AUBURN, Ala. — One thing that often gets glossed over in the recruiting discussion: Anybody with a ranking or stars next to their name is a heck of a football player.
Sure, the 5-star prospects often are deserving of their rankings. But in the same regard, there are 2-star and 3-star prospects who will get on campuses and surprise with their immediate ability to affect games at the college level.
So that’s why, with a grain of salt, we take a look at the latest update to the recently released Rivals100 rankings and which Auburn commits or targets made notable moves — warranted or not.
Ashley loses his fifth star
It doesn’t make much sense really. A 6-foot-6, 310-pound offensive tackle, Calvin Ashley from St. John’s College High (Washington D.C.) has been a 5-star prospect since he started earning stars. He switched high schools and states, but Ashley didn’t do anything this offseason that would suggest a drop-off in skill set. Talent-wise, Ashley is about as gifted as it gets for an offensive lineman. His injury history might’ve scared away Rivals’ analysts, but Ashley isn’t expected to miss any time at the start of this season. Despite losing the fifth star, Ashley still is Auburn’s highest-ranked Rivals commit, at No. 59. 247Sports agrees on the latter, placing Ashley at 25th, which is actually nine spots lower than he previously was pegged on that service. At 247Sports, however, Ashley still is a 5-star prospect with a 0.987 composite score. Fifth star or not, Ashley is the same player he was before the new Rivals100 release — large, athletic and talented.
WR target launches up board
Auburn is battling Notre Dame, Michigan, Alabama, Stanford and likely others for Tarik Black from Cheshire Academy (Cheshire, Conn.). The 6-foot-3, 208-pound wide receiver made one of the biggest jumps among the Rivals100 risers. Black climbed 52 spots, to No. 99. He remains a 4-star prospect at Rivals and 247Sports. In the 247Sports rankings, Black ranks 133rd nationally, which is 21 spots higher than where he debuted. Auburn would like to add a couple more receivers to its 2017 class.
ILB target drops down board
Tyler Taylor, an inside linebacker from Lanier High (Sugar Hill, Ga.), is a target that might land at Auburn, much like his high school teammate Derrick Brown. Tigers linebacker commit Tadarian Moultry told SEC Country earlier this week that Taylor is someone he’d love to play linebacker with at the next level. For one reason or another, the 4-star prospect fell 80 spots, from No. 120 to No. 200, in the latest Rivals rankings. Taylor participated in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge this offseason and likely didn’t have his best showing, leading to the lower ranking. The Rivals ranking still is higher than where he sits in the 247Sports pecking order, where he’s ranked 223rd. Regardless of the recruiting analysts’ opinions, Taylor finds himself near the top of Auburn’s wish list. The Tigers will be in a tight race with Georgia, Oklahoma and a few others for Taylor’s services.
4-star RB commit in top 100
Aside from Ashley, the only Auburn commitment inside the new Rivals100 is running back Devan Barrett from Tampa Catholic (Fla.). Barrett, a 4-star prospect on Rivals and 247Sports, files in at No. 74 in the new Rivals rankings, which positions him ninth at running back. The 74th spot comes in stark contrast to the 247Sports position that has him at No. 220 nationally, behind fellow Auburn running back commit Alaric Williams. With 41 offers, however, it’s safe to assume Division I coaches aren’t too worried about how recruiting analysts perceive Barrett. Auburn will be glad to have him join the stellar running back class with Williams and junior college RB Octavius Matthews.