Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. In this edition, we update where Auburn stands with its top targets at each position group.
Where Auburn stands with top targets, by position
5-star QB Justin Fields, Harrison (Ga.)
Justin Fields tops the list for all prospects, and the nation’s top quarterback holds that designation for Florida, Florida State and Georgia, not just Auburn. But in Auburn’s case, Fields might be the only quarterback the Tigers feel the need to recruit heavily to add to the 2018 class alongside commit Joey Gatewood.
The Tigers are in this one much more than many have led on. I’ve been told the three teams to watch here are Auburn, Georgia and Florida State. One thing that will play in the Tigers’ favor going forward is the fact that Fields plans to take an overnight trip to Auburn in July, which will be his first time doing so.
Fields hasn’t announced a decision date. That’s another potential positive for the Tigers. If Fields waits, and Chip Lindsey’s offense shines in the fall, the Tigers could play their way into even better position.
4-star RB Asa Martin, Decatur (Ala.)
This is an Auburn vs. Alabama battle, even though Florida also is listed as a competing team.
Asa Martin will announce his decision Aug. 24 at his high school. The Crimson Tide have been trending up since he picked up that offer in the spring. Prior to that, Martin said Alabama wasn’t a factor. That has clearly changed, but that doesn’t mean the Crimson Tide are guaranteed to land him.
Is that my prediction right now? Yes. Martin isn’t in my Auburn projection.
That’s subject to change if he continues to be impressed by his visits to the Plains. Martin hasn’t spoken with the media much since getting the Alabama offer, so it’s hard to know how much his decision hangs in the balance. But the more he visits the Tigers, the more likely it is he’ll land in the class.
4-star WR Justyn Ross, Phenix City Central (Ala.)
Aside from Fields, Justyn Ross is priority No. 1 in the class.
Ross will come down to Auburn and Alabama, and the Tigers have felt much better about things in the last few months. The Crimson Tide also sit in good position, and Ross’ decision won’t come until the end of the season (at the earliest) and perhaps not until National Signing Day.
Because of that, what happens with the Tigers offense this season will be important. Auburn has the ability to do something none of Ross’ other top programs can do — prove its offense is quickly on the rise.
Ross has always been comfortable at Auburn. He’s visited the Plains more than any other program, including Alabama. Also, don’t downplay his relationship with quarterback commit Joey Gatewood, who has said for a while he is confident Ross will one day commit to Auburn’s 2018 class.
4-star TE Luke Ford, Carterville (Ill.)
Auburn is playing from behind for Luke Ford, but it isn’t out of the question that he lands in the class.
Ford calls Alabama his leader and lists Georgia as a close second. Auburn leads the remainder of the pack. But Ford will watch Auburn’s offense closely to monitor the use of the tight end position. If the Tigers use it, they’ll jump into the conversation. If they don’t, Ford will be able to eliminate them without much hesitation.
It’s worth tracking other Alabama and Georgia targets at the position. Dominick Wood-Anderson could land with the Crimson Tide, in which case Ford’s options might re-align. Georgia has more competition on the depth chart at tight end and has a few other top targets at the position.
There’s no disputing that Ford is Auburn’s top remaining tight end target. The Tigers’ prioritization — which showed itself with a personal Gus Malzahn tour — will be Auburn’s best shot.
4-star G Trey Hill, Houston County (Ga.)
Trey Hill has been described as a Georgia lean for most of the 2018 recruiting cycle. That hasn’t changed, but Auburn feels like it’s a factor.
Hill is an example of a prospect who could potentially gain Auburn interest if Fields were to lead things off by committing to the Tigers. Kearis Jackson, a close friend of both athletes, is another example of that.
While Georgia remains the team to beat, Hill’s visits to the Plains show his long-standing love for the Tigers. He visited at least five times before Auburn offered, which shows Hill had a specific interest in receiving an Auburn offer.
Hill is a soft-spoken prospect with a mean streak. He thinks that personality type matches up nicely with Tigers offensive line coach Herb Hand. Hand will be one of Auburn’s key pieces to stealing Hill away from the Peach State.
4-star T Dylan Wonnum, Tucker (Ga.)
It’s not the strongest tackle class in 2018, and Auburn has some work to do at the position. Dylan Wonnum is the most obvious option because of his regular visits to Auburn and his friendship with Tigers offensive line commit Jalil Irvin.
Wonnum’s high school coach has a rule that prospects must commit prior to the football season, so expect to see a decision from the Georgia product in July or August. He has been linked to South Carolina for a while because of family ties, but don’t downplay the Tigers’ chances.
Auburn is in need of a pair of tackles in the class, and the Tigers don’t have a surefire commit at the position. Wonnum would be an important snag.
3-star DE Andres Fox, Mobile Christian (Ala.)
Andres Fox will push back his commitment, apparently, but that doesn’t alter the Tigers’ pursuit.
There are several top defensive end targets for the Tigers in this class — Richard Jibunor, Caleb Tannor and others — but Fox gets the most attention right now. He is young for his grade, but Fox already has a body type that looks ready to compete in the SEC. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, he’s expected to fit into the Buck position if he were to choose the Tigers.
Alabama and LSU are the teams to watch here, but every conversation I’ve had with Fox, a parent or a coach has left me thinking he’ll pick Auburn. The pushed-back commitment could change my perception, but not yet.
Auburn remains the team to beat.
4-star DT Coynis Miller, Jackson-Olin (Ala.)
Here’s another prospect I once believed would end up at Alabama. The longer Coynis Miller’s recruitment has lasted, the more convinced I am that he’ll land with the Tigers.
Miller is a top want for both in-state programs, as well as some out-of-state schools. But he’s not a prospect either in-state school is going to let commit elsewhere. He’s too good and has too much upside.
Don’t forget: On spring break, Miller visited the Tigers for half the week. He got some personal time with coaches and was able to live the student-athlete experience with a few Auburn players, including high school teammate Tadarian Moultry.
Miller plans to move his decision up to the summer rather than wait until after his senior season as he previously stated. For now, I expect the Tigers to be that end-of-summer choice.
4-star ILB Michael Harris, Tucker (Ga.)
Michael Harris hasn’t committed to Ohio State yet, which is an excellent thing for the Tigers.
Harris, like Wonnum, plays for a high school coach who wants his players committed before they start their senior seasons. If Harris doesn’t have an answer from Ohio State before then, it’s likely Auburn ends up as his choice. Don’t count out Georgia, either.
As Ohio State hesitates, the Tigers and the Bulldogs have worked their way into a heated battle for one of the top linebackers in the Southeast. Auburn’s biggest edge is the Travis Williams effect. Georgia joined the competition later than Auburn, which also should help the Tigers.
There is still time for the Buckeyes to change their minds or pick up their efforts, but as long as that doesn’t happen Harris seems like a safe bet to land in Auburn’s class.
4-star OLB Channing Tindall, Spring Valley (S.C.)
There were a lot of options here, but the nod goes to Channing Tindall. He shines at every camp he attends. At the Atlanta Opening, he was the MVP of the entire competition. In the national event, he has proven to be one of the top prospects in attendance.
With JJ Peterson trending toward Alabama and Quay Walker already committed to the Tide, Auburn has realigned some of its linebacker efforts. Tindall has been a beneficiary. In the spring, all he wanted was for Auburn to pick up its recruitment. The Tigers have done that, which has resulted in Tindall naming the Tigers in his top group with Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and others.
Tindall plays for the same high school Travis Williams attended. That connection makes Auburn a major player for Tindall, who has visited Auburn recently and plans to camp 1-on-1 in the near future.
3-star DB Jamien Sherwood, Jensen Beach (Fla.)
Auburn’s defensive backs recruiting has been a bit of a mystery, and that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. The Tigers have had three different defensive backs coaches in three seasons. In other words, the Tigers have struggled to maintain the relationships necessary to strongly recruit the position group.
Greg Brown is doing what he can with that major time disadvantage.
Jamien Sherwood might be the best example of his approach.
Sherwood is one of the most versatile prospects in Florida. He has the ability to play offense or multiple positions on the defense. Brown sought out Sherwood early in the spring as an underrated prospect he’d like to add to Auburn’s recruiting class.
Sherwood is on the verge of visiting Auburn for the third time in two months. That’s pretty rare for someone who lives more than eight hours away and has Florida programs recruiting him.