker target. It appears Auburn also might look at Johnston as a versatile H-back option. The Tigers don’t have a fullback in the class yet or in this projection. SEC schools have tried to pull off the linebacker and fullback combo in the past.
- 4-star ATH Malcolm Askew*, McCalla (Ala.): Askew’s one of the many early enrollees already on campus. He participated in Sugar Bowl practice. Askew spent much of his time as a recruit as the vocal leader of the class. That role might transition to someone who isn’t already enrolled, but Askew is an Auburn Tiger regardless.
- 3-star CB Traivon Leonard*, West Palm Beach (Fla.): Leonard didn’t show any concern after Wesley McGriff left. In fact, he showed the opposite. Leonard is confident in the new hire of Greg Brown. He will stick with the Tigers, and Auburn likely is receiving a surprise contributor in this class.
- 3-star safety Jordyn Peters*, Muscle Shoals (Ala.): Peters, too, admits to liking the Brown addition to the staff as secondary coach. Still, Peters seems to show a hint of reservation with his potential official visit to Virginia Tech. If Devon Hunter commits to Virginia Tech — which I expect — then there will be nothing for the Tigers to worry about with Peters.
- 3-star safety Carlito Gonzalez*, Stone Mountain (Ga.): Chalk up another prospect who approves of Brown. Gonzalez displayed the most discontent with the loss of McGriff to Ole Miss. He even hinted at a reopened recruitment and official visits to Ole Miss or South Carolina. That all seems to be behind Gonzalez, whom Auburn shouldn’t have any worries about now.
- 3-star kicker Anders Carlson*, Pike National Forest (Colo.): There’s nothing to report here. Carlson is Auburn all the way. He will enroll in the summer and likely serve as his brother’s backup — or in a redshirt capacity.
Long snapper (1)
- 2-star LS Bill Taylor*, Tuscaloosa (Ala.): Taylor will blueshirt, and his scholarship number won’t count until the 2018 class. That means Auburn, theoretically, has the space for another recruit if it so chooses (maybe more with attrition). But I’ll include Taylor in this projection. He’s a part of the 25 in the Class of 2017.