Auburn football recruiting: 5 takeaways after Day 1 of the Early Signing Period
If Auburn thought playing in the SEC West was tough, try keeping a recruiting class intact without a head coach.
Interim coach Kevin Steele has been busy trying to salvage what was already trending toward a poor recruiting haul before Gus Malzahn was fired. He did a decent job, signing 12 players, including 2 who made their decision on Wednesday. As of now, Auburn has suffered only 1 decommittment and is expected to add a 13th singing on Friday. When speaking with the media Wednesday afternoon, Steele said he thought Auburn had flipped an additional 2 prospects, but both ended up not signing with the Tigers.
Auburn is in for a busy next few days. Coaching candidate Mario Cristobal is set to meet with Oregon brass on Thursday while Auburn awaits their bowl fate, searches for coaches and tries to finalize a few more recruits. These were the 5 biggest takeaways from Day 1 of the Early Signing Period for Auburn:
1. The QB of the future (and present?)
Four-star dual-threat QB Dematrius Davis pulled no surprises as he held true to his original May 17 commitment. The Houston native is the No. 8 dual-threat QB in the nation and is expected to compete with Bo Nix for the starting job in 2021.
“Having a class without a quarterback is hard. If we had to wait or had lost him, that would’ve been difficult to do,” Steele said. “We’re very glad he stuck with his commitment.”
Davis has completed 72.6 percent of his passes this year for 2,453 yards and 30 touchdowns, while throwing only a single interception. He has also rushed for 570 yards and 14 more scores as he currently is chasing his 3rd Class 6A Texas state title.
2. Lee Hunter stays
The Tigers kept their top recruit. Hunter, a 4-star defensive tackle out of Eight Mile, Ala., and the No. 80 player nationally, signed his National Letter of Intent despite hinting even before the coaching change that that might not be the case.
Up thinking about my future and I’m thankful for it IM EXHAUSTED ! 💜I THINK THIS A SIGN GOD GIVING ME MY RECRUITMENT IS STILL OPEN💜
— Lee_Hunter7 (@The_Fridge7) December 7, 2020
Hunter is a playmaking defensive tackle (who can also play tight end) who could line up anywhere on the line. He is a January enrollee, and with enough added strength he might compete for immediate playing time given that Auburn is expected to lose Daquan Newkirk and Tyrone Truesdell at tackle next year.
3. The (pleasant) surprises
Auburn received good news in the form of previously uncommitted defensive end Ian Mathews and defensive back Armani Diamond signing.
Mathews is a 3-star DE from Columbus, Ga., who had offers from 10 schools. He is the 65th best player in Georgia and was expected to sign with Georgia Tech. At 6-5, 270, he has the size and athleticism to line up anywhere on the line, like Hunter.
Diamond is a 3-star DB and was high school teammates with Hunter. Until Wednesday morning, he was believed to be a hard Louisiana Tech commit, but a standout performance at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic over the weekend apparently spurred a late charge from several Power 5 programs. Diamond is the No. 56 recruit in the state of Alabama.
4. The (unpleasant) surprise
With a coaching change 3 days prior, you knew there was going to be at least 1 hiccup. Jaeden Roberts was that hiccup.
The 4-star offensive lineman announced on Twitter that he was reopening his recruitment:
Please respect my decision❗ pic.twitter.com/BTllBe27Wd
— Jaeden (@jaeden_kings) December 16, 2020
The good news is that he didn’t sign on the dotted line with another program. Roberts is the nation’s No. 14 offensive guard and is a high school teammate of Davis, so one would think that should help in gaining back Roberts’ pledge. Roberts was committed to Auburn since May but has since received heavy interest from Alabama.
5. Tight ends galore
For a program that notoriously doesn’t use its tight end for much other than to block — although Chad Morris is changing that — Auburn certainly has one of the most loaded tight end groups in the country.
The Tigers picked up the signings of 3-star Landen King and Oklahoma transfer Grant Calcaterra. King is the No. 27 tight end and has experience playing running back in high school as well.
The big signing was Calcaterra. The former Sooner is a former All-Big 12 selection and caught 41 passes for 637 yards and 9 touchdowns over 3 seasons in Stillwater. He’s a likely NFL-caliber player. These additions, along with rising senior John Samuel Shenker and sophomores Brandon Frazier, J.J. Pegues and Luke Deal, mean the tight end position is about to have a serious influx of talent.