Written by Cole Locascio
With 21 commitments on the board (5 already enrolled), the Auburn Tigers are shaping up to have a top-10 recruiting class for 2014. But Gus Malzahn and the Auburn coaching staff aren't finished yet, as they are still waiting on the decisions of a few more high school athletes tomorrow. Let me run you through Auburn's final targets and their chances of landing each one...
Rashaan Evans (Undecided) - "Star", Auburn (AL), 5 Star (#1 OLB, #15 Overall)
Interests: Auburn, Alabama, UCLA
The hometown-hero, Rashaan Evans, is the top target for the Auburn coaching staff heading into the final stretch, as a commitment from the #1 outside linebacker in the country would likely guarantee Auburn a top-5 recruiting class finish. Gus Malzahn and the Auburn coaching staff are recruiting Rashaan for the "Star" position in Ellis Johnson's 4-2-5 system.
If we back up a few weeks, Evans was considered to be an "Auburn-lock", but since then Alabama, along with UCLA, has made a strong push for the highly-touted athlete. The recruiting "circus", as I like to call it, has picked up quite a bit of steam for Evans, as both Kirby Smart and Gus Malzahn were present for Rashaan's grandfather's 80th birthday party last Saturday. When coaches are meddling their way into the extended family of a recruit, that's when you know things are getting out of hand.
UCLA seems to be the least likely of the three at this point. While the Bruins offer immediate playing time on offense and defense, proximity to home, as well as a chance to play in the SEC would be too much to turn down for the Auburn High linebacker. Alabama, on the other hand, poses the biggest threat to the Tigers today. Promising Evans a shot at a starting spot as a freshman (wishful thinking), Alabama defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart, thinks Evans would be a perfect fit for a hybrid-type linebacker spot in his system.
The kid has grown up in Auburn, he has friends in Auburn, so his heart should lie with Auburn. After going back and forth between the Tide and the Tigers in the past week, I think Evans will pick Auburn -- I have a pretty good feeling with this one.
Odds he signs with Auburn: 62%
Braden Smith (Undecided) - OG, Olathe (KS), 4 Star (#3 OG, #63 Overall)
Interests: Auburn, TCU, Texas A&M
After garnering a more recent interest from the Auburn coaching staff, Braden Smith has been recruited hard by Coach Malzahn and offensive line coach, J.B. Grimes. Smith performed in the Under Armour All-American game/practices where he wow'd coaches from across the country with his athleticism, footwork, and sheer strength against some of the nation's top defensive linemen.
At this point, it seems to be an Auburn/TCU battle for the Kansas kid with Texas A&M on the outside and looking in. TCU has been the heavy favorite for months, but after attracting the attention of Gus Malzahn, an SEC offer with an offensive system that relies heavily on the run-game, Auburn has made things awfully interesting. While TCU did get the final visit last weekend, I expect Braden to sign with the Tigers tomorrow -- it'll be a close one.
Odds he signs with Auburn: 58%
Andrew Williams (Undecided) - DE, McDonough (GA), 4 Star (#12 WDE, #231 Overall)
Interests: Auburn, Clemson, Georgia
Look at the Braden Smith recruiting scenario and take the opposite -- that's what you get with the defensive end from Eagle's Landing Christian, Andrew Williams.
After being recruited for the longest time by a pair of Tigers, Clemson and Auburn, Williams has recently attracted the attention of newly-hired UGA defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt. According to Williams himself, relationships are the most important part of the recruiting process, so while Georgia has made a valiant and strong push for the Georgia-kid as of late, I think this will continue to be a Clemson/Auburn battle for the signature. I'll give the very slight edge to Auburn because of the fact that he has two of his fellow Georgia friends, Carl Lawson and Montravious Adams, already at Auburn.
Odds he signs with Auburn: 52%
Steven Parker (Oklahoma Commit) - Safety, Jenks (OK), 4 Star (#9 S, #108 Overall)
Parker committed to the in-state Oklahoma Sooners yesterday at his high school. The Auburn coaching staff didn't feel too great about their chances in the race, which played a big role in the offer of safety, Markell Boston (who later committed to the Tigers), yesterday. I never like to leave out the possibility of a flip, but don't expect one from this kid tomorrow.
Odds he signs with Auburn: 2%
Treon Harris (FSU Commit) - ATH, Miami (FL), 4 Star
Interests: Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Miami
Yes, he is a Florida State commit, but a lot of insiders and recruiting analysts are predicting some sort of decommitment/flip from the athlete out of Booker T. High School today. Auburn has pitched the opportunity to play multiple positions on offense (QB, WR), as well as a shot on the opposite side of the ball at defensive back. I'm just not too sure how Harris would fit into Auburn's offense with his 4.58 40-time. Expect this kid to stay in the state of Florida.
Odds he signs with Auburn: 20%
Davon Godchaux (LSU Commit) - DT, Plaquemine (LA), 4 Star (#10 SDE, #148 Overall)
Interests: Auburn, Florida, LSU, UCLA
A bit of a loose cannon for LSU's coaching staff, Godchaux has visited Auburn and UCLA recently. While he believes that he would be a good fit in Ellis Johnson's defensive system, I think this is just a case of a recruit enjoying the recruiting process while he can. LSU won't let him slip out of the state of Louisiana.
Odds he signs with Auburn: 15%