A new era begins at Auburn, with head coach Hugh Freeze beginning to put his mark on the program as Wednesday’s Early Signing Day nears.

As with any new coach stepping into a program, Freeze has some ground to make up in the field of recruiting. Heading into last weekend, Auburn was ranked No. 41 in the nation, according to 247sports.com, just behind No. 38 Missouri, No. 39 Kentucky and No. 40 Vanderbilt.

That put the Tigers last in the SEC. Not a good spot to be, but Freeze will work overtime to make up the deficit, and he has already begun flipping a couple of recruits as well as hitting the transfer portal hard.

Here is where Auburn stands so far as Early Signing Day approaches.

Highest-rated player: 4-star RB Jeremiah Cobb

The 5-11, 185-pound running back out of Montgomery, Ala., is ranked 7th nationally at his position and No. 14 among all recruits from the state of Alabama. The speedy back has good vision and quickness to get outside the tackles.

With Auburn’s 3-time leading rusher Tank Bigsby declaring for the NFL Draft, the door is open for Cobb to make an immediate impact., although rising junior Jarquez Hunter showed signs of being capable of stepping into Bigsby’s shoes. Hunter averaged 6.49 yards on 104 carries last year and scored 7 TDs.

However, Hunter has a 2-year career high of 13 carries in a game. So it will be interesting to see if Freeze doubles up on Hunter’s workload or allows another RB to share the load.

Did they bolster the QB room? No

But perhaps yes — it remains to be seen how 3-star QB Keyone Jenkins pans out. The Miami product was recruited by former interim head coach and current associate head coach/RB coach Cadillac Williams.

The left-hander is a threat to run or throw. In his first 10 games as a high school senior, Jenkins threw for 21 touchdowns and ran for 4 more.

He could compete in a quarterback room that, barring any addition from the transfer portal, includes rising sophomores Robby Ashford and Holden Geriner. Senior-to-be T.J. Finley is another possibility if he doesn’t enter the transfer portal himself.

Freeze could be looking at Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall, who entered the transfer portal after 3 stellar seasons for the Sun Belt school. A 2-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, McCall threw for 8,019 yards and 78 TDs and rushed for 1,053 yards and 16 TDs at Coastal Carolina.

He has 2 years of eligibility remaining.

Best position group: Offensive line

The Tigers are adding 4 recruits to the group. They include 4-star interior linemen Clay Wedin (6-6, 295), out of Tampa, Fla., and homegrown Bradyn Joiner (6-2, 330), along with a pair of 3-stars — interior lineman Connor Lew (6-3, 280) out of Georgia, whom Freeze flipped from Miami, and tackle Tyler Johnson (6-6, 300) out of Louisiana.

It’s the beginning of a foundation that Freeze hopes to build and improve upon quickly as he takes the Tigers in a new direction.

Biggest need filled: Defensive line

Replacing sack leaders Derick Hall and Colby Wooden is a monumental task. But so far, Freeze and the Tigers are bringing in a trio of recruits to help fill the gap.

A couple of 4-stars top the list, including Georgia product Darron Reed (6-4, 270) and Florida’s Wilky Denaud (6-4, 245). Brenton Williams (6-4, 245), a 3-star edge from Opelika, Ala., could also help out.

Biggest potential flip: 5-star DL James Smith

The 5-star out of Montgomery is verbally committed to Alabama. Ranked No. 2 in the country at his position, Smith is also rated as the top recruit from the state of Alabama.

It would be a huge get at a position of great need if Freeze could pull it off, but it’s a long shot. Smith has received offers from 11 SEC schools.

Final takeaways on this class …

It won’t be a top-10 class. But Freeze must start somewhere, and with the transfer portal in play it may not need to be among the nation’s best recruiting classes. Not this year, anyway, with Freeze being late to the party.

The recruiting class as of the beginning of the weekend was split evenly among 3 states. Four recruits each were plucked from Alabama, Georgia and Florida, as well as 1 from Louisiana.

Freeze may not be finished flipping recruits, and maybe he can make a splash or 2 before it’s over. But look for Auburn’s new head coach to hit the transfer portal pretty hard after the ink has dried on all the letters of intent.