Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. Today, we look a busy day for unofficial visitors during Auburn spring practice, which resulted in a few new offers.
A critical few days are ahead on the Auburn recruiting trail.
The Tigers will return to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday for a scrimmage, which means visits galore in the recruiting world. It’ll be an opportunity for several top targets to see Auburn in live action inside the stadium. There will be plenty of updates to come on that front, but the Tigers aren’t waiting until Saturday to make an impression.
They hosted four key targets on Thursday. Here are the most important tidbits:
The Stockbridge (Ga.) tandem
Brenton Cox and Marquez Ezzard are two of the most desired prospects in the Southeast. The two 2018 recruits are teammates from Stockbridge High just outside of Atlanta. Cox and Ezzard returned to the Plains on Thursday as the two biggest visitors of the day.
Cox is one of the top recruits in the nation. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound defensive end is the No. 54 overall prospect (247Sports composite) in the nation, which puts him at No. 4 among defensive ends. Cox holds offers from everyone imaginable — Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Clemson, Ohio State, Florida and so on (27 offers in all).
Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State get the most talk as it pertains to Cox, but Auburn isn’t out of the picture, especially with yet another visit to the Plains.
Ezzard projects as a wide receiver at the next level, but he’s listed as an athlete by recruiting services. He fares well there, coming in as the No. 16 athlete and No. 266 overall prospect nationally. He, too, holds offers from the Big Three referenced with Cox. With Ezzard, Georgia and Auburn have been the most visited.
Auburn has shown consistent priority to this duo.
When the prospects visited for the Texas A&M game in the fall, they received special treatment. Cox and Ezzard were brought to midfield by Gus Malzahn himself. Those head coach encounters at the 50-yard line in pregame are typically reserved for commitments and the highest-priority targets in the current cycle. Cox and Ezzard received that honor despite being 2018 recruits during the 2017 cycle.
The Tigers know that securing one will help snag the other. Cox and Ezzard are a package deal.
“I’m talking 10 times out of 10. We’re going to play together. I’m talking about 10 times out of 10. For real. That’s happening,” Cox told Dawgnation’s Jeff Sentell earlier this month. “That’s my boy right there. He’s a great player. We grew up together. He’s like my brother.”
Two visits, two offers
Aside from the dynamic duo above, Auburn hosted two other key targets Thursday: Darius Thomas and Caleb Tannor.
Both entered their visits without offers and left campus with them.
For now, Tannor is an unranked prospect who stands 6-foot-3 and 223 pounds. He’s listed as strong-side defensive end by most services, but he identifies himself as both a defensive end and linebacker, which might make him a good fit for Auburn’s Buck linebacker position. Most of his communication runs through Travis Williams and Rodney Garner, which suggests Auburn recognizes his versatility.
The Auburn offer was Tannor’s 21st, which is inordinately high for a prospect with zero stars. The college coaches are showing heavy interest, however.
Auburn inserted itself into the Tannor discussion Thursday. He also holds offers from Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee and West Virginia.
“I don’t have a top list yet, but they’re definitely up there,” Tannor said. “I love the campus. Their message is if I come prepared to work, I’ll survive here. I’m very thankful and appreciative for the opportunity.”
Thomas — a 2019 prospect — also arrived on Auburn’s campus on Thursday offer-less. He departed a proud offer holder.
Blessed to recieve my 6th offer from Auburn University !!! pic.twitter.com/hVCPfrR3mq
— Darius Thomas (@Dit200119) March 23, 2017
Thomas, like Tannor, has an offer sheet that doesn’t quite match his underwhelming recruiting service ranking. College coaches appear to be quicker to the punch with Thomas than recruiting service scouts. The 6-foot-6, 281-pound offensive tackle received his Auburn offer Thursday, which added to a list of offers from Arkansas, Georgia, LSU and Memphis that have also rolled in recently.
It’s still early for the 2019 target, but Auburn made its presence felt early for the young offensive tackle.
Greg Brown eyes West Coast CB
Of all Auburn coaches, secondary coach Greg Brown has been the most reserved with early offers. He sent out a few in his first days on the job but has since spent more time making evaluations.
It appears he likes what he sees from a West Coast talent because he passed out an offer to cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart, who is one of the finest talents at any position in the entire class.
— Isaac Taylor-Stuart (@Kingathlete5) March 24, 2017
Taylor-Stuart plays defensive back for St. Augustine in San Diego. He’s the No. 28 overall prospect in the nation, per the 247Sports composite rankings. Among cornerbacks, Taylor-Stuart ranks No. 4 in the country. Auburn became the 34th offer for the 6-foot-2, 190-pound cornerback.
The other offers include Alabama, USC, Michigan, Ohio State, Washington, Nebraska, LSU, Notre Dame and several other perennial Power 5 programs.
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