The conversation started Tuesday when we discussed what Les Miles’ firing meant for the recruitment of 4-star linebacker Will Ignont, the Buckhorn (Ala.) talent who has Auburn and LSU high on his list.
We’ll continue that discussion here because — while Ignont might be Auburn’s biggest want with LSU connections — he’s not the only player considering the two Tigers programs.
IN PLAINS SIGHT: All things 4-star LB Will Ignont
The two schools have some intriguing connections, as is, with the flip-flop of Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and LSU wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig as major recruiting pieces for their respective schools.
A lot of recruits’ opinions are hanging in the balance, waiting to see what move LSU makes. Firings have been known to burden and benefit an institution. It’s too early to call here.
Here are the players to keep an eye on in regards to the effect of the Miles decision.
- 4-star JUCO DE Isaiah Buggs, Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.: When we spoke to Buggs on Sept. 4, just after his unofficial visit to Auburn for the Clemson game, he made his top 4 very clear — Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and Alabama (Florida and FSU still had a chance, he said). When talking about LSU, he brought up his relationship with interim LSU head coach Ed Orgeron early and often.
- 4-star JUCO WR Brandon Martin, Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.: Martin has a well-documented history with both schools. He committed to LSU last cycle, signing his letter of intent, before transferring to junior college. Later in the offseason, he visited and committed to Auburn, only to de-commit from there a day later. Auburn remains his leader, but Martin’s erratic decisions in the past make the LSU coaching change all the more intriguing.
- 5-star safety Jacoby Stevens, Oakland (Tenn.): This would be the prized steal, as far-fetched as it may be. Auburn was in the mix when Stevens picked LSU in August, albeit likely a distant fourth or fifth. Also, it was his second time committing to LSU. So, he seems to have committed to LSU knowing coaching changes could happen, but Baton Rouge is where he wanted to be. Even if he did flip, Georgia might be the more likely candidate to land him.
- 3-star LB Monty Rice, James Clemens (Ala.): Rice posted a tweet following the firing that suggested some displeasure with LSU’s choice. That’s not to say Rice won’t still show interest in LSU — the new head coach will be a key factor — but it shows just how close recruits were to the Mad Hatter. Rice attended the game Saturday between the SEC West foes.
- 4-star WR Jhamon Ausbon, IMG Academy (Fla.): He committed to LSU in June, in favor of Auburn and Texas A&M despite Auburn’s confidence in landing Ausbon. In short order, Auburn lost two IMG Academy products — Ausbon and quarterback Kellen Mond — to LSU and Texas A&M, respectively. You’ve got to think Auburn is still going hard after both.
Auburn commit returns from injury to face major Auburn target
Good news on the home front for Auburn running back commit Alaric Williams.
Williams told SEC Country prior to Auburn’s game vs. LSU on Saturday that his partially torn meniscus is fully repaired. He’s ready to return to full game action, barring any setbacks this week on the practice field. He expects to be ready Friday when his Southside School (Ala.) side faces Oxford (Ala.).
It’s a convenient matchup for Auburn. Oxford is the home of big Tigers LB target KJ Britt, who many recruits have all-but-begged to commit. Britt has enjoyed three of the four game weekends in Auburn, including a dance-filled night his Jordan-Hare Stadium seat against LSU.
A major 2019 offensive line target, Clay Webb, also plays for Oxford. It’s a pretty safe bet you’ll see Auburn coaches in attendance for that one.
Auburn quietly adds 2018 commitment, kind of
If you’ve scanned Auburn’s 2018 commitment list recently, you’ve notice an update. But it’s not an entirely new update.
Daquan Newkirk, defensive end from Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C., was in the last class. Academic concerns pushed him to go the junior college route. Through all of those obstacles, his commitment to Auburn never wavered, proven by the consistency of the ‘AU commit’ in his Twitter bio.
He wanted to make sure to remind everyone that his promise remained, and apparently that the Tigers still want him to come on board. If he does, that will happen in the 2018 class.
1 year ago but don't worry I'm still AU blooded? it's a process that I'm willing to wait out. pic.twitter.com/xCxrPkOVrY
— ?Aひ? (@holdthat_2) September 21, 2016
High school Heisman race
I owe all our loyal readers an apology: I’ve completely dropped the ball in regards to week-to-week updates from commitments’ high school football seasons.
That will change next week, but I want to add another fun element to their successful campaigns — a Heisman race. There have been a number of sensational performers pledged to Auburn, and here’s a chance to highlight the most magnificent of the bunch. This can come from any class and is based on total body of work, not just a one-week showcase.
Here are the top 3, in order, as they currently stand (in the irrelevant eyes of one irrelevant bystander):
- Alaric Williams: This might sound ridiculous considering what you just read about Williams missing so much time with a meniscus tear. But that’s just how dominant his first two weeks of the season were. In those two games, Williams averaged 10.8 yards per carry, including a season opener with 16 carries, 194 yards and 5 (!) touchdowns. Smaller body of work, but so impressive, it can’t be ignored. Plus — he’s back.
- Joey Gatewood: The 2018 commit receives the all-purpose points, much like Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey. In Gatewood’s case, he’s joining Auburn as the highest quarterback prospect on the Tigers board. But at his high school in Florida, he does much more than that. Here’s his lengthy stat line: 127 rushing yards, 125 receiving yards and 70 passing yards. Overall, 5 scores. He makes the list based on versatility.
- Octavius Matthews: The junior college product might play running back for Auburn. He could play slot receiver. Whatever he does, he’s found production at Itawamba C.C. Out of the backfield, Matthews has averaged 6.3 yards per carry on his 33 attempts. He’s also caught 7 passes for 134 yards, including a 76-yard scoring reception in his most-recent outing.
This shows a clear offensive bias. And next week, I might show a clear defensive slant. Who knows. That’s how fickle — and irrelevant — my “Heisman” opinion is. One thing is for certain: All these guys are studs.