AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn has yet to receive a commitment since the contact period restarted. There have been a couple close calls. Some are soon to come. Others are trending in the opposite direction. But the last week and a half of the 2017 recruiting cycle is shaping up to be an exciting one.
Committed or uncommitted, there are a number of important updates on Auburn’s wish list down the stretch. The Tigers hope to hold onto all 20 of their commitments. Meanwhile, they’d like to grow to the standard 25, if possible.
Below is the latest intel on each of the notable prospects on Auburn’s board right now. As commitments come, it’s wholly possible that new names emerge in the final days. Staffs sustain relationships over the course of multiple years, so it’s not out of the question to think an out-of-the-blue recruit surfaces in the next few days. Chip Lindsey might add a few targets, as well, on the offensive line, at tight end or at wide receiver.
Check out the latest.
4-star DE Ryan Johnson
Johnson told reporters Sunday that, for now, it was an Auburn-Stanford battle. He has officially visited both of those schools. Johnson won’t officially visit Alabama because the Crimson Tide have “too many people.” There is a chance he takes OVs to Texas and USC, but it seems logistically challenging with in-homes planned and a Friday-to-Monday decision window.
The new factor: Johnson was accepted into Stanford.
If that hadn’t happened, I’d almost guarantee Johnson to the Tigers. But that’s a hypothetical. Johnson has claimed since early fall that an acceptance to Stanford would change the entire dynamic. That happened, and it appears to be a true premonition on Johnson’s part. Johnson expects to study engineering, which helps Auburn with the academic pull.
Also, Auburn knocked its official visit out of the park. The combination of commits and enrollees gave Johnson plenty of pressure this weekend. He said he thinks he’s close to a decision. Since he said that after an Auburn visit, that should be positive news for the Tigers.
At this time, I still think Johnson doesn’t know who he will pick. But, after the in-home visits, I think his decision will be clear. I’d call it 50-50 until those happen, but confidence should be high on the Plains. The Tigers hit a colossal home run on the official visit after some big Stanford news.
4-star LB Tyler Taylor
The big surprise came Sunday when Taylor said Auburn and LSU — not Oklahoma — were his top 2 with his decision to come later in the week. Taylor has an in-home visit planned with Auburn on Tuesday. Kevin Steele and Travis Williams will join. An LSU in-home isn’t finalized. The Sooners are also expected to work their way in for a home visit too, so don’t count them out. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy will visit Taylor this week. Taylor has a long-standing relationship with the Cowboys’ staff.
An interesting part of the equation here is the Oklahoma vs. LSU chase for inside linebacker commit Jacob Phillips, who is committed to the Sooners. LSU is working hard for a Phillips flip. Phillips is the No. 1 inside linebacker option for both schools, and he might not have a decision until National Signing Day.
Those schools’ pursuits of Taylor — compared to the Tigers’ prioritization of him — should help give Auburn the edge.
On top of that, Taylor’s decision will be strongly advised by his mother. She’s a fan of all three programs he’s considering, but as Taylor pointed out Sunday, there’s something a little different about Auburn.
“My mom really loves it here,” Taylor said. “At all the schools, the coaches are really nice, but sometimes we feel like they are just recruiting. At Auburn, we really know that they are going to take care of us.”
4-star DE Markaviest Bryant
Bryant to Georgia is a lock, right? Not so fast.
The Cordele (Ga.) linebacker/defensive end has been trending to the Bulldogs for a long time. He has said so himself plenty over the course of the last 2 or 3 months. But Bryant also has expressed a desire to be patient, so he can make one right decision. It appears that wait is starting to make things interesting.
An SEC Country source has said that people should maybe start to expect a surprise on National Signing Day when Bryant is likely to decide. That sounds like bad news for Georgia and good news for Auburn or LSU. That comment comes fresh off an official to Baton Rouge, which seems to be a school making a late push. I’ve mentioned LSU as a sleeper for Bryant before. I don’t think it can be considered a sleeper anymore.
Auburn has the last laugh this upcoming weekend. With a decision truly up in the air, the Tigers will cherish their opportunity to host Bryant last.
None of this is to say Georgia is out of it, by any means. The Bulldogs are still the favorite in most circles. But this source close to Bryant has watched him trend elsewhere in recent weeks.
I’ll abstain from a prediction until after his Auburn official visit. It will be critical.
4-star RB Devan Barrett
Auburn’s highest-rated running back prospect officially visited Tennessee this past weekend. He’ll also head to Indiana next weekend. But Auburn shouldn’t have anything to worry about. A source close to Barrett said he was “super solid” to Auburn going into the weekend.
He told SEC Country basically the same thing after the trip to Knoxville, calling his commitment “pretty solid.”
“It would take a lot (to flip). I’ve been up to Auburn many times,” Barrett said. “I love it up there. I have people up there. Stuff like that. It would take a lot.”
On top of that, Tennessee added another running back commitment Monday morning. That says the Volunteers don’t expect Barrett to waver from his Auburn commitment — unless Indiana pulls off the unthinkable next week.
Barrett had the chance to chat with Gus Malzahn briefly during his visit to talk about new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey. That calmed down many concerns Barrett had. Malzahn, Lindsey and Tim Horton will visit Barrett in Tampa (Fla.) on Tuesday.
“I talked to Coach Malzahn, and they said they still have the same playbook,” he said. “I would fit in the same way in the offense they are running.”
5-star OL Calvin Ashley
There’s not much more to say than this: Ashley’s recruitment is over.
A big fuss has been made over Ashley’s situation. When all is said and done, Ashley will have been committed to the Tigers longer than any other prospect. Despite a litany of life change, Ashley never stepped back from his commitment. He flirted with Maryland, a proximity interest after a family move, but it was Auburn all the way.
Moreover, Ashley told Maryland coaches Monday that he has officially closed that down. That was first reported by Ahmed Ghafir of Inside Maryland Sports.
Auburn keeps its 5-star without any drama, as much as it seemed like there might be.
4-star OL Kai-Leon Herbert
Herbert de-committed from Michigan on Sunday. At the time, it seemed like good news for Auburn, Florida and Miami — the three schools in it to flip Herbert.
A source close to Herbert told SEC Country on Monday that Auburn is no longer in consideration for Herbert despite how impressed he was by the Tigers on his official visit. It has more to do with the fact that Herbert, from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.), wants to stay in-state. It will be a Miami-Florida fight to the finish.
The Hurricanes hosted Herbert last weekend. The Gators get him this weekend. Florida has been the logical trend for a while, though as Herbert said last weekend, the offensive line coach confusion could play a role.
Either way, it looks like Auburn is out. If the Tigers can’t score an in-home visit with Herbert this week, an offer could go out to Poutasi Poutasi or another unknown offensive line candidate.
3-star FB Thomas Johnston
Johnston eliminated Auburn on Sunday. Plain and simple: He doesn’t want to be an H-back.
He’s an Alabama state record-holder at linebacker, and that’s what he plans to play in college. Where that will be remains to be seen. He has taken official visits to Auburn, Iowa, Arkansas and, most recently, Ole Miss. Only Auburn courted him at something other than linebacker.
Interestingly, two 247Sports crystal ball selections went to UAB in the last 24 hours. That might seem ridiculous, but his brother Tyler plays for the Blazers. Johnston sent out a cryptic “#family” tweet Sunday that could have had some underlying meaning there.
Johnston won’t be suiting up for the Tigers, though.
3-star ATH Octavius Matthews
Matthews ventured to Big Ten country over the weekend for an official visit to Purdue. He hasn’t decided if he will take his OV to Tennessee this weekend, but that was the original plan. Like Barrett, it’s worth noting Tennessee added another running back commit Monday, so the Volunteers might’ve made their running back decision already.
Matthews confirmed to SEC Country that Auburn has “nothing” to worry about. He wants to take these official visits for the experience and as a just-in-case measure.
He isn’t too keen on people freaking out over his visit to Purdue either.
Why everybody on me about visiting Purdue.? at the end of the day it's my life Ima do what I want regardless…✊? 1K
— octavius.M?? (@octaviusmatthe1) January 21, 2017
3-star FB Chase Lasater
The million-dollar question: Will Lasater’s offer be commitable?
Auburn hosted Lasater on his official visit, and he loves it. The Tigers offered him less than a month ago when Rhett Lashlee was still on board. With the Chip Lindsey change, Auburn is still trying to figure out what positions it wants to fill with its remaining slots. Could it be an H-back? Could it be another tight end? Maybe the Tigers have a new WR or OL in mind?
That inside decision has Lasater’s choice hanging in the balance. Malzahn and Lindsey are set to take an in-home visit to Lasater’s house early this week. If he receives a 100 percent affirmative offer, Lasater will say “yes” in a heartbeat.
4-star WR Noah Igbinoghene + 3-star DB Jordyn Peters
There’s not much to report here, so these two Auburn commits can be clumped into one as a bonus.
Igbinoghene recently received an Oregon offer. He entertained it briefly, he said, but Igbinoghene soon realized Auburn was home for him. He shut down his recruitment Sunday. There won’t be an official visit the last weekend for Igbinoghene. The official visit solidified everything for the wide receiver. Related: Auburn will shoot for the stars with a wide receiver to close out the cycle, but the Tigers are more than OK with an Igbinoghene-only receiving corps in 2017.
Peters may take an official visit this weekend. If he does, there’s nothing to worry about. He’ll be taking it for the experience. To better understand, this is how he described it Sunday.
“Might go to Virginia, might go to the U. If they contact me and say they want me to take a visit I’ll take it,” Peters said. “But I’m solid.”