Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. These notebooks will now publish in the evening Sunday through Thursday. It’s Sunday, and SEC Country spoke with a top tight end target who visited over the weekend. Plus, the Tigers offered a top 2021 quarterback — and more.
Auburn ‘very much in picture’ for top TE target
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn is determined to solve its tight end situation with the 2019 class.
For the Tigers, that makes Luke Deal a can’t-miss.
Deal ranks as the No. 20 tight end and No. 486 overall prospect nationally, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, and his stock is rising. He has picked up offers this spring from Georgia, Auburn, Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Michigan, Florida, Clemson and Ohio State. At 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, Deal brings a hybrid skill set that falls right in line with what the Tigers want in a tight end.
In fact, Deal finished out his Saturday visit with some 1-on-1 time with Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. The conversation centered around that tight end need.
“My highlight was probably talking to Coach Malzahn. We were just talking about the tight end need that they have, how I’d be able to play early since I’m going to be a midyear enrollee. It’s awesome,” Deal said. “They’ve been going some H-back and some tight end. They want somebody that can stay on the field and play up-tempo like they like to play. I feel like I can be that guy. They feel like I can be that guy. I really like the offense.”
Deal experienced the Auburn tight end room first-hand.
He attended the Tigers’ second spring practice on Saturday and watched closely to how Auburn uses its tight ends and H-backs. Deal also sat in on a team meeting with tight ends coach Larry Porter. The Greenwood, S.C., prospect used the word “fit” to describe the feeling he got in Auburn practices and meetings.
“I liked watching practice and where I’d fit. I think I’d be a pretty good fit,” Deal said. “I love how the campus is close together, all the buildings are close together. Practice was up-tempo with great energy. I love the coaching staff. It was just a great time.”
Auburn wasn’t Deal’s only visit over the weekend.
He went to home-state Clemson on Friday. Those Tigers are perceived as the No. 1 threat, but Clemson added a tight end/receiver hybrid prospect on Saturday, so Auburn’s need is likely greater.
Throughout the spring, Deal is likely to take at least three of his official visits — to Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame. He wants to see the Midwest schools prior to making a June or July decision. Deal expects to leave an official visit slot open for one or two schools in the fall, and right now, Clemson and Auburn are the front-runners.
Auburn aced its first visit for Deal, who stayed overnight.
“They are very much in the picture,” Deal said. “I’ll definitely be back. It was great. First taste, and I’m ready ready to get some more.”
Auburn offers elite 2021 quarterback
Auburn’s quarterback situation looks great for the foreseeable future.
The Tigers have Jarrett Stidham returning as starter with two years of eligibility remaining. Stidham (left shoulder) will be limited in spring practice, which will create healthy competition between Malik Willis and Joey Gatewood, who have three years and four years of eligibility remaining on the Plains. And then there’s 2019 quarterback commit Bo Nix, who will arrive on campus as an early enrollee in January.
That’s cause for quarterback optimism for a while. Auburn’s quarterback stability is also allowing the Tigers to look further ahead than that.
On Saturday, they did that by offering 2021 quarterback Aaron McLaughlin from Suwanee, Ga.
“It’s a big one, and I’m really happy to get it from Auburn,” McLaughlin said. “It’s definitely one of my top schools. It’s just close to home and Coach [Chip] Lindsey is such a personable guy. He makes me feel wanted here. It means a lot.”
The 6-foot-5, 225 pound rising sophomore quarterback already held offers from Southern Cal, Michigan, UCLA, Florida, Florida State, Texas A&M, South Carolina and others.
It’s a long time until a decision is made, but Auburn has some factors playing in its favor.
For starters, McLaughlin has been a regular visitor on the Plains. He attended at least three Auburn home games last fall and has been to both junior days so far this spring.
McLaughlin also has two coaching relationships that should help the Tigers.
His high school coach, John Ford, was Malik Willis’ high school coach at Roswell. McLaughlin’s personal quarterback coach, Sean McEvoy, was also Willis’ quarterback trainer during his high school days. Those coaches have both seen the positive trajectory of Willis’ career since arriving at Auburn. It may not be a determining factor, but it can only help the Tigers.
Anthony Schwartz sets more sprint records
Anthony Schwartz is still breaking records — even if it’s his own records.
The Auburn wide receiver signee is also known to be one of the best track athletes in the nation. He already held the World Youth 100-meter record with a time of 10.15 seconds. Schwartz bested that time this weekend at the Sam Burley Invitational in Miami, where Schwartz — spoiler alert — won yet another first-place medal in the 100 meter.
Schwartz finished the finals in 10.13 seconds, which would’ve broken his World Youth record if the wind has been 0.1 m/s less. By rules, the 10.13 didn’t qualify for that honor, but it was still the 21st-best high school 100-meter dash ever among high school athletes in any wind condition.
Schwartz, known as a 100 specialist, didn’t stick only to his main event. He ran the 200-meter dash at the same event and posted an equally impressive time. Schwartz finished in 20.47 seconds, which gave him the best time of the year in that event and one of the best in high school history.
Check out both runs below.
10.13w 2.1 m/s for Anthony Schwartz! One of the best races I’ve ever seen. Cooper in 2nd 10.34. Campbell third 10.49. @milesplit @anthony_flash10 @starlife_smoke @tysoncampbell_ pic.twitter.com/66A0jUl1J8
— Florida Runners (@flrunners) March 4, 2018
— Florida Runners (@flrunners) March 4, 2018
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