By Wil Crews
With the uncertainty surrounding Auburn’s head coaching vacancy at the forefront of everyone’s mind, some Auburn recruits decided to push their decision to February, but for the most part, the Tigers improved their position on early national signing day Wednesday.
“This is an exciting day for Auburn,” said interim Auburn Head Coach Kevin Steele in his press conference Wednesday. “When you’re trying to sign a class without a head coach, it’s certainly a challenge, but the staff did a great job in being relentless in their pursuit in keeping the class together and representing Auburn in a way that people at Auburn would be proud.”
Going into the day, the Tigers had the No. 45 recruiting class in the country, with 12 total commits. The Tiger’s recruiting class climbed to No. 40 by the end of the day, but it ranks No. 19 if you rank classes by average player rating.
“These 12, they showed a commitment to Auburn University that is the kind of commitment you want in the fourth quarter of the Iron Bowl,” Steele said.
The interim head coach went on to say that a 13th recruit will join the Tigers on Friday and that Auburn only lost one player to an unsuspected decommitment, although three prospects pushed their signing to February.
Looking at the positives, Auburn landed their top target recruit of the 2021 class, four-star dual-threat quarterback Dematrius Davis. Davis, a star from Houston (Texas) North Shore, is the winningest QB in Texas high school record with a record of 45-2. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound QB has North Shore still competing in the Texas Class 6A Division 1 playoffs, with a shot at capturing their third straight title.
“He’s a very athletic, strong-armed, accurate, can beat you with his legs, can beat you with his arms, extremely competitive and he’s won championships,” Steele said of Davis. “For him to do what he did was huge. You can’t operate in this business without a quarterback.”
After Davis, Auburn continued their harvest of Texas recruits, garnering commitments from tight end Landen King and wide receiver Hal Presley. King signed from Beaumont, Texas, where the 6-foot-5, 220-pound tight end had 39 receptions as a senior and 53 as a junior. King, a three-star commit, is rated the No. 9 tight end in the country according to ESPN. The 6-foot-3, 197-pound Presley is a three-star commit who had 32 catches for 775 yards and 13 touchdowns in his senior year at Mansfield Summit in Arlington, Texas. Presley is rated among the top 60 overall prospects from Texas according to 247, ESPN and Rivals.
Other players who signed their letters of intent to the Tigers on Wednesday include: Lee Hunter, a 6-foot-5, 292-pound defensive tackle and Auburn’s highest-rated recruit of the 2021 class out of Mobile, rated as the No. 7 player at his position according to 247; Marquis Robinson, a four-star, 6-foot-3, 300-pound defensive tackle out of Florida, rated as the No. 15 prospect nationally at his position by ESPN; Ahmari Harvey, a four-star safety out of Tallahassee, Florida, rated as the No. 4 safety prospect nationally by ESPN; Garner Langlo, a three-star, 6-foot-7, 270-pound offensive lineman out of Ocala, Florida, rated as the No. 22 offensive guard in the nation by PrepStar; Kamal Hadden, a three-star JUCO cornerback out of Independence Community College rated as the No. 5 prospect at his position by 247; Armani (A.D.) Diamond, a three-star defensive back and Hunter’s teammate, rated as the No. 56 overall prospect at his position in Alabama; Grant Calcaterra, a four-star graduate transfer tight end and former first-team All-Big 12 selection at Oklahoma as a sophomore; Tobechi Okoli, a three-star, 6-foot-5, 225-pound defensive end from Lincoln Prep in Kansas City, rated as the No. 7 prospect at his position in his state according to 247; Ian Matthews, a three-star, 6-foot-5, 270-pounder out of Columbus, Georgia, rated among the top 60 overall prospects in his state.
The big losses for the Tigers come in the form of: George Wilson, a three-star defensive end from Virginia Beach who committed to Florida State over the Tigers; Jaeden Roberts, a four-star offensive lineman, who decommitted because of “the recent decision to hire a new coach,” he said; and Armani Goodwin, a 5-foot-8, 190-pound running back from Hewitt-Trussville High School, who was rated as the No. 5 RB in his class nationally and one of the Tigers’ prized targets.
Grad transfer Eric Wilson, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound Harvard offensive lineman has not provided an update to his commitment status following the firing of Malzahn.
“So on defense that’s seven signees; we will add one Friday for the eighth and then we have two holding,” Steele said in summation. “We singed 12, technically speaking there is 11 more spots on the books that could be filled. That would be up to the next head coach.”