Recruiting question of the day: How does Jeremy Pruitt’s move to Tennessee affect 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 your questions on Twitter or Facebook. Look for our Auburn Question of the Day. Go here to to see our previous answers.
@benjaminwolk Recruiting question of the day. What does Jeremy Pruitt to Tennessee mean for Auburn recruiting?
— Usimare Ramesses III (@CJ4Six) December 7, 2017
@benjaminwolk if Pruitt accepts Tennessee job, how his departure from alabama will effect auburn chances on flipping Walker/Jalyn Armour Davis, and what chance does Auburn has now with JJ Peterson?
— Elliot Hendzel (@IHendzel) December 7, 2017
The big news across the Southeastern Conference on Thursday centered around Tennessee finally hiring its next football coach.
Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt inked a deal with the Volunteers to become the next Tennessee coach. As two SEC Country readers asked on Twitter, does this move have any effect on Auburn recruiting? Pruitt is known to be one of the best recruiters in the Southeast, so that’ll take away a key figure on Alabama’s staff, but it’ll also likely give Tennessee a boost it hasn’t had in awhile.
Elliot Hendzel, above, asks specifically about three prospects — 4-star linebacker Quay Walker (Alabama commit), 4-star linebacker JJ Peterson and 4-star cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis (Alabama commit). Those are the defensive prospects who saw Auburn-Alabama overlap during the 2018 recruiting cycle. You can throw in 3-star defensive end Andres Fox from Mobile, Ala., as well.
The one least likely to be affected is Armour-Davis. He was close with Pruitt, but his primary ties to the Alabama staff were Nick Saban and defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley. While Auburn was in on Armour-Davis early — and the Tigers are desperate for top cornerbacks — I don’t anticipate the Pruitt move will change much, if anything.
The same can’t necessarily be said for the other three.
Walker has been on flip alert all fall. While Auburn and Georgia have both shown confidence with their recruiting approaches, it’s never easy to flip a prospect from the Crimson Tide. Pruitt’s switch could be the in. Walker has spoken in the past about his intention to play for a Pruitt-led defense. That’s not going to happen at Alabama, obviously, so that leaves the door open for Auburn and Georgia.
The Tigers will work effortlessly down the stretch to make it happen.
As for Peterson, I’ve written in the past (recently even) that Auburn’s chances to land him fall in the long-shot category. He’s been all Alabama all the way, and a big reason for that is his high school coach Rush Propst’s ties to Pruitt. It’s not out of the question to think Tennessee can get in this one, but it also gives Auburn a legitimate opportunity. The Tigers hope to add another linebacker to their class, and Peterson’s relationship with linebackers coach Travis Williams makes it a serious possibility.
That leaves Fox, who will be one of the most highly pursued prospects in Alabama leading up to National Signing Day.
Fox has a close relationship with Pruitt, but it’s likely not the be-all end-all for his decision. I’ve liked Auburn’s odds with Fox for a while based on conversations I’ve had with my sources. Alabama has clearly been the biggest threat. With that said, considering Fox grew up a big Crimson Tide fan, his connection to Alabama has more to do with the program than one coordinator.
Obviously other coaching hires have to play out to know the total effect Pruitt’s move could have. But in the early stages, it points to a sign of optimism for Auburn.
To see all the answers to prior Auburn questions, click here.