Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Monday, and SEC Country reports on a big running back visit. Also, quick updates on George Pickens and Luke Deal.
Top running back will visit for Big Cat Weekend
For the third time this spring, the Cains will visit Auburn.
Noah Cain, the Tigers’ top running back target for 2019, told SEC Country on Monday that he’ll be back at Auburn for Big Cat Weekend on June 2. He’ll make that return trip with his father, who accompanied him for a junior day earlier in the spring. Separately, Cain’s mother visited Auburn on her own to form an opinion about the school.
Multiple sources have confirmed to me that Cain is option 1A or 1B at running back in the 2019 class along with Louisiana prospect John Emery. While Auburn hasn’t always been linked to Cain, it’s obvious there is serious interest between the two sides.
Looking back at Cain’s last visit to Auburn, it’s actually quite interesting to see some of his post-visit comments.
“They surpassed expectations,” Cain said. “All the running backs they put in the league is big for me. Actually they’re the best school at putting running backs in the league; 38 running backs is the most out of any school in FBS. They embraced me this weekend and showed a lot of love.”
Perhaps even more intriguing was not the fact that he talked about his relationship with quarterback Bo Nix — rather how he spoke about it.
Cain spoke highly of his relationship with Nix. He admitted that the Auburn quarterback commit was coming at him hard, and it was working. But he also used the word we on a few occasions in reference to the strong class the Tigers were building.
“Bo Nix is the best dual-threat quarterback in the country, in my opinion. George [Pickens] is a big-time receiver,” Cain said. “Just seeing the future of us possibly playing together at Auburn, that’s big. Like Coach [Gus] Malzahn said, if everything goes in their favor, we could be the top recruiting class in the country.”
Read into that as much as you’d like.
The point being: Auburn is a real threat, even if some national stories don’t necessarily indicate that yet.
Reacting to recent George Pickens comments
In an interview with John Garcia of 247Sports, Auburn wide receiver commit George Pickens has some concerning comments (if you’re an Auburn fan) about the state of his recruitment.
“It’s really open,” Pickens told Garcia. “Because there’s a lot of new schools coming in. I’m trying to see as many schools as I can right now.”
That’s not what Auburn or its fans want to hear. These Pickens comments come not long after he picked up an Alabama offer, which likely will raise even more concern.
This all comes less than a week after one of my notebooks mentioned a shift in the Pickens recruitment. Auburn had a long conversation with Pickens and his mother about limiting (or in a perfect world, completely shutting down) visits to other schools. According to one source, Pickens — and especially his mother — responded positively to the idea.
These comments would suggest otherwise, at least from Pickens’ end.
Still, I’d consider this to be a wait-and-see type of thing. He wants to take official visits to Michigan and Oregon. Those trips likely won’t worry Auburn much given the distance-from-home factor. The Tigers will view those similarly to 2018 defensive tackle Coynis Miller taking late official visits to schools Auburn never really expected would be a threat.
I expect a similar situation to take place with Pickens. Want to take a trip to Oregon or Michigan or somewhere else way far away? That’s fine. Multiple return trips to Tuscaloosa and Athens? That’s not going to fly as much with Malzahn.
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