Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Wednesday, and SEC Country gives the latest news on a few commits — Kolbi Fuqua, Anthony Schwartz and Matthew Hill. Also, there’s some negative news to report on the offensive line front.
The latest with unsigned Auburn commit Kolbi Fuqua
Kolbi Fuqua’s recruitment remains a bit of a mystery.
The 3-star athlete commit from Cordova, Ala., didn’t sign during the early signing period even though it was his original plan. All indications suggest that was a decision by the Tigers. As Fuqua described it, coaches wanted to get him on a January official visit to monitor the progress of a shoulder injury he suffered late in the season.
Fuqua said the shoulder is progressing more quickly than expected.
“It’s coming along. My therapy is going real good. I’ll be ready by the fall,” Fuqua said.
As for Fuqua’s signing plans, he’s firm in what he expects to happen.
When Feb. 7 rolls around, Fuqua wants to sign with Auburn. He hasn’t been in communication with other programs. He doesn’t plan on visiting other programs. It’s his full belief that, on National Signing Day, he’ll ink with the Tigers.
“Oh yeah,” Fuqua responded to any questions about signing with Auburn.
Including Fuqua, there are 22 prospects committed to the Tigers. That leaves three available spots in the Class of 2018. If Auburn plans to take more than three, it will require some class shuffling. Fuqua makes sense as the starting point given that he was the only prospect who wanted to sign during the early signing period, but didn’t.
Auburn has a few other defensive back targets on the board going forward. Roger McCreary, Cam Taylor, Tyson Campbell, Olaijah Griffin, Kelvin Joseph and Joe Foucha are a few of the defensive back targets the Tigers are after.
A source close to Fuqua said they expect a more firm explanation on Auburn’s plans in the next week. The grayshirt conversation hasn’t been had in detail yet, but that’s something to keep an eye on if Auburn feels it has more than three prospects ready to jump on board.
Fuqua will be patient and let the process play out until Feb. 7.
From there, he’s eager to be a Tiger.
“It was [a] great [visit]. This time, I got to go inside schools and stuff. I got to see what the buildings looked like. It was a great experience. I met more players than I had been meeting,” Fuqua said. “It’s just regular conversation. Just keep my head up, but that’s it. Everything will work out.”
Under Armour WR commit likely done with visits
Less than 10 minutes after leaving Auburn’s campus Sunday, Anthony Schwartz wanted to make something quite clear.
“1000%…” he tweeted.
It was a cryptic way of confirming his commitment to the Tigers. He committed to Auburn on Jan. 4 during the live telecast of the Under Armour All-America Game. Schwartz hinted in the days leading up to that commitment that he might take official visits to Auburn and Florida — the two schools in contention for his services.
But it looks like his Auburn official visit last weekend altered any thought at a Florida visit.
“As of right now, I have no other visits planned,” Schwartz said. “Now, I can officially call it home. It was just getting to know everyone, even players who are already on the team.”
Auburn linebacker signee tidbit on wide receiver commit
Matthew Hill hasn’t done many interviews in recent weeks.
SEC Country reporters caught up with him briefly at the Under Armour All-America Game to talk about the upcoming Auburn-Clemson battle. If you’ve read these notebooks on SEC Country, you know how confidently I’ve written that Hill will end up in Auburn’s class. That’s not to say Clemson hasn’t offered a legitimate threat. It has. But my Auburn sources have always felt strongly about keeping Hill, and Hill has always told me he plans to sign with Auburn.
That sentiment has grown even stronger following the most recent official visit weekend.
Don’t just take my word for it, though.
Hill spent a lot of time on his official visit with Auburn linebacker signee Michael Harris. The two have gotten to know each other well as prospects from metro Atlanta who are in Auburn’s 2018 class. Harris said, based on what Hill had told him, Auburn shouldn’t worry too much about holding onto him in the Class of 2018.
“He said he’s a strong verbal commit. He’s been telling me that the whole time. Matt’s my guy. I’m going to start training with him back home too, so I’m gonna be in his ear,” Harris said.
After that, Harris fielded some questions about his enrollment plans. That included a conversation about who he plans to room with when he moves to Auburn in May.
His answer should give Auburn fans even more optimism.
“Hopefully I’ll room with Matthew Hill. That’s my guy,” Harris said.
OL target likely done with Auburn
Former Auburn offensive line coach Herb Hand’s departure came as a bit of surprise, especially to the offensive linemen he has been recruiting.
I expect the Tigers to have a replacement in place by the end of the day Wednesday. The question now, however: Will it be enough to salvage an already-struggling 2018 recruiting class at tackle? It won’t be easy, but it’s doable.
In the case of one offensive line prospect, however, Auburn’s chances may be done.
Hand was down in Apopka, Fla., on Monday to see tackle William Barnes and guard Ed Montilus. With Hand recruiting on Auburn’s behalf, it was a bit of a surprise to Barnes — one of the top tackle targets remaining — to see Hand’s immediate move.
In response, he doesn’t expect to take an official to Auburn on Feb. 2 anymore.
“Most likely not,” Barnes told SEC Country.
Barnes already was trending away from Auburn. He took an official visit to North Carolina last weekend. It’s my belief after that visit he was going to end up with the Tar Heels regardless. Hand’s move, and Barnes’ reaction, suggest that’s even more likely now.
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