Justyn Ross confirmed last week his decision is down to three programs: Auburn, Alabama and Clemson.
It’s been speculated for a while based on his visits and interview talking points, but that’s official now, per Ross. What will continue to be speculated — because Ross stays relatively quiet when talking to coaches, fellow recruits and reporters — will be whether two in-state schools can catch up to Clemson, which has been the so-called favorite for Ross throughout the season, though Ross has never publicly stated that.
Ross acknowledged, however, that Auburn and Alabama have pushed harder than normal in recent weeks, likely because of awareness of Clemson’s legitimate threat to steal the state’s top-ranked prospect.
“I feel like they’re recruiting me a little bit harder because Clemson is so much in the picture,” Ross told SEC Country. “Most of them are letting me get to January, but they’re all recruiting me a little bit harder now that they know Clemson’s in the picture.”
All three programs have made one in-home visit with Ross in December.
Clemson co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Jeff Scott and defensive line coach Todd Bates went to see Ross two weeks ago. Alabama wide receivers coach Michael Locksley and defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley visited for the Crimson Tide. Auburn wide receivers coach Kodi Burns was the Tigers’ lone in-home representative.
The Ross in-home visit schedule will be much busier in January as he preps for a National Signing Day decision. While Clemson has been the perceived favorite for a while, neither Auburn nor Alabama will give up on this one until the end of the cycle.
Sources in Auburn and Tuscaloosa feel a sense of optimism with Ross, who is apparently still asking a lot of questions to all three staffs to find out the best fit for him.
In Auburn’s case, the Tigers made great strides this season in Ross’ mind, thanks to the passing-game output.
“Really by them showing they can throw the ball around. It was a big concern because, as a receiver, you’re going to want them to throw you the ball,” Ross said. “They showed me a lot. They showed me a lot more than they did last year. They showed me they can put the ball in the air. I feel like they did a really good job with it.”
Ross has a relationship with several members of the Auburn 2018 wide receiver class.
He participated in Alabama-Mississippi all-star week with commits Shedrick Jackson and Seth Williams and, according to one prospect, was asking Williams a lot of questions about why it makes sense for a big-bodied wide receiver like Williams or Ross to pick the Tigers.
The overall message from Williams? Auburn needs those type of receivers to give the offense an extra dimension.
Ross admires the wide receiver class Burns has put together with Jackson, Williams and Hill. He also likes what he’s seen from fellow Under Armour All-American receiver Anthony Schwartz who is high on the Tigers.
“Oh, it’s a real good wide receiver group, but I feel like I’m going to go in and compete,” Ross said.
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