Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. In this edition, we catch up with the top player in the state of Alabama, wide receiver Justyn Ross. Also, why the change on Juanyeh Thomas and who is expected at the weekend cookout?
Justyn Ross, top player in Alabama, willing to wait … and wait
With two signing periods and the growing trend of enrolling early, few Class of 2018 prospects have said they’ll wait until National Signing Day to make their college decision.
Justyn Ross is in the minority in that regard.
The top prospect in Alabama according to the 247Sports composite continues to say he doesn’t plan on making a decision until February. He’s visited Auburn and Alabama several times. He’s also made notable trips to Clemson and Florida State.
But none of that has dictated Ross’ college decision. So what will?
“The season will because I want to see what [the teams are] able to do in games passing the ball,” the sixth-ranked receiver in 2018 told SEC Country. “This season will be big. That’s really what I’m waiting for, just to see how everyone’s season is. I’m curious about all of them. How much they pass the ball and then where I’m comfortable when I go on visits.”
Ross said Auburn, Alabama and Clemson are recruiting him the hardest. And all three have offensive question marks heading into the 2017 season.
Auburn and Alabama have new offensive coordinators, and Ross will watch closely to see what changes, if any, present themselves. As for Clemson, Ross is eager to see what that offense looks like post-Deshaun Watson (though he was teammates with 2018 Clemson quarterback commit Trevor Lawrence at The Opening Finals).
In Auburn’s case, Ross has high expectations after what he saw from the team during the many spring practices he attended.
“There’s going to be consistency, just them being able to move the ball and throw it consistently to make big plays. That’s what I saw from them in the spring,” he said.
While Florida and Florida State appear to be on the outside looking in, Ross said those two will “most likely” round out his five official visits during the season.
There isn’t any question which school he’s visited the most. That’s Auburn. The 4-star wide receiver from Central (Ala.) High makes it to the Plains every chance he can, though he’ll be preoccupied with high school team activities for Auburn’s weekend cookout.
He will have many visits to Auburn between now and decision time, however. And Auburn’s message is loud and clear.
“It’s been pretty much the same thing the whole time. It’s always about how bad they want me. They’re going to try their hardest to get me,” Ross said. “It’s a good feeling. I feel that way at other places. But it’s just the number of times I’ve been to Auburn that makes me feel at home.”
My Crystal Ball change on Juanyeh Thomas
When SEC Country spoke with Juanyeh Thomas last week, he revealed two interesting tidbits about his recruitment.
For starters, Auburn is looking at him more as a safety than a cornerback, which means the recent addition of Quindarious Monday could have some effect on Thomas. Monday joins Kolbi Fuqua as prospects who project as safeties for the Tigers. Jamien Sherwood and Joe Foucha, in that order, fall next in line.
The other item? Thomas identified a school he said is starting to trend upward for him — Georgia Tech.
There was a point in time that Thomas seemed almost a guarantee to land at Auburn. The Tigers seemed to be moving in the wrong direction for Monday and the out-of-state uncertainty of Sherwood and Foucha made the underrated Thomas seem like a useful option. But that time appears to have passed as Auburn fills up at the safety position.
Hence my change from Auburn to Georgia Tech in the 247Sports Crystal Ball for the 3-star prospect.
I think Thomas is a really good player. I watched him at a 7-on-7 tournament in Hoover, Ala., last week, and he stood out on as a defensive back and a wide receiver. But it’s also a positive sign for the Tigers that they may be able to turn away a prospect right now at a position where they have a major need.
Preliminary list for Auburn’s end-of-summer event
Call it a cookout. Call it a barbecue. Call it a picnic. Call it whatever you want, really.
Whatever it’s called, Auburn will host several top prospects for its end-of-summer recruiting event on Saturday. Alabama will host its version Friday, so there is a potential for some overlap. Check out who is scheduled to visit Alabama.
The Auburn cookout visitor’s list hasn’t finalized yet, but I’ve started to reach out to Tigers targets to see who plans to come up for the event. Here is an early look at who Auburn fans can expect to see on campus this weekend.
I’ll have this at the bottom of every notebook for the rest of the week. Near the end of the week, I’ll expand more on storylines to follow Saturday. There is likely to be at least one commitment at the event.
- 4-star WR Matthew Hill
- 4-star RB Harold Joiner
- 4-star RB Asa Martin
- 4-star LB Zakoby McClain
- 4-star safety Quindarious Monday*
- 4-star LB JJ Peterson
- 4-star LB Quay Walker (Alabama commit)
- 4-star WR Seth Williams
- 3-star CB JaKorey Hawkins
- 3-star OL Jalil Irvin*
- 3-star WR Shedrick Jackson*
- 3-star safety Jamien Sherwood
- 3-star RB Shaun Shivers*
- 3-star OL Kameron Stutts*
- 3-star DT Tramel Walthour
Maybes: 3-star DE Andres Fox, 3-star OL Jerome Carvin.
No-gos, confirmed: 5-star QB Justin Fields, 4-star WR Justyn Ross, 4-star DT Coynis Miller.
*Currently committed to Auburn