Auburn Recruiting: 5 Recruits Every Tigers Fan Should Be Following This Summer
With spring practice in the books and fall practice still a few months away, the eyes of Auburn fans everywhere will be focused on one thing this summer—the year-round recruiting frenzy.
The Tigers are coming off one of their biggest recruiting months in recent memory. Auburn shot up to as high as No. 2 in 247Sports' Composite Team Rankings after seven recruits made verbal commitments to play on the Plains in the span of 12 days surrounding A-Day weekend.
While Auburn, now at No. 3 in the latest team rankings, already has an impressive 2015 class with nine months to go before national signing day, head coach Gus Malzahn and his staff still have not landed a 5-star commitment.
Auburn has picked up a pair of 5-stars in each of Malzahn's first two classes—Roc Thomas and Tre Williams in 2014, Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson in 2013—and the Tigers are hot on the trail for several of the nation's top high school players.
As Auburn's staff hits the road ahead of the "Big Cat Weekend" event later this month, let's take a look at five of the defending SEC champions' current 5-star targets.
RB Jovon Robinson
Auburn is currently in the hunt for a familiar face, highly touted running back Jovon Robinson.
Robinson has already committed and signed with the Tigers—in the spring of 2012. But shortly after he arrived on campus, Robinson was ruled ineligible after an investigation revealed his counselor at Memphis' Wooddale High School changed at least one of his grades.
The former 4-star running back landed at Georgia Military College, where Auburn 2013 defensive line signees DaVonte Lambert and Devaroe Lawrence played. Robinson set NJCAA single-season rushing records with 2,387 yards and 34 touchdowns for the Bulldogs in 2013, en route to becoming the top junior-college recruit in all the land.
According to 247Sports' Bryan Matthews, Robinson still has a good relationship with Malzahn that dates back to his original recruitment to Auburn.
“I’ve always liked Coach Malzahn,” Robinson told Matthews last month. “He was actually the first coach, OC to recruit me out of high school. He came to my high school when I was in 11th grade and told me I could do some special things with him."
The 5'11", 225-pound Robinson, whose decision will most likely come down to Auburn and Alabama, is the running back the Tigers are currently missing in their running back depth chart. With seniors Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant leaving the team after the 2014 season, Auburn could really use its second chance at an experienced transfer such as Robinson.
DT Trent Thompson
While the Tigers fight for the nation's top junior-college recruit, they are also in the mix for the nation's top high-school recruit, defensive tackle Trent Thompson.
The 6'4", 292-pound native of Albany, Georgia, could be another Auburn commitment from its growing Peach State pipeline.
Thompson told 247Sports on Tuesday night that his current top-four list of schools, in order, was longtime leader Georgia, Auburn, Clemson and Florida State.
Thompson was last on Auburn's campus in March, and he could be a potential visitor for Big Cat Weekend later this month. The No. 1 overall recruit visited Auburn last November for the Tigers' wild "Miracle at Jordan-Hare" victory against Georgia, his No. 1 school.
Current Auburn defensive line coach and former Georgia ace recruiter Rodney Garner has yet to snag lineman commitment for the 2015 class, and Thompson would be a huge get for the Tigers. Auburn still has a lot of work to do, though, as the vast majority of recruiting analysts still predict Thompson will sign with the in-state Bulldogs.
With the heavy amount of rotation Auburn does have across its front four, the Tigers could always use some more blue-chip players, like Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams, Elijah Daniel and the seven defensive linemen they signed in 2014. Look for Garner and Auburn to stay in the hunt for Thompson this summer.
OT Martez Ivey
Over the last few years, Auburn has enjoyed great success in snagging blue-chip offensive linemen from all across the Southeast.
Martez Ivey, a 6'6" tackle from Apopka, Florida, and the No. 3 overall player in the country, could be the next player to join that list of talented Tigers. Ivey has already garnered several major accolades from his junior-year performance, including invitations to Nike's "The Opening" combine, the 2015 Under Armour All-American Game and the 2015 U.S. All-American Bowl.
Florida is believed to lead the way with Ivey, but he is also being recruited hard by fellow SEC powers Auburn, Alabama and South Carolina. Ivey made an unofficial visit to Auburn in April and could be back on the Plains for Big Cat Weekend.
Ivey is a teammate of Chandler Cox, a 3-star fullback/athlete whom Auburn is also looking at heavily for a H-back role. Auburn is expected to visit both Ivey and Chandler at Apopka sometime this week, per Luke Stampini of 247Sports.
The Tigers only signed two offensive linemen for their 2014 class, a junior-college center in Xavier Dampeer and a high-school guard in Braden Smith.
While both Dampeer and Smith were excellent pickups for the offensive line, signing a dominant offensive tackle should be a priority for Auburn in 2014—and Ivey fits the bill perfectly.
QB Torrance Gibson
The Tigers have already added a quarterback commitment to their 2015 class in 4-star Tyler Queen, but they also have a real chance at the nation's top dual threat signal-caller.
Torrance Gibson, who hails from powerhouse American Heritage High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, has Auburn at No. 2 on his top-15 list of schools he tweeted Monday, the same day that offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee visited Gibson at American Heritage.
Gibson was not able to visit Auburn on A-Day for "family reasons," but there is a good chance he makes it to campus for Big Cat Weekend.
Tennessee is the early leader for Gibson, who threw for 1,789 yards and 19 touchdowns, while also rushing for 1,063 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Other top schools on his list include LSU, Ohio State, Clemson and Miami.
Gibson's mix of size, elusiveness and arm strength make him an ideal quarterback for Malzahn's "hurry-up, no-huddle" offense, but the Tigers will have to fight hard on the recruiting trail in order to secure one of the nation's most talented offensive players.
DT Daron Payne
The signings of Mr. Football award winners Racean "Roc" Thomas and Jeremy Johnson have helped change the recruiting dynamic in the state of Alabama.
That dynamic will continue to play out in the recruitment of defensive tackle Daron Payne, the state's No. 1 overall player.
Alabama seems to be the early leader for Payne, a native of Birmingham who is one of the strongest players in this year's class. Payne posted max numbers of more than 400 pounds bench-pressing and more than 600 pounds in squats last summer.
Payne attended A-Day—Alabama's A-Day, that is—and did not make his expected unofficial visit to Auburn the weekend before the two rivals' spring games.
The Tigers seem to have a lot of work to do in recruiting Payne, but they should not be out of the running this early in the recruiting calendar.
Defensive line coach Rodney Garner knows how to get top-level defensive linemen. Fans all across Alabama should expect this in-state battle to rage throughout the summer and into the early part of fall.
Justin Ferguson is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @JFergusonAU. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.