Auburn recruiting mailbag: How much has offensive improvement affected recruiting outlook?

You wrote, and I answered.

Here’s the latest edition of the Auburn recruiting mailbag. After a couple 30-point SEC wins, the fan base appears to bringing a greater sense of optimism to the questions. The Tigers have the opportunity to build and work toward a top-10 class if things keep falling into place in the 2017 season.

Here’s the latest, courtesy of reader questions:

Auburn QB commit Joey Gatewood is the only quarterback in the class so far. (Benjamin Wolk/SEC Country)

@MSkotnicki: Will Auburn sign two quarterbacks in this class? Seems like with only two scholarship quarterbacks it’s a position where more are needed. If so, maybe a JUCO?

This is a good question in response to my weekend insider update including Justin Fields, who seems to be trending elsewhere for good.

Auburn made the decision to look for a second quarterback at a convenient time — right when it offered Fields. It’s easy to make the choice to take two quarterbacks when the guy you want to make your second quarterback just so happens to be the No. 1 prospect in the entire country. With no Fields, the desire for a second quarterback isn’t as high.

For starters, there aren’t many elite options left out there. My sources have told me that Auburn would take a second guy if it was someone the Tigers really, really liked. That would likely materialize over the course of the 2017 high school football season.

On top of that, the staff also has to be conscious of 2019 quarterback target Bo Nix. While three scholarship quarterbacks in 2018 might scare some, four quarterbacks on scholarship could give Nix added reason to check out other programs. It’s just something else to consider.

As far as JUCO guys, there just aren’t many capable options out there in this class. Torrance Gibson, who has visited Auburn twice this fall, might be the most likely option, but my sources have told me the Tigers aren’t showing serious interest in Gibson for now.

Auburn WR target Justyn Ross visited last weekend for the win against Mississippi State. (Benjamin Wolk/SEC Country)

@_RCB3: How has the recent offensive success gone over with recruits the past few weeks?

Much better than the performances against Clemson and Mercer went over, that’s for sure.

The truth is: Most recruits have more patience with these types of things than fans. Prospects have to play football for their own high school teams, and I’ve heard recruits on numerous occasions explain that they have their own execution issues on their teams, so they can understand the effort it takes to get out of these funks sometimes.

With that said, it’s wide receivers specifically who have been optimistic about the offensive changes. Just after the game Saturday, top wide receiver target Justyn Ross was praising the passing game, which was a sharp change from his reaction after the first couple weeks.

Alabama-Alabama recruiting-Coynis Miller
4-star DL target Coynis Miller named Florida as his recruiting leader. (Chris Kirschner/SEC Country)

@JasonLinton55: Any commit dates to look out for?

Oh yeah, and it’s a big one.

Coynis Miller will announce his decision between Auburn, Florida and Alabama on Oct. 14, which is a Saturday. Will he be at Florida or Alabama for a home game? Auburn sure hopes not.

One thing’s for sure: Miller will visit Auburn this weekend against Ole Miss. That’s huge for the Tigers in what could be their last attempt to convince Miller to rethink Florida being his leader.

Auburn recruiting-Daquan Newkirk
Auburn defensive line commit Daquan Newkirk has had a strong season so far. (Benjamin Wolk/SEC Country)

@Ellitor_AU: Has the staff identified a top cornerback target behind trying to flip Kyler McMichael?

@Ellitor_AU: With Byron Cowart gone and Antwuan Jackson leaving earlier, does Auburn now take three defensive tackles in the class? Who are names to watch after Coynis Miller?

Two great questions from @Ellitor_AU, as always.

Let’s tackle the cornerback position first. You mention the attempt to flip Clemson commit Kyler McMichael, and there’s also the wish to flip Alabama commit Jalyn Armour-Davis, but the reality is both of them are long shots.

With Auburn likely only taking one cornerback in this class (maybe two), it wouldn’t be a surprise to go the junior college route. I had an update on Michigan transfer Keith Washington, so keep an eye out for him to be offered and visit the Tigers more down the road. There’s also Saivion Smith, who is JUCO teammates with Auburn commit Daquan Newkirk. It’ll be a battle with Alabama for Smith.

As for high school prospects, the two under-the-radar names I’d keep an eye on are JaKorey Hawkins from Montgomery, Ala., and Derek Turner for West Feliciana, La.

As for defensive tackle, if it were up to Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Garner, he’d take three defensive tackles in every class. Newkirk is already committed in this class and will likely end up as a defensive tackle at Auburn, so that could easily fill one spot. If Miller chooses the Tigers, that would be two.

So, who are the people that could fill out the third spot (or second and third if Miller goes elsewhere)? I’ll give you five names, but not in any particular order because it all comes down to Garner’s evaluation and who he decides he really wants in the class:

  • Andres Fox (I expect him to bulk up into a DT)
  • Tennessee commit Jamarcus Chatman
  • Jalen Alexander
  • Tayland Humphrey (JUCO, so seems less likely with Newkirk already on board)
  • Arkansas commit John Mincey

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