Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. Today, we assess a question everyone always wants to know — who’s got next?
It’s reaching the time of year — at least if the 2017 cycle was any indication — that Auburn’s commitment list will start to grow. Last year, the Tigers began a streak in May than ran through August before hitting a multi-month lull until Thanksgiving Day.
Auburn already started to gain steam this month when 4-star offensive lineman Jalil Irvin committed to the Tigers to give Auburn four commitments in 2018 — Irvin, Joey Gatewood, Shaun Shivers and Daquan Newkirk.
Who’s next? Let’s take a look at the five most likely candidates to be on board next.
4-star CB Jalyn Armour-Davis, Mobile (Ala.)
Armour-Davis is the top defensive player in the state of Alabama for 2018. He attended Auburn recently for a three-day, midweek visit, which included a few practice sessions and plenty of time to hang out with the Tigers’ early enrollees and other players on the roster.
There’s no question Auburn has given him the “home feeling.” The question is whether Auburn will be able to fend off how impressed Armour-Davis was by his weekend visit to Florida State a month ago. Auburn has gone all-in on Armour-Davis, and he deserves that attention. Alabama may have re-entered the equation, which is also a potential roadblock.
But the No. 95 prospect in the nation received his first offer from the Tigers. That matters, he says. He wants to get this process out of the way ASAP, and the Tigers sit in as good of a position as anyone.
3-star LB Richard Jibunor, Athens (Ga.)
Jibunor is an athletic specimen who AU’s coaches have — somewhat jokingly — recruited to play safety, tight end and wide receiver. He’s going to play linebacker or a Buck defensive end-type role at the next level, but the reaction he gets from college coaches outside his position group is proof of his innate athleticism.
While only ranked a 3-star prospect, the schools recruiting him the hardest are Alabama and Auburn with nearby Georgia a close third. Miami, Michigan and South Carolina also have started to rev up recruiting efforts. Jibunor, a Nigerian native who was completely oblivious to the recruiting process a year and a half ago, is starting to get ready to decide.
He doesn’t want to show public favorites right now, but the way he talks about how he feels on Auburn’s campus and his relationship with Travis Williams compared to other coaches gives the Tigers a major advantage.
4-star WR Matthew Hill, Snellville (Ga.)
Hill visited for Auburn’s first junior day of the year. He expects to return for A-Day, if possible. When Hill went to the Plains, he donned full Auburn garb for the trip. In some cases, that could come courtesy of the host school. In Hill’s case, he grew up an Auburn fan because of family ties.
Aside from that, his relationship with Kodi Burns and Travis Williams runs deeper than it does with other college staffs. That doesn’t guarantee Hill to Auburn, but that is the likely trend at this point. He hopes to get make decision prior to the start of his senior season.
With a good A-Day visit, he could be on the fast track to doing so.
3-star DE Andres Fox, Mobile (Ala.)
Fox’s offer sheet has been growing more rapidly than 99 percent of prospects in the nation. Only a 3-star prospect by recruiting services, it appears college coaches view him as a 5-star. Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Oregon and a dozen others are recruiting him as if he’s one of the top pass rushers on their board.
Auburn is no different, and Fox is feeling the love from the Tigers.
He has a strong bond with Rodney Garner and admires his in-your-face coaching style. As a south Alabama guy, this has the feel of an Auburn-Alabama-FSU battle until the end. The Tigers are the odds-on favorite to land the 6-foot-5 edge rusher.
He wants to make his decision over the summer, so he can “stay loyal” to a school through his senior season.
4-star WR Justyn Ross, Phenix City (Ala.)
Ross is the only one on this list who hasn’t explicitly said — to SEC Country Auburn at least — he hopes to get the decision out of the way before his senior season. As the top prospect in Alabama, he might end up dragging the process on further than expected, but Ross has been getting recruited by colleges as long as anyone.
Guys like that tend to be ready to finalize the process sooner rather than later. He’s been taking visits with more regularity, and most of those have gone to Auburn.
Ross seems like he’ll end up with the Crimson Tide or the Tigers, but Ohio State could be a dark horse if the Buckeyes continue their fervent recruiting of him.
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