Much like Justin Ferguson does on the Auburn team side, recruiting reporter Benjamin Wolk now will answer the Recruiting Question of the Day every day of the week. You can ask him your questions on Twitter or Facebook. Look for our Auburn Question of the Day. Go here to see all of our previous answers.
What kind of impact do you expect the iron bowl to have on Auburns class for 2018 and 2019? You see anybody switching from one school to AU?
— OKLAHOMA, WISCONSIN, and AUBURN SUPERFAN (@golfwizkid) November 28, 2017
Between the 2018 and 2019 classes, there were more than 60 prospects who rank as a 4-star talent or better on campus for the Iron Bowl.
For those players — many of whom perceive Alabama to be the premier football program in college football — it was an opportunity to see that, from a depth and quality perspective, there are few programs in college football that can match the Crimson Tide. And the Tigers didn’t just match them, they dominated, just as they did two weeks earlier against another No. 1 in Georgia.
To answer the first question succinctly, wins like those can have a program-changing effect when that many high-profile prospects are able to witness something they maybe weren’t expecting.
Here are some notable 4-star or better prospects from the Class of 2018 who attended the game:
- Luke Ford
- Trey Hill
- Saivion Smith
- Channing Tindall
- Richard Gouraige (Florida commit)
- Harold Joiner
- Emory Jones (Ohio State commit)
- Justyn Ross
- Dylan Wonnum
In the 2019 class, here are some of the players who were there whom Auburn would love to have as centerpieces of the next class (though this list isn’t exclusive, by any means).
- Owen Pappoe
- Clay Webb
- Curtis Fann
- Ryland Goede
- Keiondre Jones
- Ramel Keyton
- Jaylen McCollough
- King Mwikuta
- Bo Nix
- Mark Richards
- Jalen Sims
- Jackson Lampley
- Kenyon Jackson
- Wanya Morris
- Shamar Nash
That’s a list that doesn’t even include the 2020 prospects or 3-star prospects who are likely to jump up in the rankings. Needless to say, Auburn couldn’t have asked for a better group to have on campus to witness the 26-14 destruction of Alabama in front of its home fans.
The Jordan-Hare Stadium environment was the main talking point for recruits following the Iron Bowl. For some, it confirmed how they already felt about Auburn. For others, it made them realize the Tigers can’t be dismissed as their recruitments go forward because Auburn is creating a deep, talented roster at every position.
To answer the final question, of specific flip candidates, scan back up to the priority 2018 targets at the game.
There are two players on that list committed to other programs: Gouraige and Jones.
Gouraige admitted how much of an eye-opening experience the game was. He hadn’t visited The Plains since the week before the spring game, so he hadn’t experienced Jordan-Hare with fans in it for the entire calendar year. Looking back on it, he said he wished the Iron Bowl hadn’t been his first game of the season, but now there’s a solid chance Auburn earns an official visit from a top offensive tackle who likely will re-affirm his decision in January or February.
Gouraige’s two primary Florida recruiters, Chris Rumph and Brad Davis, were retained on Dan Mullen’s staff, which should help the Gators here.
Perhaps the most intriguing flip candidate to watch now is Jones, who has been committed to Ohio State since July 2016. He was the last recruit to leave the stadium and recruiting facility after the game, which my sources tell me was because of a 1-on-1 conversation with Gus Malzahn. I had one source tell me that the source couldn’t “see him going to OSU” and that Auburn recruiters consider it a 50-50 battle between Auburn and Alabama.
I still think Ohio State has a firm enough grasp on Jones to rule out the Buckeyes to that extent, but that shows there’s a growing confidence in the Southeast about keeping one of its top quarterbacks in the region.
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