Jarrett Stidham committed to Auburn on Saturday, and that was huge news. Sure. But that’s just the beginning in the minds of Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee.
The offensive staff still wants to add an incoming freshman in the 2017 class. There is a clear preference: Lowell Narcisse.
As reported Sunday night, Malzahn and Lashlee used the final hours of the contact period to visit the 4-star LSU quarterback commit in St. James, La. It was a particularly well-timed visit, considering Narcisse wrapped up an official visit to LSU earlier Sunday.
The news hit early Monday morning that Narcisse de-committed from LSU. He will make his announcement at the Under Armour All-America Game.
Narcisse’s mother gave the LSU visit a thumbs up, but the same can be said for the Auburn visit the week before. Narcisse wasn’t in the class projection I released last week. If I were releasing another one now, he’d be in there.
Once committed to Auburn, Narcisse has said before that relationships and comfortability with coaches will drive his decision. Despite being committed to LSU since May, you could make an argument that there are much stronger ties to Auburn.
Narcisse and Lashlee have a tight bond. And LSU still doesn’t have an offensive coordinator, though the Lane Kiffin move to FAU will expedite that process.
Auburn got the last in-home word.
Top 5 for a top target
If there’s one uncommitted prospect Auburn wants most of all, Deangelo Gibbs might be the one. The 4-star safety is the No. 40 overall prospect in the nation. He took his official visit to Auburn on Dec. 2, which turned out to be the last full-weekend official visit he took.
Gibbs starred in the Grayson (Ga.) state championship victory Saturday night. He made it to Athens, Ga., for a Sunday official visit to wrap up his busy weekend — and recruitment. Gibbs has been one of the most sought-after prospects in the 2017 class.
He narrowed his list to a five-team, all-SEC list. Gibbs will announce his decision at the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 1.
Thanks to everyone who recruited me but it's now narrowed down. Commitment 1/1/17 #Hercules
— Deangelo Gibbs (@TheHercules8) December 12, 2016
Truthfully, I view this more as a suspense builder than anything. Gibbs enjoyed his official visit to Auburn last week. His parents are big fans of the program, coaches and institution. But this will likely be an Alabama vs. Georgia battle to the finish.
The Bulldogs have long been considered the home-state favorites. The Crimson Tide — and Saban’s infamous helicopter landing — have made a late surge for Gibbs.
It should be considered somewhat promising that Auburn cracked a top 5. But the contact period is over and won’t resume until after Gibbs is committed and enrolled. Maybe holiday family conversations will help emphasize the Auburn pros, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Instead, Auburn should prepare to play this talented 4-star prospect on an annual basis, whether it’s at Alabama or Georgia.
In-state LB decision: Good news or bad news?
Monty Rice will make his decision at 11:30 a.m. CT on Monday.
The 3-star inside linebacker from James Clemens (Ala.) will choose between Auburn, Georgia and LSU during a ceremony at his high school. Rice is an early enrollee, so he will sign his financial aid paperwork with whichever school he announces.
Check the 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions for Rice. It’s not a foolproof tell-all, but it’s rarely totally off base. In Rice’s case, there are 12 projections. All 12 of those went in Georgia’s favor. Rice’s coach has told SEC Country, prior to the Dec. 2 official visit weekend, that the Bulldogs were the team to beat.
He originally planned to take an official visit to Georgia that weekend. A scheduling conflict prevented that. Instead, Rice severed the Dec. 9 official visit weekend in half. He started at Auburn and finished at Georgia.
The Bulldogs are the favorite. If the Tigers have a shot, it’d be based on two things — family and the Iron Bowl. Rice is an Alabama native, so Auburn would be closer to home. And, when I spoke with Rice and his coach in October, an interesting tidbit stood out regarding the Auburn-Alabama rivalry.
“He wanted to be (in the) SEC West. He wanted the opportunity to play in an Iron Bowl. That was something that stood out to me as some goals that he wanted,” James Clemens coach Wade Waldrop said.
When it comes down to decision time, will those lifelong goals be enough to lift Auburn over Georgia? The best bet: Not quite.
Stidham celebration from the inside
Where were you on Saturday when Auburn landed Jarrett Stidham?
There were a few Auburn commits around the program as the news dropped. Nick Brahms, Octavius Matthews, Devan Barrett and Chandler Wooten were on campus for their official visits. Twitter gave a solid impression of the team’s reaction to the announcement.
But Matthews and Wooten gave their firsthand takes on the celebration:
Wooten: “Everyone was pretty happy about it. It’s a big, firm get, and we were all excited about it.”
Matthews: “They was all happy. All the coaches was happy. They were tweeting and stuff like that. I tweeted him and told him congrats and welcome to the family. That was a great commit for us.”