Auburn stays patient with 2018 DB Braelen Oliver, 2019 LB JD Bertrand who are picking up recruiting steam
Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. Today, we assess a 2018 defensive back and a 2019 linebacker who recently attended junior day and await offers — which they’ll likely receive.
Versatile defensive prospect has long Auburn bond
Braelen Oliver was introduced to the recruiting process well before it was his turn. His brother, Brandon, went through the process in 2011 before Braelen even knew he’d walk in similar shoes one day. Brandon ended up at Georgia Tech, but the first place Braelen accompanied his brother on a visit was Auburn.
He’ll never forget that.
“Auburn was my first college I was introduced to because my brother came up here. This was the first Division I college I went to and, ever since then, I just really liked Auburn,” Oliver said. “Whenever they tell me to come up there, I can’t hesitate.”
Oliver’s most recent visit to Auburn was for the program’s junior day earlier in March. It was his fifth trip.
Once again, the 3-star linebacker/safety hybrid from Douglasville, Ga., left without an Auburn offer, but he has growing optimism that one will eventually come. Oliver’s offer sheet is blue-collar list that includes Colorado, Colorado State, Western Kentucky, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Troy, Tulane and others.
He’s started to gain intrigue from Auburn, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Notre Dame, Purdue and South Carolina. As he gets to more camps this spring and summer, that list expects to grow.
Oliver is particularly interested in the Tigers’ offer.
“That would mean a lot. I would be truly blessed to get an offer from Auburn,” Oliver said, breaking into an ear-to-ear smile at the thought of it.
Auburn coaches look at Oliver’s frame — 6-foot and 210 pounds — coupled with his agility and see a nickel back. He plays linebacker and safety at the high school level. Travis Williams and Kevin Steele have told him that experience would fit nicely into the nickel role in Steele’s defensive scheme.
Williams, in particular, has left a positive impression on Oliver.
He also has a high school connection to a few of Auburn’s players, which has given him inside access to what to expect as an Auburn student-athlete. Josh Holsey and Montavius Atkinson played for Oliver’s high school coach Johnny White, and they’ve returned to see White for practices.
That’s given Oliver a chance to ask questions. He’s been blown away by his initial impressions from Auburn coaches and players alike.
“I just love the staff. All the coaches here, I can relate to all them. I know a couple of the players because of my high school coach, and they tell me how much they like it. It just seems like a place I could be at,” Oliver said. “A lot of them played for my coach, so they come to our practices to talk to him. Josh Holsey, they all come up and tell me what a great program it is and what it would mean.”
Now all Oliver can do is work and wait.
“They said they’re waiting for more of spring to pass to see me grow as a player and develop,” Oliver said. “They said to come to a spring practice. So hopefully I’ll be able to get back.”
2019 linebacker to watch
Travis Williams has already made his mark.
He was the recruiting star of the staff during the 2017 cycle. That’s starting to manifest itself again in the 2018 class. As long as Williams doesn’t land a DC gig somewhere — his name will almost certainly be mentioned if he continues this trend — the 2019 class will be no different.
He’s already making his mark with 2019 linebacker JD Bertrand.
“I went to Auburn for a camp (last year). They were really interested in me and kept talking to me. They told me to come back to see the school more and talk to coaches,” Bertrand told SEC Country. “Coach T-Will invited me back in about a month to talk some Xs and Os. He said he’ll look more at my film. Coach Steele just wanted to get to know me a little more and helped me get to know him.”
Auburn isn’t the only school courting the 6-foot-1, 205-pound linebacker from Blessed Trinity (Ga.). Following his trip to Auburn for junior day, he planned subsequent visits to LSU and Georgia — the other two schools he’s high on in the early going.
There is a big difference between Auburn and those two programs: He received LSU and Georgia offers following his Auburn junior day visit. He’s still without the Auburn offer.
When Bertrand returns to Auburn to talk football with Williams — assuming that actually happens — an offer is almost a guarantee. In that case, the Tigers will be a major factor in the mix.
“I’d definitely be looking into the school,” Bertrand said “I want to talk to some of the players and see what some of them think, but I really like it … They all tell me they want to see me work out for them. They say they like my football vision, my ability find a ball carrier and go make a tackle.”
He hasn’t been ranked by every recruiting service, but 247Sports has him listed as the No. 4 linebacker and No. 59 overall in the preliminary rankings.
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