Rhonda Pritchett Rabon (Facebook): Who is the next to commit in your opinion?
@TAKKFANACCOUNT: When is Richard Jibunor’s commitment date?
I tipped off my answer to the first question with the second question. If I were guessing right now, I’d go with Richard Jibunor. With that said, this wouldn’t be the first time I said Jibunor would be the next to commit — and obviously that hasn’t happened yet.
This time feels different, however. Jibunor is adamant about making a decision in November and signing in December, even though he won’t be an early enrollee. That’s how I expect it to play out.
There’s only one school left to visit for Jibunor. He will be at Auburn for the Georgia game and would like to be back for Louisiana-Monroe and Alabama, as well. It’d shock me if Jibunor didn’t have his Auburn decision in by the end of the month, though there isn’t a specific date in place.
@JasonLinton55: Any JUCO prospects on the radar?
Here are all the junior college guys on Auburn’s radar.
- 3-star DT Daquan Newkirk (committed)
- 4-star CB Saivion Smith
- 4-star OT Badara Traore
- 4-star DT Tayland Humphrey
- 3-star TE Dominick Wood-Anderson
- 3-star CB Keith Washington
Of that group, aside from Newkirk, Traore is the only one who I think has a legitimate shot of landing in Auburn’s class. It’s worth noting, however, that at this time last year I wouldn’t have had Sal Cannella on my JUCO lists. A lot of times, JUCO guys are judged in full at the end of the season when an entire year of film is in hand.
Look for JUCO names to pop up more in early December.
John Poitevint (Facebook): Do you think Auburn has a real chance with Jarren Williams?
I really do.
It’s not going to be easy, of course.
Kentucky has gotten Williams to commit twice, so there’s a level of trust between Williams and Wildcats coaches that won’t be easy to navigate. On top of that, there are two other programs — Ohio State and Miami — that would like to pull off a flip just as badly as Auburn.
His official visit schedule for the last three weeks goes Miami, Ohio State and Auburn, and I won’t be the first one to tell you the last official visit usually matters.
Miami recently had its quarterback de-commit. Ohio State appears to be operating under the assumption Emory Jones flips to Alabama, hence the Buckeyes’ recent interest in Williams. Even if Jones didn’t flip, Alabama would likely become a contender for Williams. And then there’s Auburn.
The Tigers actually offered Williams earlier in the year, but he just posted it to Twitter this week. His relationship with Chip Lindsey is something to watch. Auburn is a serious player here.
Ryan Pearcy (Facebook): Are there concerns about Gatewood?
I wouldn’t say that necessarily.
He’s actually had a surprisingly impressive senior season, even though he still has to split time at quarterback. Gus Malzahn and Chip Lindsey went down to see him at the end of October, and Gatewood tossed a 75-yard touchdown pass early in the game to impress his future coaches.
I wouldn’t look at the Williams offer, or the search for a second quarterback, as a slight on Gatewood. It’s something Auburn feels like it has to do for depth purposes, so the Tigers might as well try to get the best quarterback possible.
Gatewood is one of the best pure athletes in the 2018 class, regardless of position. With a little development, his upside is unmatched in this cycle.
Dennis Little (Facebook): Where do you think Justyn Ross is leaning?
That’s been the way it has been trending for a while. He was 5-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s top wide receiver at The Opening in Eugene, Ore. The relationship really started to blossom from there. Ross has always raved about his visits to Clemson, and the program’s track record of producing NFL wide receivers sticks out to him.
Hence my Crystal Ball pick to Clemson a while back.
Still, don’t count out Alabama or Auburn. Alabama appears to have its receiver plan a little more secured in the 2018 class than Auburn. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for the Tigers. Seth Williams, Justyn Ross and Anthony Schwartz remain. If Auburn can land two of those three, it’s a massive success.
Ross’ family is comfortable at Auburn, and that will be the staff’s selling point down the stretch.
@CJ4Six: Is there still a chance that Quay Walker flips?
It’s possible, but I wouldn’t count on it. In fact, I’d tell every fan base in the country to never count on flipping an Alabama commit.
In Walker’s case, there are something advantages working in Auburn’s favor. He’s always had a strong connection to Auburn. He has a close relationship with Kevin Steele, Rodney Garner and Travis Williams. His high school teammate and close friend Markaviest Bryant is at Auburn. Walker will visit Auburn yet again this weekend and likely for the Iron Bowl, as well.
It still feels like a long shot, but it might be the closest long shot of all time (if that makes any sense at all).
@KConnorRiley: Why did you post this GIF and what have you done with the real Ben Wolk?
For those that didn’t ask questions, you might not be aware that I posted my request for mailbag questions with a GIF of the Prayer at Jordan-Hare. The tweeter above is Connor Riley who works for SEC Country and graduated from the University of Georgia journalism school with me, hence his concern about me posting a GIF of Georgia’s most devastating defeat in the last five years.
I’m going to give you a scenario that gives you a little insight into the life of a Georgia grad who covers Auburn because, apparently, this is a foreign concept to most people I encounter in my life. Here’s a fake conversation that has probably been fairly close to real several times in the last year and a half (since I started covering Auburn).
THEM: What do you do for a living?
ME: I cover Auburn football recruiting.
THEM: Ah, cool. So you’re an Auburn grad/fan, I’m guessing?
ME: Nope. I went to Georgia.
THEM: …what? That must be pretty hard for you.
ME: Nope. I absolutely love it.
First things first, as a sports reporter, you often distance yourself from emotional connection of what you cover. I find that’s not as easy in college sports, especially SEC football, as some other sports because people have personal attachments to the universities they attend. It’s not like with professional sports where you have a fandom, but you don’t have an actual connection to the franchise other than (maybe) where you grew up and (maybe) the team you’ve wanted to win your whole life.
None of this has been a problem for me covering Auburn.
The people in Auburn — you know, the ones that have nothing to do with the football program — are some of the most gracious people I’ve ever met. The coaches and staffers I interact with on a regular bases for recruiting purposes have made my transition from a preps reporter in St. Simons Island, Ga., to an Auburn recruiting reporter one of the most seamless life adjustments I’ve had.
I interview and get to know recruits who consider Georgia and Auburn. Some of them — Tray Bishop, Monty Rice, Caleb Tannor and Justin Fields — choose Georgia. Some of them — Markaviest Bryant, KJ Britt, Michael Harris and Quindarious Monday — pick Auburn. I develop a connection with most of the guys I cover where I just want them to make the best decisions for them to assist their dream of getting a degree, enjoying the college experience and making it to the NFL.
In some ways, it’s so much better when you don’t have to pick sides. You just get to root for all of the different prospects you’ve covered over the years.
And, in my case, it makes the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry the most exciting time of year — especially when it’s No. 1 vs. No. 10.
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