The postman is here with all your Auburn recruiting answers.
The first contact period is closed. College decisions are on the doorstep. National Signing Day is approaching. And you, my loyal readers, have many questions.
If you’d like to participate in the future, shoot me questions via any of the following methods:
Read up, son.
Q: Don’t we need some running backs?
—Jay B., Butler (Penn.)
Q: Are there any running backs still on a radar?
—Raynard B., Carver (Ga.)
I get it, I get it.
It feels like all you’ve read about the last month has been Jarrett Stidham, Jarrett Stidham and a little bit more Jarrett Stidham. Believe me, I feel like it’s been that way too. All the while you’re asking yourself, “Why are we always putting so much emphasis on a quarterback’s recruitment when, in reality, Auburn is a run-first offense?”
Great question, hypothetical question-maker.
Well part of that is because, no, Auburn doesn’t need some running backs. And, no, there aren’t really on the Tigers’ radar.
Auburn hosted commit Devan Barrett and JUCO commit Octavius Matthews on their official visits last weekend. The Tigers also have a commitment from in-state star Alaric Williams. Auburn is set at the running back position in 2017 unless one of those three has an unlikely change in heart.
Plus, Kamryn Pettway is back. So are Kerryon Johnson, Kam Martin and Malik Miller.
Oh yeah, and as it stands, Tim Horton is still the Auburn running backs coach. And he’s one of the best running back whisperers in the game.
Q: Do you think Jarrett Stidham’s decision will affect the recruitment of Joey Gatewood?
—Jeremy H., Theodore (Ala.)
Stidham’s addition — plus the growing interest in Lowell Narcisse — changes the entire quarterback discussion at Auburn. Instead of an empty-ish room, the numbers are growing rapidly: Sean White, Tyler Queen, Woody Barrett, John Franklin III, Jarrett Stidham and (maybe) Lowell Narcisse.
Joey Gatewood, the 4-star foundation of the 2018 recruiting class, is the next man up.
While there is some crowding, that isn’t going to scare away Gatewood. He is an uber-competitor who already knows what it’s like to endure quarterback competition, as it’s something he has had to deal with at Bartram Trail (Fla.)
Gatewood committed to Auburn when there was still a high chance the Tigers landed Kellen Mond. That didn’t steer the 2018 dual-threat commit away. Neither will Stidham who doesn’t have a full four years of eligibility. Neither would Narcisse, who Gatewood could probably come in and out-perform from the start.
As I’ve said before, there’s only one thing that could force Gatewood to reconsider his commitment: Rhett Lashlee taking a job elsewhere.
Q: What did you see from the players in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game?
—Justin M., Mobile (Ala.)
Auburn and Mississippi State players stole the show at the Alabama-Mississippi all-star game last week in Montgomery. The Tigers, especially, showcased their grown-man abilities. Five Auburn commits — KJ Britt, Tadarian Moultry, Malcolm Askew, Jordyn Peters and Noah Igbinoghene — took part in the week-long practices and game.
Everyone had strong performances.
Moultry looked like the best prospect on both teams throughout the week. He just looks like he’s operating on a different level than almost all of his peers. Askew closed out the annual showcase with a diving interception, a solid return to the defensive backfield. Peters led the Alabama team in interceptions during practice, and it wasn’t even close. Igbinoghene was the primary target on the Alabama team.
But the real noise-maker was KJ Britt, as is often the case. Britt got banged up a little during a Thursday practice, and it wasn’t even a guarantee that he’d participate in the game Saturday. No worries.
The inside linebacker flew all over the field, flashed his contagious smile and issued a bone-crushing hit on LSU quarterback commit Myles Brennan. It resulted in a fumble and had a serious Internet impact.
— Scott Forester (@scott4ester) December 11, 2016
There were also a few Auburn targets in the contest: Ryan Johnson, Alec Jackson and CJ Avery. All three had solid showings throughout the week. They all look like SEC-ready prospects.
Q: Who is the one recruit that is leaning toward another school that Auburn could still get that would be a big positive for the class?
—Kim E., Gatlinburg (Tenn.)
This answer could go two different ways. My gut says Tray Bishop because he’s honestly thinking Georgia and Florida more than Auburn right now despite being committed to the Tigers. Keeping him might be the biggest remaining win on the recruiting trail.
But I’m assuming you’re asking about uncommitted targets, so I’ll give you what you want. My answer: Devon Hunter.
Virginia Tech has always been the presumed favorite for the in-state safety. But Auburn has a surprisingly high level of confidence, and Hunter has been rumored to have taken “secret” visits to the campus to go along with his public unofficial visits.
Hunter is one of the highest-rated prospects in the entire country on my board. He would be a huge get. Hunter will announce at the U.S. Army Bowl on Jan. 7.
Q: What do you forecast for the 2017 recruiting class?
—Michael G., Palm (Penn.)
Auburn has started to shoot up the team rankings. After a year of negative mojo, the Tigers are beginning to capture some positive energy.
The Tigers are now No. 8 in the 247Sports composite team rankings. That puts them ahead of Michigan, Clemson and Tennessee and right on the cusp of passing Notre Dame and Texas A&M.
If Auburn hits on who I expect them to, the Tigers will safely secure a top-10 recruiting class.