Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Friday and SEC Country’s Auburn and Alabama recruiting reporters discuss who lands where in the Iron Bowl recruiting battles.
Where will Alabama’s and Auburn’s top targets commit to come signing day?
Alabama and Auburn always fight over a handful of recruits each recruiting cycle, and the 2018 class is no different.
SEC Country’s Alabama recruiting reporter Chris Kirschner and I give our prediction on where some of the teams’ top targets will sign come National Signing Day in February.
Luke Ford, 4-star TE, Carterville (Ill.)
Kirschner: Luke Ford will take an official visit to Auburn this weekend for the Iron Bowl, but I don’t think the Tigers have much of a chance to land his commitment. I think this is an Alabama-Georgia race. The Crimson Tide are likely going to sign their top target at the position, which is 4-star junior college tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson, so by default my prediction is Georgia.
Wolk: Ford has only been to Auburn once so far, but on that trip he received a personal tour from head coach Gus Malzahn. That stood out to Ford, as did Auburn’s offer to Ford’s brother, Noah, as a preferred walk-on. Other programs have followed Auburn’s lead with that move. The Tigers will make a final sales pitch to Ford this weekend when he officially visits for the Iron Bowl. Still, I see Auburn as the outsider to an Alabama-Georgia battle that ends with the Bulldogs on top.
Andres Fox, 3-star DE, Mobile (Ala.) Christian
Kirschner: Andres Fox is down to four schools: Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Stanford. I think this is an Iron Bowl battle, though. Fox grew up a Crimson Tide fan, and he has previously told SEC Country that his parents want him to choose Alabama. The Tide have a serious need for defensive linemen this class and the team has made him a giant priority. I think he chooses Alabama.
Wolk: Fox’s decision will come down to one of the in-state schools — Auburn or Alabama. There seems to be a sense of confidence from both sides of the Iron Bowl with this one. The Tigers feel good about landing Fox, but the numbers game comes into play here, as well. Auburn already has three defensive linemen committed with another likely to join in December. Fox might not be able to wait until National Signing Day like he wants to secure his spot, but maybe that’s what the “silent commitment” is for. In the end, however, I do expect Fox chooses Auburn over Alabama.
Emory Jones, 4-star QB, Heard County (Franklin, Ga.) — committed to Ohio State
Kirschner: Emory Jones is committed to Ohio State, but he has kept his recruitment open. He has taken visits to Alabama and Auburn this fall and is expected to be on the sidelines this weekend at the Iron Bowl. But I don’t think Auburn is much of a factor at this time with Jones. Those close to the Alabama program remain confident that Jones will flip to the Tide, and that’s what I think, too.
Wolk: Auburn has fallen to a place where Jones might be its only elite quarterback target remaining. Justin Fields chose Georgia. Jarren Williams backed out of an official visit for the Iron Bowl. If the Tigers want to take two quarterbacks in this class, Jones might be the final recognizable option. But if anyone can flip him from Ohio State, I think it’s Alabama (which is what I think happens).
Asa Martin, 4-star RB, Austin (Decatur, Ala.) — committed to Auburn
Kirschner: Asa Martin committed to Auburn over Alabama. It was a blow to the Tide because he was the team’s top running back target at the time. The only way I see Martin flipping to Alabama is if Gus Malzahn leaves for another job.
Wolk: Auburn has had a few major splashes in the 2018 class, but the biggest might’ve been beating out Alabama for Martin. He’s the top running back in Alabama, and both schools wanted him badly at the time of his commitment. The Crimson Tide are still hosting him on visits in case Martin has a change of heart, but don’t anticipate that happening. He’s become the vocal centerpiece for Auburn’s 2018 class.
Coynis Miller, 4-star DT, Jackson-Olin (Birmingham, Ala.) — committed to Auburn
Kirschner: Even if Malzahn leaves for another job, I think Coynis Miller is 100-percent locked in with the Tigers. Alabama is still trying to flip him away from Auburn, anyway.
Wolk: Miller joined Martin as back-to-back Auburn commitments who chose the Tigers over the Crimson Tide. Their decisions gave Auburn some recruiting life when there wasn’t much excitement around the program. But Miller saw the defensive line culture that was brewing at Auburn under Rodney Garner and wanted to be a part of it. As long as Garner’s a part of the coaching staff when Miller signs in February, Alabama — as hard as it tries — won’t be able to flip Miller from Auburn.
JJ Peterson, 4-star LB, Colquitt County (Moultrie, Ga.)
Kirschner: If JJ Peterson doesn’t commit to Alabama at some point, it would be a big shock. The Tide have been his leader for more than a year, and his head coach, Rush Propst, told SEC Country that teams have started to back off recruiting him because they think he’s a near lock to Alabama.
Wolk: This was one Auburn hung around for at the beginning, mainly because of Peterson’s strong relationship with linebackers coach Travis Williams. But Alabama wasn’t going to be beaten for this one. As Kirschner wrote last week, Auburn and other programs have begun to back off of Peterson with the understanding he’s Alabama bound.
Justyn Ross, 4-star WR, Central (Phenix City, Ala.)
Kirschner: There’s a good chance the state of Alabama’s No. 1 prospect in the 2018 class doesn’t choose Alabama or Auburn; right now, that’s what I think happens. Clemson is my pick, but both in-state teams are going to make it tough on the defending national champs.
Wolk: The No. 1 player in Alabama rarely leaves the state. In fact, it’s only happened twice since 2000 with Chad Jackson in 2003 and Jameis Winston in 2012. Ross looks like he’s on his way to being No. 3 on that list. He has visited Clemson regularly and always raves about those trips. Ross took his official visit there last weekend. Auburn, at least, will make a push for him down the stretch, but it’s likely Clemson all the way.
Saivion Smith, 4-star CB, Mississippi Gulf Coast CC (Perkinston, Miss.)
Kirschner: Saivion Smith has been a major target for Alabama since he was offered in August. With the Tide needing a cornerback who could step in immediately and start next season, I think the former LSU cornerback is Alabama’s to lose.
Wolk: Auburn has a gaping hole coming up at cornerback, and it’s something the Tigers want filled immediately in the Class of 2018. A junior college option makes the most sense to accomplish that. Smith is priority No. 1, but as Kirschner noted, he’s seemed an Alabama lock this entire fall. Auburn will host him for an official visit this weekend for the Iron Bowl and the pitch will be made clear. Still, I see the Crimson Tide pulling this one out.
Quay Walker, 4-star LB, Crisp County (Cordele, Ga.) — committed to Alabama
Kirschner: I’ve gone back and forth on what I think Quay Walker is going to do. For several months, I had Walker pegged to flip to Auburn. Now, I have him sticking with Alabama. This recruitment could definitely go either way. The Tigers were always going to make this interesting with his good friend Markaviest Bryant playing for Auburn.
Wolk: There was a point this fall when I would’ve said Auburn for Walker. He was visiting a lot and hinting at a potential flip and his relationship with Williams, Garner and Bryant helped justify it. But the Tigers are starting to weigh all of their linebacker options a little bit more, and that has to do with less confidence Walker will flip. It’s not over yet by any means, but for now, I still peg him to Tuscaloosa.
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