Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Monday, and SEC Country is focused on Auburn’s top three offensive tackle targets in Richard Gouraige, Dylan Wonnum and Jerome Carvin.
Florida tackle commit keeps Auburn in it
Early in the recruiting cycle, Richard Gouraige was the guy Auburn wanted at offensive tackle. The Tigers hosted him on a visit the week before the spring game and hoped he’d make it back for A-Day. That didn’t happen, and to my knowledge, Gouraige hadn’t been back since.
Until the Iron Bowl.
Amid some uncertainty around Florida (heading into the weekend, at least), Gouraige decided it was time to return to the Plains to see Gus Malzahn and Herb Hand. He’s glad he did to see Auburn in a light he hadn’t seen the Tigers before.
“The atmosphere was crazy. The atmosphere was just crazy. The fans were great. The players came out ready to play. It was a great visit really. One out of 10, [the atmosphere] was a 10,” Gouraige said. “They can [still get him potentially]. I mean, my recruitment, anything is possible. It’s just an eye-opener after this game.”
SEC Country’s conversation with Gouraige came before Dan Mullen’s hire to Florida, so it remains to be seen how much of an effect that will have on things.
Prior to that hire, Gouraige admitted he committed to Florida for Florida, but that coaching does matter. It won’t be an easy sell for Auburn, especially with Clemson — who was in the top 2 originally — making a strong push for Gouraige, as well.
With that said, the Florida coaching transition is on his mind.
“I’m not committing to the coach. I’m committing to the school, but the coaches do play a big effect on my decision,” Gouraige said. “I’m going to be with my position coach and strength and conditioning coach. I’m just taking things day by day and seeing how things play out. I know God has a special plan for me.”
As for Auburn, Gouraige may be the biggest offensive line target remaining. He’s certainly the highest rated as the No. 10 tackle and No. 106 overall prospect in the Class of 2018. Gouraige spent some 1-on-1 time with Malzahn and Hand.
Their message is clear.
“They were just telling me I’m a main priority on the offensive line and we really need them because a lot of seniors are leaving,” he said.
Gouraige won’t enroll early. Florida, Auburn, Clemson and LSU “a little bit” are the programs still in the race.
Auburn official ‘changed things’ for Jerome Carvin
Jerome Carvin wrapped up his fifth and final official visit to Auburn. The other four visits? Mississippi State, Tennessee, UCLA and Memphis. That means at least three of his other schools of interest are enduring coaching changes. Memphis coach Mike Norvell has been a hot name on the market for other openings.
Carvin said none of that affects his ultimate decision, but with his Dec. 20 signing date quickly approaching, it’s something he’s mindful of.
In Mississippi State’s case, Dan Mullen planned to go see Carvin on an in-home visit Monday. Mullen took the Florida job just before Carvin wrapped up his Auburn official, so the feeling was fresh.
“I actually just saw that. I got to wait and see what happens. He told me earlier he was going to come to my school Monday, so we’ll see what happens,” Carvin said. “I really just got to look past it [at all schools]. I feel like I’ve got enough time to make a decision. [Auburn’s] telling me to take my time. Go home and talk it over with my parents.”
Carvin’s official visit was only his second trip to the Plains, his other for A-Day.
For that reason, Carvin hasn’t been talked about much this fall as a target, but he’s been there the whole time. He’d wanted to make it to Auburn for other visits this year. It just didn’t match up with his schedule. That’s why his final official visit mattered so much.
It gave him another opportunity to talk to Gus Malzahn, Herb Hand and area recruiter Tim Horton about his prioritization in the Class of 2018. He sees opportunity with the Tigers.
“That’s big. That’s really why I’m viewing them despite not that many visits — their numbers. There’s an opportunity to see the field early,” he said. “Right now, Auburn’s in it for me. This visit definitely changed things with Auburn.”
This was Carvin’s first time in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
He didn’t really know what to expect from the environment, but whatever those expectations were, the Auburn fan base shattered them on Saturday. Carvin has been to Mississippi State and Tennessee games regularly this season, and neither came close to comparing to the Iron Bowl atmosphere.
“It was great, man, just coming to the game. It was probably one of the best games I’ve ever been to. I had a good time. I had my family come down. They’d never seen Auburn before, so it was a really good feeling,” Carvin said. “That was probably the best atmosphere I’ve ever been in. That was cool. He said it’s definitely a big need for offensive line. They wanted me on this visit right here for the Iron Bowl.”
Mississippi State and Tennessee are the teams to watch, but it’s important for Carvin to see how the coaching carousel plays out first. He will sign Dec. 20 and enroll early.
Dylan Wonnum will take official visit to Auburn
The guy who has been the most often offensive tackle in my class projections: 4-star Dylan Wonnum.
He returned for the Iron Bowl.
Wonnum hasn’t named a leader since saying it was Auburn this summer, but many people have linked him to South Carolina for obvious reasons. He visits there the most, plus his older brother is a defensive standout for the Gamecocks.
After the Iron Bowl, however, Wonnum put to rest the idea that any school has an advantage over the others.
“There’s no leader. It’s Auburn, Florida, South Carolina and LSU,” Wonnum said. “Auburn’s in it with everybody else.”
Wonnum hasn’t planned it yet, but he confirmed Saturday he’ll take an official visit to Auburn. He’ll likely take official visits to the other destination points, as well. Those decisions won’t be made right now because he’s still in his Tucker High School football season. He’ll wait until that finishes to set up officials.
The February signee puts Auburn in a nice spot after the Iron Bowl.
“It does put them in a good place. I liked the game and everything about it,” he said.
2019 OT de-commits from FSU after Auburn visit
Wanya Morris is the No. 5 offensive tackle in the Class of 2019. He was at Auburn for the Georgia game. Morris made it back for the Iron Bowl. On those visits, the 6-foot-5, 270-pound offensive tackle was committed to Florida State as he had been for quite some time.
The Grayson High (Ga.) offensive lineman de-committed from Florida State on Sunday after back-to-back trip to Auburn. That’s not to say the Tigers are the reason why. A lot of it had to do with the Seminoles’ trajectory and rumors surrounding Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher’s move to Texas A&M.
Still, it’s a positive sign for Auburn.
Shortly after his de-commitment, Morris laid out a top-6 list of school he’ll consider going forward. That group includes Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Auburn, Oklahoma and LSU.
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