Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. In this edition, we look at how Auburn stole Quindarious Monday away from Clemson with a spectacular visit. Also, what kind of effect might it have on Justin Fields and Kearis Jackson?
How Quindarious Monday chose Auburn
Quindarious Monday offered up several enlightening quotes when he spoke with SEC Country following his on-visit commitment to Auburn on Tuesday.
Monday revealed he originally thought he’d commit to the Clemson Tigers, not the Auburn Tigers. But, he said, defensive coordinator Kevin Steele spoke to him in a way no other coach had before, which opened his eyes to the realities of college football and the recruiting world. He even shed light into the moment he told Gus Malzahn he was committing during dinner.
Turns out the home-run attempt to get Monday to commit during his visit was truly a team effort.
And that’s why, among all of Monday’s quotes, this one told the full story of what separated Auburn from the rest:
“Mrs. Kristi (Malzahn), I think she really [does] love me. That’ll be my mother when I’m down there.”
Recruiting is often left up to position coaches, area recruiters or coordinators. The head coach tends to be more hands off, only utilized when the moment feels necessary. Malzahn takes a more hands-on approach than most, and that was especially the case with Monday. So much so that his wife, Kristi, was personally mentioned by Monday as a reason why he felt comfortable committing to Auburn (he even tagged her in his commitment tweet).
Monday arrived to Auburn on Tuesday to a contingent of Greg Brown, Travis Williams and other staffers. Steele and Rodney Garner were soon to join the party, as that quartet of coaches and Kristi Malzahn rode over to check out the stadium with Monday’s family.
In the meantime, Monday took a personal ride with Gus Malzahn, which the 247Sports 4-star safety called — aside from his commitment — the highlight of the day.
When they all returned, it was dinner time. And that quickly turned into commitment time. Then, even the offensive coaches caught wind of Monday’s decision and began to celebrate the commitment.
It’s unlikely every, single prospect will get this detailed attention on a visit. But it’s evident how integral the staff felt Monday was to Auburn’s recruiting class. They put on an all-out effort to secure Monday’s commitment — even bringing out the coach’s wife to woo the parents — and it paid off.
It was a 5-star job by the Tigers’ staff on this one. It’s likely an indicator of things to come for the remainder of the summer, as well.
How Monday is connected to Justin Fields, Kearis Jackson
Monday’s commitment matters for a whole host of reasons.
First and foremost, Auburn has a major need at safety. I had one source say Auburn could use Monday in the 2017 season, not to mention the 2018 season. He’s that good. He’s that college-ready. And the Tigers have that much of a position need.
But aside from that, it’s an important commitment for another clear purpose: Momentum.
Auburn garnered some momentum when legacy receiver Shedrick Jackson committed. But Monday’s announcement will carry more weight with a specific group of targets.
The Carver (Ga.) safety plays for the same Cam Newton 7-on-7 team as Justin Fields and Kearis Jackson. When I spoke with Monday at his spring game in May, I asked who on that team he thought — aside from himself — had a legitimate chance of committing to Auburn.
Fields, the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2018, was his immediate answer.
That’s not to say Fields is a sure bet for Auburn, by any means. But it indicates that even a few months ago, some of his closest friends felt the Tigers were much more in it than was being publicly stated.
Monday didn’t hesitate working his recruiter’s magic once he committed. He’s in a group message with a bunch of guys who play for that 7-on-7 team. Monday informed them all, especially Fields and Jackson (a 4-star receiver in his own right), that he was going to announce his Auburn commitment on Twitter that night.
It’s convenient timing considering Fields and Jackson are scheduled to visit Auburn on Thursday. Fields plans to stay overnight.
Will that friendship matter regarding future commitments? Are package deals really that realistic?
That’s what Auburn is hoping for. The Tigers started off the right way by checking off the Monday box. Now they hope the rest of the momentum falls into place.