Aubserver Mailbag 127: How is Auburn making up ground in recruiting?
This week: That "all-star staff" quote, NIL vs. facilities, title games, strength of schedule, Weird Al and a unique shopping center
After spending a lot of last week’s mailbag looking toward the past, it’s time to talk about the future.
Specifically, it’s time to talk about Auburn football’s recruiting. As I’ve mentioned multiple times in recent newsletters, Hugh Freeze arrived on the Plains and wasted no time in prioritizing the Tigers’ massive need in that department.
So far, Auburn has done a lot more than the previous staff — but the bar was pretty low there. The last seven months have been a big-time turnaround, especially when you throw the transfer portal into the mix, but it’s just the first step in a process to get Auburn back to competing with its elite rivals on college football’s biggest stages.
This week’s mailbag talks a lot about recruiting and projecting into the future for Freeze and his first staff. We’ll also talk the impact of facilities and NIL, look at the future of conference title games in the new era and rank some recent schedules from easiest to toughest.
Toward the end of the mailbag, we’ve got a good question about the 2023-24 Auburn basketball team and a lightning round of bonus questions ranging from alternate uniforms, international recruiting, Weird Al Yankovic and a two-word noun that I didn’t think I would ever write in here.
Thanks as always for supporting The Auburn Observer, especially during the dog days of the offseason. Let’s go.
I know you're not a recruiting guy, but Coach Freeze has said that the 2024 & 2025 classes will make or break his Auburn tenure. They started from so far behind, how do you think they are doing making up ground?
I was interested to read an "unnamed" SEC assistant took shots at the Auburn coaching staff this week saying, "Freeze didn't deliver the all-star staff he promised." How would you evaluate Freeze's first Auburn staff so far, knowing they have yet to coach a down of meaningful football?
Auburn’s 2024 class currently sits at No. 38 in the country and No. 11 in the SEC, according to 247Sports. But, with an average recruit rating of 90.75, that’s much more in line with a top-half SEC class and a top-15 or so class in the country.
(Alabama is also experiencing some of this — No. 25 in the country and No. 9 in the SEC, but it’s a class made up of three 5-stars and four 4-stars. The early calculations are definitely skewed by volume.)
The Tigers have eight commitments for 2024, and six of them are blue-chips, with the top two being both top-150 overall players and top-10 players at their respective positions. That’s a solid foundation, and it’s more like what Auburn should be bringing in year in and year out. Now, it’s about getting the numbers.
Auburn had a lot of kids on campus during this most recent recruiting period, and it didn’t use up many of its official visits. That means they were able to bring in elite recruits without it being their final, biggest visit — and they were able to land a guy like Joe Phillips from Georgia’s clutches by just having him for a camp.
The dead period that starts on Monday should be an active one for commitments, as recruits stop making visits and start making decisions before their senior seasons of high school. Keep an eye on what Auburn does in July. By the time we’re a week or two removed from Big Cat Weekend, which is at the end of the month, we’ll have a good idea of where Auburn is projected on the recruiting trail for the 2024 class.
Until then, I think it’s still too early to tell. I don’t expect Auburn to land some mega-elite class this cycle, and it would take quite a massive effort to push into top-10 range. But if Freeze and his staff can stabilize the Tigers’ position in the Blue-Chip Ratio and build on that for the 2024 and 2025 classes, they’ll be heading in the right direction. And I think there will be some “wait and see” in the fall from recruits who want to know what kind of team the Tigers will roll out on the field.
To answer your question more directly, I think Auburn is doing a solid job of making up ground in recruiting. I wouldn’t panic if Auburn doesn’t have a great class by the end of the summer, but I think it has a chance to go on an impressive run here.
Now, for the second question…