Aside from safety, Auburn still has a lot of work to do in the 2018 recruiting cycle.
Rodney Garner is a known closer on the recruiting trail, so expect him to add several pieces. Travis Williams has several other elite talents out there that he’s actively recruiting. Greg Brown is in search of his first cornerback since taking over as Auburn’s defensive backs coach.
Here’s the latest projection on how I anticipate things will play out on defense in Auburn’s Class of 2018:
Defensive line (5): 4-star Coynis Miller (Birmingham, Ala.), 4-star Richard Jibunor (Athens, Ga.), 3-star Andres Fox (Mobile, Ala.), 3-star Daquan Newkirk (Orlando, Fla.), 3-star Kayode Oladele (Miami, Fla.)
The numbers didn’t change, but one name did.
Coynis Miller has been in this projection for a while. Despite his stance that Florida was his No. 1 choice, I still think it’s going to be tough for Miller to pass on Auburn and Rodney Garner. Nothing has changed there.
Richard Jibunor has been on commit watch for a while. He still is. Jibunor will take a visit to Gainesville, Fla., this weekend for the Florida-Tennessee game, but I anticipate he’ll come back ready to finalize his decision with the Tigers.
Andres Fox has been somewhat a mystery of late. Even though people on the LSU side feel confident, there is still a chance for Fox to land at Alabama, Auburn or Stanford, as well. Fox said early in the process that he felt likely to commit to Auburn, and usually when these tough decisions have to be made, prospects often revert back to their original wishes.
Daquan Newkirk is committed already, and that hasn’t changed.
The new name on the list is Kayode Oladele. I probably jumped the gun last month on Caleb Johnson. Auburn is still evaluating him. Oladele, on the other hand, camped with Auburn this summer and received an offer. He’s from Nigeria, and as a result, has a close friendship with Jibunor, which should help the Tigers.
Misses: Caleb Johnson, Jalen Cunningham, Tramel Walthour
Linebacker (1): 4-star Michael Harris (Tucker, Ga.), 4-star Zakoby McClain (Valdosta, Ga.)
Michael Harris is already committed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take a few more visits, maybe even some official visits. But don’t worry here. Harris will be an Auburn Tiger in the end.
I only expect Auburn to take two linebackers, so there are a few names that are obvious to turn to. Channing Tindall, who I think will end up at South Carolina. Adam Anderson, who my projection right now would put him at Georgia or Alabama. JJ Peterson, who might be the most likely of the group to surprise and choose Auburn, but the Crimson Tide are the team to beat. And Quay Walker, an Alabama commit, who might have some flip potential for Auburn, Florida State or Georgia.
None of those options seems realistic enough to put them in the class projection for now.
So the addition I did make will probably surprise some people. McClain has no-showed on visits to several different schools. Once thought to be a strong Auburn lean, he almost committed to LSU last weekend but never made the visit.
But here’s the deal. I think Auburn takes two linebackers. And even with his inconsistencies, McClain is still an elite-level linebacker. When the class comes to an end, the Tigers are going to want someone to couple with Harris, and if the other options follow the path I expect them to, the McClain will likely be the next man up.
Misses: Channing Tindall, Adam Anderson, JJ Peterson, Quay Walker
Safety (4): 4-star Quindarious Monday (Atlanta, Ga.), 3-star Kolbi Fuqua (Cordova, Ala.), 3-star Jamien Sherwood (Jensen Beach, Fla.), 3-star Josh Marsh (Decatur, Ala.)
Everyone is committed. I really don’t have much to say here. Auburn sought out to shore up the safety room early on in the 2018 class, and that’s taken care of. Quindarious Monday could take a few visits to Clemson or Georgia, but in the end, I think he sticks with Auburn. Marsh, Sherwood and Fuqua seem like locks to stay in the class.
Misses: Landed top targets
Cornerback (1): 3-star Derek Turner (West Feliciana, La.)
I’m going to ride with this one, just like last month.
Derek Turner camped with Auburn earlier in the summer and stayed overnight for the recruiting cookout. When he left, he called Auburn his leader and said he was on the verge of making a decision. He hasn’t committed yet, instead waiting at the request of a few top programs, including Auburn.
The Tigers would love to flip a guy like Kyler McMichael from Clemson, but if that doesn’t seem like a realistic option, Turner will likely be next in line.
I only think Auburn will take one cornerback in this class regardless, unless it finds a junior college option it likes. In the end, I expect Turner to be the best option.
Misses: Christian Tutt, Kyler McMichael, Jalyn Armour-Davis