Few spots remain in Auburn's 2018 signing class
Gus Malzahn is in the process of wrapping up his sixth top-ten class since he arrived at Auburn at 2013, a feat unmatched by any previous head coach. The new "early signing period" that took place in late December of 2017 has taken some of the excitement and tension out of this February, a time period usually dominated by recruiting news.
Of Auburn's 23 commits to the 2018 class, 15 of them signed their letters of intent during the early signing period, officially locking them in with Auburn. Some of Auburn's most important recruits, including QB Joey Gatewood, RB Asa Martin, and safety Quindarious Monday, made their Auburn commitment official in December. But even with a star-studded class already locked in, Malzahn and his coaches are looking to improve in the final week.
One of the main positions Malzahn still feels the need to address is offensive line, specifically offensive tackle. This goal is made even more difficult with the sudden departure of offensive line coach Herb Hand, who left to take the co-offensive coordinator job at the University of Texas.
Malzahn's main OL target in 2018 appears to be Rice OT Calvin Anderson, a graduate transfer who will be immediately eligible. Anderson stood out in less than ideal circumstances. The former two star prospect was named to the All-Conference list, even as Rice struggled mightily with a 1-11 record. Anderson has narrowed his final three choices to Auburn, Michigan and Texas.
Auburn's other key target in the trenches is currently committed to another school. Four star OT Richard Gouraige is a Florida Gator commit, but is receiving a great deal of attention from Auburn. The departure of Hand for Texas may have stalled Auburn's momentum but the team hopes to get him on campus one last time before he signs his letter of intent.
Malzahn would also like to add one last receiver to an already stellar 2018 group. The class already boasts Seth Williams, Matthew Hill, Shedrick Jackson, and Anthony Schwartz but with two big names still considering Auburn, a fifth WR isn't out of the question.
Justyn Ross, the state's top uncommitted player, is still considering Auburn alongside Alabama and Clemson. The 6'4'' 200 point receiver holds offers from nearly every football program in America but the Phenix City prospect seems to want to stay relatively close to home. All three schools have been rumored to be the favorite at one time or another but with a week left until signing day, it's anyone's game.
Kodi Burns' other key target is Under Armour All-American Ja'Marr Chase. While many believe Chase will stay home and play for his home state LSU Tigers, he's given Auburn the final visit. Chase will use the final recruiting weekend to visit Auburn and talk with Gus Malzahn and Kodi Burns before making his decision on signing day.
One of Auburn's final spots will go to another defensive lineman. DL coach Rodney Garner has done a fantastic job with this class but an extra blue chipper would put it over the top.
Malik Langham, a four star defensive end from Huntsville, is definitely a name to watch. The Tigers were slow to pursue Langham but jumped to the front of the line once they got involved. Langham was previously scheduled to visit Tennessee this weekend but cancelled his visit and will spend his last weekend officially visiting Auburn.
Caleb Tannor is another name to keep in mind as signing day nears. Tannor is a former UGA commit who reopened his commitment after Georgia's continued pursuit of other players at his position. He spent last weekend in Auburn and now views the Tigers as a top contender for his signature. The four star buck is viewed as a player who could help Auburn replicate the production of Jeff Holland, who last month declared for the NFL Draft.
While it's true some of the excitement has been taken out of National Signing Day, Gus Malzahn and his staff are still working around the clock to polish off a 2018 class that could be their best yet.