Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. In this edition, we update Auburn’s recruiting board for defensive backs and running backs after a few commitment misses over the weekend.
What’s next for Auburn at defensive back?
Friday served as a wake-up call for Auburn’s defensive back recruiting in the Class of 2018.
Neither miss came as much of a surprise, but when Kyler McMichael and Jalyn Armour-Davis decided to go somewhere other than Auburn, it reminded the Tigers they still have plenty of work left to do during this recruiting cycle to haul in an impressive secondary. McMichael spurned Auburn, a school he’d visited twice in the last month, for Clemson. Armour-Davis finally went public with his silent commitment to Alabama.
McMichael and Armour-Davis are the No. 13 and No. 15 cornerbacks, respectively, according to the 247Sports composite. Those were the top two cornerbacks Auburn was chasing, so now it’s time to turn the attention elsewhere.
Here is a look at the seven defensive backs to watch now that McMichael and Armour-Davis are off the board.
- 3-star Joe Foucha, McDonogh 35 (La.): Foucha has called Auburn his leader, which stems from his childhood fandom of the Tigers and Cam Newton. That has quickly developed into a legitimate consideration of playing college football on the Plains. It appears like only one thing stands in Auburn’s way for Foucha. He just received an LSU offer over the weekend, and if there’s one program that has what it takes to overtake Auburn, it’s home-state LSU.
- 3-star Juanyeh Thomas, Niceville (Fla.): This one, as I see it, is only a matter of time. I listed Thomas last week as one of the prospects who is almost a sure bet to land in Auburn’s class this summer. Truthfully, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet. When he visited for Big Cat Weekend, it seemed like a legitimate possibility. The same can be said for when he visited two weeks later with a couple prospective campers from his high school. Ultimately, when he returns to the Plains in mid-July, I expect Thomas will be ready to seal the deal with the Tigers.
- 3-star Charles McClelland, Clinch (Ga.): McClelland’s only other SEC offers are from LSU and Kentucky. Both of those came after the Tigers offered and revved up its recruitment of McClelland, who attended for Big Cat Weekend. Just look at his Twitter profile picture. It’s McClelland rocking a bucket hat with a big AU symbol on the front. He’s making a point to flash his Auburn interest. McClelland seems star-struck just to be an offered prospect on an SEC campus, and he won’t forget Auburn came calling first.
- 4-star Quindarious Monday, Carver (Ga.): Once considered a likely land, Monday seems more and more like a prospect falling out of Auburn’s grasp. The Tigers aren’t out of it yet by any means, but Monday has gone from calling Auburn his leader to saying it’s on level playing field with Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Tennessee and a few others. Now he has been offered by Clemson, which holds dream-school status for Monday. Auburn will have to impress in order to re-attain that standing with Monday.
- 3-star Jamien Sherwood, Jensen Beach (Fla.): Sherwood is an impressive athlete who, realistically, could play wide receiver, running back, linebacker or defensive back at the next level. Auburn sees him as a versatile defensive back, and that’s where Sherwood sees himself. It’s not a guarantee the Tigers land Sherwood, but the Tigers have made up a ton of ground for a school that’s eight hours away from Sherwood’s hometown. He says that distance doesn’t matter, and that he and his mother have a high impression of the Plains that isn’t matched by many other places.
- 4-star Jordan Miner, Wiregrass Ranch (Fla.): Miner isn’t a name I’ve mentioned much this cycle. For the most part, that’s because he hasn’t been on campus much since he received his offer on Feb. 23. Miner attended Auburn on May 6, as he went across the southeast on a school tour. Auburn was a school initially way up on Miner’s list, but he has trended toward Florida, Tennessee and Penn State recently. With two cornerback misses on Friday, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Auburn work its way back into this one, as well.
- 4-star Christian Tutt, Thomson (Ga.): Crystal Ball predictions for Tutt don’t offer much suspense. Everyone — seriously everyone — expects Tutt to choose Nebraska when he eventually decides. It’s somewhat strange considering this is a guy who once claimed to be deciding between Georgia, Florida State and Alabama. As those programs took a step back, Tutt started to look elsewhere. He visited the Tigers right before he was going to make his initial decision, but then pushed it back. Like Miner, Tutt is a cornerback Auburn could re-engage contact with before his Nebraska decision if the Tigers feel the need to land a cornerback because of the two misses.
What’s next for Auburn at running back?
Running back took much less of a hit than cornerback over the weekend, but there was some intrigue added to the position when Tae Provens unexpectedly committed to LSU.
Provens has been a lifelong Auburn fan, and even had a chance to commit to the Tigers as an athlete over Big Cat Weekend. He decided not to do it — similar situation to Tennessee — and continued to look elsewhere. Provens still had an Aug. 11 commitment decision set up between Auburn, LSU, Tennessee and Louisville.
He ended up not waiting that long. Provens chose LSU on Saturday.
I’m still not convinced his recruitment is over, however.
“My recruitment is not shut down. Tennessee and Auburn were frontrunners, but stuff happened. LSU just made a stronger push. I still have love for Tennessee and Auburn, and those are two good programs that’ll continue to do well in the SEC,” Provens said.
Here are running backs to watch now:
- 4-star Asa Martin, Austin (Ala.): This is priority No. 1. The Tigers are in a heated battle with Alabama and Florida for the top running back in the state of Alabama. The Crimson Tide have tried to make a late push for 5-star Zamir White, which could certainly affect Martin when White decides on Tuesday. But it appears Alabama has gone from uninterested to most likely landing spot for Martin. Auburn will hold out hope for its top running back target, but a few moves the Tigers have made proves they’re looking at “What’s next?” scenarios if Martin chooses someone else on Aug. 24.
- 4-star Dameon Pierce, Bainbridge (Ga.): If it’s not Martin for the Tigers, it’ll likely be Pierce. Those are the two known feature-back options remaining on the Tigers’ wish list. Pierce visited the Tigers shortly after his de-commitment from Alabama. Pierce is starting to lean toward Auburn, but he also has strong interest in Georgia and Florida. Georgia will only be involved if it misses on White, so it’s unlikely the Bulldogs become a factor. But the Gators and Tigers look to be in another battle with one another, especially if Martin ends up picking the Crimson Tide.
- 4-star Harold Joiner, Mountain Brook (Ala.): A source close to the situation told SEC Country that LSU wasn’t likely to take both Harold Joiner and Tae Provens. For a while, Joiner has stated LSU is the favorite to get him, and it hasn’t seemed like many other programs had a chance. Now might be Auburn’s chance. With Provens to Baton Rouge, Auburn is still in search for an athlete target who can do multiple things offensively. That’s exactly what Joiner is, and now with competition at LSU, Joiner might have to reconsider his options.
- 3-star Charles Strong, Union County (Fla.): This is probably the most far-fetched of the group, but Auburn will have to become creative if the Tigers aren’t able to haul in a few of the aforementioned names. Strong visited for junior day earlier in the year, and the Florida State commit said he was doing his due diligence to make sure he wanted to be a Seminole. Florida State already looks vulnerable to losing 5-star RB commit James Cook, who is a close friend of Strong. It’s possible Strong will look around some more before he closes down his recruitment.
- 3-star Tae Provens, Madison County (Ala.): Despite his LSU commitment, I’m not ruling out that Provens still lands in Auburn’s class. The Tigers might turn elsewhere and consider the Provens miss a wash, but if Auburn has trouble landing any combination of Martin, Pierce and Joiner, it’ll need to figure something out. Provens seems like the right place to start. He grew up an Auburn fan, and his falling out with the Tigers had more to do with their attempt to make him a RB/WR/DB combo. He wasn’t having that, but the Tigers might reconsider with a few other misses.