Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. In this edition, we set the stage for Justin Fields‘ visit to campus with close friend Kearis Jackson. Also, we provide the latest on linebacker Zakoby McClain and safety Quindarious Monday.
4-star wide receiver Kearis Jackson to join Justin Fields in visit
Just as I finished up this notebook Sunday night, some news hit that forced me to postpone some of my other notes until later in the week.
Rusty Mansell of 247Sports reported that 5-star quarterback commit Justin Fields won’t be alone when he visits Auburn on Wednesday. According to Mansell, Fields’ close friend and 4-star wide receiver Kearis Jackson will join him.
“This week, I am going to Auburn with Justin on the 13th and throw in the stadium,” Jackson told Mansell. This will be Jackson’s fourth trip to Auburn in 2017.
The long-awaited overnight visit from Fields will be even more anticipated now. Fields will arrive Wednesday and stay until Thursday, the day Jackson said he plans to throw with Fields in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Jackson’s path toward a decision is much more clear than that of Fields. The 4-star wide receiver from Peach County (Ga.) has said he will make a decision on Aug. 19, and his choice is expected to be either Auburn or Georgia. The Bulldogs have been the perceived favorite for quite some time, but Jackson’s choice could hinge somewhat on Fields.
If Fields were to decide between now and Aug. 19, there’s a serious chance that choice would dictate Jackson’s decision, as well. Georgia and Auburn are among the handful of teams believed to have a chance to land Fields.
There is another big reason why Jackson’s return to the Plains matters.
When he left Big Cat Weekend in June, an Auburn source told me the Tigers were much more involved than previously believed, with Georgia being the only threat. The only thing to track? Jackson’s return visit. Jackson apparently had told the Auburn staff he planned to return. The Tigers felt that, if he honored that statement, then they had a legitimate chance to sway him from the Bulldogs.
It’s happening — with Fields as the kicker.
It’s also worth noting Jackson has been the primary prospect talking about a package deal this year. He said he’d like to play in college with 4-star offensive lineman Trey Hill. The Tigers sent out an interesting graphic edit last month that included Jackson and Hill with Fields, something that piqued the interest of Auburn fans and likely sent the Georgia side into somewhat of a panic.
If only you knew 😏 pic.twitter.com/BrAn32gt68
— ~ⓚⓔⓐⓡⓘⓢ~® (@king_kearis) June 14, 2017
By the time mid- to late August rolls around, there is a good chance either Auburn or Georgia could be celebrating the commitment of all three. The other? Well, the occasion could be quite the opposite.
Zakoby McClain includes Auburn in top 10
Zakoby McClain, a top linebacker target for the Tigers, released his top 10 schools on Sunday. No surprise: Auburn made the list.
The Tigers have been one of the few front-runners for McClain throughout the spring and summer, so the top list was more of a formality than anything. In fact, there was a point in the spring when McClain left the Plains saying the Tigers were his top school.
“Auburn done took No. 1. [The Tigers’ lead] is kind of big,” McClain said. “I’ve gotten real close with [linebackers coach Travis Williams]. He’s cool. He’s nice and laid back. He keeps it real with you. He doesn’t sugarcoat it. I just like the coaches. My dad wants a father-figure type coach. They’ve got that.”
Since then, McClain hasn’t visited the Tigers. As a result, other schools have worked their way into the mix for the Valdosta (Ga.) linebacker. McClain has said LSU and West Virginia are the other two teams strongly competing, though an Auburn source told me LSU is the one team the Tigers have on their radar now as a contender.
McClain is expected to return for Auburn’s picnic on July 22. When he does, I expect the Tigers to jump in as his leader once and for all. He’s only visited Auburn once, but on that visit, he saw enough to call Auburn his leader.
Could he commit this time around? It wouldn’t surprise me.
One other important visitor to note this week
The Fields-Jackson visit will be the talk of the town this week, but they won’t be the only big visitors. We do know of at least one other significant visit that could wind up as make or break for Auburn’s chances with a prospect.
Quindarious Monday will be back on the Plains on Tuesday for what is expected to be his final visit before a commitment decision.
The 4-star safety from Carver (Ga.) once said Auburn was his clear leader. Monday has stepped off that notion, but he has never stated publicly that another program has surpassed Auburn. Some, however, believe Clemson — his childhood favorite — emerged as the favorite once he received that offer.
It’s possible, but don’t count out Auburn with one visit left in place. He also has trips planned to Georgia and Clemson, so the Tigers won’t get the only shot. But with Auburn once called Monday’s leader, don’t rule out the Tigers having a big-time visit with him to convince him to join the fold.