Much like Justin Ferguson does on the Auburn team side, recruiting reporter Benjamin Wolk will answer the Recruiting Question of the Day every day of the week. You can ask him questions on Twitter or Facebook. Look for our Question of the Day each weekday. Go here to see our previous answers.
Is the TE position going to be a point of emphasis on the 2019 Cycle?
— Kristofer Garrett (@kitcopeland51) February 12, 2018
There’s no doubt about it, Kristofer.
Auburn hasn’t landed a 4-star-or-better tight end target since Landon Rice in the 2016 class. The Tigers have taken their shots at a few prospects in 2017 and 2018 — Jeremy Patton, Tre’ McKitty, Kedrick James, Luke Ford, Brevin Jordan and Dominick Wood-Anderson. Their results for those efforts? Sal Cannella, who is more of a receiver than tight end, and John Samuel Shenker, who took a redshirt for the 2017 season.
Everyone I’ve spoken with inside the Auburn program thinks Shenker has a chance to surprise a lot of people this season. In fact, his development made Auburn much more comfortable with passing on a prospect such as Matt Alaimo and focus on the position group more in the 2019 class.
But it’s a must to focus on it in the 2019 class. So much so I could see Auburn taking more than one tight end this cycle.
Here are the seven prospects Auburn has offered already, in order by ranking:
- Hudson Henry, Little Rock, Ark.
- Keon Zipperer, Lakeland, Fla.
- Austin Stogner, Plano, Texas (Oklahoma commit)
- Ryland Goede, Acworth, Ga. (Georgia commit)
- Luke Deal, Greenwood, S.C.
- Jackson Lowe, Cartersville, Ga.
- Garmon Randolph, Jefferson, Ga.
I’ll give a quick rundown on each of those prospects, though many more details will emerge with them in the weeks and months to come.
Henry is the brother of standout Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry. He has now picked up offers from, well, you name it. Auburn’s best chance with Henry: Gus Malzahn’s connection to the state of Arkansas. Henry wouldn’t be the first Tigers’ player from Pulaski Academy (see: Will Hastings).
Zipperer seems like a long shot with the three in-state schools all in contention, but crazier things have happened.
Stogner and Goede both visited Auburn before making their college decisions, but they look solid with the Sooners and Bulldogs.
Deal and Lowe have been offered by the Tigers in the last two weeks, which probably gives an indication of where Auburn believes it stands with the aforementioned prospects. Auburn offered Deal and Lowe on back-to-back days on Jan. 28 and Jan. 29. In Lowe’s case, Clemson is believed to be the favorite because of his high school connection to quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Randolph holds an Auburn offer and has familiarity with the program and campus. He camped with the Tigers last summer and returned for junior day earlier this month. Randolph is a head-turner. He’s the kind of prospect who walks through the door and makes everyone say, “Wow, who’s that?” At 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds — with the length he has — it happens regularly.
But I wouldn’t expect Auburn to stop with those tight ends. The Tigers know they have to hit on one, perhaps two, in the class. They’ll need to cast a wider net than normal to be safe.
The names that jump out immediately: Sean Brown from Rome, Ga., and Jamin Graham from Attalla, Ala.
Both prospects attended Auburn’s junior day. If I were to guess, Brown is much closer to picking up an offer from the Tigers, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see it happen early in spring evaluations.
To see all the answers to prior Auburn questions, click here.
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