Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Wednesday, and SEC Country looks at the Class of 2019 wide receiver board after a Wednesday commitment. Also, a tight end received a big offer and quarterback committed to an All-American game.
Where Auburn turns at wide receiver after losing out on Ramel Keyton
Marietta (Ga.) wide receiver Ramel Keyton committed to Tennessee on Wednesday. Let’s put that decision into some context.
Taking off my reporter’s hat for a moment, here are my thoughts/opinion/analysis on Keyton as a prospect:
Keyton is one of the most willingly physical wide receivers (at least in the Southeast) that I’ve seen this recruiting cycle. He’s tall and strong already — loves to put his hands on cornerbacks on the line, even in camps — but his wide shoulders given him even more frame to build upon as his body develops. Keyton will be a true red-zone threat in college, and I expect Tennessee fans to fall in love with his 1-on-1 swagger.
It’s not that I didn’t sense Auburn felt the same way as Tennessee about Keyton, but the Tigers didn’t make a major push for him. Sure, he took his last unofficial visit to Auburn two weeks ago, but even then, Auburn didn’t have the type of we-want-you-to-commit conversations that he had multiple times with Tennessee.
The Tigers have wanted to go with two wide receivers in the 2019 class since the beginning. Taking Keyton would’ve been a bit of a surprise given how highly Auburn views other receivers — or it would’ve likely decided to take three receivers had Keyton unexpectedly chosen Auburn on Wednesday.
So it’s like this: Keyton is a player whom I expect to have a great college career, but it shouldn’t necessarily be considered a recruiting miss for Auburn.
Auburn has three wide receiver targets committed to other major programs whom it will continue to recruit heavily:
- Georgia commit Jadon Haselwood
- Clemson commit Frank Ladson
- Miami commit Jeremiah Payton
Haselwood is the one in that group who Auburn feels best about its chances. He has visited Auburn multiple times already this spring. His mother has done so separately. There’s no question Haselwood would be choice No. 1 out of any wide receiver in the nation. But he’s already committed to a program that won’t be easy to flip him from, and it’s something that likely won’t play out until late in the cycle.
It would make more sense to take Haselwood as a third wide receiver in the class because he’s just that good. Try to figure out the other receiver to add to the class with George Pickens, first.
Here are the prospects ranked ahead of Keyton whom Auburn still feels like it has a shot with:
- Devonta Lee, Amite, La.
- Dannis Jackson, Summrall, Miss.
- Jalen Curry, Houston
- Dylan Wright, Mesquite, Texas
- Demariyon Houston, Oklahoma City
Lee has a strong relationship with Tigers wide receivers coach Kodi Burns, who has been down to Louisiana at ever permissible opportunity. Auburn hopes something similar has forged with Curry. Jackson visited earlier this spring, but hasn’t returned yet.
Wright and Houston have recently been offered and emerged as key Auburn targets. Auburn coaches were out at Wright’s school two weeks ago shortly after he spent a day on The Plains for a visit.
Then there are two prospects some programs see as receivers, but Auburn could also see at different positions:
- Zion Puckett, Griffin, Ga.
- Jashawn Sheffield, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Puckett and Sheffield could both very well end up in Auburn’s class; the Tigers like both as defensive backs. However, they value each prospect’s ability on the offensive side of the ball, as well, so they can’t be ruled out as wide receiver additions to this class.
Top tight end target picks up rival offer
Auburn tight end target Luke Deal is closing in on a May 25 decision.
Could a new twist alter his current plans?
That’s something Deal doesn’t expect to happen, but he wants to sit down with his family in the next couple days to sort it all out. Deal received an offer from Alabama on Wednesday afternoon. He let me know quickly how “honored” he was to be offered by the defending national champs.
It’s still too early to call, however, whether or not it’ll change anything.
He has already taken all five official visits: to Auburn, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State. That means if Deal were to take a visit to Tuscaloosa, it would have to be on his own dime. The Deal family already did that once to Auburn earlier this spring, so it’s not out of the question. But that’s something they’ll have to figure out in short order.
When Deal visited Auburn last month, he intended for that to be his last visit — official or unofficial — so he could take a month to process everything before his May 25 decision. But he didn’t rule out the possibility of taking other visits, if he felt he needed to. The Deal family decision on a potential Alabama trip will be decided upon soon.
My take: I’d be surprised if the Crimson Tide became a serious threat because of how close it is to Deal’s announcement.
Bo Nix commits to Under Armour game
Under Armour All-America Game selection committee member Demetric Warren sent a cryptic — yet telling — tweet a few days ago.
— Demetric D. Warren (@DemetricDWarren) May 14, 2018
It warned of an upcoming commitment to the Under Armour All-America Game. Included was a GIF of former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton next to some company advertising. As it turned out, it was great riddle that was solved Wednesday.
Auburn quarterback commit Bo Nix committed to the Under Armour All-America Game.
It’s a big addition for the annual all-star game and a high honor for Nix.
This is shaping up to be a big year for the Tigers at the Under Armour Game. Nix, Pickens and Owen Pappoe are all already committed to the game. Several other top targets either committed to or invited to the game have a high chance of landing Auburn’s class, as well.
Miss a previous Auburn recruiting notebook? Find every daily recap of Auburn Tigers recruiting right here.