Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Monday and SEC Country updates two key recruitments in the defensive backfield — Roger McCreary and Cam Taylor. Plus, an offensive lineman committed elsewhere.
In-state DB ‘considered’ committing on official visit
Roger McCreary remains on commit watch.
The 3-star cornerback from Mobile, Ala., entered his official visit weekend as one of the most likely candidates to join the 2018 class. He enjoyed his visit, including a last-minute surprise meeting in Gus Malzahn’s office, something that often ends in a commitment.
It didn’t happen, but it crossed McCreary’s mind.
“I had considered it. I loved it. I was thinking about it,” he said. “I spoke to my mom, and we had a discussion to just let it play out. They didn’t try to pressure me. They understand that I love it around here, but my process came late, so I’m going to visit other schools.”
McCreary has two other official visits set up — to Alabama and Tennessee.
He’ll take an official visit to Tuscaloosa this weekend, which will coincide with a national championship parade. With Jeremy Pruitt and Derrick Ansley gone, it’s unknown at this time where McCreary stands among remaining Crimson Tide cornerback options. McCreary will go to Knoxville the following weekend, on Jan. 26.
Those two programs have yet to offer, but they’ll be behind Auburn regardless as the process comes to a close.
“Oh, Auburn stands at the top. They’re No. 1. It’s just that my recruiting process came late. That’s why I have to go to Alabama next week and Tennessee after to see how I feel. Auburn is No. 1,” he said. “I love the coaching staff and how they explained why they needed me. I loved everything they explained to me. … They just kept telling me they needed me. [Kevin Steele] was explaining how they need me and what I can bring to the team.”
McCreary spent most of his time with Steele and new defensive backs coach Marcus Woodson.
His relationship with Steele has been the integral component to his interest in Auburn. Shortly after offering, Steele went to McCreary’s school to talk to him about position fit, need at corner and how his skill set can help the Tigers.
“When he came to my school, that’s when I knew Coach Steele was the important person in my recruiting process. He explained why he really needed me. He showed me the depth chart and what I can bring to the table,” McCreary said. “With Woodson, I drove with him almost everywhere we went. We had the connection. That’s what I love about it. I have the connection with the coaches. He recruited me at Memphis. When he heard about me coming, he came and spoke to me throughout the week.”
Auburn will drop in to see McCreary later this week. Steele plans to go see the in-state cornerback this week, and Woodson will visit him next week.
The Tigers aren’t rushing McCreary. They have other uncommitted defensive back options remaining who will officially visit in the coming weeks. Also, in McCreary’s case, he wants to take his time with a few visits since this is new to him, given his recent de-commitment from South Alabama.
Even though McCreary isn’t rushing, he’ll have a choice soon after the visits.
“I’m not waiting until signing day. I know I’ll make my decision before signing day,” he said.
Montgomery DB confident offer will come
Cam Taylor’s player host was a fitting one.
The 3-star athlete from Montgomery, Ala., took his official visit last weekend. He spent a majority of his time with Auburn defensive back Daniel Thomas, whom Taylor knows from Montgomery. Thomas took an official visit in January 2016, not knowing whether he’d have a spot in Auburn’s class. His patience paid off with a National Signing Day commitment.
Taylor is leaning on similar optimism.
“I really hung out with Daniel Thomas a lot. He’s from the city,” Taylor said. “He really told me to not worry about things because you never know how things are going to work out. You never know who is going to sign and commit. It’s a process. You have to trust the process and take everything day by day. …
“Be patient. Things are going to happen. [Malzahn] said things are going to happen but just to wait on it right now. It’s coming. It is. Like I said, be patient.”
Taylor has reason to believe it’ll happen.
For one, Auburn has a need at cornerback. The Tigers are pursuing some highly ranked options — Olaijah Griffin, Tyson Campbell and Kelvin Joseph — but they’ve stayed warm on several in-state targets, including McCreary and Taylor. But Taylor isn’t your typical story of a guy in whom a bigger school started showing interest late in the process.
Taylor has been on Auburn’s radar for years. He’s attended virtually every big Auburn recruiting event or game for the last two seasons. His relationship with Steele is one of the stronger recruit-coach relationships in this 2018 class.
Taylor has confidence because he’s had those tough conversations with Steele about the realities of recruiting and what it all means for his place in the class.
“Coach Steele and Malzahn gave me the direct truth. They’re very transparent with me. Coach Steele has always been real with me so it’s coming, I know that it is,” Taylor said. “[My confidence], it’s very high. I’m going to take my time with everything. I won’t make a decision until Feb. 7.”
Auburn continues to recruit Taylor as a cornerback-safety hybrid option. That’s where he wants to be. He will take visits the next two weekends to Florida Atlantic and Nebraska, respectively. Lane Kiffin and Scott Frost see Taylor as a versatile enough athlete to not recruit him to a specific position.
Offensive tackle target off the board
One of Auburn’s offensive tackle targets is off the board.
Jalen Goss was a potential early-signing candidate for the Tigers. That didn’t happen. Goss’ patience resulted in a change of plans for the athletic offensive tackle. The Valdosta, Ga., native will stay closer to home. He committed to Florida State on Monday afternoon.
Auburn has other tackle targets. But since Goss was considered the reliable backup plan, the Tigers will take a greater sense of desperation into offensive tackle recruiting leading up to signing day.
The focus will be on Dylan Wonnum (already visited officially), William Barnes and Richard Gouraige. The latter two — Barnes and Gouraige — have official visits set up, but Auburn is likely in second place for both prospects. In Wonnum’s case, the Tigers are chasing South Carolina.
The offensive line situation isn’t dire, but the staff has about a month to fix a problem that could get worse.
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