Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Thursday, and SEC Country looks at J.B. Grimes’ first recruiting stop as offensive line coach. Also, there will be two Louisiana prospects in town this weekend.
J.B. Grimes’ first visit: Rice grad transfer OT
At 10:53 a.m. Wednesday, Auburn’s football Twitter account welcomed J.B. Grimes back to the coaching staff, as had been reported by numerous outlets throughout the morning. By 4:27 p.m., another tweet surfaced — featuring Grimes — that gave some insight into the Tigers’ offensive line recruiting priority in the Class of 2018.
Grimes started the day as the University of Connecticut offensive line coach. He quickly turned into Auburn University offensive line coach, a post he’s familiar with, and hit the road to recruit immediately (which should give you an idea how ready the Auburn coaching staff was for this move).
Grimes’ first move was to see Calvin Anderson in Houston, where he’s still taking classes at Rice University. Anderson was a 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive tackle target prior to Grimes’ arrival. Auburn coaches Chip Lindsey and Herb Hand headed that recruitment prior to Hand’s departure. It was quickly turned over to Grimes, which shows Anderson’s priority among potential offensive line targets.
The Tigers aren’t the only ones trying to snag the Rice grad transfer. Texas, Michigan and Notre Dame are other suitors in strong position for Anderson.
Coming out of high school, Anderson wasn’t the most highly rated prospect. He was a 2-star talent from Austin, Texas, ranked outside the top 2,400 prospects nationally. Anderson committed to Rice a year before signing and went more or less unnoticed as a recruit in the 2014 class.
He flipped the script during his time with the Owls.
It started by adding 60 pounds during a redshirt season. After that, Anderson started all 36 games on Rice’s schedule dating back to 2015. Anderson decided after the 2017 season that he had NFL draft potential and wanted to develop that at a high-caliber program such as the ones offering him now, including Auburn.
He announced his decision to grad transfer from Rice earlier this month. The mathematical economic analysis major (above my pay grade to know what that is) will finish up classes in May, and he’ll be able to enroll in classes immediately.
Anderson wants to have his decision finalized before that. In fact, his preferred decision date is March 25, his birthday, so he will likely take visits between now and then. Auburn is likely to land one of Anderson’s official visits, though nothing has been set in stone, he confirmed to SEC Country.
What’s interesting about Anderson’s recruitment: Since he doesn’t want to commit until March 25, it can make for an interesting twist with the end-of-cycle numbers crunch. There is a 25-recruit hard cap for the 2018 class. Auburn is already up to 22. If the Tigers were willing to hold out for a potential Anderson addition, that would mean only taking two more (or three, if an unsigned prospect didn’t sign Feb. 7).
Will the Tigers wait for Anderson? You’d think. He has the Division I experience and body already. If Auburn believes it needs an immediate impact offensive lineman, there may not be many better options than Anderson. The fact Grimes’ first recruiting trip went to Anderson should say enough about where he stands compared to a few of the high school options still available.
Key updates on 2 Louisiana prospects
There will be two out-of-state prospects on official visits this weekend who are likely to draw a lot of interest.
The first: 4-star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
He was once committed to Florida and visited several programs across the Southeast. Through that coaching change, he de-committed from the Gators and has since been trending toward home state LSU. His official visit to Baton Rouge last weekend went as well as you’d expect. Sources close to that situation are fairly convinced the official visit there finished the job for Ed Orgeron & Co.
He’s still expected to visit Auburn this weekend, and at this point, the Tigers might as well welcome him.
Kodi Burns’ wide receiver haul in the Class of 2018 has been strong. The quartet of Seth Williams, Shedrick Jackson, Matthew Hill and Anthony Schwartz will be one of the best groups in recent memory — yes, including the Class of 2016 — assuming Hill and Schwartz finalize with signatures.
But, as one source put it, Auburn sees two “must-take receivers” still out there in Chase and Justyn Ross. The Tigers will host them on official visits the next two weeks and work hard for commitments even if they’re perceived to be trailing in each of those recruitments.
Burns stopped by Chase’s school earlier this week to preview the official visit.
While in the area, Burns also swung by New Orleans to see McDonogh 35 (La.) defensive back Joe Foucha. A source close to Foucha told SEC Country he’s showing serious interest in committing sooner than his original National Signing Day plan. It’s not a coincidence his Auburn visit is coming up this weekend. During his face to face with Burns, they talked about having more of those types of conversations on his official visit.
As has been the case with most prospects, especially defensive backs, all of this is dependent on who the staff prioritizes and how it wants to use the last numbers in the class. The Tigers originally recruited Foucha as a safety, but he’s another prospect who is being recruited as a hybrid option.
Clearing up the Deondre Jackson de-commitment
There was some negative news that hit the web Wednesday night. Deondre Jackson, a 2020 running back, de-committed from Auburn a little more than a month after committing to the Tigers. The 6-foot, 195-pound running back from Lithonia, Ga., is a talented recruit, so it might seem like bad news.
But let’s add some context.
There’s a lot of time, a lot of recruiting and a lot of change to come in the college football world before Class of 2020 prospects sign. Jackson is a promising prospect who has picked up early interest from several schools.
But there are several steps that go into the commitment process.
According to a source immediately after Jackson’s commitment, the 2020 running back hadn’t had many conversations with the staff about committing. He has a relationship with tight ends coach Larry Porter, but there wasn’t much of a discussion about a commitment. Neither side is ruling out the possibility of reconnecting down the road.
For now, however, it made sense to back off the immediacy of that decision.
Miss a previous Auburn recruiting notebook? Find every daily recap of Auburn Tigers recruiting right here.