Recruiting question of the day: Has Auburn made advancements with top TE target Luke Ford?
Much like Justin Ferguson does on the Auburn team side, recruiting reporter Benjamin Wolk now will answer the Recruiting Question of the Day every day of the week. You can ask him your questions on Twitter or Facebook. Look for our Auburn Question of the Day. Go here to see all of our previous answers.
has Auburn made any advancements with Luke Ford?
— Drew Champlin (@DrewChamplin) December 4, 2017
For the majority of Luke Ford‘s recruitment, Georgia and Alabama have been the most mentioned programs.
Even Ford has placed Auburn in a secondary group throughout his recruitment. That’s no longer the case. So from that standpoint, his Iron Bowl official visit made a major advancement with Ford.
Here’s what Ford had to say immediately after leaving his most recent trip to Auburn.
“For one, Coach [Gus Malzahn] is probably the coolest head coach I’ve talked to. He spends a lot of time with me. It means a lot to me, especially coming from a prestigious school like Auburn,” Ford said. “Auburn definitely moved up after this. That was the best game atmosphere I’ve ever been to. I’ve been to a lot of schools with like 100,000 fans, and this was louder than 100,000 fans, and it’s only like 87,000. It was the best game environment I’ve ever been in.”
Then he gave the all-important commentary about Auburn’s standing compared to its two biggest recruiting rivals.
“I have pretty much a top 3 right now that are all right beside each other,” Ford said. “It’s Auburn, Bama and Georgia. It’ll just have to be me looking at tight ends and seeing where I fit in. That’s just going to come down to my personal decision.”
So there it was, in short order after a visit, Ford labeling Auburn in his top group with the two schools most regularly connected to his recruitment. From information gathered subsequent to that visit, the Tigers have made even bigger moves than that. My sources are telling me this likely will come down to Auburn or Georgia, so the Tigers have made some serious headway here.
The reason for the move?
For starters, Auburn has picked up efforts with this recruitment recently. Knowing the official visit went well — and that they were a serious contender — the Tigers made sure to not let up. There may be a perception that Ford is all but Georgia bound (I’m somewhat inclined to agree), but the Tigers are making an impression.
Because of this, that’s why Ford was one of the only prospects to receive an in-home visit from the Auburn staff last week as it prepared for the SEC Championship Game. Larry Porter went to see Luke and Noah last Thursday before the rematch against Georgia.
The Tigers plan to go back this week — and likely with more than just Porter.
On top of the added prioritization, Auburn and Georgia are the two programs who also have offered Ford’s older brother Noah as a walk-on fullback. That’s something that has given those two programs an edge over Alabama. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide have two other top tight-end targets (Dominick Wood-Anderson and Michael Parker) who they are in great shape with, as well.
It has set up an Auburn-Georgia battle.
For now, the edge favors Georgia. Ford has spoken in the past about his desire to play with 5-star Georgia quarterback commit Justin Fields, who he was teamed up with at The Opening. Georgia has given Noah a walk-on offer, too, so there isn’t as much of an advantage there, though Noah told me after he left the visit that 1) Auburn had been the best unofficial experience for him, which he felt mattered to Luke and 2) the Tigers were the first to offer the walk-on opportunity so it felt the most sincere.
As Ford said after his Auburn visit, it’s come down to him seeing the tight ends (side note: neither program has used the position much this season) and the best personal decision for him. It really could go either way — the Tigers or the Bulldogs — and that, in itself, is a major advancement in the recruitment of one of the best tight ends in the country.