Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. In this edition, we give the latest on each of Auburn’s top targets at The Opening.
Auburn’s top targets at The Opening
4-star OT William Barnes, Apopka (Fla.): Barnes hasn’t publicly visited Auburn as he suggested he might in the spring. Barnes has been trending toward his home-state Florida Gators for a while. North Carolina is seen as a dark horse. The big offensive tackle is, by my estimation, the Tigers’ top tackle target in the class, but until the Tigers get him on campus, I expect him to be a Gator.
4-star WR Tommy Bush, Clemens (Texas): Bush’s second stop of his Southeast-wide tour went to Auburn. He has received some graphic edit love from the Tigers since he left, and Bush sent that out on social media. The thing to watch with Bush: Does he visit again? If he does, I’ve been told Auburn has a legitimate chance. For now, it’ll be a waiting game as Bush narrows down his list in July.
5-star QB Matthew Corral, Long Beach Poly (Calif.): Since Corral de-committed from USC recently, he has become one of the hottest commodities on the recruiting trail. He told reporters at The Opening that Auburn has, in fact, reached out to him. It’s important to note that most schools considering Corral are also looking at Justin Fields, so Corral will likely wait until Fields’ decision to announce. Auburn plans to take two quarterbacks, so if the Tigers miss on Fields, Corral could be the next move.
5-star Justin Fields QB, Harrison (Ga.): There is no question Fields is the top target remaining for Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Florida State, USC, Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU and any other program who feels like it has a shot at the stud dual-threat quarterback. In Auburn’s case, the Tigers feel like they’re in great shape for Fields, but Georgia and Florida State are viewed as the biggest competition. Fields likely will announce sooner rather than later.
4-star TE Luke Ford, Carterville (Ill.): Ford de-committed from Arkansas and immediately became a top want for several programs across the Southeast. He recently visited Alabama and Auburn. He called Alabama his leader after that visit, but said Auburn made him slightly reconsider after his trip to the Plains. Gus Malzahn gave the Ford family a personal tour around Auburn on his visit, and that’s going to make a major impression going forward.
4-star OT Richard Gouraige, Cambridge (Fla.): Gouraige’s interest in Auburn appears to have waned in recent months. When he visited earlier in the spring, he said he’d be interested in visiting a week later. That didn’t end up happening, and he hasn’t been back since. That says Florida and Clemson have had slightly more pull on him than the Tigers. Gouraige is up there with Barnes for the Tigers’ top tackle target in the class.
4-star OG Trey Hill, Houston County (Ga.): Hill continues to visit Auburn. That has to be a good sign for the Tigers despite the widespread public belief he’s a Georgia lock. Hill attended Big Cat Weekend with his father and left saying Auburn was as in as good of shape as anyone for his services. Ultimately, Georgia is the most likely team to beat, but in the case of a Justin Fields commitment, Hill could be one of those influenced targets.
4-star WR Kearis Jackson, Peach County (Ga.): Like Hill, Jackson visited Auburn for Big Cat Weekend. His commitment to a schools could be somewhat liked to two prospects — Hill and Fields. The Tigers sent a graphic edit to the three of them with all three dressed in Auburn jerseys together. I think it’s quite possible the trio ends up at the same program, though Georgia is the most likely destination for the entire group. If Fields were to pick the Tigers, however, it could cause a massive shift.
4-star OG Tank Jenkins, Park Crossing (Ala.): Jenkins visited Auburn a couple weeks ago with his high school teammate Cam Taylor. It’s been tough to read Jenkins throughout this process. He claims the Tigers are recruiting him as hard as anyone else, but he doesn’t seem tied down to the idea of staying in-state for college. Still, it seems like it would be tough for the Tigers to miss out on Jenkins if they give him the full-court press recruitment. Missouri and Oklahoma are the biggest threat.
4-star RB Harold Joiner, Mountain Brook (Ala.): Joiner will be a hot topic over this weekend and throughout the rest of the summer. He has come out and said LSU and Georgia are no longer in consideration because of those schools taking a few running backs in the last week. Strangely, he spoke publicly about his new interest in … Michigan State. With all that said, I put in a 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction to Auburn — the first one — because I don’t see the Tigers missing on him now that he appears within their grasp.
4-star DE Azeez Ojulari, Marietta (Ga.): Ojulari has visited the Tigers since the start of the year, but he’s also been unable to make it on occasions that he said he would. Auburn is likely playing behind Georgia and Alabama right now for Ojulari — and others could emerge — but the Tigers can remain patient. If the two rival schools look elsewhere on the D-line, Auburn could swoop in to snag Ojulari late.
4-star OLB JJ Peterson, Colquitt County (Ga.): Peterson seems like an Alabama lock. With that said, there is only one program who has a true shot at making him reconsider the Crimson Tide. Peterson’s best college coach relationship is with Auburn linebackers coach Travis Williams. Williams’ impact has made Peterson stay patient with his decision, but it still seems unlikely the Tigers can out-duel the Tide.
5-star WR Justyn Ross, Central (Ala.): Ross isn’t in a rush to decide, but when he does, there will be four programs to watch: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Florida State. The two in-state schools have often been called the favorites by people not named Justyn Ross. Ross claims he hasn’t narrowed in on any leaders in that bunch. Still, this will likely come down to an Alabama-Auburn battle and both sides feel positive about their chances of landing the No. 1 prospect in the state.
4-star WR Anthony Schwartz, American Heritage (Fla.): Schwartz is lightning fast. By the numbers, he’s one of the fastest — if not the fastest — high school sprinters in the entire nation. That track speed has several programs fighting for him. Florida is a clear leader, but Auburn checks in at No. 2. The Tigers surprised him when he visited for the A-Day spring game, and if he were to return, they’d have a chance to do it again.
4-star OLB Channing Tindall, Spring Valley (S.C.): Travis Williams’ hometown connection could come in handy. Tindall goes to the same high school Williams graduated from in South Carolina. That has helped the Tigers work their way into the No. 2 spot behind South Carolina, and Tindall very much believes some programs could leapfrog his home-state institution. Another team to watch, however, is Georgia. Tindall grew up a fan of the Bulldogs, so if they make a major push, it could be tough to top.