It’s always peaks and valleys on the recruiting trail.
The peak will come in less than a week when the Tigers finalize their 2017 class on National Signing Day, bringing 20-plus new members into the Auburn family. Auburn made a few big splashes in recruiting this year: 5-star Calvin Ashley and 4-star Jarrett Stidham. The Tigers have done a tremendous job of finding lower-rated prospects who have emerged through their senior years: Tadarian Moultry, KJ Britt, Chandler Wooten and Malik Willis.
But there, inevitably, have been a few valleys, too. Commitments and de-commitments are the name of the game in college football recruiting. In the 2017 class, the Tigers have three de-commitments.
In a look at what could’ve been, here’s a look at those three decisions and how they affected Auburn’s 2017 recruiting class for better or for worse.
4-star QB Lowell Narcisse
Commitment date: July 27, 2015
De-commitment date: Jan. 12, 2016
Why did he de-commit? Narcisse picked Auburn early in his recruitment thanks to a tight relationship with Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee. That bond showed until the final days a year and a half later, when Narcisse re-entertained Auburn. In the end, family and proximity to home made LSU a no-brainer. Narcisse’s father passed away early in 2016, which changed the way he approached his recruitment. LSU gave him the ability to stay near his mother — and, in the end, Matt Canada’s background sealed the deal.
What did Auburn lose? Narcisse is the No. 9 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 266 overall prospect. Kellen Mond and Narcisse were the incoming freshmen Auburn targeted from the beginning. Narcisse is coming off back-to-back years suffering ACL tears, so it’s hard to know the player he’ll be when he returns to full health. The player he was before was one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.
Final decision: LSU on Dec. 19, 2016
4-star JUCO WR Brandon Martin
Commitment date: July 1, 2016
De-commitment date: July 6, 2016
Why did he de-commit? That didn’t last long, did it? The Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College prospect unofficially visited the Tigers in early June. By early July, Martin felt ready to join Auburn. He committed and de-committed in a five-day span, which included his overeagerness to commit and Auburn’s desire to be patient with wide receivers after a major splash during the 2016 cycle.
What did Auburn lose? Martin is the tall, big-bodied wide receiver many fans have been asking for. He’s 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. However, Auburn liked what it had from its 2016 “big guys”: Kyle Davis and Nate Craig-Myers. It’s possible Auburn only ends up taking one wide receiver in the class, and most of that is by choice. Still, Martin was the No. 2 JUCO wide receiver and the No. 8 overall prospect.
Final decision: Arkansas on Dec. 14, 2016
4-star DB Tray Bishop
Commitment date: July 25, 2016
De-commitment date: Dec. 13, 2016
Why did he de-commit? Bishop’s original choice was to have a quarterback opportunity at Auburn. Once he decided he wanted to play defensive back, the Tigers essentially were back to square one. Bishop’s previous communications were with Lashlee and Malzahn, as most quarterbacks did. Georgia and Florida recruited him with defensive staffers, and that paid off. Ultimately, the pull to play in-state made it tough for Auburn to hold onto him, too.
What did Auburn lose? By losing its perceived quarterback, Auburn managed to take an impressive haul at the position after his de-commitment. Stidham and Willis enrolled. Auburn could’ve used Bishop’s depth at safety now that the Tigers missed out on Devon Hunter. In the recent re-rank, Bishop is the No. 19 cornerback and No. 146 overall recruit. He adds a great combination of speed and power to any defensive backfield.
Final decision: Georgia on Jan. 1, 2017