Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. Today, we look at a 2019 target who will be looking at Auburn’s season closely. Also, a top offensive lineman has the Tigers in his top 7.
Auburn’s season will affect top 2019 target
King Mwikuta keeps coming back to Auburn.
The 2019 prospect from Troup County (LaGrange, Ga.) High School, by SEC Country’s count, has been on the Plains three times since the spring game. His most recent visit was for the cookout last weekend when the No. 100-ranked player in the class was one of the few non-rising seniors invited to the event.
While he continues to call Alabama his leader, every trip to Auburn gives the Tigers hope.
“I seen a little bit more than what I’ve seen the last time I came,” Mwikuta said. “[Alabama] still stands, but like I’ve said, Auburn’s always in the mix. I don’t want to say no numbers right now, but Auburn’s always in the mix. There aren’t too many teams I’d say are a top school now, but Auburn’s one of them.”
Mwikuta is listed as an outside linebacker by the 247Sports composite, but he expects to play defensive line in college.
Most of his conversation goes through associated head coach and defensive line coach Rodney Garner, who told Mwikuta he sees him as a Buck option. Mwikuta admitted he’d prefer to “put [his] hand in the dirt” as a strong-side defensive lineman, though he conceded that’s not a make-or-break deal.
Aside from Garner, Mwikuta speaks regularly with linebackers coach Travis Williams, as well. On his most recent visit, he also spent some time with coach Gus Malzahn before departing.
“He was glad to see me back at home,” Mwikuta said.
Mwikuta calls himself “real close” to a decision, but that description varies based on personal definitions.
He said he would love to wait until his National Signing Day, but he’s “itching to make that decision.” So he clarified his label by saying the decision could come either in December or around this time next year.
Either way, that final timetable allows for Auburn to state its case in the 2017 football season.
“I can say one thing. It’s going to be this season (that affects commitment decision),” Mwikuta said. “This season, if they show me things I’m looking for, not just winning the championship, just showing me what they can do. I’ll be looking forward to that, and I’ll be making my decision around that time.”
Mwikuta stood by his comments from A-Day when he said he’d attempt to make it to every Auburn home game, if possible.
No. 5 OT puts Tigers in top 7
Auburn’s offensive tackle recruitment remains one of the bigger mysteries in the class.
JUCO target Badara Traore and Tucker (Ga.) prospect Dylan Wonnum are the most commonly referenced names, primarily based on visit regularity. Auburn commit Kameron Stutts likely has the versatility to play at tackle, but he expects to be a guard for the Tigers.
One of Auburn’s top targets remaining is 4-star OL William Barnes, who released his top 7 on Thursday evening. Auburn made the list along with Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida State, Alabama and Ohio State.
TOP 7‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️ pic.twitter.com/ffdPdoEFdP
— 🦏 (@barneswilliam7) July 28, 2017
Barnes is ranked the No. 5 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 45 overall prospect nationally. There is no question he’s one of Auburn’s most wanted offensive line targets, but the Tigers will have a lot of catch-up to play.
Florida has the edge, but North Carolina is a dark horse that can’t be ignored. The other five schools will have to gauge their recruiting efforts going forward. Barnes hasn’t set a decision timeline.
SEC Country isn’t aware of Barnes visiting the Tigers this summer, but he has been on the Plains in the past. He said earlier in the spring it was a possibility. The Tigers will work to make that happen now that they’re on his final list.
“The way it feels out there is different. When I’m on the Auburn campus, it just feels like I’m in college. The town, the people are always great. It’s just a great place to be in,” Barnes said. “And definitely Coach [Herb] Hand. I talk to him a lot.”