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Sumner Martin

Recruiting Tracker: Five names to watch

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Auburn had a monumental shift on the recruiting trail last week.

The Tigers picked up four recruits in three days, doubling the size of its 2021 class, and picked up some much needed momentum for the summer. ESPN 300 quarterback Dematrius Davis headlined the group and was joined by a pair of offensive linemen, Caleb Johnson and Garner Langlo, as well as an athlete from Florida, Tar’varish Dawson.

Auburn now sits at No. 20 in ESPN’s Class Rankings with eight commitments, six of them being four-star prospects.

Who’s next for the Tigers? Here’s a list of players to keep an eye on in the weeks ahead. Now, this list always liable to change considering how fluid recruiting is, but these are a few of the players atop Auburn’s wish list.

DE – JEREMIAH WILLIAMS (4-STAR) – 6-3, 224 LBS. – BIRMINGHAM, AL

Auburn will lose both edge rushers Big Kat Bryant and T.D. Moultry after this season, so Williams is a guy that Malzahn and his staff will be pursuing relentlessly this summer.

Right now, the Tigers are in an ideal spot. They are in the top two or three of contenders to land a commitment for a number of reasons. Malzahn’s relationship with Williams is very strong, Williams is an in-state prospect only hours away from campus and having a guy like Rodney Garner oversee you, with the track record he has, never hurts. Now, that also means that Alabama will be a factor and something Auburn will have to deal with, but the Tigers have a real chance here.

Williams, a Ramsay High School product, is a long, athletic edge rusher that has the frame and versatility to play a number of position in Kevin Steele’s defense. He’s the 5th ranked prospect in the state and is the 6th-best weakside defensive end, but could also line up at outside linebacker.

CB – GA’QUINCY MCKINSTRY (5-STAR) – 5-11, 175 LBS. – PINSON, AL

McKinstry is obviously one of Auburn’s most wanted targets, being the No. 1 player in the state. Also, when you look at positions of need for the Tigers, the secondary is at the forefront of that conversation.

The five-star corner dropped his top-five schools this past weekend, naming Auburn, Georgia, Alabama, LSU and Clemson as his finalists. For now, I think Alabama, Auburn and LSU are the slight leaders but that could change over the next month or so. What bodes well for Auburn is the longstanding relationship it has with the two-sport athlete. He comes from Pinson Valley, where he played with Bo Nix, and also is entertaining the idea of playing both football and basketball at the next level so that could be a positive for the Tigers.

McKinstry is an elite two-way player, has excellent ball skills and is instinctive in coverage. He’s a guy that could come in and be an impact starter at the Power-Five level immediately.

LB – SMAEL MONDON (5-STAR) – 6-3, 220 LBS. – DALLAS, GA

Mondon is Auburn’s top linebacker target on the board.

However, most believe the Dawgs are the team to beat for the five-star from Paulding County. It will be a tall task for Auburn to go into Georgia for Mondon, but linebackers’ coach Travis Williams gives the Tigers a realistic shot. Mondon and Williams’ relationship is very strong, and Mondon has said that the former NFL linebacker keeps Auburn firmly in his group of possible destinations.

Mondon is just another example of the versatile, athletic linebackers that Auburn likes to recruit. He is the 2nd-best outside linebacker in the country and is the 3rd- best prospect overall in Georgia. Mondon has exceptional length and speed at his position, playing sideline-to-sideline and could also be very useful dropping back in coverage.

OG – DYLAN FAIRCHILD (4-STAR) – 6-5, 298 LBS. – CUMMING, GA

Fairchild listed his final six schools earlier this month and five of them are from the Southeastern Conference.

Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee and South Carolina all made the cut, as well as Penn State. Georgia is the clear leader for now, but Auburn is close behind and Jack Bicknell has developed a good relationship with the four-star prospect. The pitch for Auburn that Georgia can’t offer, is early playing time. If Fairchild wants to come in and realistically compete for a starting job as a freshman, there’s more of an opportunity at Auburn as opposed to Georgia.

Fairchild is the No. 7 offensive guard in the country and offers real strength, flexibility and athleticism for a big man that could translate into a multi-year starter in the SEC.

TE – LAKE MCREE (3-STAR) – 6-4, 217 LBS. – AUSTIN, TX

McRee could be the one most likely on this list to commit next.

He recently narrowed his list to Auburn, Penn State, Purdue, Washington, USC and LSU. And although he only visited Auburn virtually, the the coaching staff has made an early impression on him as has the idea of playing in Chad Morris’ offense. McRee is also from Texas and has been in contact with Auburn commit Dematrius Davis, so the Tigers are trending up for yet another tight end recruit from the Lone Star State.

McRee is the 18th-best tight end in the country and can be used in a variety of ways, whether it be in a traditional role or an unconventional one. He’s a capable blocker that Malzahn could use in the run game but also possesses the length and athleticism to line up out wide similar to a receiver.

Highly sought-after transfer eyeing Auburn

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Auburn is reportedly in the lead for the country’s most sought-after transfer, Georgetown’s Mac McClung, as of Tuesday according to sources close to the situation.

Along with Auburn, other schools showing interest are Memphis, Tennessee, North Carolina, Arkansas and Wake Forest. Memphis is reportedly the second frontrunner, as of now.

McClung, who was the Hoyas’ leading scorer last season, unexpectedly decided to enter his name into the transfer portal last week after pulling his name out of the NBA Draft to maintain his NCAA eligibility.

“It was a number of different events that made me feel I had no choice but to transfer from Georgetown,” McClung said in a recent interview with ESPN. “I really wanted to stay, but things throughout my career made me realize that I couldn’t. … I’m looking for a place I can call home. A place I can be a part of a family and help them succeed.”

Last season, the high-flying guard averaged 15.7 points a game for head coach Patrick Ewing and was a budding star in the Hoyas’ offense before a foot injury cut his season short. As a freshman, he averaged just over 13 points a game.

“Mac was an integral piece of our program, and when he let me know his decision I was disappointed,” Ewing said in a statement. “But he needs to do what’s best for him. I want to wish him luck in his future endeavors. Moving forward, our focus is the core that we have coming back and our incoming class.”

Now, where does he fit in at Auburn? Bruce Pearl’s team needs scoring. The Tigers are losing all four players from last year’s team that averaged above 10 points per game (Samir Doughty, Isaac Okoro, J’Von McCormick and Austin Wiley), not to mention the next two highest (Danjel Purifoy and Anfernee McLemore), who averaged just under double digits. That leaves a massive hole.

To remedy this, Pearl has signed one of the best recruiting classes in the program’s history as well as the program’s highest-rated recruit to date in five-star guard Sharife Cooper, and there could still be more to come by way of a transfer or Jonathan Kuminga.

But, Auburn isn’t Kentucky. You can’t expect this group of true freshman to carry the load in the Southeastern Conference, a conference that has propelled to the top of the ranks in college basketball in recent years. There are serious question marks at the wing positions about who is ready to take that next step as a reliable, go-to scorer. Cooper will almost certainly be running the show at the point guard position but he will need to have a guard to facilitate to in the backcourt, so that he isn’t carrying the weight of an entire team.

So, who fills that scoring guard role? The Tigers have a number of guards returning (Jamal Johnson, Tyrell Jones, Devan Cambridge, Allen Flanigan to name a few), but not one averaged over five points a game. Justin Powell and J.T. Thor, depending on how Pearl chooses to use him, are both versatile freshmen that could be tried at either of the wings, but who knows if either of them are ready to make that jump immediately. Cambridge and Flanigan would be the leading candidates if the season started tomorrow, but both were fairly one-dimensional role players on the offensive end last season.

This is where McClung would fit nicely in Pearl’s offense, as a scoring complement for Cooper. McClung has the experience and scoring prowess to come in and average double digits right away, having done so for back t0 back years in the Big East. The 6-foot-2 guard is a walking highlight-reel and could be leaned on to go get a basket in pressure situations, and can score in a variety of ways. I don’t see anyone else on Auburn’s roster with as polished of an offensive skill set and I think McClung, if he were to choose Auburn, would flourish in Pearl’s system.

Now, there is still a long way to go in this recruitment. McClung’s agent told the Washington Post that NBA teams’ feedback to him in this process was that they wanted to see him more as a facilitator, since he played primarily off the ball at Georgetown. That’s why I’m still skeptical that he eventually lands at Auburn because of McClung’s desire to be at the point guard position, with Cooper coming in next season. Nonetheless, Auburn is in the hunt and there are other teams pursuing him that are set at that position as well.

“Being more of a point guard role, etc. I’m not saying he couldn’t have gotten that at Georgetown, but he didn’t showcase that at Georgetown,” McClung’s agent Daniel Hazan said. “He didn’t get the opportunity really to showcase that.”

McClung will need to file a waiver to play immediately in 2020-21.

Recruiting Recap: Quick look at Auburn’s latest commits from a huge weekend

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Before the weekend, Auburn’s 2021 class had an underwhelming four commitments with lots of ground to make up in the recruiting juggernaut of a conference that the SEC is.

Three days later and the Tigers have doubled the size of its class, propelling themselves into the Top 25 (247Sports Team Rankings), and are picking up momentum for what has the potential to be another impressive group. Currently, they are the No. 21 class.

Here’s a quick look at the four commitments Gus Malzahn and his staff landed over the weekend, and what Auburn is getting with each one of them.

QB – DEMATRIUS DAVIS  (4-STAR) – 6-0, 190 LBS. – HOUSTON, TX

Steam had been mounting for several months with Davis, and after decommiting from Virginia Tech just weeks earlier, there was little surprise that the dual-threat quarterback from Texas eventually chose the Tigers. Davis, an ESPN 300 prospect and the fourth-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2021 class, made the announcement Sunday morning.

“What really made me commit — the opportunity to play in big-time games every week,” Davis said in an interview with Rivals’ Sam Spiegelman. “I’ll have the opportunity to get my name out there once I get on the field and do what I do.”

Davis, whose relationship with offensive coordinator Chad Morris was the driving factor, becomes the first quarterback in Auburn’s 2021 class. Morris has recruited Davis since his freshman year and has sold him on how he could be the quarterback of the future for this offense.

The North Shore product is one of the most decorated recruits in the country, accounting for more than 4,000 combined yards, with more than 1,400 of them on the ground, and 54 total touchdowns in 2019. Davis is a pure passer with mobility that thrives in situations when the play breaks down. He will have the time to mature and learn under Bo Nix, but already has the attributes to fit perfectly in Malzahn’s system down the road.

OT – CALEB JOHNSON (4-STAR) – 6-7, 295 LBS. – OCALA, FL

Offensive line coach Jack Bicknell went outside the state to recruit one of the Tigers’ biggest targets, and was rewarded with a commitment from Johnson Friday. Johnson is ranked as the 29th-best offensive tackle in the class, according to ESPN, and has the traits to blossom into a Power-Five starter in the years to come. Offensive line was a position of emphasis for this class, with the hiring of Bicknell and with the departure of four seniors in 2019.

“He is a straightforward guy,” Johnson said of Bicknell in an interview with Rivals. “We have a good relationship and I like how he teaches. He likes me and I like him.”

The four-star tackle has a long, athletic frame and has the potential to be an effective run-blocker for the Tigers in the future, and has the versatility to compete at tackle or guard.

ATH – TAR’VARISH DAWSON (3-STAR) – 5-10, 175 LBS. – LEHIGH ACRES, FL

Dawson committed during the show Friday morning, so we dissected him and gave our initial thoughts on the Florida athlete, but again, to reiterate, he’s not a three-star to disregard. He is a Top-30 athlete on ESPN’s rankings and chose Auburn over Miami, South Carolina and UCF among others. Dawson compares to former Auburn defensive back Javaris Davis, who now is with the Kansas City Chiefs, and has the upside to be real weapon in Kevin Steele’s defensive scheme.

“It’s a must,” Dawson said in an interview with Auburn Undercover. “I have to go up there. I like Auburn. It’s a big school and they have great players that came from that school. They’ve had a lot of success. They always have a chance to go to the playoffs, so I like that a lot.”

Dawson is lightning quick, being clocked at 10.58 seconds in 100-meter dash, and possesses unique versatility that can translate to a number of positions at the next level. While I expect Dawson to end up playing on the defensive side of the ball at nickel or corner, it will be interesting nonetheless to see how this coaching staff chooses to use him.

OT – GARNER LANGLO (3-STAR) – 6-7, 270 LBS. – OCALA, FL

Langlo, a teammate of Johnson, also committed Friday, joining offensive line commits Johnson and J’Marion Gooch. Langlo, another big target for Bicknell, chose Auburn over Florida State, N.C. State and Mississippi State just to name a few.

“Coach Bicknell definitely knows what he’s doing,” Langlo said in an interview with Rivals. “He doesn’t sugarcoat anything and is going to tell you how it is. He’s been around and will be able to help me get to the next level.”

The combination of two massive linemen in Langlo and Johnson, soon to be under the guidance of a former NFL coach in Bicknell, is a promising early push for this 2021 class.

 

 

 

Sneak Peek: Defensive Depth Chart

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Yesterday, we took a look at the what the offense might look like for Auburn in 2020. Today, we dissect the defense.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Defensive end- Big Kat Bryant, Sr.

  • Jaren Handy, So.
  • Zykeivous Walker, Fr.
  • Caleb Johnson, So.

Defensive tackle- Tyrone Truesdell, Sr.

  • Dre Butler, Jr.
  • Jay Hardy, Fr.

 Defensive tackle- DaQuan Newkirk, Sr.

  • Coynis Miller, Jr.
  • Marquis Burks, Jr.
  • Daniel Foster-Allen, Fr.

Buck- Derick Hall, So.

  • D. Moultry, Sr.
  • Colby Wooden, RFr.
  • Romello Height, Fr.

This unit takes a hit, there’s no denying that, but it isn’t a blow that can’t be absorbed.

Both Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson were taken in the first and second rounds of the NFL Draft, and Nick Coe was signed shortly after. But, the Tigers continue to reload, as we have come to expect since defensive line coach Rodney Garner arrived on the Plains.

Experienced seniors Big Kat Bryant and Tyrone Truesdell headline the group, both primed for breakout seasons in their senior campaigns. The other defensive tackle spot will be the biggest question mark, depending on who steps up between Newkirk and Miller. Newkirk has had a difficult time staying on the field, battling injuries in his three years on campus, but if he can stay healthy then the former top JUCO prospect could really be an asset for this team plugging the middle. At Buck, there should be healthy competition between Hall and Moultry, both of which have shown potential to be menaces rushing the passer.

Auburn brought in a lot of young talent too, signing a Top 10 class in 2020, so the depth and versatility should be there for Garner to use a variety of players and situational packages like we have seen in the past. Two newcomers to watch that could make an impact immediately in 2020 are Zykeivous Walker and Dre Butler. Walker was a four-star defensive end, the No. 3 strongside end in the class, and Butler was one of the most sought after JUCO prospects in the country. Now, Walker is at a position that is definitely more of an uphill climb for playing time, but Butler is at a position that is wide open and he was brought in to play right away.

Even with the losses of Brown, Davidson and Coe, this unit has the potential to be one of the best in the SEC.

LINEBACKERS

 Inside- K.J. Britt, Sr.

  • Chandler Wooten, Sr.
  • C. Brothers, RFr.
  • Cam Riley, Fr.
  • Kameron Brown, RFr.

 Outside- Owen Pappoe, So.

  • Zakoby McClain, Jr.
  • Wesley Steiner, Fr.
  • Josh Marsh, So.
  • Desmond Tisdol, Fr.

Linebackers coach Travis Williams returns what he hopes can be the best linebacker corps in the conference. Four key contributors return at the second level, including 2019 First Team All-SEC member K.J. Britt. Britt, Pappoe, Wooten and McClain will all build on last year’s success and as long as they can avoid injury, this unit will be elite.

The Tigers also signed three four-star linebackers in the 2020 class, with Steiner, Tisdol and Riley. Pappoe came in as a true freshman last year and earned a starting spot and although I don’t see anything like that happening again this year, Steiner has the makings of a future All-SEC linebacker. There will be good competition from top to bottom so, at the very least, there will be little room for complacency.

SECONDARY

Cornerback- Roger McCreary, Jr.

  • Devan Barrett, Sr.
  • Jaylin Simpson, RFr.
  • Jashawn Sheffield, RFr.

Cornerback- Marco Domio, Jr.

  • Nehemiah Pritchett, So.
  • Traivon Leonard, Sr.
  • Eric Reed Jr., Fr.

Nickel- Christian Tutt, Jr.

  • Jordyn Peters, Sr.
  • Ladarius Tennison, Fr.

Safety- Jamien Sherwood, Jr.

  • Chris Thompson, Fr.
  • Zion Puckett, RFr.

Safety- Smoke Monday, Jr.

  • Malcolm Askew, Jr.
  • Matthew Hill, So.

There are a lot of question marks in this secondary, a secondary that loses all four of its starters to the NFL. Noah Igbinoghene was taken in the first round of the NFL Draft, Daniel Thomas in the fifth, and both Javaris Davis and Jeremiah Dinson were signed as undrafted free agents. There’s a lot of experience and skill to replace.

McCreary, a long and athletic corner that was Auburn’s highest rated defensive back in 2019 according to Pro Football Focus, is expected to be the No. 1 and shoulder the load. He will have a lot of responsibility and will have to handle high expectations considering he broke out last year and played significant minutes in all 13 games. The mystery lies with who will line up opposite McCreary. The nickel position is in good hands with returning veterans Tutt and Peters, but Kevin Steele’s defense will need one of Domio, Pritchett, etc. to step up. Domio, who was one of the highest-rated JUCO defensive backs, was recruited for this very reason: to fill a void immediately at a position of need. He is a bigger corner standing 6-foot-1 and is an explosive athlete, so I think eventually the Tigers will need him to become an everyday starter.

At the safety position, Sherwood and Monday are ready to fill the shoes of Dinson and Thomas, having served as backups the last two years. Both have had experience, have been in high-stress situations in big games and should be playmakers in the defense. Depth behind them is worrisome however with loads of inexperience, so they cannot afford any devastating injuries.

 

Sneak Peek: Offensive Depth Chart

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College football’s season is still up in the air and as state governments begin lifting restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, college athletics officials are starting to plan for how a season can go on in a safe and effective manner. Safe to say, there will be no normal.

Teams were not afforded the luxury of spring practices and have fallen behind in that regard, but Auburn University President Jay Gogue did say in a statement this week that campus operations will resume in the fall. And when these players do return to campus, Gus Malzahn and his staff will have a number of position battles to watch in a short amount of time.

Here’s an early look at what the Tigers’ offense could look like in 2020.

QUARTERBACK- Bo Nix, So.

-Cord Sandberg, So.

-Chayil Garnett, Fr.

There’s no need for a quarterback competition this time around, if and when preseason practice for college football ensues, with the season’s start date still unknown. The reigning SEC Freshman of the Year had his ups and downs in 2019, but showed resilience and maturity beyond his years throwing for over 2,500 yards and 16 touchdowns, setting multiple Auburn freshman records in the process. Malzahn should be in a comfortable position, with one of the better quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference at his disposal.

RUNNING BACK- (a) D. J. Williams, So. (b) Tank Bigsby, Fr.

            -Shaun Shivers, Jr.

-Mark-Antony Richards, RFr.

-Harold Joiner, So.

-Malik Miller, Sr.

Cadillac Williams’ running back room is loaded with talent and depth, so this will be an intriguing battle to keep an eye on as the season. With Boobee Whitlow choosing to enter the transfer portal during the offseason, I expect Malzahn to give the nod to D.J. Williams who has more experience, having started two games last season. However, Bigsby is a Top-5 back in the country and is one of the most talented prospects Auburn has had at the position in recent years. The Georgia product can do it all at 210 pounds and could develop into the all-purpose feature back that the Tigers were hoping for if given the chance.

WIDE RECIEVER

  • Split end- Seth Williams, Jr.

-Kobe Hudson, Fr.

-J.J. Evans, Fr.

  • Flanker- Anthony Schwartz, Jr.

-Zach Farrar, Sr.

-Elijah Canion, Fr.

  • Slot- Eli Stove, Sr.

-Ja’Varrius Johnson, Fr.

  • Big slot- Shedrick Jackson, Jr.

-Ze’Vian Capers, Fr.

Newly appointed offensive coordinator Chad Morris will have an experienced arsenal to work with in the passing game. Headlined by junior Seth Williams, who broke out last season as a go-to target and developed a connection with Nix, is joined by upperclassmen Schwartz and Stove, both of whom have big-play potential with their speed and versatility. It will be interesting to see how Morris utilizes his returning starters, as well as mix in talented youngsters like Hudson and Johnson among others in the system.

TIGHT END/H-BACK- John Samuel Shenker, Jr.

-Luke Deal, RFr.

-Tyler Fromm, RFr.

-Brandon Frazier, Fr.

-J.J. Pegues, Fr.

Morris, who saw success in his time at Arkansas implementing tight ends into the offense, should be excited to work with this group. Shenker has five starts under his belt and will be primed for a full season as the starter, but there is athleticism at this position top to bottom. Both freshmen, Frazier and Pegues, were both recruited by Morris as playmakers that could have an early role to play in the offense.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Left tackle- Austin Troxell, Jr.

-Alec Jackson, Jr.

-Justin Osborne, RFr.

-Prince Michael Sammons, Sr.

  • Left guard- Keiondre Jones, RFr.

-Tashawn Manning, Jr.

-Kameron Stutts, So.

-Tate Johnson, Fr.

  • Center- Nick Brahms, Jr.

-Jalil Irvin, So.

-Avery Jernigan, Fr.

  • Right guard- Brodarious Hamm, Jr.

-Brandon Council, Jr.

-Kamaar Bell, RFr.

  • Right tackle- Kilian Zierer, Jr.

-Brenden Coffey, Jr.

-Jeremiah Wright, Fr.

New offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. will have his hands full in 2020, especially under these unique circumstances. The line lost six seniors from last year’s group and will have 17 players competing for five spots this season, so almost all spots are wide open. The lone certainty is Brahms at center and Hamm, who showed great strides last season, should end up starting somewhere, although it could be at guard or tackle. Troxell just needs to stay healthy and if he can, I would be surprised to not see him challenging for that left tackle spot. The biggest questions I have with this projection are with Jones and Zierer. The Tigers reached into the junior college pool to get Zierer and if he’s fully healthy, I think he has the size and athleticism to potentially earn a starting position.

 

 

Pearl: Thor could be ‘something special’

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J.T. Thor has made it official.

The 6-foot-9, 195-pound forward, signed his National Letter of Intent with Auburn, head coach Bruce Pearl announced in a Monday morning press release.

“I have been a JT Thor fan for three years,” Pearl said. “We first laid eyes on him when he was at Huntington Prep and were so impressed with his skill level and basketball IQ. It just felt like if he ever filled out a little bit, he could be something special.”

Thor, a consensus four-star forward heralded as the 47th-best player in the 2020 class by ESPN and the third-best from the state of Georgia, earned all-state honors averaging 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game for Norcross High School.

The lefty forward, whose prospect ratings trail only five-star guard Sharife Cooper in Auburn’s incoming class, was a much needed addition for the Tigers to reload in the frontcourt. The pair have developed a relationship, working out together in Georgia.

“We used to play two-on-two, three-on-threes,” Thor said of Cooper in an interview with Evan Daniels of 247Sports. “Every time we’re on the same team, we feel like we’re unstoppable. Every time he throws me a lob, I set him a screen, pick-and-pop. I feel like me and him jell together and we can make a lot of noise next year.”

Thor isn’t your typical forward. It’s early for comparisons, yes, but he does possess a similar type of upside and potential that Chuma Okeke brought in terms of versatility.

The Norcross product is long, athletic and possesses traits normally seen in guards. He is more than capable of being a playmaker in the offense, has above average ball handling skills for his size and can stretch the floor so opposing big men will have to step out and guard on the perimeter.

“Because of Chuma Okeke leaving early to go to the NBA, Danjel Purifoy and Anfernee McLemore graduating, we had a tremendous opportunity for a versatile, face-up, big guard like JT Thor,” Pearl added. “He can cover 1 through 4, score inside and out and is a prospect that my strength coach and my assistant coaches are going to love working with because he has tremendous upside.”

The Tigers have one scholarship spot remaining for the 2020 class.

“Bruce Pearl and the class that’s coming in jelled well with me. I feel like we can have a really good season next year,” Thor told Daniels. “He’s a player’s coach, first of all, and he’s a winner. He had players before me that played like me, so I feel like I can fit in well to his system and we can make it work.”

 

ESPN Top 50 center commits to Auburn

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After whiffing on five-star prospects Jalen Green and Greg Brown in consecutive weeks—one opting for the NBA’s G-League and the other heading to Texas—the Tigers have finally landed their fifth commitment of the 2020 class.

Dylan Cardwell, a 6-foot-10, 220-pound center from Powder Springs, Georgia, announced his intentions to play college ball for Auburn and head coach Bruce Pearl via Twitter Thursday afternoon.

The growing consensus after the Tigers officially offered Cardwell a scholarship this week was that he would choose Auburn over previous frontrunner Georgia.

The three-star big man transferred to McEachern High from Oak Hill Academy where he was teammates with five-star Auburn signee Sharife Cooper, although he was forced to sit out his senior season due to the transfer rules in the state of Georgia. Cardwell also has family ties on the Plains, being the nephew of Auburn football’s defensive line coach Rodney Garner.

Cardwell was a must-have for Pearl’s 2020 class with seniors Austin Wiley and Anfernee McLemore departing, leaving Babatunde Akingbola as the lone true center on the roster.

Cardwell already has a center’s frame and is physical enough down low to bolster the Tigers’ inside presence, and develop into a Power-5 starter in the Southeastern Conference right away. He plays with a relentless motor and is exceptional following shots, rebounding and protecting the rim on the defensive end. Offensively, his repertoire is more limited but he has nice touch around the rim and can be utilized effectively when screening and rolling to the basket.

Cardwell is ranked as the No. 33 center, according to ESPN’s Player Rankings, and earned a scout grade of 79 as the 14th best prospect in his state. He joins five-star combo guard Sharife Cooper, four-stars J.T. Thor and Justin Powell, and three-star Chris Moore in Auburn’s class, which as of now is the highest rated class in the program’s history.

Pearl has one scholarship spot left after adding Cardwell, with Jonathan Kuminga’s decision still to come. Kuminga, the nation’s No. 1 player in the 2021 class is considering reclassifying and has garnered a lot of attention from Auburn’s staff to fill its final spot.

Auburn is currently No. 6 in ESPN’s 2020 Class Rankings, fourth best in the SEC behind Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas. Kentucky lays claim to the nation’s No.1 class, Tennessee No. 4 and Arkansas one in front of the Tigers at No. 5.