AUBURN, Ala. — It’s still a little less than two months away from National Signing Day, but Wednesday marks the beginning of a similar experience.
Junior college signing day marks the first time JUCO commitments can ink to their chosen schools. This is the date set for mid-year enrollees to finalize their paperwork, which allows them to get on campus for bowl practices and permits coaches to make public comments about them.
There are a few junior college notables that pique the interest of Auburn recruiting fans. The most obvious, of course, being the official signing of recent commitment Jarrett Stidham. A few announcements came early, namely Isaiah Buggs who chose Iron Bowl foe Alabama instead of LSU and Auburn.
Buggs’ teammate at Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. wide receiver Brandon Martin will decide Thursday. But the Tigers haven’t been a significant factor since Martin de-committed from Auburn in July only a week after committing. That will be an Arkansas-LSU battle that is leaning toward the Razorbacks.
Take a look at the three most meaningful junior college signings for Auburn.
4-star quarterback Jarrett Stidham, McLennan C.C.
Signing: It’s etched in Twitter, and it will soon be confirmed with pen and paper. According to 247Sports, Stidham will sign his Auburn paperwork Wednesday morning before embarking on a much-needed getaway.
Stidham also set a timeline for his arrival.
“I’m getting there on the 19th (of December) and I’ll start bowl practices on the 20th,” Stidham told Keith Niebuhr. “First and foremost, I’m just excited to get back on a team.”
Eligibility remaining: As a redshirt sophomore, Stidham has three years of eligibility remaining. He will be entrenched in a quarterback battle with incumbent starter Sean White from the beginning.
Road to Auburn: In all, Auburn is the third school Stidham has been committed to. As a senior at Stephenville (Texas), Stidham originally chose Texas Tech before flipping his decision to Baylor where he played as a freshman. Stidham split playing time as a freshman, but found success and efficiency in his few starts for the Bears. Stidham left the program amid the Art Briles departure and subsequent sexual assault fallout. He chose Auburn last Saturday over Florida and Texas A&M.
3-star tight end Salvatore Cannella, Scottsdale C.C.
Signing: Cannella plans to announce his decision at 2 p.m. ET. His final choices are Auburn, Texas and Maryland. The 6-foot-6 pass-catching tight end will officially sign with whichever school he chooses. Cannella will be an early enrollee, likely not getting on campus until after bowl practice.
Eligibility remaining: Cannella has three years remaining and four years to do it.
Road to decision: Cannella stopped playing football his junior year of high school, instead focusing on basketball. He picked up football his senior season, but it was too late to gain recruiting traction. Cannella didn’t have any offers aside from a walk-on opportunity at Illinois State. His older brother, a baseball player, went the junior college route, and Cannella followed that path. He fired off tapes to multiple JUCO programs and landed at Scottsdale C.C. where he gray-shirted first year, but excelled in 2016 once he found playing time. A number of Division I programs offered solely based on spring practice film. Auburn and Texas joined the equation in December, both extending offers in the last two and a half weeks.
Forecast: Cannella felt right at home for his two-day Auburn official visit. He only spent a day at Texas, but the Longhorns made a significant push during the short window. Maryland led going into the official visit weekend, but that primarily was based on the Terrapins being the only visit to that point. The Tigers are the team to beat, however, based on Cannella’s relationship with Scott Fountain. I expect Auburn to get the early-enrollee tight end.
3-star athlete Octavius Matthews, Itawamba C.C.
Signing: Originally planning to enroll early, Matthews must wait until May to graduate from Itawamba C.C. in Mississippi. That will push back the Auburn commit’s signing to the spring.
Eligibility remaining: Matthews will have two years left to play once he gets to Auburn.
Road to Auburn: Matthews didn’t have much recruiting traction coming out of high school in Stevenson, Ala., and he also had academic concerns he needed to sort through. He landed at Itawamba and has been productive as a running back and a pass-catcher. Matthews originally committed to Louisville in the 2017 recruiting cycle, but he flipped his committed to Auburn soon after. He still plans to take official visit to Louisville and Western Kentucky, but he told SEC Country last week that he is “set in stone” to Auburn once his final academic semester is complete.