Auburn recruiting: What you need to know about the Tigers' Early Signing class
Auburn has some work to do in recruiting. In fact, the Tigers have a lot of work to do.
The Early Signing Period starts Wednesday and Auburn is nowhere close to where it needs to be in order to compete for championships in the near future. Bryan Harsin’s first full class is No. 35 in the country. That’s not good. It gets worse. Auburn is 13th in the SEC. Only Florida is rated lower than the Tigers, and the Gators just underwent a coaching change that wrecked its class.
Now, there is a huge caveat: Auburn only has 13 commitments, which essentially is half of a full class. So there is time to add. The question becomes: How much talent will be left after the Early Signing Period?
The good news is that Harsin doesn’t have to solely rely on recruiting to build Auburn’s roster, which wasn’t in horrible shape when he showed up. Harsin can use the transfer portal to attain the players he needs to compete in the nation’s most challenging recruiting conference. The bad news is that Harsin, who has spent most of his coaching career in the western United States, is struggling to catch up in the southeast. The Early Signing Period has accelerated the college football calendar, which has made things must tougher on newer head coaches.
Here is a breakdown of Auburn’s 2022 class headed into the Early Signing Period:
By the numbers
Overall rank: No. 35
SEC rank: No. 13
Did they find a future QB?
Considering how inconsistent Auburn was at quarterback, the Tigers could use a quarterback for the future and a quarterback for the now. Bo Nix entered the season as the starter, played well, was benched, got his job back, suffered a season-ending leg injury and has since hinted that he might not return to Auburn. However, Nix hasn’t made it clear if he’s considering transferring, entering the NFL Draft or both.
TJ Finley stepped in as the starter when Nix was injured in November. That didn’t go swimmingly. Finley, who transferred before the 2021 season from LSU, still has plenty of work in front of him to become a high-tier quarterback.
The door is open for a freshman sensation. That’s part of the reason 4-star Holden Geriner committed. Geriner, a 6-3, 210-pounder from Savannah, Ga., is the No. 19-ranked QB in this class. He chose Auburn over some significant schools, such as Michigan, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Who is the best offensive player?
Purely by rating, Geriner is the best offensive player committed to Auburn. However, running back Damari Alston is a gem. Alston is the No. 29 running back in the nation and No. 31 prospect from Georgia. The 5-10, 205-pound, 4-star prospect had several big-name schools to choose from, such as LSU, Michigan State and Penn State.
In the end, the standout from Woodward Academy in Atlanta, Ga. decided to commit to Auburn. We know Auburn’s history at running back. Getting Alston also represents a significant pick-up as the Tigers try to compete with other SEC recruiting heavyweights in the Atlanta area.
Who is the best defensive player?
Auburn’s top-rated defensive recruit also is their top overall recruit: DL Caden Story from Lanett (Ala.). Story is a 4-star prospect who fielded offers from countless teams but decided to stay close to home and play for Auburn. That may have been a wise choice. Auburn’s defensive front flourished at times last season under defensive coordinator Derek Mason. He turned a good group of players on the defensive front into a set of players that could shut down offenses. Mason should be a draw for any high school prospect who wants to show off multiple skills in the coach’s complex scheme.
Grabbing 4-star safety Tre Donaldson out of Florida State’s backyard also was a huge get. Donaldson could be an eventual replacement for Smoke Monday.
What position did they recruit the best?
Auburn hasn’t excelled at any one position, partly because the Tigers just have about 50% of their class assembled. They don’t have more than 2 players committed from any one position. So, yes, Auburn still has some work to do.
If forced to pick one position that Auburn excelled at it, quarterback has to be the choice. Given the Tigers’ play last season, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Geriner handle some meaningful snaps in 2022.
What position do they still need to recruit?
Everything. Auburn has some serious work to do in recruiting or with the transfer portal. Auburn needs to replenish its defensive line. It can never have too many H-back/tight ends since they rely on them so much. Donaldson was a nice start, but the secondary needs to be further supplemented.
Did they keep the best players home?
Admittedly, no program in America has a bigger obstacle with in-state recruiting than Auburn.
The best players in Alabama stayed at home. The problem is, most picked the rival Crimson Tide.
The Tigers only landed 3 of the top 25 prospects in the state, led by athlete Omari Kelly. The 6-2, 180-pound athlete is the 16th-best player in Alabama.
For comparison’s sake, Alabama landed (or is favored to land) the top 6 prospects in Alabama and 8 of the top 10. As expected, Harsin has a massive challenge in keeping the Tigers in the battle for in-state prospects.
Overall, how you should feel about this class …
Concerned. Frankly, if it weren’t for the transfer portal, Auburn’s class would be something to be very concerned about. However, plenty could change in the coming weeks.
The biggest question about Harsin coming to the SEC is that he’d have to battle the best recruiters in the country. So far, that’s not going very well.
The good news is, Auburn has plenty of room to add talent, regardless of whether that comes from the portal or high school.