Auburn’s offensive foundation is set. Now it’s time to build.
The Tigers earned a commitment last week from 4-star offensive guard Jalil Irvin who became Auburn’s fourth commitment in the 2018 recruiting class. Irvin joined Shaun Shivers and Joey Gatewood among offensive commitments. Auburn still has plenty of work to do this cycle, which will include several more additions on the offensive side of the ball.
Here’s a look at the 10 offensive prospects Auburn wants most.
4-star OT William Barnes, Apopka (Fla.)
Ranking: No. 8 offensive tackle, No. 17 in Florida, No. 67 overall
Skinny: Barnes is one of two offensive tackles in the top 70 who Auburn is recruiting hard. There might not be the firepower at the position like there was last class with Alex Leatherwood, Walker Little, Isaiah Wilson and others, but Barnes is as close as you’re going to find in the 2018 class. Barnes recently manhandled opponents at the Orlando Under Armour camp. Auburn has him atop its offensive line wish list.
Barnes originally planned to attend Auburn’s junior day in March, but instead he will return later for a more personalized visit.
“Definitely the way it feels out there. When I’m on the Auburn campus, it just feels like I’m in college. The town and the people are always great,” Barnes told SEC Country. “It’s just a great place to be in.”
4-star WR Jacob Copeland, Pine Forest (Fla.)
Ranking: No. 9 wide receiver, No. 10 in Florida, No. 45 overall
Skinny: Copeland attended Auburn’s first junior day in January, which showed his priority for the Tigers and his high interest in Auburn. A quick glance at Copeland’s Crystal Ball shows the three Florida schools are the predicted destination points for Copeland, but don’t count out Auburn. Copeland has a stronger relationship with Kodi Burns than any other coach in the country — that will play heavily in the Tigers’ favor.
Plus, quarterback commit Joey Gatewood is adamant Copeland will be one of his receivers.
“Just by listening to Joey, I know he’s not going to tell me no false information. He’s going get to it straight,” Copeland told SEC Country. “A lot of players would want you to go with them just to join, but I know Joey better than that. I know he’s going to give me straight information.”
4-star OT Richard Gouriage, Cambridge Christian (Fla.)
Ranking: No. 6 offensive tackle, No. 15 in Florida, No. 61 overall
Skinny: Gouriage joins Barnes as a top-70 offensive lineman and Auburn really, really wants. He’s ranked slightly ahead of Barnes. They’re both studs. Gouriage can play offensive line or defensive line, but most college programs — if not all — project him as one of the top offensive tackles in the nation.
He hasn’t narrowed down his recruitment much, and Gouriage is being recruited by all the top schools nationally. He has plenty of decisions ahead of him, but Auburn has a strong chance of being in the mix.
“I mean all the schools are the same really,” he told Jeff Sentell of DawgNation. “They all have the academics. It is just the different cultures and the atmospheres there.”
4-star WR Matthew Hill, Brookwood (Ga.)
Ranking: No. 28 wide receiver, No. 16 in Georgia, No. 149 overall
Skinny: The last time Hill was on the Plains, he was donning full Auburn gear head-to-toe. That may have just been courtesy by one of the top Auburn receiver targets in this cycle, but it’s positive news for the Tigers nonetheless that a top target wore full Auburn garb for his campus visit. Hill’s list of offers is seemingly endless so he’ll have plenty of choices to make, but Auburn is right up there.
Expect the Tigers to be in it until the end for Hill.
“It’s just a great spot to be in,” Hill said. “They’re about family. No matter if you’re injured or not, they’re still going to treat you like you’re their son. They’re always going to be there for you. It’s just a good coaching staff in general.”
4-star TE Tyneil Hopper, Roswell (Ga.)
Ranking: No. 11 tight end, No. 25 in Georgia, No. 261 overall
Skinny: Hopper was the first recruit on campus hosted by new tight ends coach Larry Porter. Hopper and Porter had a prior relationship at North Carolina, where Hopper’s older brother is a linebacker for the Tar Heels. As of now, North Carolina is the perceived favorite to land Hopper, but Auburn’s chances already were high and grew significantly with the addition of Porter.
Hopper also has a close friendship with Auburn early enrollee quarterback Malik Willis. The two played high school football together at Roswell High in Georgia.
“Auburn wants me to play H-back, on the line tight end and they actually want me to split out wide. They want me to be a transition guy, a hybrid type of person,” Hopper said. “I got to talk to Coach Porter. He was talking to me about he wants me to get better as far as blocking a little bit better. I know I need to work on that too.”
4-star ATH Kearis Jackson, Peach County (Ga.)
Ranking: No. 5 athlete, No. 14 in Georgia, No. 139 overall
Skinny: Kearis Jackson visited the Plains on Feb. 25, which included a weekend with Auburn coaches and players. Jackson is a Peach State prospect and Auburn would love to scoop him away from Georgia despite the fact all of his Crystal Ball selections favor the Bulldogs. Jackson has admitted Georgia has a slight advantage because that’s the school he’s visited most.
But he sees Auburn as a realistic option.
“Auburn sees me as a speedy guy,” Jackson told Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports. “They see me as a guy that they can put in motion, toss the ball to and let him make a play. Throw a quick screen, let me make a play. With them getting a new quarterback, I can actually fit into that offense.”
3-star RB Harold Joiner, Mountain Brook (Ala.)
Ranking: No. 19 running back, No. 11 in Alabama, No. 368 overall
Skinny: Joiner is a big, physical running back who is beginning to blow up on the recruiting trail. Auburn plays a key role in that breakout when Auburn and Ole Miss became the first Power 5 programs to offer Joiner last fall. All the top schools in the country have joined the party since, most recently — and notably — LSU.
Joiner received his LSU offer when he visited Louisiana last weekend for a recruiting camp in New Orleans. It appears it’ll be an Auburn-LSU battle for the running back from Birmingham.
“I just feel like I would fit good if I would go here,” Joiner said.
4-star RB Asa Martin, Austin (Ala.)
Ranking: No. 9 running back, No. 7 in Alabama, No. 222 overall
Skinny: Martin likely is Chip Lindsey’s go-to guy at running back in the 2018 class. Auburn is expected to take multiple players at the position, but per usual, the Tigers have a feature preference. That appears to be Martin for now. Martin has returned to Austin High after spending a brief time at IMG Academy (Fla.). He left because of homesickness.
When Martin visited for junior day in January, he didn’t have an Auburn offer. He picked that up in short order, and Auburn became one of the instant favorites to land him.
“They tell me that they really like me as a running back,” Martin told SEC Country. “They’re doing a couple new things on offense this year to get the running backs’ hands in the passing game a little more. I really like that.”
4-star WR Justyn Ross, Central (Ala.)
Ranking: No. 4 wide receiver, No. 1 in Alabama, No. 28 overall
Skinny: On Auburn’s list of overall prospects, Ross likely sits at the top. Part of that is because of proximity. Part of that is because of Ross’ undeniable talent. Auburn whiffed on Central High prospect Markail Benton last cycle who signed with Alabama. The Tigers can’t afford to miss on the products from the local high school in back-to-back recruiting cycles.
That’s why Kodi Burns has made Ross such a high priority. Ross has been on Auburn’s campus regularly in 2017, including junior days and a recent trip for a softball game.
Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and other are chasing him, but Auburn might be in the driver’s seat.
4-star WR Seth Williams, Paul W. Bryant (Ala.)
Ranking: No. 27 wide receiver, No. 4 in Alabama, No. 146 overall
Skinny: Justyn Ross is to Auburn as Seth Williams is to Tuscaloosa. Williams sits right in Alabama’s backyard, which is why the Crimson Tide are the most likely destination for the tall, lanky wide receiver. Williams almost committed earlier this year — which was most likely going to be Florida State — but he opted to hold off to do a little more research on all his desired schools.
Auburn is playing from behind for Williams, but that won’t stop the Tigers from trying to steal one away from the Crimson Tide.
“Yeah, I’m going to let the right school fit for me,” Williams said. “If I know it, I’m going to know it. If the right school is the fit for me, I’m going to know it.”