Auburn recruiting question of the day: Best-case 2019 commitments by position
Much like Justin Ferguson does on the Auburn team side, recruiting reporter Benjamin Wolk will answer the Recruiting Question of the Day. You can ask him questions on Twitter or Facebook. Look for our Question of the Day each weekday. Go here to see our previous answers.
Who is Auburn's best-case commitment at each position in the 2019 class? #QOTD
— Roderick Gill (@RoderickHGill) March 6, 2018
As I referenced in my Auburn recruiting Facebook Live chat, most of the Tigers’ top targets are taking their time with their decisions.
Five-star linebacker Owen Pappoe would like to make a decision by May, if possible. Other than that, there have been a lot of “before my senior year responses” and even more “no timeline” for decisions.
This has been the trend the last couple recruiting cycles, as Auburn — and some of its SEC counterparts — has done most of its damage in the summer and fall. The spring has been more about laying the foundation. Auburn has two commitments, from quarterback Bo Nix and wide receiver George Pickens, and the Tigers are poised to build on that high-caliber start.
Auburn is in competitive position for many of its top targets. The decision processes might be in the early stages, but the Tigers are at or near the top for many of them. Here’s a look at the best-case scenarios for Auburn at each position in the 2019 class.
Quarterback: 4-star Bo Nix, Pinson, Ala.
This one is self explanatory.
Bo Nix was the only quarterback Auburn offered in the 2019 class. He has been the Tigers’ guy since he was in eighth grade. The Nix family has a rich quarterback history on the Plains, and Bo is next in line to carry on that legacy.
It’s possible Auburn goes after a second quarterback, though it’s unlikely. Auburn’s best-case scenario at quarterback is already complete.
Second choice: N/A
Running back: 5-star Noah Cain, Bradenton, Fla.
There probably isn’t a preference here for Auburn’s best-case situation at running back, at least as far as the Tigers’ top two options are concerned.
Noah Cain and John Emery are Auburn’s clear-cut priority running back options in the Class of 2019. Both have visited the Plains in the last month and a half. Each of them left praising Auburn and the Tigers’ history of producing NFL backs. The Tigers are among the top schools in contention for both and have a solid chance to land at least one.
For purposes of this discussion, we’ll give the best-case nod to Cain because of the 5-star label. But believe this: Auburn coaches would be just as thrilled to land Emery.
Second choice: 4-star John Emery, Destrehan, La.
Wide receiver: 4-star Frank Ladson, Homestead, Fla.
Auburn will try to hit a home run at wide receiver despite its star-studded 2018 class. The Tigers have plenty of options. They already have a commitment from George Pickens, a 4-star prospect I expect to see rise in the rankings when the scouting services get their eyes on him.
Auburn plans to take only one more wide receiver in the 2019 class. Wide receivers coach Kodi Burns will go for best available and move down the ranks from there.
In terms of rankings, Georgia commit Jadon Haselwood is the highest-ranked offer who has visited the Plains this year. Haselwood is taking visits to several schools, so many programs believe he’s wavering. Georgia feels good about holding on to him, however, hence the move down the recruiting rankings to Frank Ladson.
The key here will be Auburn getting Ladson on campus. He already has a strong relationship with Burns. Now he just needs to increase his familiarity with the program.
Second choice: 4-star Jashawn Sheffield, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Tight end: 3-star Luke Deal, Greenwood, S.C.
Luke Deal has picked up interest from many programs across the country, so he’s likely to pick up a 4-star boost down the line.
Auburn has Deal at or near the top of its recruiting board. Deal visited the Plains last weekend and stayed overnight. He got plenty of personal time with coach Gus Malzahn, offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, defensive cooordinator Kevin Steele (area recruiter) and tight ends coach Larry Porter.
Home-state Clemson is the obvious team to be mindful of here. With that said, Auburn finds itself in solid position for a prospect who recognizes the immediate need for the Tigers at the position.
Second choice: 3-star Sean Brown, Rome, Ga.
Tackle: 4-star Wanya Morris, Loganville, Ga.
Auburn needs top-tier tackles now more than ever. Luckily for the Tigers, there is higher volume of elite tackles in the 2019 class compared to 2018. So even if Auburn misses on its best-case possibilities, there will be down-the-line targets who are worthy backup options.
Auburn’s tackle plans start with Wanya Morris, the big tackle from the Grayson High (Ga.) pipeline.
Morris’ friendship with 5-star linebacker Owen Pappoe (more later) should be a helpful tool in this recruitment, as far as getting Morris on campus for more visits. He visited for several games down the stretch last fall and plans to be back this spring.
Second choice: 4-star Xavier Truss, Warwick, R.I.
Interior offensive line: 5-star Clay Webb, Oxford, Ala.
Clay Webb is the highest-ranked interior offensive lineman in the country. He’s as familiar with Auburn as any other program in the country.
Webb considered this an Auburn-Alabama recruiting battle from the beginning. In recent months, he has opened up to the possibility of Georgia and Tennessee. But I expect his decision will come down the Tigers and Crimson Tide.
Alabama is the runaway favorite for Webb, in large part because of his friendship with Crimson Tide offensive line commit Pierce Quick. Auburn will hope his relationship with Tigers quarterback commit Bo Nix has a similar effect.
Second choice: 4-star Keiondre Jones, Hogansville, Ga.
Defensive line: 4-star Nathan Pickering, Seminary, Miss.
Nathan Pickering didn’t end up making his second Auburn visit last weekend, as expected, but the Tigers have him on the docket for the weekend of March 24.
Pickering’s return plans to the Plains show how interested he is in the Tigers. He has taken several college visits this spring, but he continues to say how much the Auburn visit stood out. Pickering will be courted by anyone and everyone, including Alabama, Georgia, LSU and his in-state schools, so this won’t be an easy recruiting win in Mississippi.
Auburn hopes new assistant coach Marcus Woodson’s ties to the state will be the difference maker.
Second choice: 4-star Justin Eboigbe, Forest Park, Ga.
Linebacker: 5-star Owen Pappoe, Loganville, Ga.
Owen Pappoe probably is the best-case commitment Auburn could land — regardless of position.
The No. 7 overall prospect in the nation plays a position that is losing three seniors from the 2018 Auburn roster. He comes from a high school known to be a college football pipeline, so it would generate a recruiting ripple effect for the Tigers at Grayson High School and the metro Atlanta area.
The truth: It won’t be easy to beat Georgia for Pappoe. He admitted as much Sunday. But prospects such as Pappoe are worth the effort, especially when he said Travis Williams is his strongest recruit-coach relationship.
Second choice: 5-star Nakobe Dean, Horn Lake, Miss.
Cornerback: 4-star Christian Williams, Daphne, Ala.
Auburn missed on many of its top 2018 cornerback targets. The Tigers will try to correct that in 2019.
Christian Williams will be a classic Iron Bowl recruiting battle, much like the Jalyn Armour-Davis contest won by the Crimson Tide last cycle. Williams grew up an Alabama fan in an Alabama household, so the common belief is he’ll end up with the Crimson Tide. Auburn won’t go away quietly, though.
Williams made one of his first recruiting trips to Auburn this spring. He and his family had a full weekend of 1-on-1 time with Tigers coaches. Williams suggested his Alabama fandom won’t affect his decision, though the Crimson Tide’s cornerbacks-to-the-NFL track record might be enough.
Second choice: 4-star Kaiir Elam, North Palm Beach, Fla.
Safety: 4-star Jaylen McCollough, Powder Springs, Ga.
Auburn recruiting is at its best when it has prospects on campus separately, so the Tigers can devote personalized time to a specific player.
That’s what happened with 4-star prospect Jaylen McCollough in February, and it shot the Tigers up his leaderboard. McCollough was able to sit down with defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and defensive backs coach Greg Brown to watch film and understand his fit in Auburn’s defense.
McCollough will be heavily recruited by all the top programs in the Southeast, but the Tigers made a major impression early.
Second choice: 4-star Cortez Andrews, Tallahassee, Fla.
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