Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Monday, and we monitor Auburn’s running back plans after Dameon Pierce‘s commitment. Plus, an Auburn legacy target will commit soon.
Top RB target’s surprise commitment alters plan
Dameon Pierce announced a slight stunner Sunday when he committed to Florida.
The No. 9 running back in the nation — formerly an Alabama commit — changed up his timeline in a major way. As he said after the Auburn cookout, Pierce originally said he’d wait until after his senior season to decide, perhaps even letting it run until National Signing Day.
That changed quickly.
Pierce, who visited Florida the day before he visited Auburn, added to the Gators’ monster month of recruiting.
But it left plenty on the Auburn side scratching their heads, and asking: What is Auburn’s plan at running back?
There are really three options.
- Land Asa Martin and stick with it.
- Find/evaluate other targets.
For starters, the Asa Martin sweepstakes isn’t complete. The state’s top-ranked running back will decide on Aug. 24 between Auburn, Alabama, Clemson and Florida, though Pierce’s commitment to Florida shows the direction the Gators are trending for Martin. Clemson is the late addition, but it’s still going to be an Auburn-Alabama battle.
Alabama has been publicly perceived as the leader since he received the offer, but Auburn’s staff has some optimism as it pertains to Martin. When he attended Alabama’s cookout, he went for a single day. For Auburn’s, he arrived a day early, stayed the day of the cookout and stayed overnight then, as well.
That’s three days on the Plains. So, before Auburn fans have given up on that one, just know Auburn’s side has much more confidence on the Martin front than most of the outside perception.
Option No. 2 gives the Tigers time to look deeper at guys like Harold Joiner, Kaviosey Smoke or other prospects who have been on the surface level of target lists so far. If Auburn goes this route, I wouldn’t expect to see a running back commitment for a while as the Tigers monitor respective seasons closely.
And then there’s the final possibility: nothing.
This one might make some in the fan base cringe. I’ve made radio appearances where several of the call-in complaints centered around the lack of running back depth — I disagree with this opinion — and the desire to have a substantial running back class in 2018.
But Auburn’s staff doesn’t feel like it’s in desperation mode as much as some in the fan base. The Tigers like what they have in both freshmen Devan Barrett and JaTarvious Whitlow. That should be one saving grace. Whitlow should now be considered a running back. Players and coaches have confirmed most, if not all, of his work is coming out of the backfield.
Whitlow has the size, speed, vision and ball skills to play the running back position at a high level, so consider that an extra running back in the 2017 class.
The Tigers also have high hopes for Shaun Shivers. They don’t necessarily see him as an every-down back, but they believe he’ll contribute plenty out of the backfield during his time at Auburn.
Since, in the staff’s opinion, there aren’t any clear-cut, first-round draft picks in the Class of 2018, the Tigers appear willing to be fairly patient at the position. In other words, don’t panic if the Tigers decide to play it cool at running back with misses on Dameon Pierce and potentially Asa Martin.
Auburn legacy target sets commitment date
At the Tigers’ final summer camp, the Tigers handed out an offer to 3-star cornerback Jamari Brown.
Brown’s uncle is former Auburn star Junior Rosegreen, who attended the camp with his nephew. When Brown left the camp, he hinted that a decision might not be too far away, which made it seem like the legacy recruit was a shoo-in for the Tigers’ class.
“It means a lot because my uncle went here. t’s a great place to be. It feels good. It feels like home. I just like it and I can see myself playing here,” Brown said at the time. “The only thing I’m evaluating is making sure the timing is perfect and making sure my family is with the decision and they’re happy with it.”
Brown announced over the weekend he’ll be committing on Aug. 17 between Auburn, Kentucky and Temple.
If you didn’t see, I changed my Crystal Ball pick from Auburn to Kentucky. The Tigers aren’t in a rush to figure out the cornerback position. Greg Brown wants to evaluate closely during the fall, and there are a few committed prospects — specifically Clemson commit Kyler McMichael — who are staying aware of the Tigers’ success in the 2017 and monitoring how that could influence a decision.
Could Brown end up in the class eventually? Maybe. But not if he plans for his Aug. 17 announcement to be a final decision. The Tigers aren’t ready to start taking secondary options at the cornerback position just yet.
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