After a year where there were very few AU/Bama battles on the recruiting trail, 2018 appears to hold plenty of Iron Bowl matchups.
Sharing the same state typically leads to clashes on the recruiting trail but the 2017 cycle didn’t really feature too many confrontations between Alabama and Auburn. The few battles that did occur were pretty much over by the start of the 2016 season. 4* CB Malcolm Askew and 4* LB Tadarian Moultry both committed early to Auburn, thanks in part to the lack of communication with Alabama. On the other hand, 5* DE LaBryan Ray and 4* WR Henry Ruggs never really seemed that interested in Auburn. Really the only close battles were over 4* LB Markail Benton and 4* OT Austin Troxell. The Tigers landed Troxell while Benton joined the Reuben Foster/Rashaan Evans train out of the Auburn-Opelika area to Tuscaloosa. The Tigers made a late push for Benton but it fell short and Alabama tried to get back in it with Moultry later in the year but it was too late by that point. All in all, it was a relatively tame year in terms of head to head recruiting battles between the two schools.
Not the case in 2018. In the early going, it appears there will be plenty of battles between Auburn and Alabama for top recruits both instate and out of state. Here’s a list of recruits that appear to have the Tigers and Tide in their top 3-5:
- 4* WR Justyn Ross - #27 OVR, #1 AL
- 4* LB JJ Peterson - #35 OVR, #1 OLB
- 4* OT William Barnes - #45 OVR, #4 OT
- 4* WR Seth Williams - #112 OVR, #3 AL
- 4* CB Jalyn Armour-Davis - #128 OVR, #4 AL
- 4* ATH Kyler McMichael - #142 OVR, #5 ATH
- 4* LB Quay Walker - #196 OVR, #11 OLB
- 4* RB Asa Martin - #215 OVR, #5 AL
- 4* RB Harold Joiner - #223 OVR, #6 AL
- 4* S Myles Mason - #255 OVR, #8 AL
- 4* DT Coynis Miller - #276 OVR, #9 AL
- 3* DE Andres Fox - #14 AL
- 3* ATH Richard Jibunor - #26 ATH
That’s a lot of names and there’s a chance I am missing some as well. Now, not all of these are strictly AU/BAMA battles. Barnes and Copeland are probably Florida leans and both Auburn and Alabama are chasing LSU right now for Harold Joiner. However, all of these guys probably have both Auburn and Alabama in their top 5, some in their top 2 or 3.
Given how historically these battles have gone, this might not be a good sign for Auburn’s hopes in the 2018 recruiting class. After all, the Tide have signed the #1 player in the state, according to the 247 Composite, every year but one since Nick Saban quit the NFL. Their only miss was on Jameis Winston who signed with Florida State. Auburn has only once signed more 247 composite top 10 instate players than Alabama and that came after the magical 2010 season. Typically, the Tide come out on top in these battles which doesn’t bode well for the Tigers.
However, it’s not like Auburn never wins any of these recruiting battles. AU has recently beat the Tide out for guys like Marlon Davidson, Tre Williams, Roc Thomas and Derrick Brown, so it can be done. Auburn also appears to be off to a strong start, especially in state, in 2018 due to the fact that the Tigers were one of the first Power 5 schools to offer guys like Coynis Miller, Jalyn Armour-Davis and Andres Fox. Jumping on these guys early has allowed Auburn to build strong relationships with these prospects which hopefully lead to commitments. In fact, if National Signing Day were today I believe Auburn would land Ross, Williams, Armour-Davis, Martin, Mason, Fox and Jibunor. That would mean the Tigers signed more instate top 10 prospects than the Tide. The problem is NSD is a very long ways away and typically Auburn looks good for guys early on (see Markail Benton, Rashaan Evans, TJ Yeldon, Daron Payne, etc) only to end up losing out later.
In the end, I think the Tigers will get their fair share but a lot of it is going to come down to how good Auburn looks on the field. A strong 2017 season will bolster the staff’s message of an improved program and give the Tigers some real momentum on the trail. Auburn can’t afford another lackluster year on the field. Malzahn not only has a chance to do some special things on the field in 2017, but he could also do some big things off the field in the 2018 class. More than likely Alabama will end up with a higher rated class than Auburn again but maybe the Tigers can win a few more crucial recruiting battles which in turn could help them win a few more Iron Bowls.
RB Target Narrows List
3* RB Master Teague announced his top 3 today:
This is our top 3. After this announcement we will go silent for a time except w/ coaches & in-person questions. Thanks for understanding. http://pic.twitter.com/IkBsJzvAWr— Corey & Emily Teague (@DrCoreyMTeague) May 17, 2017
The Murfreesboro, TN native is one of Auburn’s top running back targets this cycle and is set to choose between Auburn, Georgia, and Tennessee sometime this summer. A week ago, I felt really good about the Tigers landing the talented back. However, just yesterday 247’s National Recruiting expert, Steve Wiltfong, put in a Crystal Ball for UGA. Since then more trusted names like UGA insider Kipp Adams, 247 recruiting analyst Barton Simmons and even SB Nation’s Bud Elliot have all followed suit. A glimmer of hope is Auburn insider Keith Niebuhr still has his pick on Auburn as does South Carolina insider and national analyst JC Shurburtt but it’s clear this is no slam dunk right now.
Personally, I think Teague is the 4th best running back this cycle behind Zamir White, Lorenzo Lingard, and James Cook. He’s 5’11”, 210 lbs with quick feet, great vision, and outstanding balance. I have said it before but I think he’s the perfect fit for Auburn’s system and would be a huge win for this staff. The Tigers have some work to do to land his commit but making the top 3 cut today is obviously a good next step.
Auburn sent out quite a few offers the past few days turning what was a pretty quiet week into a much busier one. Interestingly enough, two of them were to tight ends in the Atlanta area. It appears Auburn is still sorting out the TE board in 2018. Here’s who I know have landed Auburn offers this past week:
- 4* LB Dax Hollifield - North Carolina is putting out some great talent this year and Hollifield is just another name on that list. This kid is a tackling machine and I am impressed at his consistent ability to take great angles to the ball. Not quite sure how big of a factor Auburn will play in his recruitment.
- 3* TE Tommy Tremble - Another week, another TE offer. I believe Tremble is an UGA legacy. He looks like a big wide receiver more than a prototypical tight end.
- 3* ATH James Graham - Graham is listed as a QB on 247 but he is probably being recruited as an athlete by Auburn. This kid is explosive with the ball in his hands and I think could even play RB at the next level.
- 3* TE John FitzPatrick - It was a busy week for FitzPatrick landing a ton offers including ones from Alabama, Florida, Louisville and also Auburn. He’s a massive dude at 6’6” 230 lbs with outstanding hands.
- 2019 DE Nolan Smith (UGA Commit) - Smith is a freak. He tested off the charts at the Nike Opening regional and his tape if fun to watch. He transferred to IMG Academy where he will be rotating with 5* Xavier Thomas and 4* Stephon Wynn. Pray for their opposing QBs.
- 2019 ATH Joshua Sanguinetti - Very talented athlete who will probably play DB at the next level.
- 2020 RB Mecose Todd - Could not find any tape on this kid but he already has offers from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and now Auburn.
- I somehow forgot last week to link SECCountry’s Q&A with 2017 LB signee Tadarian Moultry. This kid is going to be special at Auburn and don’t be surprised if he ends up being Auburn’s pass rush answer.
- Keith Niebuhr has another slideshow up reviewing Crystal Ball picks on top Auburn targets. He is a must follow for Auburn recruiting fans.
- Looks like the winds might be changing in Auburn’s favor for 4* RB Asa Martin. He’s had Florida as his leader for a few months now but visiting Auburn this past weekend, which included checking out Gus Malzahn’s sweet ride, he tells Rivals he’s not so sure he has a #1 team anymore.
- I still don’t have a great feel on Auburn’s safety board outside of Quindarious Monday but it’s starting to look like 3* Joseph Foucha out of New Orleans is pretty high up there for Greg Brown. This kid is a playmaker and much better than that 3* rating.
- 4* LB Dallas Gant committed to Ohio State this week. Why do Auburn fans care? Well, that’s one more spot filled in the Buckeyes class which could mean they might not have room for 3* LB Michael Harris who I talked about last week. Unfortunately, it’s starting to sound like 5* Teradja Mitchell is trending back to Florida State which could mean the Buckeyes have room after all. This is definitely something to follow.
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