Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Monday, and SEC Country looks at two close friends from Mississippi who have visited Auburn recently. Also, here are a few more details from the Calvin Anderson visit.
Top-50 prospect Nathan Pickering headlines Mississippi targets, details early interest in Auburn
To understand the importance of Nathan Pickering to Auburn’s 2019 class, you must first understand the hashtag.
Social media has become a necessary component to college athletics recruiting. The college football world often finds unique hashtags to signify each recruiting class. Auburn’s 2018 recruiting class was marked by the tag #T18ERPROWL. This upcoming cycle will be known as #MAUL19. Pickering and the other top prospects in a loaded state of Mississippi class are referring to the group as #SipBoyz19, a nod to their home-state connection.
Auburn has pursued many of the prospects from that contingent already in the 2019 class. Pickering, Nakobe Dean, Brandon Turnage and Dannis Jackson (more on him below) are just a few of the names the Tigers have pursued so far. All of those aforementioned names already have made visits within the last month, which has led to a new hashtag, combining the Mississippi and Auburn marketing tools: #SipMaul19.
This is all meant to be brought up to describe the rare bond between Mississippi athletes this cycle and Auburn’s clear-cut vision to dip into that state in 2019. Pickering, well, he’s the ring-leader of the group. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive end is the No. 2 player in the state and the No. 46 overall prospect in the 2019 class.
The first visit aced the eye test, and he plans to take many more.
“The trip was great. Auburn is somewhere I wanted to experience and I loved it,” Pickering said in reference to his junior day visit. “They obviously will be a factor. When I put my top schools out, Auburn will be high on it. I loved it. … I’ll definitely be back. Anytime I get a chance to come, I’m coming.”
Three important names highlighted Pickering’s trip to Auburn: Marcus Woodson, Derrick Brown and Rodney Garner.
Woodson is one of the key pieces to this Mississippi pipeline. He has ties to the state and has known many of these prospects, including Pickering, since his time at Memphis. Brown hosted Pickering for the duration of his visit and the 2019 defensive end called him a “great all-around dude” who impressed him with his religious faith, something important to Pickering when he leaves for college.
And then, of course, there’s Garner — the deciding factor for most defensive line targets.
“He’s cool. He’s like a father figure to me. He seems like someone who I would love to be coached by,” Pickering said.
Pickering isn’t in a rush to announce any decisions.
He’s picked up offers already from Alabama, Florida, LSU, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame and others, including the in-state schools. Pickering hopes to take a few college visits this spring to narrow down his top interests. He’ll have a “top list” by the summer, he said.
One thing is for certain: Auburn is in it.
And Pickering likely won’t be alone among the #SipBoyz19 in that regard.
“I was talking to Dannis [Jackson] and he’s really loving Auburn, and I’m loving Auburn. Dannis is my dog. I love him. We treat each other good and look after each other,” Pickering said. “We’ll both be considering Auburn.”
Mississippi WR dishes on Auburn offer, initial visit
Speaking of Jackson, he was right alongside Pickering for most of their first visit to the Plains.
Auburn offered Pickering on Jan. 8, so he came on the visit with an offer. Jackson made his first trip not knowing for certain whether the Tigers had offer-able interest. Auburn coaches had gone by Jackson’s school during the contact period, and they’d been in regular contact, so he figured the Tigers were close.
It was confirmed during his visit.
“I felt like there was a good chance I’d get [the offer] after they came to the school. They don’t just go anywhere [to recruit]. I was hoping I’d get an offer, and I did,” Jackson said. “It meant a lot. Auburn is a good school, has a great program. It’s a nice fan base. I went to the basketball game and noticed they have a great fan base. Nice coaches, nice people.”
Auburn isn’t alone.
LSU, Ole Miss, Georgia, Louisville, Oregon and Kentucky are among the programs to offer already. Many more are expect to follow suit in the weeks and months ahead. The Tigers were able to enter the picture well before many of the other schools. Plus, Auburn has the built-in advantage with its early prioritization of these Mississippi athlete.
Jackson expects the Mississippi edge to help. If one were to choose Auburn, there’s a serious possibility others would follow.
“Mississippi people stick together. I feel like if he likes it, we’ll probably like it,” Jackson said in reference to Marcus Woodson. “I plan on coming back to Auburn. I like it. I want to learn more about it. It’s definitely a place I would consider. … I mean, me and Nate [Pickering], we’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve played against each other for a long time. That’d be great to play on the same team. If we find a school that fits us both, that might just happen.”
Jackson is the No. 8 prospect in Mississippi, the No. 22 wide receiver nationally and the No. 124 prospect overall.
More official visit intel on Calvin Anderson
Check out the full interview and conversation with Rice grad transfer offensive tackle Calvin Anderson right here.
Auburn is in a battle for the 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive tackle who has started 36-straight games at left tackle for Rice. Texas and Michigan also have also hosted Anderson on official visits. Oklahoma, TCU and Texas A&M are the other three outside-looking-in programs who hope to earn one of Anderson’s last two official visits.
There were many details to digest from the Anderson story above — official visit details, timeline of decision, family’s preferences, etc. — but from talking with sources, here are a few more quick-hitter details on this recruitment.
- This is feeling more and more like an Auburn-Texas battle. Michigan isn’t out of it, per se, but based on the vibe Anderson gave to coaches, players and staffers on the Plains, he wants to be in the SEC or stay closer to home.
- That staying-home factor isn’t as big of a deal as some may think. Anderson is making an NFL decision with his next move, and wherever that is, it’ll only be for 7 months. Being nearby family in Austin, Texas, won’t be as big of a deal as it would be for a high school senior. After all, a year from now, Anderson could be drafted to any one of 32 destinations across the country.
- Auburn’s best chance: the Southeastern Conference. According to sources, Anderson feels the SEC, especially Auburn, provide an opportunity to play against the best defensive linemen in the country on a daily basis (in practice) and weekly basis (in games). Anderson used the word “big” in every way to describe the SEC. The players are big, the stage is bigger. That’s going to be a big reason for Anderson to choose the Tigers, if that’s what happens.
- Jarrett Stidham will be a factor. Stidham was out of town for Anderson’s visit, but he’s been texting with Anderson in recent weeks. The Texas connection will certainly help the Tigers as they try to pick a top left tackle option from the Longhorns’ grasp.
- Coming into the visit, I would’ve said Auburn had ground to make up. That’s not the case anymore. In fact, I like the Tigers’ chance of landing him more than not.
Miss a previous Auburn recruiting notebook? Find every daily recap of Auburn Tigers recruiting right here.