AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn picked a great weekend to host three official visitors.
The Auburn-LSU matchup offered so much drama that the three recruits on official visits — 3-star JUCO offensive lineman Jordan Agasiva, 3-star JUCO defensive lineman Tyree Owens and 4-star safety C.J. Avery — all put the game near the top of their list of craziest game environments.
We got a chance to speak with the pair of junior college prospects following their visits, and here’s how their weekends went.
Jordan Agasiva: Auburn leads
It might not seem right, but Agasiva swears his home state Hawaii and Auburn have a lot in common. OK, so it’s not so much the beaches or the weather.
It’s the people.
“The fans up here, it’s like Hawaii,” Agasiva said. “Everybody says ‘hi,’ you’ve got to say ‘hi’ back.”
For the 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive lineman, this weekend gave him his first opportunity to experience an SEC game day, or any football in the south for that matter. He wasn’t disappointed by the game or the atmosphere that surrounded it.
“It was crazy. I think it was the craziest game I’ve been to so far,” Agasiva said. “I’ve never been to an SEC or I’ve never been down south ever. It’s really crazy. I love the atmosphere.”
Much like the fans, Agasiva — who plays JUCO ball at Pima C.C. — is drawn in by the family culture so often described by prospects. Agasiva mimicked that belief following his weekend-long visit, specifically pointing to the nature of the head coach and his offensive line position coach.
“Coach (Gus) Malzahn, he’s a really good guy. And coach (Herb) Hand, he’s a really good coach,” Agasiva said. “They’re just really good persons. They showed me love and everything. They’re family persons, family-oriented in how they present themselves. I just love it here. It’s crazy.”
This was Agasiva’s first official visit. He’s scheduled to attend TCU’s home game next weekend against Oklahoma. He also wants to visit Oregon State and Arkansas. He wants to take all five, but only named those three schools outside of Auburn.
The Tigers appear to be in good position in the early stages, with Agasiva planning on deciding “sometime in December” before enrolling early.
“Honestly, I really love it here in Auburn,” Agasiva said, confirming the Tigers as his leader without much hesitation.
Agasiva is listed at offensive tackle, but he said Auburn coaches have another plan for him if he were to pick the Tigers. He expects he’d move to right guard, possibly signaling a shift to tackle for Braden Smith.
Plus he prefers the run game, which certainly helps Auburn’s case.
“That’d be the best combination,” Agasiva said. “That’s most definitely a fit. I really like the run game.”
During his visit, quarterback Tyler Queen served as Agasiva’s player host. You might be thinking: what does Queen have in common with a junior college offensive lineman from Hawaii?
Well, apparently enough.
“That’s my man,” Agasiva said.
— Jordan Agasiva (@Jagasiva79) September 25, 2016
Tyree Owens: Auburn in top 2, Texas A&M visit Oct. 7
It occurred to Owens during the Tiger Walk just how much football means to Auburn fans. Waiting for coaches and players to enter the stadium, a few strangers walked up to Owens and let him know they wanted him to join the Auburn defensive line.
Admittedly, he was caught off guard by the fact they knew who he was. But that was a major draw for the JUCO defensive lineman from Copiah-Lincoln C.C. (Miss.).
“It’s really just an amazing place. It’s a great atmosphere football-wise. I had people sitting there telling me as I’m waiting for Coach Malzahn to come in for the Tiger Walk, ‘Oh, we need you.’ They already knew who I was. It was just crazy,” Owens said. “There were just sitting there, ‘Come on Tyree, we need you.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know you, but all right, though.’”
It made Owens feel welcomed, a recurring theme throughout his first game day in town. This was Owens’ second time on campus, the first coming for a camp when he received his offer.
This trip proved to be as fruitful as the first, which is a positive sign for Auburn, as the Tigers await his expected mid-October decision date. Before that choices comes, however, Owens has another big official visit to make — to Texas A&M on Oct. 7.
So far, Owens has visited Kentucky and Auburn. He likes both. But Owens has Auburn and Texas A&M on top right now jostling for the 6-foot-5, 295-pound defensive end.
“The two that are definitely leading the pack would be A&M and Auburn,” Owens said. “I’d say my top 2 would be Auburn and Texas A&M. But things are susceptible to change.”
Owens plans on releasing his official top 5 within the next 24 to 48 hours. Either way, he already feels confident the Tigers and Aggies will have a clear advantage over other suitors that include Kentucky and Mississippi State.
At Auburn, Owens feels comfortable with defensive line coach Rodney Garner, who Owens’ position coach at Co-Lin has full faith in — a major factor. That is what has Texas A&M firmly in the mix, as well, thanks to the relationship with defensive tackles coach David Turner.
This weekend, though, it was all about building that bond with Garner and finding out where he fits into the defensive scheme. Garner likened Owens to former Auburn standout Dee Ford, a praise-worthy comparison.
“They’re just telling me how they really need me. They don’t just want me,” Owens said. “With the way he rotates players, I’ll always be fresh. He was just talking about Dee Ford. He wants me playing a lower amount of snaps, but his production was up because he was fresh. That was a really big thing.”
Owens described the Auburn-LSU game itself as “nuts.”
“They were winning all of a sudden and then the ending, it just had me going wild,” Owens said. “I was like, ‘Man, they just lost like that?’ Then it got overturned. I haven’t seen anything like that.”
For now, Auburn appears to be in a comfortable spot. But with two weeks between now and his A&M visit, things could heat up elsewhere. Plus, the Tigers will have to battle the Aggies, who will get the final chance to woo Owens on campus.
He’s excited to see the Kyle Field environment, which — based on his desire to have a strong fan base — could play a key role in his decision.
“The fans are big for me. I’d love to have a huge fan group, people to back me,” Owens said. “Their stadium holds 105,000 people in the stadium. I know their fan group must be just crazy.”
The only difference: Owens isn’t entirely sure where he will fit into Texas A&M’s scheme. That question was answered during his Auburn visit, with Garner’s comparison to Ford. But he’s been told inside and outside defensive line responsibilities are a possibility for the Aggies.
With the defensive tackle coach recruiting him, that might be where Texas A&M tries to put him, even though Owens has told SEC Country he likes to come off the edge. Though he’s a self-described run-stopper, so an inside role — paired with his size — might be a better fit.
It all remains to be seen, but answers will come soon after his Oct. 7 visit to College Station, Texas.
— JuCo Football Forer (@JuCoFootballACE) September 24, 2016