Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn beat writer Benjamin Wolk. Today, we break down three key in-home visits the coaches staff took Tuesday. We also examine the new 2018 quarterback offer extended Tuesday.
Securing RB No. 1
The Auburn coaching staff set out on the recruiting trail with a couple signature moves in mind.
Top objective for the 2017 class: keeping Devan Barrett.
Auburn has a solid trio of running backs in place for the 2017 class. Alaric Williams took his official visit last weekend and isn’t entertaining other schools. His grades are close to being fully in order. Octavius Matthews still has an official visit planned to Tennessee after one to Purdue last weekend, but he said the Tigers are safe.
That leaves the highest-ranked running back commit of the bunch as the lone question mark. Question mark, no more.
Barrett hosted Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and running backs coach Tim Horton in his home as planned on Tuesday. It was Barrett’s first encounter with Lindsey. According to Barrett, it only helped reassure the “super solid” commitment he conveyed before and after the official visit to Tennessee.
— Jeris McIntyre (@JerisMcIntyre) January 25, 2017
Auburn split Barrett’s two official visits elsewhere. Barrett visited Tennessee last weekend. He enjoyed his trip but left saying that he was still solidly committed to Auburn. Barrett has another official visit planned this weekend for Indiana, which still is in the works even after the in-home visit with the Auburn coaching staff.
Still, the Tigers have nothing to worry about here.
The only concern Barrett could’ve had amid the offensive coordinator change is a shift from a run-first to a pass-first scheme. Barrett has been given enough reassurance to know the running back will remain a centerpiece of the Auburn offense, as has been the case for all Malzahn teams.
Searching for the final lineman
Here’s the most up-to-date knowledge on Auburn’s hunt for another offensive lineman.
The Tigers want one more, that’s for certain.
Jordan Tucker was an option the staff was evaluating. He committed to North Carolina shortly after his Jan. 13 official visit. Kai-Leon Herbert de-committed from Michigan following his Miami visit, but multiple sources have said this is a Florida-Miami battle only because of Herbert’s in-state wishes.
Poutasi Poutasi hasn’t been offered. Auburn coaches may visit him. George Moore won’t be eligible at an SEC school because of his unwillingness to take an extra math class, according to 247Sports’ Keith Niebuhr.
Now, there’s a new potential late addition in town. His name is Matthew Tanner.
For the second time, members of the Auburn coaching staff traveled to see Tanner for an in-home visit. Tanner is a 3-star junior college offensive lineman from Eastern Arizona College, originally from Jacksonville, Fla. On Tuesday, Lindsey and offensive line coach Herb Hand went to see Tanner to continue to evaluate him as a potential end-of-cycle offer to round out the class with a JUCO guard.
Tanner told SEC Country that he’s still hopeful an offer will come. If it does soon, it will almost guarantee an official visit to the Plains this weekend. He said Auburn coaches are waiting to check his junior college transcripts and double-checking with JUCO coaches to see if he’s a personality fit.
Tanner would play guard at the next level. An addition at guard is what makes sense, in theory, because Austin Troxell and Calvin Ashley are tackles and Nick Brahms will likely end up at center.
Keeping tabs on the future face
Joey Gatewood’s name has surfaced a handful of times in these notebooks … just in the last two weeks.
Ever since Rhett Lashlee’s exit, Gatewood has been a hot topic in Auburn recruiting. For good reason. He was contacted within minutes of Lashlee’s departure by more than one Power 5 program. Multiple Power 5 programs have offered the 2018 dual-threat quarterback since Lashlee’s move. The Tigers were patient with an offensive coordinator hire.
Gatewood is the primary conversation starter for a few reasons. He’s the cornerstone of the 2018 class, as the first commitment and as the quarterback. But he’s also wanted by virtually every program in the country, and it’s reasonable to be concerned when the OC you were closest with split for a lower-profile lateral job.
So, Tuesday marked a very important meeting — Gatewood’s first encounter with Lindsey, something piquing the QB prospect’s curiosity.
— Joey Gatewood (@Joey1gatewood) January 21, 2017
The visit was a successful one, by all accounts. With that said, there are still some areas of concern. How will the offense operate? Is Gatewood still top priority at the position in the class? What other schools might bring more to the table for Gatewood?
He still is loyal to Auburn, and Gatewood is a loyal personality. But there are plenty of good options for him. Gatewood expects to be in Auburn this weekend for junior day. Maybe that will eliminate any remaining doubts he has.
QB competition in 2018 class?
Gatewood isn’t the only quarterback prospect Auburn is targeting anymore.
The Tigers extended an offer to unranked athlete Gerry Bohanon Jr. from Earle, Ark, who has shown promise as a quarterback. Unranked. Ha! That’ll be short-lived. In less than a week, Bohanon received offers from Alabama and Auburn. His Auburn offer was extended Tuesday following a phone conversation with Malzahn.
Blessed to receive a full scholarship to the University of Auburn ‼️#WDE? pic.twitter.com/cX1GKhiZM8
— Gerry Bohanon Jr (@iam_phenom) January 24, 2017
He also has offers from Arkansas State and Memphis.
Gatewood and Bohanon present similar skill sets. Both are quarterbacks who double as multi-purpose athletes. Gatewood stands 6-foot-3 and 223 pounds. Bohanon is 6-4 and 215 pounds. At this point, however, almost all schools are offering Bohanon as an athlete rather than a quarterback. The same can be said for Gatewood, to a lesser extent.
There’s no question Gatewood is the priority quarterback in the 2018 class.
Last season, Bohanon threw for 2,734 yards during his team’s 9-4 season, which included a deep playoff run. It should be noted: Bohanon, at one point Tuesday, referred to Auburn as his “dream school.”
‘Big Cat’ update
There isn’t much more to add than what I provided Monday with the lengthy intel on Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant, who has narrowed his options to Georgia, Auburn and LSU. The Bulldogs are no longer the guaranteed front runner, as has long appeared to be the case. Auburn has closed the gap, and LSU has really closed the gap. Bryant’s trip to Baton Rouge changed the game, and a source close to the situation said to start expecting a surprise come National Signing Day.
Jeff Sentell, my colleague from DawgNation, gathered more scoop on Bryant on Tuesday. Bryant was blown away by his visit to LSU, which had him calling his coach with rave-review updates all weekend long. That seemed to level the playing field entirely. All the staffs will see Bryant this week.
Auburn has the last stab at him with a visit this weekend. It might be more possible than ever to steal Bryant away from Georgia.