Wednesday night was debate night in America, so I hear.
From my understanding, it was more issue-driven banter than usual, which is a positive plot twist, I suppose. But neither candidate even so much as mentioned plans to get Auburn a top-10 recruiting class, land some of the best in-state targets on the board or when the next recruiting dominoes will fall.
So I’ll talk about the real issues people have been begging to know the answers to this week in Auburn recruiting. This is a weekly mailbag. Questions have been serviceable, but we can always improve. Answers will continue to get by as passable.
Here are the ways to contact me with a mailbag question, ordered by preference:
- Twitter: @benjaminwolk (DMs open, slide on in)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: Auburn Insiders page
Q: Who would be the biggest surprise commit?
—Johnny K., Haleyville (Ala.)
Everyone loves surprises. I’ve been getting a lot of surprise questions lately in Facebook Live recruiting videos (shameless plug: Thursday night @ 7 p.m. ET), mailbag questions and everyday conversations.
The problem with surprise predictions: They wouldn’t be surprises if I could tell you in advance. Besides, the meaning of surprise has ambiguity. Is it a surprise that Auburn lands him over somewhere else? Is it surprising because nobody knew he was on the radar? Are we surprised because they pulled the trigger earlier than expected?
If it’s the first question, among realistic candidates, I’d go with Devon Hunter right now. The 4-star safety out of Chesapeake (Va.) favors the in-state Hokies, but he’ll be making his third trip to Auburn. He might like the NFL background Wesley McGriff brings to the table. I’d still be surprised to see him pledge Auburn at this time.
As for the off-the-radar surprise, it depends on what’s considered off the radar. If it’s completely out of left field, then I can’t be of any help. If it’s lesser-known options, I’d say De’Andre Wilder from Miami. He’s a 3-star that likely leans toward staying in-state. The linebacker big board is cluttered, but Wilder will also visit Saturday, bringing several guests into town.
If it’s a surprise because of how soon it happened, I’d go with Jordan Agasiva. I still think Auburn has a more-than-likely chance to land the junior college offensive lineman. He enjoyed his visit and will go elsewhere. As a midyear enrollee from JUCO, he will decide in the not-too-distant future, but it’d be a surprise to see him choose within the next few weeks.
Q: The QB at Blount High School in Mobile … are we trying to get him?
—Phillip H., Mobile (Ala.)
I never got a verification from Phillip on who he was referring to, but I think the safe assumption is Kadarius Toney, the 3-star Florida athlete commit who plays quarterback at his high school.
Auburn was a little late to the equation for Toney. He committed to Florida in May and didn’t receive his Auburn offer until July despite an unofficial visit to the school in the spring. The Tigers also are looking at him more as a wide receiver or running back prospect — the make-plays-in-space type — while Florida might give him a shot at quarterback.
So, to give you a concise answer: Auburn will make an effort there. He’s too good of an athlete not to try to flip. But he seems firm to Florida, and Auburn has other options at skill positions.
If you’re asking because he’s a quarterback, keep your focus set instead on Jarrett Stidham and Lowell Narcisse. There also should be some attention placed on commit Tray Bishop who has taken a few visits to Georgia the last couple weeks. He’s not a guaranteed quarterback option for Auburn, but he’s capable enough to have his chance to earn it.
Q: I think we are not using the tight end in the way we used to use Lutz, other than for blocking. When are we going to open it up for the tight ends?
—Bruce S., Savannah (Ga.)
On the Philip Lutzenkirchen note, nobody is going to live up to that standard, for a variety of reasons. As the Ferguson story mentions, Gus Malzahn used Lutzenkirchen more than every tight end in his offense at the college level. There have been a few big tight end moments — see C.J. Uzomah — but the overall usage has never been particularly high.
Still, it’s a position Auburn wants to integrate some. Zero receptions from the position in two years is befuddling. The Landon Rice dismissal complicated the future of the position, and coaches still seem hesitant to open the passing game with Jalen Harris.
But if Auburn does, there’s no better time than Saturday against Arkansas — from a recruiting standpoint, at least. Oregon commit Tre’ McKitty will make an official visit for the matchup Saturday. The Tigers still need to fill a hole at tight end, and they missed on Carmel (Ind.) product Kurt Rafdal who picked his hometown Hoosiers.
Catch McKitty’s eye with tight end love against the Razorbacks, and he might be on flip alert.
Q: Do you think Alabama will ever drop out of the top spot?
—Mal E., Birmingham (Ala.)
This question screams little-brother complex. But don’t worry, you might be in luck.
As you know, SEC Country uses the 247Sports composite rankings for our recruiting coverage. Alabama has had the No. 1 class in the nation since 2011. So, while I make fun of your little-brother complex, Alabama is indeed annihilating the rest of the country on the recruiting trail.
But, it looks like the Crimson Tide reign atop the rankings could be in jeopardy.
Urban Meyer and Ohio State sit at No. 1 with six 5-stars and 10 4-stars. Alabama isn’t far behind with a 7.19 composite score rating separation, but the Buckeyes might have the ability to end the streak. My question: Does this really count?
The year before the Alabama streak started, guess who won the recruiting title. That’s right, Meyer and Florida. So it’s not like anything is really changing. Saban and Meyer have just found a way to do it better than everyone else.
P.S.: In 2009, Les Miles and LSU had the top class. That’s the last time a non-Meyer/Saban team finished No. 1, which will continue this year. That just teaches all of us the lesson that if you try to beat Meyer and Saban on the recruiting trail, you’ll lose your job.