A closer look at Auburn football's roster situation for 2022 — and beyond
It's past time for a Roster Tracker refresh. Let's highlight what the Tigers might target in the transfer portal — and what they could do in the 2023 cycle.
(Jacob Taylor/Auburn Athletics)
Somewhat quietly, the door to the transfer portal was closed late last month. Football players who enter it moving forward won’t be eligible for the upcoming fall season — they’ll have to sit out at least a year.
So, for the most part, whoever is in the portal right now are the only ones who will have any impact on the 2022 season.
Auburn was able to bring a couple of players back from the portal, but it still had 18 players leave that way from its 2021 roster. Still, the Tigers didn’t have any more entrants between the end of spring practices and the late-April deadline for immediate eligibility — which is pretty rare for most programs.
It’s been a while since The Auburn Observer’s unofficial roster tracker got an in-depth update, and the recent transfer addition of Miami wide receiver Dazalin Worsham was a good time for a refresh. (Plus, a few of the player years from the older version didn’t match what Auburn listed on its spring roster.)
Here’s the situation: Auburn signed 17 players in its 2022 recruiting class. (Tre Donaldson would have been No. 18, but he is officially just going to play basketball on the Plains.) In the transfer portal, Auburn has added six more players — Worsham, Eugene Asante, D.J. James, Zach Calzada, Robby Ashford and Jayson Jones. That gives Auburn 23 newcomers.
There is a 25-man signing class cap in college football, but that’s been loosened recently and could even go away this summer. Here’s what Ross Dellenger reported about the situation at Sports Illustrated late last month:
Eliminating the signing cap would be the second change to the policy since last summer. In 2021, coaches were allowed to replace up to seven players who entered the transfer portal, increasing the 25-person limit to as many as 32.
It was never meant as a permanent solution, but a one-year stopgap until a more permanent policy is in place. At a time of transition within the NCAA, the dissolution of the signing cap may not be a permanent solution, either. The proposal may serve as a sort-of trial run for possibly two years, at which point the results could be reviewed, administrators say. A signing cap could be reimposed at some point.
The full-scale cutting of the signing cap isn’t the only concept on the table, officials say. Maybe the 25-plus-7 (32) plan will be extended. Or maybe a “one-for-one” plan is instituted, allowing coaches to replace each transferring player with no limit.
If the 25 + 7 rule from 2021 carries over into 2022 like Dellenger suggests, Auburn could theoretically add as many as nine more players from the transfer portal. That would work out quite well, considering the unofficial (emphasis on unofficial) tracker has the Tigers down for 76 scholarship players right now. Nine more would give Auburn the traditional 85-man limit.
But fans shouldn’t expect to see Auburn hit that many more transfers between now and the fall. The needs aren’t quite that drastic for most positions, and teams rarely get to that 85-man number in the portal era.
Reinforcements will still be a major priority, though, for Bryan Harsin and his staff in the coming weeks.
"In our back end, D-line, wide receiver position, those are still areas that we're looking right now at all the guys that are in the portal," Harsin said last week, per Bennett Durando of the Montgomery Advertiser. "You just look at numbers, purely. Those are areas that we can bring in some depth. … We have needs on the D-line and we have needs at other positions. We know that. But I want to be clear: There are needs, but we still want to bring in the right people.
“I think as far as we've come since January in the leadership piece, the chemistry, the cohesiveness, all that — you want to bring in the right people. And that might be the right people at another position."
On top of the transfer portal recruiting process, the summer is prime time for high school recruiting, and Auburn’s staff is trying to take advantage of a historic in-state class as well as the always-loaded markets in nearby areas. The Tigers’ need for improved recruiting has been underscored by the insanely deep classes signed by regular opponents Georgia, Alabama and Texas A&M — and Auburn has work to do to get back to its usual spot as a recruiting heavyweight nationally.
With all that in mind, today’s newsletter is a position-by-position breakdown of the numbers game for the Tigers, including potential targets in the transfer portal and the top targets to watch in the 2023 class, according to the fine work of the experts at 247, On3 and Rivals. (As always, support those outlets for the most in-depth recruiting coverage — they’re what we rely on here at The Observer.)
Consider these snapshots of where the Tigers stand right now and where they could be headed for this fall and the seasons to come.
Juniors: T.J. Finley
Sophomores: Zach Calzada
Freshmen: Robby Ashford (redshirt) and Holden Geriner (true)
After bringing in two contenders for the starting job in the portal already, Auburn is virtually guaranteed to go into the fall with this foursome at quarterback. What’s interesting is that Finley is the only one listed as an upperclassman — Calzada, Ashford and Geriner all could have at least three years of football left. The Tigers will let these four battle it out in fall camp and, hopefully, find a winner in 2022 who can take the reins for multiple seasons.
In the 2023 class, Auburn already had a top target in Christopher Vizzina decide to commit to Clemson, but it seems like the one to watch moving forward is Memphis product Brock Glenn, who picked up an offer at A-Day. According to Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports, Glenn’s first name is literally Auburn.