AUBURN, Ala. — We’ve made it pretty clear just how many top high school prospects showed up to take in Auburn’s season-opening loss to Clemson.
We’ve given you the reactions of many Auburn commits and targets after the matchup in Jordan-Hare Stadium. None of those players came on official visits, however, meaning those athletes — while still soaking in a primetime atmosphere — didn’t get the full red-carpet treatment given to players on officials. On Monday, the three official visitors wrapped up their weekend tours of Auburn.
It’s a crew that includes one firm commitment with a brother on the team, one undecided prospect with an SEC record-holder father and an uncommitted target at a position of need for Auburn.
Here’s a look at how each of those weekends went.
3-star kicker commit Anders Carlson
Anders Carlson’s grandparents can officially call him by his new family nickname: ‘TC2,’ the abbreviation for ‘Turncoat No. 2.’
Carlson has a set of grandparents who live in a Birmingham, Ala., suburb. They’re Alabama fans.
Carlson, from The Classical Academy (Colo.), flew to the Plains this weekend to enjoy his official visit and support his older brother, Daniel — Auburn’s record-setting kicker. The younger Carlson committed to the Tigers on June 25. His official visit made his pending college arrival to Auburn feel ‘real.’
It makes sense why his Tide-crazed grandparents can confirm the new nickname. His official visit made his commitment official.
“It made it feel real, to kind of commit. You’re still in high school, but now that you’re here on your official visit, you’re here in eight months. So it’s getting close. It feels real now,” Carlson said. “I am now ‘TC2,’ Turncoat No. 2. But no, they support me too. I’m excited to be close to them. I’m about an hour and a half away.”
Carlson won’t take any more official visits. “This is it. 100 percent,” he said Monday before jetting back to Atlanta to catch his westbound flight. This visit gave him no reason to second guess.
He enjoyed the complimentary dinners, campus tours and first-class family feel. Of course, Carlson’s family impression at Auburn goes beyond welcoming coaches.
His host athlete? Surprise: his brother. As much as Carlson wanted the official-visit experience for himself, it gave him more time to celebrate his older brother’s accomplished kicking career with the Tigers.
“It was just, you know, mainly coming here to watch the game for sure. My brother is in his junior season, so I was on my official, but I felt like I was here to support him,” the younger Carlson said. “It was fun. It was good bonding time with Daniel for sure.”
Daniel set the school record with his sixth made field goal of 50-plus yards. He’s only a junior. Anders is ready to jump on campus and forge his own path.
Maybe their grandparents will even become Turncoats No. 3 and No. 4.
3-star CB target Russ Yeast
Rule No. 1: Mom knows best.
That’s the case for many, and it’s certainly the case for Auburn cornerback target Russ Yeast. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Yeast arrived in town Saturday morning from Greenwood, Ind., where he plays wide receiver and defensive back for Center Grove.
Yeast hopes to make his decision soon, so he took the first of his official visits to Auburn because he wanted his mom to check out the town, campus and game atmosphere. She approves.
“Me and my mom got to come down. We had a really good time. The football game was a great atmosphere. We got to cool around with some of the players and stuff. It was really good,” Yeast said. “She loved it. She really did. I think she really enjoyed it. She likes the whole area. It’s not really a big city or a big town. She likes how everything is compact. She likes the academics. She likes the coaches. It was a hit for her.”
Yeast spent his pregame golf carting his way around the Tiger Walk, which had roughly 10,000 spectators show up for a stadium entrance. He called it “crazy” — in a good way, of course — three times. Yeast said there was one resounding theme to his Saturday trip around campus: “War Eagle.”
During the game, his eyes were firmly focused on the defensive backfield, the position group Auburn coaches peg Yeast at in college. Yeast’s relationship with secondary coach Wesley McGriff has fostered his amplified appreciation for the Tigers.
He enjoyed two things from the game — the defensive backs flying around the field and signs of an upcoming chance to shine at the position.
“It’s pretty important because there’s opportunity here. You can also see with coach McGriff coming here, the DBs are taking a complete (180) from last year,” Yeast said. “They had some freshmen out there, some fifth-year seniors out there playing. So, I mean, the DBs played great. I like what he’s doing.”
That strong appeal to both recruit and parent is good news for Auburn, Yeast said. The Tigers are firmly in a “top group” that includes Iowa, Ole Miss, Louisville and Alabama.
Iowa will get its official visit this Saturday. Ole Miss will host Yeast on Sept. 17. Louisville and likely Alabama will have Yeast on campus for an official visit sometime shortly after that.
For now, Yeast points to the the fans, the coaching staff and the SEC for his strong Auburn interest. He might come to his decision in a month or so.
“I think I’m going to make my decision shortly after making my visits,” Yeast said.
By the way: does that last name ring a bell? It should. Yeast’s father, Craig, played for Kentucky in the late 1990s. He graduated as the SEC’s all-time leader in career receptions.
3-star TE target Kurt Rafdal
Auburn doesn’t have a tight end commitment in the 2017 class.
That will likely change. It doesn’t have to change. The Tigers have five listed tight ends on the roster — no seniors and four underclassmen. But Auburn would still like to add a commitment there, and Rafdal is a prime candidate.
The Tigers whiffed on a commitment from Tre’ McKitty, the IMG Academy (Fla.) tight end who picked Oregon over Auburn and others in July. A few Auburn commits think they could still land McKitty, but Rafdal seems like the frontrunner to add at the position.
He blitzed out of town early Monday morning before we could chat with him, but all indications suggest his official visit fell into the cliché “went well” category. Rafdal is a 6-foot-7, 230-pound prospect, so the frame is there. So is the businesslike approach. Expect this decision to be a well-calculated one.
Rafdal appears to like Auburn, but the Tigers will have to make a strong push to outlast the hometown Hoosiers for the Indiana product.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Benjamin Wolk covers Auburn football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on future stars on the Plains.