For the first time since the season started, Auburn became a recruiting focal point. On Wednesday, in a 30-minute span, two big-time prospects with Auburn high on their board announced to the world where they’d play their college ball.
With one, Auburn hit. With the other, Auburn whiffed. Let’s start with the good news — and the happy reactions.
Auburn got its recruiting momentum restarted when 3-star 2018 running back Shaun Shivers announced his decision to attend Auburn on a Hollywood (Fla.) radio broadcast. The announcement came less than a week after the Tigers posted a 543-yard rushing performance, but Shivers knew he liked the Tigers well before that.
Once coaches could directly contact the junior class, Shivers became a top priority. The Tigers, as they usually do (like in 2017), will likely shoot to add more running backs in this class. That’s another discussion for another notebook. But Shivers is a great place to start.
Ultimately, the decision came down to something very simple — well, simple for Shivers: speed.
#AuburnFast has resurfaced since Rhett Lashlee took over at play-caller. The Tigers’ personnel has gotten into a rhythm this fall. Most of that production has come from the running back position. Currently, two players — Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson — look to be within reach of the 1,000-yard rusher mark, which has become a staple at Auburn.
Shivers hopes to be a future name on that list.
If he is, it’ll be a fun 1,000 to watch. Shivers is the epitome of fast. His straight-line speed is obvious, and it’s a big reason why Shivers intends on playing running track at the next level — again, another discussion for another notebook. Shivers has been clocked at a 10.47 100-meter dash and an even more impressive 21.11 seconds in the 200.
The hurry-up, no-huddle style fit right in with Auburn. West Virginia and Virginia Tech — a couple other fast-pace spread offenses — also were in competition for Shivers. But the relationship with Auburn coaches proved too much to overcome, and Shivers decided he was ready to add his name to the 2018 class.
Auburn is officially beginning its infestation of the state of Florida in 2018. The Tigers have one junior college commit Daquan Newkirk, who is at Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.. He signed with the 2016 class, but had to take a JUCO detour for academic purposes.
Aside from that, Auburn is a solely Florida-based class right now. The Shivers commitment boosted the Tigers from No. 17 to No. 12 in the national team rankings. Shivers, from Chaminade-Madonna Prep (Fla.), joins quarterback Joey Gatewood of Bartram Trail (Fla.) as the focal points of the 2018 class.
How the Auburn family responded
It’s been a few months since Auburn could celebrate a commitment. The Tigers didn’t forget how it’s done.
Recruits, coaches, players, fans — you name it. The whole lot was able to congratulate Shivers on his decision, while cheering the captured recruiting momentum, which will likely begin to take a more noticeable effect in the next few weeks.
Here are some of the top reactions from Auburn family members.
The man of the hour.
— Shaun Shivers (@V8Blazing) October 26, 2016
— Shaun Shivers (@V8Blazing) October 27, 2016
— Joey Gatewood (@Joey1gatewood) October 27, 2016
— Malcolm Askew® ? (@MacAskew4) October 27, 2016
— Joey Gatewood (@Joey1gatewood) October 26, 2016
— Calvin Ashley (@whiteboii_Cali) October 27, 2016
— Carlton Davis III ™ (@Carlton_Lowkey) October 26, 2016
Florida Boy ? https://t.co/KZHCrziJU7
— Jeremiah Dinson 3⃣ (@New_EraJD3) October 27, 2016
Boom!! War Eagle!!
— Coach Gus Malzahn (@CoachGusMalzahn) October 26, 2016
— Herb Hand (@CoachHand) October 27, 2016
— Rhett Lashlee (@rhettlashlee) October 27, 2016
Why Will Ignont snubbed Auburn
You always sort of knew the 4-star linebacker from Buckhorn (Ala.) would make a splash once he finally decided.
Ignont, once considered an Alabama silent commit, often had a different leader depending on who was asking and when they were asking. At any given time, even just in the last two months, Auburn, LSU, UCLA and Ole Miss all found themselves atop that list.
Earlier this month, however, Tennessee entered the equation. Once the Vols got their foot in the door, they didn’t stop nudging the 4-star linebacker.
“I just got that feeling. I just fell in love with it immediately. I liked the campus. The facilities. The coaching staff. It just felt like a no-brainer,” Ignont told SEC Country.
As recently as Sept. 26, shortly after taking an unofficial visit to Auburn, Ignont placed the Tigers as the favorite to land his services. He gave UCLA, LSU and Ole Miss as the only teams with a legitimate chance to woo him from the Plains. But, par for the course, Ignont still had another trick up his sleeve.
Once he attended the Tennessee-Alabama game in Knoxville, it was a done deal.
The Volunteers entered as one of the hardest recruiting programs for Ignont, and that didn’t let up once conversations picked up. That helped secure Ignont in short order. So, in other words, it had more to do with what Tennessee did and less about what Auburn didn’t do.
Still, you’d probably be crazy to completely label this recruitment “over.” It’s been such an up-and-down process that there are likely still a few pieces to unfold before the Ignont recruitment is finished. For starters, Ignont still hasn’t gotten out to see UCLA, and that’s a big thing he wanted to do before committing.
Since he’s committed, Ignont still plans on going out to Los Angeles to visit the Bruins on Dec. 15. LSU also will score an official visit, when the Tigers face Alabama. LSU always was believed to be a favorite for Ignont until Les Miles was fired. Even after, Ignont still had LSU high in his mind.
That trip could be a chance to see LSU up close and personal under new head coach — at least for now — Ed Orgeron.
But it appears Auburn is out of the mix, at this point. That might be partially the Tigers’ doing. Auburn already has 4-star linebacker Tadarian Moultry and 3-star linebacker Chandler Wooten in the 2017 class. The Tigers chased those two early and landed the tandem they wanted.
Now Auburn has moved its attention to the next 1-3 guys it would like to add at linebacker. Ignont figured to be part of that list, but KJ Britt, Tyler Taylor, Monty Rice, De’Andre Wilder and Nate McBride might all be bigger wants for the Tigers at this point, which might help justify the Ignont commitment elsewhere.
Either way, Ignont’s decision marks the next domino to drop. Many more are soon to come.