Recruits know their rankings. Most recruits, at least.
It might not mean that much to them, or they might not publicize it. But they know. They check in when 247Sports, Scout, Rivals and ESPN make rankings updates. That interest is part of the reason those services reshape the class rankings on so many occasions.
But it’s nearly impossible to hit on every prediction. Some top-tier prospects inevitably will fall into the overused “bust” category. Plenty of 2-star and 3-star recruits end up being the standouts that programs expected the 5-star prospects to be. It’s cliché, sure, but these rankings can provide players with the proverbial shoulder chip necessary to provide added motivation.
Auburn hopes that cliché is a real thing.
On Wednesday night, I broke down the most underrated recruits on Auburn’s commit list. The recognition went to three of Auburn’s five 3-star commits. A few 4-stars prospects — namely KJ Britt — could have been considered underrated based on who is ahead of them on most boards.
Instead, Carlito Gonzalez, Chandler Wooten and Jordyn Peters earned the mention. All three have had strong senior seasons, enough so that they could get significant boosts up the rankings. Gonzalez and Wooten aren’t ranked in the top 350. Peters, inexplicably, barely cracks the top 1,500. Can you believe that? The top 1,500!
Peters, on the other hand? Not worried about it.
“Uh, no, it doesn’t really bother me,” Peters told SEC Country. “I’d like to be ranked higher. At the end of the day, I’m still getting recruited just as much as the other 4-stars and 5-stars. Really, it doesn’t faze me much.”
Winning cures everything, and that’s what Peters does. His Muscle Shoals (Ala.) high school team is in the state quarterfinals in its classification. Peters & Co. upset Britt’s school in the first round.
Gonzalez and Wooten? They’re still hanging around in the Georgia state playoffs, too. Gonzalez hasn’t received the attention Wooten has recently, so he might even be considered more underrated if you step outside the rankings boundaries. Just among college coaches, he probably deserves more love. Wooten recently has begun getting some of the top-tier offers that were missing (Georgia and Ohio State, for example).
The rankings love remains semi-absent — and that’s OK with Wooten.
“I don’t really even care, to be honest,” Wooten said. “In my eyes, I’m a 5. In a lot of other people’s eyes, I’m a 4 or 5. So it is what it is. I don’t really care about it. I don’t even let it bother me. I just try my best to do my thing.”
Octavius Matthews is another 3-star prospect who could contribute immediately, as a running back out of junior college. He will arrive in January, if his fall-semester grades shake out per his plan. The fifth 3-star prospect in the class is Anders Carlson, and we all know how the last 3-star kicker from the Carlson family turned out.
In other words, Auburn might’ve dipped into the rough and found a handful of diamonds. With targets including Noah Igbinoghene and Tre’ McKitty still out there, the Tigers might not be done yet.
Recruiting classes treasure their hashtags nowadays. Auburn already has one for this cycle: #Ambush17. I recommend an amendment: #HitStick17.
This probably is an incomplete list, but, my goodness, the three bone-crushing hits below probably will force an audible response out of you. During his playoff game last week, Gonzalez sought out an opposing ball carrier who likely didn’t realize the upcoming pain he was getting himself into. Gonzalez ended the play with a collision that launched the victim’s helmet 10 yards into the air and well away from the play.
Britt created an even bigger buzz earlier in the season. There’s a good chance you’ve already seen Britt’s destruction, but it’s worth a second look. Tadarian Moultry, whom nobody should want to butt heads with, made a tackle a few weeks ago that left coaches, fellow prospects, opponents and media members speechless.
I wanted to provide a video of all three in the same location. It’s inevitable that you’ll have a conversation later this week that begins with, “Have you seen some of the guys Auburn is getting on the defensive side of the ball in 2017? You’ve got to see this.” When that happens, instead of searching everywhere, here’s the one-stop access to the Gonzalez, Britt and Moultry collisions.
— Kenney Britt Jr (@K_Britt10) August 28, 2016
— Drew Champlin (@DrewChamplin) October 28, 2016
The top 5 heard ’round the world
OK, that might be a bit of a stretch, but DeAngelo Gibbs is as big of a target as you’ll find.
The 6-foot-2 defensive back doesn’t avoid media attention, but he doesn’t seek it, either. Gibbs is friendly enough to answer questions whenever he’s available, but he’s usually careful with his words. He’s the 41st-ranked player in the country, and his offer sheet consists of 34 high-end programs.
Everyone wants Gibbs. DawgNation colleague Jeff Sentell once wrote about how much Gibbs has to deal with such constant contact. The busy man appears to be slightly closer to making that decision. He announced via Twitter on Wednesday night that he plans to release a top 5 “soon.”
Top 5 coming soon… ??
— Deangelo Gibbs (@gibbsdeangelo1) November 17, 2016
It’s news in a few senses. Gibbs hasn’t been particularly clear when he’ll decide. As an early enrollee, it has to be soon. As an Under Armour All-America Game participant, that seems like a logical time. It also has been somewhat unknown what teams and how many truly are considered to be in the mix. Georgia has been the heavy favorite for months, despite Gibbs not divulging that publicly. Tennessee seems to have a strong chance, too.
The other options are less obvious. Outside of the presumed top two, Gibbs has visited South Carolina, Alabama and Auburn this season. Those schools should consider themselves contenders for the top 5.