Auburn football's top-10 2024 class could (and should) be just the beginning
The Tigers did serious work on the recruiting trail to pull off their highest-rated haul in years. But that's only as good as what comes next.
(Austin Perryman/Auburn Tigers)
Question: What do you call Auburn football’s 2024 recruiting class?
Answer: A good start.
That’s not a lame joke. That’s not underselling it. That’s not raining on any parades.
That’s pretty much what Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze has said about the class, which exited Wednesday — the first and biggest signing day of the cycle — at No. 8 in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite.
“That was our goal, in Year 1 to have a top-10 class,” Freeze said. “And, in Year 2, to have a top-five class. And that is the way, I think, you start building a program that is able to stack itself upon each other and create a competitiveness among the roster that drives you to chase a standard every day that’s needed to win in this conference.”
It’s a big step. But it’s just one step, and it won’t matter much if you don’t build on it.
Of course, there’s plenty of excitement for the 2024 class. It’s impossible for fans not to feel that way. Auburn has officially signed two composite 5-star recruits for the first time since 2019 and has eight players ranked inside the top 150 overall.
To show you just how impressive that is in the recent superteam recruiting era, Auburn had the No. 7 class in 2020 with zero 5-stars and just four top-150 overall prospects.
And Auburn fans should be proud, because it took a ton of hard work from Freeze and his staff to get to this point. This was the Tigers’ first full recruiting cycle under their watch, and they knew that powerhouses in the SEC and elsewhere had significant head-starts.
Yet they still flipped 5-star receiver Cam Coleman from Texas A&M, 5-star receiver Perry Thompson from Alabama, near-5-star linebacker Demarcus Riddick from Georgia and high 4-star defensive linemen Jamonta Waller and Amaris Williams from Florida. Those flips represent the top five players in this class.
“I think I couldn’t have asked any more out of the effort that it took to try, in a short amount of time, to get into the battles for the top guys,” Freeze said. “Because, truthfully, the elite schools are always a couple years ahead. We had to close the gap on a lot to get in those battles. We didn’t win all of them, but we sure were in them. And I think that speaks to the effort we put into building relationships with so many.”
One of the battles that Auburn didn’t win was for 5-star safety K.J. Bolden, who was ranked as the No. 1 player at his position. The Georgia native committed to Florida State in the summer, but rumors were that Auburn was in a position to flip him early this week. Then, in the final 24 hours or so, Bolden switched to UGA.
That’s life as a high-stakes recruiter in the SEC.
“You think you've done all you can to flip another one, then all of a sudden, he goes in another direction,” Freeze said. “Those, you just take them in stride. You gave your best. Two days ago, was told, 'I'm coming, I'm coming.' Today, it changes. Those are always disappointing, because you put great effort in there. But we've done this long enough to where those are gonna happen.
“So, you just keep fighting and keep battling, and hopefully you win more than your share to get us up there where we have some elite classes to start stacking on top of each other.”