4-star safety C.J. Avery will officially visit Auburn despite not listing Tigers in top 5
The story of C.J. Avery’s connection to Auburn starts with his father.
Avery’s father, Chris, played his college ball at Kentucky State in the late 1990s before enjoying a decade-long arena football career. While at Kentucky State, the elder Avery’s position coach was none other than Wesley McGriff.
Nearly two decades later, C.J. Avery — a 4-star safety from Grenada (Miss.) — is drawn to his father’s college coach.
“He’s a great coach, man. He’s a player’s coach. He definitely is going to get everything out of you day in and day out,” Avery said of McGriff. “Coach McGriff, he’s my father’s coach. That made me think about Auburn.”
McGriff has obviously put in some solid work lately. When Avery released his top 5 on July 29, the schools included were Ole Miss, Florida State, Clemson, Louisville and Mississippi State.
No Auburn, no problem.
In the weeks since, Avery attended the Auburn-Clemson game on an unofficial visit. McGriff assured Avery he wouldn’t stop recruiting him despite the Auburn’s absence in his top 5.
That didn’t scare away Avery. It did the opposite, which is a big reason why Auburn landed an official visit this Saturday when the Tigers take on LSU.
“They recruited me really hard even after I released my top 5,” Avery said. “But it’s more like a family connection with him. I’d have to say Auburn has jumped into that top group.”
McGriff’s connection to the next level appeals to Avery, too. Coming from the NFL, that’s a major conversation point between player and coach.
“Whenever he talks to me, he tells me, ‘I can get you to the NFL. I’m going to coach you to get to the NFL.’ I believe him,” Avery said.
This official visit to Auburn will be Avery’s second of the season. He attended the Cal game last weekend, which happened to coincide with the official visit of Auburn commit Malcolm Askew. The tandem primarily “just enjoyed the California life,” but Avery said they watched a little of the Auburn game together.
fresh off trip to Cal, four-star Grenada safety C.J. Avery will take an official visit to Auburn this weekend
— Will Sammon (@WillSammon) September 19, 2016
Avery will also try to take official visits to Louisville and Clemson before making his decision. This weekend, however, will be all about Auburn.
“I’m just trying to get up there and get with some of the guys in the secondary and see what type of guys they are,” Avery said. “Those are the guys I’ll be playing with the next 3-4 years if I did come there.”
The Tigers already have a pair of 3-star safeties for 2017 in Carlito Gonzalez and Jordyn Peters. Still, Auburn won’t balk at a opportunity to land a player of Avery’s caliber, especially since it appears out of the mix for 4-star safety Xavier McKinney, who left Auburn off his official visit list.
3-star JUCO lineman Tyree Owens preps for official visit
Tyree Owens has only made one trip to Auburn, and that turned out to be a fruitful visit.
On that July 16 visit, Owens participated in a Tigers camp. That same day, the No. 5 overall JUCO defensive end from Copiah-Lincoln C.C. picked up an offer from the Auburn staff.
Owens will return for his second visit to Auburn on Saturday — this time for an official one.
“After they offered, I saw them as a top school. It’s Auburn. I saw them as a top school. I wanted to be able to get a better feel of it,” Owens said. “When I was at the camp, I wanted to be able to look around a little bit.”
The 3-star defensive end has blossomed from a smaller pass rusher to a 6-foot-5, 295-pound run stopper. Owens said he’s dropped his weight a little bit now that the Co-Lin season is underway as a way to gravitate back to his pass-rushing skill set.
As noted regularly, Auburn doesn’t have any defensive line commits in the 2017 class. That is for a wide variety of reasons — thin class at the position, Auburn’s current 11-man rotation at the position and the youth of Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown.
As Owens put it: “D-lineman isn’t really a need for them, more of a want.”
— Tyree (@therealTO8) September 22, 2016
But he sees Auburn as a good fit. The Tigers will score the second of Owens’ three official visits. He watched Kentucky last week and will visit Texas A&M on Oct. 7. Owens wants to make his decision right after that visit.
“I feel these three were the main officials I wanted to take,” Owens said. “I was going to try to fit one more in next week, but I just wasn’t able to with their schedule. I’m going to go to these ones and go ahead and commit and look forward to going to the next school.”
That’s not to say other schools aren’t in the mix. Mississippi State, especially, is in contention. The Bulldogs’ proximity to Co-Lin has given Owens plenty of opportunities to watch them.
The same can’t be said for Auburn, a major purpose for this weekend’s official visit. His conversations with Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Garner have picked up from once a week to every other day with his impending visit.
That personal time with Garner will be a factor in guiding Owens’ decision.
“I haven’t gotten that much chance to watch, which is why I wanted to get over and see it in person,” he said. “I didn’t get a chance to have 1-on-1 time with the coach G (at the camp). I figured this would be a good idea to see what he’s like, see how they play, to watch their defense to see where I’d fit in.”
Auburn, as noted, has zero defensive line commits. As of now, Owens appears to be the lineman committing soonest. After his Texas A&M visit in two weeks, the Tigers will have their eyes on potentially their first defensive lineman of the 2017 class.
Chandler Wooten to receive Under Armour All-America game jersey
When I last spoke with Chandler Wooten on the record, we talked about his 3-star status. He doesn’t think of himself that way (nor do I), and obviously several coaches don’t either, considering his abundant offer sheet.
But he doesn’t let that rating bother him.
“I don’t really even care to be honest. In my eyes, I’m a 5. In a lot of other people’s eyes, I’m a 4 or 5,” the Auburn commit said. “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.”
On Thursday, Wooten will officially add ESPN and Under Armour to those entities that disagree with his 3-star rating.
It’s been in the works for a while, but Wooten will receive his official game jersey for the 2017 Under Armour All-America Game, which will take place on Jan. 1. ESPN Recruiting selects 100 players in the nation to participate in the annual high school all-star game.
Wooten’s jersey presentation will take place at North Cobb High (Ga.) on Thursday with family, friends and Under Armour All-America representatives in attendance.
SEC Country will also be there, of course. We will have a Facebook Live Q&A session with Wooten following his 1:20 p.m. ceremony, so make sure to join us on the Auburn Insiders page Thursday afternoon to chat with a future Auburn linebacker.
Get your questions ready for mailbag, Facebook Live
It will be a Facebook Live-filled day on SEC Country’s Auburn page.
There will be the Wooten chat following his 1:20 p.m. ceremony, but I’ll also be holding my weekly Auburn recruiting live chat at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on the Auburn Insiders account. We’ve had a great turnout for these during the first two weeks, so let’s continue that. I thoroughly enjoy them, and I hope you do. too. If you don’t, tell me why and I’ll work to improve.
Come with questions, comments and popcorn. Every week!
Speaking of questions, I want to begin a weekly Auburn recruiting mailbag.
I would also like to do this with Auburn recruiting: email firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter me. https://t.co/49g6bNutso
— Benjamin Wolk (@benjaminwolk) September 21, 2016
My esteemed colleague Justin Ferguson wants to do a team mailbag, and I want to do a recruiting one. This can be any recruiting-related question — potential commits, areas of concern, how coaching changes could alter the class, etc.
If you have a question, and I know you do, please email me (email@example.com), tweet me (@benjaminwolk) or leave a message/comment directed at Benjamin Wolk on the Auburn Insiders Facebook page. My Twitter direct messages are open, at my own peril, so that’s an effective method.
I don’t want this to be a formulaic mailbag. I want it to be fun. Bring some creativity to your questions, and I’ll try my best to reciprocate that.