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Auburn’s top recruiting needs heading into summer camp season

Auburn linebackers coach Travis Williams was at North Cobb High School Friday afternoon to watch linebacker Chandler Wooten announce verbal commitment during halftime of the school's spring game.
Auburn linebackers coach Travis Williams was at North Cobb High School Friday afternoon to watch linebacker Chandler Wooten announce verbal commitment during halftime of the school's spring game. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn has landed a linebacker recruit each of the past two weeks, but the coaching staff has plenty of work to do on the recruiting trail going into the summer.

The Tigers have five verbal commits headlined by First Academy offensive tackle Calvin Ashley. The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder out of Florida is one of the top offensive line prospects in 2017 class.

Coach Gus Malzahn hopes Ashley isn’t the only 5-star recruit in Auburn’s next recruiting class.

What positions will Malzahn have his staff prioritize this summer? Here’s a look…

Offensive line

The numbers at offensive line for Auburn’s 2017 class could end up similar to two years ago when the Tigers signed five lineman including four 4-star recruits.

Ashley gives Malzahn a centerpiece talent to build its class around, but Auburn wants to keep its offensive line stocked with talent.

Malzahn has the depth to replace senior starters Robert Leff, Alex Koazan and Xavier Dampeer in 2017, but with the team’s two 2016 signees likely needing more time to develop — Brodarious Hamm was diagnosed with cancer in March and Prince Michael Sammons has only played one season of football — the team will need Division 1 ready players for its two-deep depth chart.

Linebacker

Jackson-Olin’s Tadarian Moultry and North Cobb’s Chandler Wooten is a nice start at the position, but Auburn will try to secure at least two more commits.

The Tigers have eight scholarship linebackers going into this season including true freshman Tre Threat and graduate transfer T.J. Neal. Neal provides new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele some flexibility this season if he wants to utilize 3-4 formations, but the team will need more bodies to create competition going into 2017.

Quarterback

Malzahn has signed at least one quarterback in each of his recruiting classes since taking over on the Plains.

With Jeremy Johnson set to graduate, there’s no reason to think Auburn’s next class will be any different. The Tigers have a verbal commit from one of the top ranked dual threat quarterbacks in the 2018 class in Joey Gatewood, but two years is a long way off.

According to 247 Sports, Auburn has offered six quarterbacks from next year’s pool of recruits. Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee are particular about the quarterbacks they recruit, but expect them to put a full court press on the player they think would thrive in their system.

Running back

The surprise departure of Peyton Barber will have an impact on Auburn’s recruiting strategy. Auburn will need to bring in a between-the-tackles type back to replace Jovon Robinson when he graduates this spring.

The Tigers have plenty of talent at the position with more than one year of eligibility remaining, but running backs coach Tim Horton indicated the plan was to sign two backs for 2017.

Southside running back Alaric Williams verbally committed to Auburn, but Auburn could decide to bring in Williams at a number of different positions.

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