Few bonds run deeper than the one between a quarterback and his left tackle.
Auburn has had some dynamic duos in the past. There inevitably will be more in the future. At Roswell (Ga.) High School — the home of Auburn’s newest quarterback commit, Malik Willis — there was a fierce QB-LT combination with Willis and his 6-foot-7, 335-pound left tackle Jordan Tucker, who has been on the Auburn radar for a few months now.
As has been the conversation before, Tucker hasn’t been offered. He’s a former Tennessee commitment, but has been on the market since Oct. 13. Tucker holds offers from Louisville, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Mississippi State and Virginia Tech.
Auburn’s involvement includes Tucker’s unofficial visit on Nov. 5 for the Vanderbilt game and regular communication with offensive line coach Herb Hand. At the moment, he’s still waiting on an offer.
With Willis in as an early enrollee, he’s transitioning from recruit to recruiter. He has a specific name in mind to start.
“I’m trying to get my tackle from Roswell actually — Jordan Tucker. He’s waiting on the offer, but I don’t know yet. I hope so … I think we’d have a good chance (to get him),” Willis said Saturday prior to move-in day. “That’s a good combo, a one-two punch.”
The only problem: Time is ticking, and Auburn still hasn’t extended an offer.
Of the 15 or so schools Tucker is “considering,” Auburn is the only one who Tucker hasn’t received an offer from. Which, in some sense, probably tells you what Tucker thinks of the Tigers. He’s willing to drag the process out slightly for the Tigers and other programs of that caliber.
The leaders at this point are Louisville, South Carolina and North Carolina. The Cardinals were in the driver’s seat. Tucker took an unofficial visit up there on Nov. 26. Louisville has recruited Tucker the longest, at least among top-tier programs. That means something to Tucker.
With that said, on Monday, Tucker replaced his planned Jan. 14 official visit to Louisville with an OV to North Carolina. He is also scheduled to take an official visit to South Carolina the following week on Jan. 20. That leaves an open weekend in the final month of the recruiting calendar, which could be used for Louisville — or Auburn.
So why the wait?
For starters, there have been a few offensive line pieces drop during the dead period, including Cesar Ruiz and Adrian Ealy. Neither were likely lands for the Tigers, but these recruitments often go up to the final moments, so it’s possible Auburn felt it had a chance and waited.
Now the contact period is about to resume. The Malzahn staff — Hand, in particular — is the in-person type. Meaning, he makes a lot of his ground work when you’re with him, hearing and seeing what he has to say up close and personal. An in-home visit with an offer early in the contact period would go a long way to 1) securing a Jan. 28 official and 2) helping Auburn work its way up to the leaderboard.
Another worthy explanation for the Tigers’ hesitance with Tucker is just the nature of the offensive line class right now.
Calvin Ashley and Austin Troxell are tackles, though both have the versatility to play guard, if asked. With the smoke around Ashley’s commitment, I can understand the concern of floating an offer out to yet another tackle. Auburn has been on the hunt for primarily inside guys throughout the fall, hosting players like Ruiz and Jordan Agasiva.
But there is something to say for strength in numbers. Ashley is a competitor and likely wouldn’t be concerned with an offer out to another talented, big-bodied tackle. Stepping into hypothetical territory for a second: a Troxell, Ashley, Tucker, Nick Brahms O-line class would be massive in size and talent.
The Auburn staff likes Tucker’s skill set. It’s more a matter of scholarship math and the style of other commits in the class. Other than that, what’s not to like? Auburn early enrollee linebacker Chandler Wooten faced off against Willis and Tucker in the playoffs in 2016.
His peer evaluation is a valuable one.
“We played him. He’s a very sound player. That’s a big boy,” Wooten said at the Under Armour All-America Game. “If we were to offer him, I think we’d have a good shot (at getting him) … I didn’t really have to go against him since I moved to the inside. But watching him on film, watching my defensive ends go up against him on film. He’s a big boy. If he gets his hands on you, it’s pretty much over with. Our defensive line tried to beat him with speed, and you know, he’s pretty fast for his size.”
These are all things Tucker has thought about. Shortly after Willis de-committed from Virginia Tech, Tucker sent out a semi-cryptic message that likely should make Auburn feel like it’s in a good spot to score a Roswell duo, if they so choose. This came before Willis’ eventual commitment to Auburn, but Tucker had an idea of what was to come.
It also included a comical edited response that also indicated Willis’ future commitment and a potential Tucker offer.
Me and my qb1 a possibility in the future???#777 pic.twitter.com/8rdo6vr4Wy
— jordan tucker (@jordant9779) December 30, 2016
— Ansley Moore (@ansleymoore727) December 30, 2016
National championship reactions
What a game, what a game.
Best national championship since the Texas-USC Rose Bowl in Jan. 2006. Deshaun Watson, as he said postgame, channelled his inner Vince Young to lead Clemson to a mesmerizing final-second — the final second — victory over undefeated No. 1 Alabama. It was a spectacle to watch and well worth the late bedtime.
What was equally fun: watching the postgame reactions from 2017 prospects. These recruits are at a point in their life where they are transitioning from these players on TV being their idols to being their peers. These are the first examples where they can start to identify with their successes and failures.
To see their responses to an instant classic, albeit in a Twitter tunnel, was a treat. Check out the best collection below.
LETSS GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO CRAZIEST COLLEGE CHAMPIONSHIP IVE SEEN
— jordan tucker (@jordant9779) January 10, 2017
Watson just put on for the whole state of GA ! Let's go man ?
— Chandler Wooten (@ItsMeWootang) January 10, 2017
— Nick Brahms (@Nick_Brahms) January 10, 2017
They really deserved that. Congrats to Clemson!!!
— Calvin Ashley (@whiteboii_Cali) January 10, 2017
Clemson campus be on the watch for Harvey Updyke! Never know what these bama fans might do ‼️
— Alaric Williams™ (@Alaric_8) January 10, 2017
Williams the real deal!
— Jordyn Peters ™ (@KingPete_x) January 10, 2017
I would draft Williams tonight lol
— Tray Leonard (@Tray_leonard) January 10, 2017
Bama is coming back with a vengeance next year… Mark My Words ?
— Ryan Johnson 4⃣4⃣ (@ryanjohnson_50) January 10, 2017