It’s back for Week 2.
The SEC Country Auburn recruiting mailbag with Benjamin Wolk had a strong opening for Week 1, and there is more where that came from. Thanks to those of you who sent questions to my Twitter — @benjaminwolk — either in my mentions or DM. Also, thanks to those of you who joined me for my weekly Facebook Live recruiting chat. Unanswered questions from those sessions can be answered in this mailbag, too.
Enough small talk. Let’s get to business.
@andrewconverse: How do the injuries to Deondre Francois and Jacob Eason impact the Justin Fields recruitment?
@sherrod4AU: How does Deondre Francois getting hurt change the landscape in recruiting Fields? He was hoping he would turn pro this year right?
@Standrew5998: Where are we realistically in the Justin Fields sweepstakes?
I only included these three into the mailbag, but there were about 20 variations of questions on this same topic that I could’ve used.
Justin Fields has been the primary topic of recruiting conversation every week since he de-committed from Penn State in June. If it’s possible, Fields’ buzz managed to pick up this week, and not based off anything he said or did.
Before we get into the specifics, let me be clear that I’ve put in a Crystal Ball pick for Fields to Georgia. That hasn’t changed, though admittedly, some of the developments last weekend made me take a step back and realize this thing is more open than I previously made it seem.
Here’s a quote Fields gave to SEC Country’s Jeff Sentell before the 5-star quarterback stopped answering questions about his recruitment:
“ I’m not really looking at the wins and losses and how the team plays. My main thing is the quarterback position. That’s the position I play. So say if Jacob Eason gets hurt. Of course, now I don’t want him to get hurt. I don’t want that. He’s a great guy. A great guy. But for example, then in that situation maybe Jake Fromm goes in there and lights it up. Just tears it up. Well, for me then Georgia has kind of solidified their starter. I would have to take a good look at that. Now, I’m not afraid to compete. But I feel like if he has that experience then he would have that edge over me. But if Jacob Eason plays most of the whole season, then Jake Fromm doesn’t have that edge [in playing time] on me at all.”
For Georgia fans, that’s an eerie quote to read. It remains unknown how long Eason will be out, but he’ll, at the very least, be out for a primetime game against Notre Dame this weekend. That gives Fromm another chance to show Fields whether he should be hesitant to come to Georgia.
Florida State suffered, too. Francois went down, which means he’s not going pro after the season as the Seminoles could’ve been pitching. Now, two freshmen will battle it out to see who becomes the starter for the rest of the season. Either way, that’s an experience advantage for a potential future competition with Fields.
There there’s Auburn, the oft-forgotten member of the schools Fields is considering. Nothing happened with the Tigers opener to change anything. Stidham looked like someone who probably won’t head to the NFL after one season, so Fields would likely come in and sit behind him for a year before competing for the starting job with Malik Willis.
I’m also not ruling out the addition of other schools. Southern Cal, LSU and even Alabama are programs I’ve heard linked to Fields. At the very least, the latest injury developments will make Fields reassess every school.
For places like Auburn that seemed to be slipping, that is welcome news.
@TRAT_CITY_MANE: What’s the latest on the running back situation?
There were times, even when I thought Martin might choose Alabama, that I felt Auburn wasn’t in desperation mode at running back. Did the Tigers want Martin? Obviously. But if the they missed on him, I wasn’t convinced they were going to chase another running back.
Auburn likes what it has with its freshman running backs Devan Barrett and JaTarvious Whitlow. I think both of those players have upside going forward.
As for the Class of 2018, the Tigers think they have something special in Shaun Shivers. No, he’s not a big guy. In fact, at 5-foot-5 and 165 pounds, Shivers isn’t going to be your every-down SEC running back. But he brings a dangerous versatility to the offense and special teams.
Does Auburn need more than that? Going into next season, the Tigers would have Kam Martin, Malik Miller, Barrett, Whitlow, Asa Martin and Shivers with multiple years of eligibility remaining. On top of that, the 2019 class is strong at running back.
So while the Tigers could try to make a push for a guy such as Harold Joiner, it seems Auburn is in a happy place with running backs.
@AlanTheTiger: How’s Auburn looking in the recruitment of Dylan Wonnum and Kayode Oladele?
I’m assuming this question was inspired by Crystal Ball trends. Oladele picked up a few Crystal Ball picks earlier in the week, including one from 247Sports Auburn recruiting reporter Keith Niebuhr, who has one of the best track records nationally with predictions. Wonnum has picked up several Auburn predictions since I placed my pick for the Tigers a few weeks ago.
Admittedly, I know more about Wonnum than Oladele.
Wonnum is one of Auburn’s top offensive line targets remaining, along with 4-star offensive guard Trey Hill. Wonnum is close friends with Auburn offensive line commit Jalil Irvin, who is convinced Wonnum will choose the Tigers eventually. Auburn is trending in the right direction here, but Wonnum’s brother plays for South Carolina, so the Gamecocks can’t be ruled out.
As for Oladele, the Tigers appear to be making a big move.
He camped at Auburn over the summer and looks the part. Oladele fits into the Nigeria pipeline, of sorts. He’s friends with defensive line target Richard Jibunor, who is likely to choose the Tigers. Jibunor thinks Auburn is sitting at No. 2 behind Florida State, but that Auburn has a chance to make a move.
It’s always smart to look at prospects who camped the summer before their senior year as major recruiting options, so Oladele is a contender to land in this class.
Kenny Allen (Facebook): What high school game are you going to Friday night?
I’ll actually be staying close to home on Friday night.
Auburn High hosts top wide receiver target Justyn Ross and Central High. Ross is considering Auburn and Clemson, so it’ll be nice at get his take on those two programs as they prepare to face off Saturday in Death Valley. On top of that, he’s an unbelievable prospect to go watch in person. It should be fun.
Ross won’t be the only major player in the game. Auburn High linebacker Mohamoud Diabate was virtually unstoppable in his game last week. Diabate is the No. 12 OLB and No. 180 overall player in the Class of 2019.
The post Auburn recruiting mailbag: Do quarterback injuries affect Justin Fields’ recruitment? appeared first on SEC Country.