Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. In this edition, we spoke with Louisiana safety Joe Foucha about his continued Auburn lead after offer from home-state LSU.
Despite LSU offer, Louisiana safety says Auburn leads
LSU has a proven track record of landing the best safeties in the state of Louisiana when it wants them. Typically the only time those Tigers lose on such prospects, at least in recent memory, is to Alabama. Aside from very few of those instances, LSU cleans up in its own state, particularly among safeties.
In 2018, Joe Foucha is the top-ranked safety in Louisiana.
Until last weekend, it didn’t matter much because LSU hadn’t offered. Foucha returned for a camp, showed he improved from the last time the staff evaluated him, and quickly picked up a long-awaited offer.
As a safety from McDonogh 35 in New Orleans, an LSU offer always means something — as much to the community as the prospect himself.
“Twitter went crazy, man. I felt like the whole city was calling me,” Foucha told SEC Country.
Naturally it sent die-hard Auburn recruiting fans into a minor meltdown.
No way Auburn’s getting him now that LSU offered.
It’s still too early too call. Foucha, at the earliest, will commit after his senior season. It’s possible he’ll wait until National Signing Day in February. But one thing is clear: Auburn is the team to beat regardless of who offered or where Foucha lives.
“I never really grew up looking at LSU, but they are my home-state school. A lot of players from New Orleans went there, but it doesn’t change things too much though,” Foucha said. “As a kid, I always looked at Auburn.”
Foucha has been calling Auburn his leader for weeks and claims that remains very much the case. Prior to the dead period, he communicated with one of [Auburn assistant coaches] Greg Brown, Kodi Burns and Travis Williams every other day, which is much more than any other program.
That’s not to say LSU’s offer didn’t change things at all. It gave Auburn a clear team to keep its eye on through the rest of the recruiting cycle. Foucha was close to releasing a top 5. Now that list will likely grow to six, potentially seven. He’ll likely release that in July following his visit to Florida State, another team to watch if the Seminoles like what they see from Foucha.
None of that is set in stone, though.
There are only two guarantees, as Foucha says, to make his top 5.
“Auburn and Kansas,” he said. “With Auburn, it’s the coaches. I built a great relationship with the coaches. For Big Cat Weekend, I had a lot of fun. It wasn’t just football. It was fun and games. I enjoyed that a lot. That’s why I know they’re going to be in my top 5.”
Zamir White’s RB ripple effect for Auburn
If you missed it, let me start by asking, how? But if you did, the No. 1 running back in the nation Zamir White — generally referred to as Zeus — committed to Georgia. The North Carolina 5-star prospect’s decision to choose the Bulldogs didn’t come as a shock, though some in-state hopefuls thought the Tar Heels could be a surprise threat.
As it turns out, it wasn’t the Tar Heels who made a late close. It was Alabama.
White told my Dawgnation colleague Jeff Sentell the Crimson Tide finished second.
OK, Mr. Auburn Recruiting Reporter, why are you telling me about Georgia and Alabama running backs?
Because Auburn and Alabama are in a race for 4-star running back Asa Martin from Austin Decatur. Had White surprisingly chosen an extended stay in Tuscaloosa rather than Athens, it would’ve changed the entire landscape of Auburn’s running back recruiting class.
The Tigers would’ve become the clear front-runner for Martin, as the Crimson Tide wouldn’t have been in such dire need to take a second back. Now it remains my belief the state’s No. 1 running back will choose Alabama over Auburn and Florida when he decides on Aug. 24.
That means the Tigers need to have their contingency plans ready, and they do.
Dameon Pierce — with White-to-UGA and the hypothetical Martin-to-Alabama — will become solely an Auburn and Florida race. Georgia would already have its feature back of the class, and I can’t envision Martin and Pierce, from Bainbridge, Ga., ending up in the same class. Multiple sources have said the Tigers would hold a significant advantage in that Auburn-Florida battle.
Another name to watch is Harold Joiner from Birmingham. He has long called LSU his leader, but that is no longer the case. Why? LSU had three running backs commit within the last week — Chris Curry, Tae Provens and AJ Carter. Provens, and to a lesser extent Curry, were both Auburn targets. Now Joiner feels like the odd man out in a running back group that he was once said to be the top guy. Georgia was another school Joiner had near the top, but early playing time, which is important to Joiner, seems less accessible in Athens with White’s announcement.
Also don’t count out Provens, a 3-star prospect from Gurley. Yes, he committed to LSU over the weekend, but it came on such surprise notice that I wouldn’t rule anything out here. He originally set an Aug. 11 commit date. In every conversation I’ve had with him, Provens has made his Auburn vs. Tennessee preference at the top quite clear, so LSU was a sudden curveball despite its revved up recruitment lately. With three running back adds in a week, more change seems likely in 2018 for LSU running backs.