Thursday, January 21, 2021

Auburn football rumors: Is Big Kat Bryant coming back?

Yesterday, we reported that Big Kat Bryant deleted his Twitter announcement committing to the University of Tennessee. Today, in more social media shenanigans, Big Kat may have just announced his return to Auburn football: Big Kat back? (Via @SethWRLD_) — The Jboy Show (@thejboyshow) January 22, 2021 After declaring his plans to attend Tennessee […]

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Auburn football: Offensive lineman Kamaar Bell to enter transfer portal

As of today, a member of the Auburn football program’s reserve offensive line has put his name into the NCAA transfer portal according to Matt Zenitz of Kamaar Bell, a 3-star recruit, was a member of the Tigers’ 2019 class. Bell played in only one game for the Tigers, making his debut at Jordan-Hare […]

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LOCKED ON AUBURN: Eli Stove joins the show, Auburn Basketball Recap

Auburn v South Carolina
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

On today’s Locked On Auburn, Zac Blackerby is joined by former Auburn wide receiver Eli Stove. The guys discuss his time at Auburn, what his path to the NFL looks like, and the future of Auburn’s offense.

Blackerby then recaps Auburn basketball’s loss to Arkansas and touches on some stories related to Auburn football.

You can hear the full podcast below.

You can hear Locked On Auburn on College and Mag wherever you get your podcasts.

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Auburn football: Fans and players react to Bert Watts hire

The Auburn football coaching staff has filled every vacancy now that Bert Watts has been named the special teams coordinator/outside linebackers coach. Bryan Harsin’s first (and, if all goes well, longtime) coaching staff is a mix of familiar faces from Boise State, opposing SEC schools, and holdovers from Gus Malzahn’s staff (and thus, familiar faces […]

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Auburn Basketball Review: Episode 3

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Auburn football: Bryan Harsin hires Bert Watts to complete staff

As of today, Auburn football head coach Bryan Harsin has completed his first coaching staff with the hiring of his tenth assistant: Bert Watts. Source: Auburn is expected to hire Bert Watts to round out Bryan Harsin’s on-field staff. Watts spent last season as Memphis’ linebackers coach, and before that was Fresno State’s DC for […]

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Bryan Harsin’s Inaugural Staff Is Complete

California v Michigan State
Photo by Danny Moloshok/Getty Images

Auburn’s 2021 coaching staff is finally complete.

“Do you want it done right, or do you want it done right now?”

That’s long been one of Bryan Harsin’s mantras and an idea in action that Auburn fans have experienced over the past few weeks while the Tigers new head coach built out his 2021 coaching staff. That long and not very visible process is finally complete with the hiring of Memphis linebackers coach and former Fresno State defensive coordinator Bert Watts.

He will reportedly serve as Auburn’s OLB coach and special teams coordinator in 2021.

Watts played at Cal in the early 2000s leading the team in tackles in 2002. He bounced around to a number of different gigs early in his career including stints in high school in Florida and the NFL before landing the DC job at UC Davis. He was hired to coach linebackers at Fresno State in 2017 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2018. That season, the Bulldogs finished ranked #12 on defense per SP+ on their way to a Mountain West Championship which included a victory of Bryan Harsin in the title game.

That also means that Auburn fan favorite and long time linebacker coach Travis Williams will not be returning to the Plains this fall. It will be interesting to see where T-WILL lands especially if it’s in the SEC. New coaches Jeff Schmedding and Bert Watts will be under a lot of scrutiny from Auburn fans heading into the 2022 recruiting cycle.

Here’s the final breakdown of Auburn’s 2021 on field coaching staff.

  • Head Coach: Bryan Harsin
  • Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks: Mike Bobo
  • Running Backs: Carnell Williams
  • Wide Receivers: Cornelius Williams
  • Tight Ends: Brad Bedell
  • Offensive Line: Will Friend
  • Defensive Coordinator/Safeties: Derek Mason
  • Run Game Coordinator/Inside Linebackers: Jeff Schmedding
  • Defensive Line: Tracy Rocker
  • Outside Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator: Bert Watts
  • Cornerbacks: Zac Etheridge

War Eagle!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Arkansas 75, Auburn 73

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GAME RECAP: Arkansas 75, Auburn 73

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Auburn
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

A poor second half and a bacon-y rally give Auburn a painful road loss.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, wrote a wise man quite a few years ago in his book The Tale of Two Cities. This was the tale of two halves as Auburn rolled up a huge lead in the first half at Bud Walton Arena and watched helplessly as Arkansas erased it to score the season sweep of the Tigers, winning 75-73.

While Sharife Cooper was the centerpiece of Auburn’s offense, finishing with 25 points, he had little help and was partially taken out of commission with a concerted double team effort throughout the second half. Arkansas got a huge performance from Desi Sills, who provided the emotional support as well as on-court offense with 22 points.

Auburn came out on fire in a place where they haven’t had a ton of success. Jamal Johnson’s three a minute in gave the Tigers a lead they’d keep for the next 26 minutes, and the road blues kept pouring it on after that. Another field goal from Johnson gave the Tigers a 7-6 lead at the first media timeout, but Auburn would create separation with hard defense and a smooth percentage from the floor. Johnson’s second three doubled the Hogs at 12-6, and back-to-back buckets by Allen Flanigan and Sharife Cooper pushed Auburn’s edge to 21-8 at the midway point of the first half.

The lead kept increasing steadily as we neared halftime, with Auburn pushing it to 16 points on a dunk by Dylan Cardwell with seven minutes remaining, and then it hit the largest lead of the game at 19 points on Cooper’s second triple with 4:17 left and Auburn up 37-18. After that, the tone changed completely in favor or Arkansas.

First, the Razorbacks got two buckets from Jalen Tate in a short span, the second of which came from downtown and cut the margin to 13 points. Arkansas would slice the lead to an even 10 points, but Cooper hit a pair of foul shots in the closing seconds to give Auburn a 43-31 lead at the break.

Out of halftime, it was all Arkansas. A three from Jaylin Williams (Arkansas’, not Auburn’s) and a three-point play from Desi Sills brought Arkansas back withina. 45-41 deficit, before Jalen Tate’s jumped tied the ballgame at 47-47 with 15:02 left to play. The Hogs had run out a 16-4 run to start the half in knotting the contest. They took their first lead on a Jaylin Williams dunk moments later, but the lead pinballed back and forth over the next few minutes.

Auburn got a pair of threes from Javon Franklin to help a tepid offensive stretch, but Arkansas started to create a little room with Desi Sills attacking in the paint. His two foul shots gave the Hogs a 60-56 lead, and Auburn’s 17th turnover gave the ball back to Arkansas as we hit the under-8 timeout of the second half. After Arkansas had built a 66-60 edge, J.T. Thor hit a monster three to keep Auburn in it, and Sharife Cooper’s two foul shots pulled the Tigers within a 68-65 deficit, but Arkansas led 70-65 at the final timeout of the game.

The lead continued to grow, getting up to a 74-66 ballgame with 2:40 to play, but Auburn hung around and strung together a 5-0 run in the next minute. Eric Musselman called timeout after J.T. Thor stripped Davonte Davis, leading to a Cooper follow bucket to pull within one basket at the 1:41 mark. Cooper followed with a strong drive after a Razorback miss to cut the lead to 74-73 as the final minute ticked past, but his last second drive and shot fell off the mark in heavy traffic with just two seconds remaining.

In the end, Arkansas went from shooting 39% in the first half to shooting over 60% in the second half, while getting more aggressive on defense. Meanwhile, Auburn did just the opposite, shooting 59% in the first half before dropping down near 30% for the final frame. Auburn also had more trouble with turnovers, despite the odd relativity of 12 turnovers in the very successful first half, and fewer in the poor second half. The double team of Sharife Cooper was the key on defense for Arkansas, as once again Auburn didn’t have a reliable second piece of offense tonight. After Allen Flanigan finished with a career-high against Kentucky, he all but disappeared tonight. The Tigers desperately need Justin Powell to return from injury to give Auburn that extra weapon.


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Auburn football: Tigers extend offer to Jordan Moko

National Signing Day is two weeks away and Auburn football is still looking to fill 13 open spots–one of which could be filled by Jordan Moko. One of Auburn football’s newest hires did his first bit of recruiting work for the Tigers: After a great conversation with @CoachWillFriend I’m blessed to receive an offer from […]

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Auburn at Arkansas Game Preview and Open Thread

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Auburn
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn heads to Fayetteville looking to even the season series.

Wednesday January 20, 2021

Auburn Tigers at Arkansas Razorbacks

Bud Walton Arena - Fayetteville, Arkansas

Time: 8 PM

Network: SEC Network, Auburn Radio Network

Three weeks ago in the SEC Opener, Arkansas came into Auburn Arena and overcame 15 3-pointers in a 97-85 win over the Tigers. Tonight, Auburn looks to return the favor. Auburn has won their last 2 games over Georgia and Kentucky after an 0-4 start to the SEC. Sharife Cooper has made a, as expected, dramatic difference on the state of this basketball team, averaging 21.7 PPG along with 9.7 APG.

Let’s Get Reacquainted (Arkansas)

While things have been looking up lately for the Tigers, the same cannot be said for the Hogs. Arkansas comes into tonight’s game having lost 4 of their last 5 games since beating Auburn and sit, like Auburn, at 2-4 in SEC play. Their lone win was against Georgia by 30 and lost at home to Missouri and narrowly to Tennessee in Knoxville. Then last week was a rough one as Arkansas lost by 16 at LSU and then by 31 at Alabama on Saturday.

Moses Moody - 17.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG

Moody had 16 points and 6 rebounds in the first game. He was the lone bright spot against Alabama scoring a career high 28 points and also had 9 rebounds. Moody is shooting 38.9% from 3 and has one-and-done potential.

JD Notae - 15.1 PPG

Notae had 21 points against the Tigers in the first matchup.

Desi Sills - 11.3 PPG

Sills had a season high 23 points in the win over Auburn back on 12/30.

Justin Smith - 10.9 PPG

The Indiana transfer got hurt early in the first matchup but returned on Saturday against Alabama.

Jalen Tate - 10.4 PPG

Tate had 12 points and 4 assists against Auburn.

Connor Vanover - 7.5 PPG

The 7’3” center had his best performance in SEC play against the Tigers going for 17 points and 7 rebounds. He has played less than 10 minutes over the last 3 games and came out of the starting lineup against the Tide.

Keys for Auburn

Since the start of the 2015-2016 season, the Tigers are 14-2 in games where they make 15+ 3s in a game. As for the two losses: 2019 at LSU and the team’s previous matchup 3 weeks ago. Auburn was 15-29 in the game. I don’t see Auburn making 15 3s in this one but it would be nice to see the Tigers shoot a respectable percentage from distance tonight.

Auburn has struggled from 3 over the last 3 games shooting just 16-71 from distance (22.5%). The Tigers will have Sharife Cooper for this matchup and the one area he has struggled with so far is 3-point shooting. He is just 1-16 from 3-point range in the 3 games he has played so far this year.

It’s a homecoming for a trio of Tigers as Allen Flanigan, Chris Moore and Javon Franklin return to their home state for this one.

Flanigan is coming off a career high 21 points and also had 9 rebounds against Kentucky. He had his first career double-double in the previous meeting scoring 19 points and 10 rebounds. Josh Vitale had a great article about his leap from Year 1 to Year 2 earlier this week.

Chris Moore has missed the last few games due to a wrist injury but hopefully Auburn will get him back tonight to help provide Auburn with even more bench production. Javon Franklin should get some minutes as well as he has the last several games.

Speaking of bench production, Devan Cambridge has scored in double figures in all 3 games off the bench and knocked down a trio of 3-pointers against the Cats.

J.T. Thor had a stretch between the 4-8 minute mark that showed the potential he has to be a NBA player. He was dominant on both ends of the floor including steals on back to back possessions as Auburn stretched the lead out to 10 with about 5 minutes to go. As Thor continues to click, it makes this team even more dangerous going forward.


These teams are moving in opposite directions at the moment but this is a must win for Arkansas if they want to continue their NCAA Tournament aspirations. Auburn just has to worry about player development and winning games at this point. The Tigers came back to win a rare game at Bud Walton last year thanks to the #55 jersey worn by J’Von McCormick in a thrilling OT win.

Auburn had a combined 12 turnovers between Flanigan and Justin Powell, the two guys who ran the Point for Auburn in the previous matchup. Having Cooper will make a difference and I like the way the Tigers are playing right now so while I don’t have a ton of confidence with this pick, I’m going with Auburn.

Auburn 81 Arkansas 75

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Auburn football: The Big Kat Bryant saga takes another wild turn

Former Auburn football defensive end Big Kat Bryant’s transfer saga took another turn on Tuesday, with the new Volunteer taking down his post celebrating his move to Knoxville. The recent Tennessee coaching drama on Rocky Top makes the 2020 Auburn football coaching snafu a distant and tame memory in comparison. Jeremy Pruitt getting fired and […]

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Auburn Football Recruiting: Tigers Making Moves

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Auburn
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn’s new coaching staff is looking to close strong over the next two weeks.

National Signing Day is two weeks away and Auburn’s new coaching staff has plenty of work to do. The Tigers only signed 11 players in the Early Signing Period leaving 13 spots left to fill in this 2021 class (Oscar Chapman’s blueshirt counts against this year’s number).

While this is a transition class for Harsin and should not be used as an indicator for how well he can or cannot recruit, a strong close would be a nice way to start his tenure. There’s also the fact that you don’t want a massive talent gap in your roster due to a lost year.

The talent pool is quite shallow following December but there are still a handful of SEC caliber recruits available to sign. There’s also the transfer portal which I expect Harsin to use pretty extensively this off-season though it should be noted the penalty free one time transfer rule decision appears to have been punted to 2022 likely shrinking that talent pool as well.

Still, I expect Auburn’s 2021 class to end up being pretty solid. If a few of these final recruiting battles go the Tigers way, they should climb back into the top 20.

Running Back Reload

Auburn entered last spring with six running backs on roster in JaTarvious Whitlow, Shaun Shivers, D.J. Williams, Harold Joiner, Mark-Antony Richards and Tank Bigsby. Only two remain in Tank and Worm.

That’s a small room for any offense but especially for one that is expected to lean heavily on the ground game. While both Harsin and new Auburn offensive coordinator Mike Bobo have a history of productive passing attacks, both believe in establishing a strong ground game in order to attack teams deep with play action. They need to restock that room fast with playmakers.

Given those number concerns, it’s highly likely Auburn will sign someone from the portal. In particular, AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr reports that former Texas running back Keontay Ingram is a name Auburn fans should be keeping an eye on. Ingram missed much of this season with an ankle injury but was an integral part of Texas’s attack in 2019 rushing for 853 yards and 7 touchdowns while catching 29 passes for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns. He’s a big back at 6’0” 233 lbs with impressive explosion and lateral quickness. He’d be a perfect #2 punch to Tank in 2021 if he were to sign with Auburn and get a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately.

Auburn will also be looking at the prep ranks for RB help. Heading into this late period I had my eyes on four prospects: 4-star Byron Cardwell, 4-star Ke’Travion Hargrove, 3-star Jaylin White, and 3-star Jarquez Hunter. In recent days, Auburn has offered two of them.

Two days after being retained, Carnell Williams offered Hunter.

Hunter’s had a highly productive high school career in Mississippi rushing for nearly 6,000 yards and just under 80 touchdowns. He’s a tremendous athlete who does a little of everything for Neshoba Central from running the ball, to sacking quarterbacks, to even returning punts. A handful of other programs are attempting to jump in late as well including Iowa but it would be a shock at this point if Hunter didn’t end up on the Plains.

The other offer went out to California native Byron Cardwell.

In Harsin’s introductory press conference he made it clear that Auburn would not be afraid to go anywhere to get talent. It hasn’t taken long for Harsin to back up his words.

Cardwell is a 6’0” 203 lb back with big time burst and impressive vision. He was unable to play his senior season due to COVID but this is a kid with the ability to step on campus day 1 and contribute. The distance from the Plains is reportedly not a sticking point for him and his mother is actually originally from Alabama. The Tigers have joined his top group of Cal, Oregon, USC and Texas A&M. UCLA and Florida are also involved. Let’s see if Cadillac can close on the nation’s #8 ranked RB.

Tennessee Fall Out

The Tennessee athletic administration chose a unique way to celebrate MLK Day. They decided to fire their head coach for cause following an investigation they themselves started in order to unearth recruiting violations to justify not having to pay Jeremy Pruitt’s buyout.

Unique tribute...

But one program’s dumpster fire is another man’s late recruiting wins and there’s a very good chance the Tigers could pounce on this opportunity starting with an offensive tackle prospect. 3-star OT Colby Smith announced his decommitment not long after the Pruitt news.

Smith committed to Tennessee back in May when Will Friend was still the Volunteers OL coach. Now on the Plains, it hasn’t taken long for Friend to reach back out to his old commit and Auburn is now a top contender. The 6’7” 270 lber is also considering the instate Tar Heels so this is far from a slam dunk but would be a nice late addition to the Tigers 2021 class. A class that currently only has one offensive line commit.

But that’s not the only damage so far for the Vols. Former Auburn target 4-star DE/OLB Dylan Brooks signed with Tennessee in December after getting assurance that Jeremy Pruitt would be his head coach. Following Pruitt’s firing, Brooks has reportedly asked to be released from his National Letter of Intent.

I suspect Tennessee will agree which would allow teams to once again recruit the top 100 prospect. If he’s available to sign again on NSD you really have to like Auburn’s chances. The Tigers struck out on every major pass rushing target this cycle but might now have a 2nd chance at one of those targets.

I am also keeping my eye on a handful of other Tennessee signees and commits in 4-star RB Cody Brown, 4-star WR Julian Nixon, 3-star WR/TE Roc Taylor, and 3-star DE/OLB Byron Young. I don’t expect all of them to end up leaving Tennessee for Auburn but if any decide to reopen things, the Tigers could be a top contender.

Top Remaining 2021 Targets

Here’s a quick rundown on the remaining targets in the 2021 class to know:

  • 4-star LB Trevin Wallace - Wallace was one of the first prospects Harsin contacted after being hired. While not retaining Travis Williams would be a blow in this recruitment it would not be a death knell. Harsin, Derek Mason and Jeff Schmedding are all hard after the Georgia native and the Tigers are still in a good position to sign the playmaker.
  • 3-star WR Tar’Varish Dawson - Long time Auburn commit Tar’varish Dawson made the understandable decision to hold off signing early after Gus Malzahn’s firing. He’s now become one of the most sought after prospects in the late period earning offers from a number of high profile suitors including Florida State, Texas A&M and Mississippi State. The Aggies in particular are the team to watch but Harsin has made Dawson a top priority. As of today, I think he sticks.
  • 3-star DB Dontae Balfour - The news is not as positive when it comes to Balfour. The Florida native was set to sign with the Tigers in December until the coaching change. While Auburn is in his final 3 with LSU and North Carolina, it appears the Tar Heels have made a big move. There’s still time for Auburn to close the gap and retake the lead but I think UNC might be tough to beat down the stretch.
  • 3-star OT Jordan Moko - Will Friend is working hard to find Auburn some OT talent late in this cycle. Not only are the Tigers pursuing Colby Smith but have they are also after the #1 JUCO OT. Auburn offered the Australian this week and are hoping to become a factor late. Oregon, LSU and Texas A&M are considered the top contenders.
  • 3-star DB Juwon Gaston - Gaston doesn’t yet hold an Auburn offer but that could be changing soon. The standout from Montgomery, AL was one of the top performers at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game along with Auburn signee A.D. Diamond. The Gamecocks are considered the team to beat but we’ve learned already that if Harsin wants something from Shane Beamer he can get it.
  • OL Eric Wilson - Initially, Auburn appeared to be out of the race for the Harvard graduate transfer following Malzahn’s ouster but it sounds like that might not be the case. He told 247 that Auburn and Penn State are both under heavy consideration. The Nittany Lions might currently be the team to beat but the Tigers are still fighting.

There are also a handful of other names I am monitoring over these last two weeks. Players that haven’t yet announced an Auburn offer but could be targets the Tigers make late moves on in guys like 3-star CB Jadarrius Perkins, 3-star DL Jimmori Robinson, WR Latreal Jones and QB Jason Brown.

War Eagle!

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LOCKED On AUBURN: The Players Most Ready To Take A Big Step For Auburn Football In 2021

Vrbo Citrus Bowl - Auburn v Northwestern
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

On today’s Locked On Auburn, Zac Blackerby was joined by Noah Gardner of On The Line on ESPN 106.7 and Lance Dawe. Blackerby and Gardner debate who the best players will be for Auburn in taking a big step from 2020 to 2021. Lance judges it.

Blackerby’s first of five players on his list was Romello Height. Here is part of the conversation.

Blackerby: My number five is Romello Height. This is a guy that we haven’t heard much about and he is a guy that I was very high on going into the season, but I said that we were not going to see this guy as a freshman, but I do think we will see him down the road. He has a very lean frame, six foot five, and I think the sky is the limit as far as what I think he will be able to do physically as far as Auburn developing him over the course of his career. He was a three-star guy, not everyone really wanted him, but it was a big flip from Miami to Auburn on National Signing Day. And I think in passing rushing situations, he has the capability to have the size and the capability to have leverage in an odd front. We are going to see more odd fronts and he is going to play head up the tackle and I think he will have the quickness to be able to manipulate where he needs to be as far as which gap is his primary gap on any given play. I am very high on Romello Height and I think he can do a few other things if you need him to do that.

You can hear the full podcast below.

You can hear Locked On Auburn on College and Mag or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Auburn football: Odds for Gus Malzahn and Kevin Steele to be Vols HC

Two recently fired Auburn football coaches are in the running to be the next head coach at the University of Tennessee. What are Gus Malzahn’s and Kevin Steele’s odds to be Vols HC? Now–after the Auburn football program parted ways with their head coach and defensive coordinator–the Tennessee Volunteers appear to be looking at the […]

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