AUBURN, Ala. — Rhett Lashlee’s departure hit the Auburn world by surprise Wednesday night — recruits included.
Following the public announcement, SEC Country began reaching out to the offensive commits in the 2017 and 2018 recruiting classes to see how it affected their recruitment. Of the seven prospects immediately contacted, all seven were unaware of the news or were freshly off the phone with an Auburn coach who explained the news.
Lashlee is taking the offensive coordinator job at UConn, somewhat of a startling lateral move. It’s a change that has been described to me as something that has “been in the works” and that a replacement will come — hopefully — by the weekend.
Perhaps the biggest recruit with Lashlee ties isn’t even in the current class. Joey Gatewood, the face of the 2018 class at quarterback, developed a brotherly relationship with Lashlee through his recruitment. Lashlee’s move to UConn completely blindsided Gatewood. He received a call from Lashlee and Gus Malzahn shortly before the news broke. By the time the news hit, at least one other Power 5 program had already reached out to Gatewood.
Some prospects wanted to wait for a replacement before giving instant reactions to the coordinator switch. But others were willing to offer their opinions right away. The biggest intrigue might be who the new hire will be and what it will mean for additional targets. Because, in the 2017 class at least, it appears Auburn — who already has most of its offensive targets as early enrollees — will be more focused on who they can add to the recruiting board with a new coach.
Here’s a look at a few 2017 reactions.
4-star running back commit Alaric Williams: “Wow, that’s what I would say. I didn’t see that coming. I’m sure it was for a reason. But still War Damn Eagle.”
4-star offensive lineman Austin Troxell: “I just got off the phone with coach (Tim) Horton. They told me that he took another job and wanted to let me know before the public got ahold of it. He said that we’re going to get another great coach. … This changes nothing at all.”
— sSs (@V8Blazing) January 12, 2017
Great guy very happy for him. https://t.co/tKQrGgoEw3
— Joey Gatewood (@Joey1gatewood) January 12, 2017
Great guy and coach ! Still WDE ?. https://t.co/0LLJKKWCrb
— Alaric Williams™ (@Alaric_8) January 12, 2017