The War Room
August 29, 2014
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Season-opening weekends aren't typically big for recruiting, but with Auburn at home Saturday against SEC West foe Arkansas, this isn't the typical opening weekend.
Approximately 150 recruits are expected on campus for unofficial visits, including three five-star prospects, several four-stars and many of the Tigers' current commitments.
And that's just the unofficial visitors. The official visitors, even though there will be only two, are a pair of five-star studs.
Georgia Military College (Milledgeville, Ga.) running back Jovon Robinson and Apopka (Fla.) offensive tackle Martez Ivey will be in Auburn for official visits. Robinson, the top-rated junior college prospect, is scheduled to arrive Friday afternoon and stay until Sunday. Ivey, the top-rated offensive tackle, will be in Auburn early Saturday and stay until Sunday.
Robinson, 6-foot and 220 pounds, has remained solid in his commitment to Auburn since announcing it in May. Nothing has changed -- and no changes are expected. Although some have speculated that Robinson might visit other colleges, specifically Alabama, that doesn't appear to be the case. Robinson is planning to visit Auburn this weekend, finish out the season at Georgia Military and then join the Tigers in the spring.
Ivey, 6-foot-5 and 271 pounds, has been to Auburn numerous times in the past, including a four-day stay during the summer. But each time, he's been accompanied by close friend/teammate/Auburn commitment Chandler Cox. Not this weekend.
Ivey instead will be in alone and will receive the royal treatment. Without Cox there, Auburn will be able to get a more genuine assessment of Ivey and where he stands.
Auburn has long been battling Florida for Ivey and the two SEC schools continue to be his top choices. The Tigers appeared to have pulled ahead after the multi-day stay in July, but Ivey has kept the two schools even when discussing things publicly.
Auburn has a solid offensive line class already in place, but it won't be complete, at least not in Auburn's eyes, without Ivey. The Tigers aren't expecting a commitment this weekend, but they are expecting to make a big enough impression to put them on top of Florida. Then all they'd have to do is hold that position.
5-Star Unofficial Visitors
In addition to the two five-star official visitors, two other five-stars are planning to be on campus for unofficial visits.
The state's top prospect, Shades Valley defensive tackle Daron Payne, and the nation's No. 1 overall recruit in the 2016 class, receiver Nate Craig of Tampa (Fla.) Catholic, both will be in Auburn.
Payne is a target for the Tigers. Craig is a commitment.
Payne, 6-foot-2 and 339 pounds, has a top three of Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State. He grew up an Auburn fan, but his childhood allegiance to the Tigers won't factor into his college choice, at least not as much as Auburn would hope.
Payne is close friends with teammate Keith Mixon, who is committed to Mississippi State. That's the only reason the Bulldogs find themselves in the mix. In the end, and this should come as no surprise, it will be an in-state battle for Payne.
Auburn believes it has a decent shot with Payne, but at this point I think Alabama holds a slight edge. Of course, there are ways to change that, and a visit for the home opener is a good start.
Craig will be making his fourth visit to Auburn and will be bringing several family members along with him, including his mother and grandmother, which is never a bad thing.
Craig, 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, first visited Auburn last season for the Tigers' 24-20 win over Mississippi State. The thrilling win was what initially opened his eyes to Auburn. He fell in love with the game day environment, and is very anxious to get back on campus this weekend to experience it again.
Craig later returned for A-Day in the spring and again in the summer for camp before committing July 21.
This visit will be his mother's or grandmother's second visit to the Plains. The two also were with him for A-Day and met the coaches for the first time, including head man Gus Malzahn.
The two ladies, who are very important to Craig, have been very impressed with Auburn, especially the coaches. His mother and grandmother are looking forward to meeting again with Dameyune Craig, area recruiter Tim Horton, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and Malzahn.
As for Craig, he's looking forward to seeing the game and how the Tigers' top two receivers, Sammie Coates and D'haquille Williams, perform in a more balanced attack. He's also looking to talk to as many of the Tigers' recruiting targets as possible.
He's already been working on several top 2016 targets. Craig loves Auburn, loves the offense and the coaches, and he's doing everything he can to get as many top-tier recruits in '16 to join him on the Plains.
Craig is already recruiting 2016 four-star/Rivals250 receiver Binjimen Victor out of Coconut Creek, Fla., five-star/Rivals100 athlete Demetris Robertson (an Alabama commitment) out of Savannah, Ga., four-star/Rivals100 cornerback John Broussard out of Central-Phenix City (Ala.), four-star/Rivals100 quarterback Jawon Pass from Carver (Columbus, Ga.) and four-star/Rivals100 safety JoeJuan Williams from Nashville, Tenn.
Craig The Recruiter
Craig will have the opportunity Saturday to talk and hang out with several of the guys he's recruiting for Auburn. Broussard, Pass and Williams, all Rivals100 prospects, are expected to be on campus.
Broussard and Craig have developed a close friendship over the past few months and have been talking about reuniting this weekend. It's a good chance for them to become closer, a good chance for Craig to help Auburn with a top cornerback target.
Broussard, 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, is ranked the No. 3 cornerback in 2016. He already holds an offer from Auburn, as well as ones from LSU, South Carolina, Florida State, Georgia and Clemson, among others. He doesn't list a favorite at this time, but Auburn is definitely high on his list. He likes the atmosphere and coaches at Auburn, and also that it's close to home.
Pass, 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, is visiting Auburn with his brother and a few friends. Like Broussard, the proximity to home could be an advantage for Auburn with Pass, the No. 3-ranked dual-threat quarterback in 2016.
Pass already has an Auburn offer and stays in contact with Lashlee, his area recruiter and the Tigers' offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Pass and Lashlee spoke earlier this week, and the two have developed a good relationship.
Pass has attended several games at Auburn, likes the gameday atmosphere and especially the offense. Although he has several offers, Auburn is squarely in the mix for him. Pass doesn't list a leader, but he is keeping a very close eye on Auburn, Ohio State and Notre Dame. He doesn't plan to make an early decision, but also hasn't ruled it out.
Williams, 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, is looking forward to his first game at Auburn. The nation's No. 6 safety in 2016 will be making the trip with teammate and fellow 2016 recruit, receiver Bryce Vickers.
Williams, who holds an offer from Auburn, is anxious to see what the atmosphere is like inside Jordan-Hare. He's already heard about it from Craig. The two top '16 prospects have talked a lot about Auburn -- and will be talking more this weekend.
In addition to Auburn, Williams has offers from Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Tennessee, among others. He hasn't narrowed his list, yet, but Auburn certainly will be a strong contender.
Another five-star prospect planning to be in Auburn is 2016 linebacker Lyndell Wilson from Carver-Montgomery. He'll be with best friend and teammate, 2016 Rivals100/four-star defensive end Marlon Davidson.
Wilson, ranked the state's top prospect in '16 and the No. 10 overall recruit in the country, has offers from Auburn and several more top programs. He has attended many Auburn games in the past so Saturday won't be anything new for him.
Wilson, 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, plans to take his time with recruiting and remains open to several schools right now, but he plans to start narrowing his focus next summer. Auburn should be a contender until the end.
Davidson, 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds, is ranked the No. 3 prospect in the state in '16 and the nation's No. 4 strongside defensive end. He and Wilson are very close and likely will sign with the same college. That potentially could work in Auburn's favor. Davidson's older brother is Kenneth Carter, the former Tiger defensive lineman.
Gulf Coast Trio
Three players from Gulf Coast Community College (Perkinston, Miss.) are making the trip to Auburn this weekend, but Tony Bridges, the four-star cornerback and nation's No. 4 junior college prospect, won't be one of them.
Don't freak out.
Bridges is hosting a visitor in Perkinston this weekend. He is electing to stay behind and spend a few days with his girlfriend, whom he hasn't seen in a few weeks. Bridges will make the next trip to Auburn, possibly Oct. 4 for the LSU game. He remains very solid to the Tigers despite increasing pressure from Ole Miss.
The three Gulf Coast players that are visiting are four-star quarterback/athlete Jason Smith, three-star defensive tackle Maurice Swain and defensive end Joe Sanders. Smith, an Auburn commitment, remains firm to the Tigers. Swain, who has a verbal offer from the Tigers, will be further evaluated this season and remains an Auburn target. Sanders also is a guy Auburn will be evaluating this season.
Top '16 RB reschedules
One of Auburn's top running back targets in the 2016 class had to reschedule his visit. Tavien Feaster of Spartanburg, S.C. planned on being here this weekend, but will instead visit later in the season, possibly for the LSU game.
Feaster sports offers from several SEC schools, including Auburn, and the Tigers appear to be in good shape early for the No. 3-ranked running back. Feaster, 5-foot-11 and 193 pounds, talks regularly with area recruiter and Auburn running backs coach Tim Horton. The Tigers have let Feaster know that he is very high on their board.
Feaster doesn't list any leaders right now, but is keeping a very close eye on Auburn. He really likes the offense, believes it to be a "special offense", and one he would enjoy as a player.
It also doesn't hurt Auburn's chances that he is good friends with Stephen Davis Jr., who is committed to the Tigers. The two talk often of playing together in college.
Top '16 DT targets
One of the Tigers' top 2016 defensive tackle targets also is rescheduling his visit. Julian Rochester, a four-star Rivals100 recruit from McEachern High in Powder Springs, Ga., has pushed his visit back to either the Louisiana Tech or LSU game.
Rochester, 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds, was disappointed he wouldn't be able to visit this weekend. He is extremely high on Auburn. He loves Rodney Garner and Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson; the two have become good friends. Rochester looks at Lawson as a mentor and would love to play with him in college. Right now, that looks like a strong possibility.
Rochester has multiple offers, but the Tigers definitely have an early lead for him, and a big one. He is close friends with two other top DT prospects in the '16 class, four-star Antwuan Jackson from Cedar Grove High in Ellenwood, Ga. and four-star Derrick Brown of Lanier in Sugar Hill, Ga.
Rochester, Jackson, Brown and David Marshall (Thomaston, Ga.) are the Tigers' top four targets at defensive tackle in 2016, and Auburn is in good shape to land at least two. Auburn is the frontrunner for Rochester, and is in the top two along with South Carolina for Jackson. Rochester is working on both Jackson and Brown, trying to get them to go to the same school as him. The Tigers will host Marshall this weekend. The 6-foot-3, 255-pound three-star is expected to visit. Jackson and Brown plan to visit later in the season.
Hoover (Ala.) 2016 four-star linebacker prospect Jeremiah Moon is another top underclassmen that will be in Auburn on Saturday. The 6-foot-4, 193-pound Rivals250 recruit will visit with teammate and Auburn commitment, four-star linebacker Darrell Williams.
Williams recently has made it known he's not 100-percent committed to Auburn. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Rivals250 prospect also is considering Alabama. He plans to visit Tuscaloosa at least once this season, and if any school has a chance to flip him, it's Alabama. This weekend's visit could go along way in shoring up his pledge to the Tigers.
Moon is also considering Auburn and Alabama, among others, but he has yet to receive an offer from the Tide. Auburn and defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Ellis Johnson offered Moon in the summer. The early offer made an impression on Moon.
Moon is already familiar with Johnson. Moon's uncle, Darius Gilbert, played defensive line under Johnson while at Alabama. Moon also is familiar with Auburn. He visited the Plains twice last year, attending both the Mississippi State and Texas A&M games. Moon spoke briefly with Johnson on Wednesday and hopes to speak more with the coach this weekend.
Besides Auburn, Moon also has offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky and UAB. The Tigers currently sit atop his list.
Another Hoover prospect will be with Moon and Williams on Saturday. 2016 three-star cornerback P.J. Hall will join his teammates. Hall has early offers from Mississippi State and Western Kentucky, and is hoping for one from Auburn.
FOOTBALL RECRUITING QUICK HITTERS...
Broussard won't be the only Auburn target from Central-Phenix City at the game. 2017 linebacker Markail Benton, who has been offered by Auburn, Florida State, South Carolina and Kentucky, is making the trip with his uncle, Carlos Luckerson.
Luckerson is a former walk-on at Auburn and has taken Benton to several games in the past. Benton's familiarity with the Plains, as well as it being close to home, puts Auburn as an early favorite to land the already-6-foot-2, 215-pound 'backer.
Benton, although he's just a sophomore, stays in contact with Lashlee, his area recruiter from Auburn. The two actually spoke earlier this week. Benton doesn't plan on making an early commitment, at least not too early, but he's very high on Auburn, the coaches and proximity to home.
Two other prospects from Central-Phenix City are expected to be at the game: 2016 receiver/safety Quan Weaver and 2017 quarterback Zion Webb.
Several more Auburn commitments are expected to visit this weekend. They include four-star OT Tyler Carr, four-star DB Jordan Colbert, three-star TE Jalen Harris, four-star OL Kaleb Kim, three-star LB Montavious Atkinson, three-star DT Jauntavius Johnson, four-star RB Kerryon Johnson, three-star QB Tyler Queen and 2016 three-star TE Landon Rice.
2016 LB Thomas Johnston and 2016 QB Tyler Johnston, brothers at Spanish Fort (Ala.), will be in Auburn. The Tigers are keeping a close eye on both this season.
2016 three-star safety Spencer Perry from Auburn High will visit. Another local standout, Opelika's 2017 quarterback Jake Bentley, will be on campus for the game.
Auburn will have three of its top 2016 cornerback prospects on campus this weekend. In addition to Broussard and Joejuan Williams, Warner Robins (Ga.) Rivals100/four-star athlete Marquez Callaway is expected to visit. Callaway, 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, has offers from Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Michigan State.
Feaster, one of the Tigers' top 2016 running back targets, won't be able to make it this weekend, but another top target at the position will. Hamilton (Ala.) four-star Denzel Mitchell, who holds early offers from Arkansas, Ole Miss and Arkansas State, is set to visit Saturday.
From Bryan Matthews on the basketball recruiting weekend…
Auburn basketball recruiting is on a roll with four commitments in the last week. And there could be more right around the corner. The Tigers will be hosting two official visitors this weekend in Santa Monica (Calif.) High 4-star shooting guard Nu Williams and Baton Rouge (La.) St. Michael 4-star small forward Jacob Evans. Evans is ranked the nation's No. 96 overall prospect.
Going into the weekend, Auburn is in the best shape for Williams and there is a chance he'll commit. Williams has scheduled an official visit for Tulsa on Sept. 6. Arizona State, UNLV, and several other schools are still actively recruiting Williams, who is recovering from knee surgery in March and was unable to play AAU ball this summer.
Evans will be a tougher challenge after Tulane hired his AAU coach, Quannas White, as an assistant last week. Evans was a standout at several big AAU events this summer and schools like Memphis, Cincinnati, South Carolina and Mississippi State are showing increasing interest. He averaged 21 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals as a junior.