Auburn wrapped up its 2018 recruiting class with 24 signees, which was the 12th-ranked class in the country and third-best in the SEC, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. Full attention now turns to the 2019 class. SEC Country will look at each position group on offense and defense for the Class of 2019. For the fourth installment, we look at tight ends and H-backs.
Current depth chart: Jalen Harris (senior), Chandler Cox (senior), Tucker Brown (senior), John Samuel Shenker (freshman), and Harold Joiner (freshman).
Potential departures: Harris, Cox and Brown.
How many commits at position: None.
How many more Auburn plans to take: 2.
Already offered: 4-star prospect Hudson Henry, Little Rock, Ark.; 4-star recruit Austin Stogner, Plano, Texas; 4-star recruit Keon Zipperer, Lakeland, Fla.; 4-star prospect Ryland Goede, Acworth, Ga.; 4-star talent Luke Deal, Greenwood, S.C.; 3-star player Jackson Lowe, Cartersville, Ga.; 3-star prospect Garmon Randolph, Jefferson, Ga.; 3-star recruit Sean Brown, Rome, Ga.
Other known potential targets: 3-star prospect Jamin Graham, Attalla, Ala.
Importance of more blue-chip additions (1-10): 8
What I think Auburn will do: Ever since Landon Rice’s dismissal two offseasons ago, Auburn has been in search of a go-to tight end option.
Sal Cannella turned out to be more of a big slot receiver than a tight end. Shenker is the tight end in waiting that people within the Auburn program feel solidly about, strongly enough to turn away targets such as Matt Alaimo in the recent class recruiting cycle.
Harris, Cox and Brown will all graduate after the 2018 season. That will leave a huge hole at tight end and H-back. My inclination: The H-back position won’t be as much a centerpiece of this offense after Cox’s departure. But there will still be vacancies next to Shenker on the depth chart since Joiner’s inclusion here is more a projection than certainty.
Auburn will go after its top targets in this class such as Hudson Henry and Jackson Lowe, but they’ll also look all across the Southeast for top targets. I’d expect more to emerge in the coming weeks as the Tigers hope to figure out the tight end situation sooner rather than later in this cycle.
For now, Brown (offered Wednesday) and Randolph fall into my most-likely category.
What I think Auburn should do: What I think Auburn will do lines up closely with what I think the Tigers should do.
There is a clear need at tight end. Joiner won’t ever be tied to a specific position — running back or tight end — so it’s tough to classify him as a safe bet at tight end in the future. That’s why adding two tight ends is so important.
This is a position group that hasn’t assembled desirable personnel the last two seasons. Most tight end recruits in this cycle have verbalized to me that Auburn has made its need at tight end clear. Two is the number most of them have heard from coaches, and that’s what I expect to happen.