Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. Today, a defensive back from Florida calls Auburn his favorite. Also, we give quick updates on the recruitment of linebacker Michael Harris.
DB from Florida names top 3, calls Auburn ‘favorite’
As Auburn defensive backs coach Greg Brown goes through his first recruiting cycle at Auburn, a lower-ranked defensive back from Florida has caught his eye.
Juanyeh Thomas is listed as the No. 90 safety by the 247Sports composite rankings, which puts him at 1,230th overall among Class of 2018 prospects. Brown doesn’t think that ranking is fitting for the 6-foot-2, 204-pound prospect who plays wide receiver and cornerback at Niceville (Fla.).
“I talk to Coach Brown probably like three times a week,” Thomas said. “We’ve got a real good relationship. He said that Auburn and him, they really want me bad. He wants me to come there and make the all-freshman team. He wants me to come to Auburn real bad. They make me feel like I’m a top player they really, really want. Coach Brown was telling me I’m in his top 5 recruits, so I feel like they want me pretty bad.”
Brown visited Thomas’ school on Tuesday.
The Tigers’ prioritization of Thomas is working.
There are a few programs that haven’t offered yet: Alabama, Clemson and Louisville. They are communicating and could get into the mix for Thomas if they extend an offer. For now, however, Thomas is beginning to narrow his top options.
He said Auburn, Florida and Georgia Tech stand out, but one has started to separate itself.
“Those are basically my top 3 right now, but I would say Auburn is my favorite now,” Thomas said. “I’ve visited Auburn, Georgia Tech and Florida. Auburn just gives you that home feeling.”
That last tidbit is particularly promising news for the Tigers.
When asked what he’s looking for in a school — or what a program could do to match the Tigers — Thomas referenced his desire to find that at-home environment. Auburn presented him with that during his visit for the March junior day.
He planned to return to the Plains last weekend, though conflicting schedules prevented it. Thomas likely will wait until late spring, perhaps Big Cat Weekend on June 3, to make his journey back to the Plains.
“Auburn, when I came and visited them, all the coaches were showing me lots of love. When I came to Auburn, I felt like I was at home. I was just looking for that home feeling. I want a college that makes me feel like home,” Thomas said. “Auburn fits that perfect.”
As for a visit plan and decision timeline, Thomas has an idea in mind.
He wants to retake visits to his top 3. No dates are set, but he knows Auburn, Georgia Tech and Florida will be a part of that. If the aforementioned schools end up offering, expect Thomas to make trips to those programs, as well.
Once those visits are taken, Thomas said he’ll “probably” have a final decision made before his senior season begins at the end of August.
“More offers are coming in now. I want to wait and take visits to all my favorite places. Then I’ll make a decision probably before our regular season,” Thomas said. “If [Clemson, Louisville and Alabama] offered, that would probably change my game plan, but for now, I’m rolling with Auburn, Florida and Georgia Tech.”
Top LB target says he’s thinking Buckeyes, Tigers
Auburn’s numbers might be limited at linebacker in the 2018 class, but there’s no question Michael Harris is at or near the top of the Tigers’ wish list.
Harris, the No. 14 ILB from Tucker (Ga.), has visited the Tigers twice since Auburn offered in February. But the Harris conversation always has revolved around his favorite childhood school, Ohio State.
In fact, a few of his high school teammates — also top recruits, including Auburn OL target Dylan Wonnum — joked that whenever they share recruiting notes, Harris always reverts back to the Buckeyes.
Harris wanted to make one amendment to his teammates’ comments.
“I talk about Ohio State,” Harris said, “and Auburn. I’m liking Auburn a lot, too.”
A big reason for that is his relationship with Auburn linebackers coach Travis Williams.
The two share a close relationship, and Harris has a tight bond with coach Gus Malzahn as well. Those connections are helping the Tigers stay in contention with the Buckeyes despite Harris’ public claims that Ohio State will be nearly impossible to beat.
“I like talking to T-Will. He’s always checking in on me and all that,” Harris said.
There has been an interesting trend lately when it comes to Harris.
For months, every prediction for Harris understandably favored the Buckeyes. In the last week, two writers — both who cover Ohio State — have changed their picks from the Buckeyes to the Tigers. Part of that has to do with a growing roster uncertainty in Columbus, especially with another top linebacker Teradja Mitchell slated to decide between Ohio State and Florida State.
Those two college decisions could be linked, which might affect Harris’ plans going forward.
For now, Harris isn’t thinking like that or even suggesting that’s the case. He has a visit planned on June 17 to go to Columbus to meet Urban Meyer for the first time.
He hopes that visit will help give him more clarity as he approaches an end date.
“[I’ll decide] probably more toward the end of the summer or after I take my SAT/ACT,” Harris said.
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