AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s 2017 recruiting class finished at No. 9 nationally with 23 commitments. That included a successful National Signing Day.
At No. 9, Auburn finished as the fourth-ranked program in the Southeastern Conference behind Alabama, Georgia and LSU. That’s a strong class considering all of the negative noise the past two seasons on the Plains.
Here’s a look at the position-by-position grades for the 2017 class.
My take: Auburn went into the 2017 cycle with Stidham as its top priority at quarterback. The Tigers landed the No. 1 junior college prospect in December, and he enrolled early. That alone would’ve been good enough to warrant a low-A grade. Auburn also added freshman depth with dual-threat quarterback Willis, who was offensive player of the year in Georgia’s highest high school classification.
Running back (2)
My take: There wasn’t much excitement about this running back group. The Tigers lost a commitment from junior college running back Octavius Matthews last week. But don’t let that fool you. Running backs coach Tim Horton had another strong recruiting cycle. Barrett will be a feature back. Williams adds a nice complement.
Wide receiver (2)
My take: Kodi Burns’ first recruiting cycle on staff had a few misses, but it ended up in fine shape. Igbinoghene created the base on Thanksgiving Day, and Auburn would’ve been OK leaving it with only him. Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey wanted another, though, and Whitlow was his guy. The local product surprised with his commitment Wednesday, and he said he plans to play wide receiver at the next level.
Tight end (2)
My take: Cannella was an early enrollee and bolstered Auburn’s ability at the position. He’s a big, lanky receiver who has a chance to contribute right away. Shenker added depth Sunday and gave insight into how the offense will look under Lindsey. It wasn’t a major splash at tight end, but the Tigers did an admirable job of securing depth at a position of need.
Offensive line (3)
My take: Herb Hand couldn’t have done much better during his first full recruiting cycle at Auburn. He landed the 5-star Ashley early and held onto him despite strong pushes from Maryland, Florida, Florida State and others. Troxell and Brahms are coming off ACL injuries, but they were top-tier offensive linemen before they were felled. The team could have maybe added another lineman, and that’s the only way the Tigers could’ve been graded higher.
Defensive line (3)
My take: Going into National Signing Day, it wouldn’t have been out of the realm of possibility for Auburn to finish with only Jackson. That’s how the Tigers entered the day. But Auburn sent Truesdell a letter of intent early in the day, and he returned it with his signature. Then came the big move. Bryant chose Auburn over LSU and Georgia in one of the bigger signing day surprises. If Auburn had landed Ryan Johnson instead of Truesdell, it easily would’ve earned an A grade.
My take: Moultry is a stud. Britt is the prototypical, hard-working Auburn linebacker. Wooten is one of the most underrated linebackers in the nation. Travis Williams made as much noise as he could during is first recruiting cycle as his alma mater’s linebackers coach. Even with a Tyler Taylor miss on Wednesday, the Tigers deserve a top-notch grade.
Defensive back (4)
My take: It’s been a wild 2-year stretch for Auburn defensive backs. The Tigers are onto their third defensive backs coach after Greg Brown replaced Wesley McGriff. That coaching changeover made it tough to recruit top-end talent, but Auburn managed to secure defensive backs who aren’t highly rated but have promising upside. A few big names like Devon Hunter went elsewhere, which made it tough to give Auburn a 2-thumbs-up grade.
My take: Auburn couldn’t have done any better than this for specialists. The Tigers added another Carlson brother, Anders, to learn from Daniel during his likely redshirt season on the Plains. Another Carlson kicker is always good news for Auburn. As for Taylor, he’s the No. 1 long snapper in the nation, so — as far as long snappers go — it’s the best Auburn could’ve done.