Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. These notebooks will now publish in the evening Sunday through Thursday. It’s Wednesday, and SEC Country catches up with 2019 safety Jaylen McCollough, who visited Auburn.
The purpose of Jaylen McCollough’s visit to Auburn
AUBURN, Ala. — Jaylen McCollough isn’t a huge fan of junior days.
The 4-star safety from Powder Springs, Ga., appreciates more personalized time with coaching staffs when he takes his recruiting visits. On a typical junior day Saturday, McCollough is just one of dozens of prospects, so coaches can’t customize visits to a specific recruit. On a Wednesday in February, a school can cater to a single visitor to line up with that prospect’s interest.
That’s what made McCollough’s visit to Auburn so important for the future of his recruitment.
“Mid-week, everybody [in the class] is doing something as opposed to coming up on a Saturday when everyone is here. So we came to have 1-on-1 with the coaches and it turned out pretty good,” McCollough said. “It’s very important. At junior days, you don’t really get to have 1-on-1 with the coaches. This experience played a big factor in me coming to Auburn.”
McCollough’s two strongest relationships at Auburn are with running backs coach Tim Horton and defensive backs coach Greg Brown.
Horton is his area recruiter, so he’s the one who visits Hillgrove High School and regularly calls and texts to check up on McCollough. As for Brown, the Auburn defensive backs coach took the same film-session approach he’s successfully taken with other recruits such as Quindarious Monday and Christian Tutt.
Brown’s sit-down time with McCollough showed the 6-foot-1, 190-pound safety exactly how he’d fit into the Tigers’ scheme.
“I was with Coach Brown half the day just watching film, talking about how he wanted to use me,” McCollough said. “We went over certain coverages they play and where I’d be in the secondary. We talked about Tray Matthews and how he could see me being another Tray Matthews. It sounds great.”
Where Auburn stands among loaded competition
Name a program, and it has probably offered McCollough.
He holds offers from more than two dozen blue-blood programs, including Auburn, Alabama, South Carolina, Ohio State, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida State. It’s early in McCollough’s process, but he also said he doesn’t expect it to drag into his senior season.
The 4-star safety — ranked No. 4 at the position nationally — would like to have his process near a finish by the fall.
“I’m just taking it slow. I’ll probably commit sometime before the fall. I want my senior year so I can can just focus on football and graduating early,” McCollough said.
With a early-fall decision in mind, the new official visit window would allow pivotal spring official visits. McCollough said he hasn’t concentrated on those spring or summer visit plans, but he said he expects to take a few in the spring and the remainder in the fall.
Auburn made a strong early claim for one of those five official visits.
“Auburn will be an official visit,” McCollough said. “I know as of right now Auburn and Ohio State. Those are two for sure and probably sometime down the road I’ll think of three other schools for official visits.”
A few programs to watch closely with McCollough: South Carolina, Alabama, Florida State and Georgia.
Alabama currently leads the 247Sports Crystal Ball projections, if you’re looking for an idea of where public perception is.
That makes McCollough’s trip to Auburn especially interesting given his last visit to the Plains came for the Iron Bowl. In fact, McCollough said that previous time at Auburn — his first as a recruit — is what encouraged him to come back for a more exclusive visit with coaches.
“The Iron Bowl is one of, if not the greatest, rivalries in college football. Alabama has always been a great state for football, so Auburn and Alabama were always two schools to look at,” McCollough said. “Seeing Auburn beat Alabama just played a bigger factor. Just them showing interest is amazing.”
For now, McCollough doesn’t have any other unofficial visits set in stone. When he does start planning other visits, a return to Auburn is in the cards.
“[This visit] helped a lot. Just getting a feel for the coaches and the atmosphere on campus, it’s beautiful,” McCollough said. “We’ll definitely be back.”
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