Auburn recruiting question of the day: What was J.B. Grimes’ recruiting track record at Auburn?
Much like Justin Ferguson does on the Auburn team side, recruiting reporter Benjamin Wolk will answer the Recruiting Question of the Day every day of the week. You can ask him questions on Twitter or Facebook. Look for our Question of the Day. Go here to to see our previous answers.
@benjaminwolk What was J.B. Grimes’ track record as a recruiter during his first stint at Auburn?
— Cole Matarazzo (@wiff_commish) January 17, 2018
@benjaminwolk I’ve seen a narrative that Coach Grimes isn’t a good recruiter. What’s your opinion on that?
— AJ Harris (@ThatsMeThatGuy) January 17, 2018
Given the timing of the switch, new Auburn offensive line coach J.B. Grimes steps into an unenviable job as a recruiter. He was hired Wednesday morning to replace Herb Hand and returns to a job he held from 2013-15.
The Tigers only signed two offensive linemen during the early signing period. Now, they’re faced with piecing together a 2018 offensive line class despite a coaching change three weeks before National Signing Day. It won’t be easy for Grimes to step in and round up the elite bunch the Auburn community wants.
But he has a major advantage that other potential offensive line candidates didn’t: He’s recruited for Auburn before. Grimes knows what it takes to recruit successfully at Auburn. He’s also experienced some recruiting misses, which can teach you as much as the recruiting wins.
Here’s a year-by-year look at Grimes’ offensive line recruiting efforts.
Class of 2013
- 3-star offensive guard Deon Mix, Batesville, Miss.: Deon Mix was a last-minute recruiting flip, in large part because of the late work by Grimes. Mississippi State held Mix’s commitment until a week before signing day, when Mix took an official visit to Auburn. He landed in Auburn’s 2013 class but ultimately transferred to Houston.
- 3-star offensive guard Devonte Danzey, Hutchinson C.C.: As a JUCO commit, Devonte Danzey was an example of Grimes’ ability to close late. Before visiting Auburn, Danzey had been to Texas Tech, Baylor and West Virginia. “He has a lot of experience putting over 50 guys in the league, not just drafted but giving them a shot to go to the league. He’s been to numerous bowl games and every year he’s coached the offensive line, the running back had 1,000-plus yards,” Danzey told 247Sports after committing to the Tigers. Danzey served as a utility lineman for Auburn during his tenure on the Plains.
Class of 2014
- 4-star offensive guard Braden Smith, Olathe, Kan.: Perhaps the gold star on Grimes’ résumé, the new Auburn offensive line coach played a key role in landing the best Auburn offensive lineman since Greg Robinson. Braden Smith officially visited four schools in January — Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Auburn and TCU. Grimes and Malzahn combined to recruit Smith to Auburn, and boy, did it pay off. “I can’t believe we got him,” Grimes told AL.com the fall after landing him. “I can’t believe we got him. I mean, that guy can play, now. I can’t believe we got him, but we did.”
- 3-star center Xavier Dampeer, Copiah-Lincoln C.C.: Grimes took a secondary role to former Auburn assistant Scott Fountain on Xavier Dampeer’s recruitment. Auburn coasted in this recruitment, however. Dampeer didn’t take many visits outside of Auburn. And he took his official visit and committed all in the same weekend.
Class of 2015
- 4-star offensive guard Marquel Harrell, Fairburn, Ga.: Auburn fought off a late push from Georgia to land one of the more versatile offensive linemen the Tigers have had in recent years. Grimes was in the lead for the Marquel Harrell recruitment. Interestingly, Herb Hand was recruiting Harrell to Penn State, where Harrell visited during his recruitment. Ultimately, Auburn beat out Tennessee and a few other programs for Harrell.
- 4-star center Kaleb Kim, Hoschston, Ga.: Kaleb Kim hasn’t been used much yet in his Auburn career, but it sound as if his time will come. He’s the most-mentioned name for the center position in 2018 and could play one of the guard spots, too, if called upon. Kim held offers from Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Cal, Ohio State, Tennessee and others. The Tigers won out, thanks to the lead recruiting efforts of Grimes.
- 4-star offensive guard Tyler Carr, Gadsden, Ala.: Tyler Carr was another heavily recruited prospect with several offers. He pulled in offers from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Miami, Penn State, Texas and Nebraska. Carr always planned to stay in state, however. He took unofficial visits to Auburn and Alabama a few weeks before making a summer decision. Grimes took a secondary role to Tim Horton in this recruitment.
- 3-star offensive tackle Bailey Sharp, Marietta, Ga.: Once again, Grimes and Horton tag teamed a 2015 offensive lineman to land a signature. Bailey Sharp was an Under Armour All-American in high school. He was Auburn all the way. Sharp took visits to Louisville, Notre Dame and South Carolina the summer before committing, but he landed in the Tigers’ class.
Class of 2016
- 3-star offensive tackle Brodarious Hamm, Griffin, Ga.: Grimes was gone by the time Brodarious Hamm made it to campus, and he took a secondary role to Rodney Garner in this recruitment. But he was involved so it’s worth mentioning. In fact, Hamm told AL.com after the Grimes-to-Hand switch: “I was pretty shocked. I wasn’t expecting [Grimes] to be gone. It’s going to be a big change. We were pretty close, I was getting to know him as a coach.”
Class of 2017
- 5-star offensive tackle Calvin Ashley, Orlando, Fla.: Calvin Ashley, too, stayed committed to Auburn well beyond Grimes and required some extra recruiting. But his initial commitment? That came when Grimes was with Auburn. In fact, Grimes was the primary recruiter in this one when Ashley originally committed. Said Ashley after committing to Grimes and Auburn on a visit: “They just make me feel like home up here and I love everything about it. I’ve never been this happy.”
What it means going forward
It’s hard to say how much of an immediate impact Grimes’ addition will have on recruiting — at least for the Class of 2018.
The Tigers are likely to bring in a big offensive line haul for the 2019 class. That’s where Grimes will get started immediately, even though Auburn will try to bring in a few more targets in the 2018 class.
There is one 2018 target I spoke with Wednesday who is a big fan of the new hire. Tank Jenkins, a 4-star lineman from Park Crossing High School in Montgomery, Ala., has been back and forth with Auburn. There have been moments it looked like he was ready to commit. There have been times it has looked like the Tigers were looking more heavily at other targets.
It’s unknown right now where Jenkins stands among remaining offensive line candidates. There’s a much bigger need for tackles than guards. But Jenkins, at least, has a prior relationship with Grimes. As Jenkins described it Wednesday, Grimes was “one of the first coaches to give me a chance.”
Jenkins is coming off a big visit to Oklahoma, but the Grimes hire could be a perfect bridge if the Tigers are still in the market for a big, in-state offensive guard.
To see all the answers to prior Auburn questions, click here.