Defensive Line Recruits A Priority For Tigers

Auburn's need for help on the defensive line means the next three official visit weekends are critical for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--With a need for defensive linemen in the 2015 recruiting class a massive one and just two players on board at the moment, this weekend starts a huge three-week stretch for the Auburn Tigers and Coach Will Muschamp as they look to shore up some depth and talent issues up front.

Watching the title game between Ohio State and Oregon, it was apparent that the Buckeyes were deeper and more talented on the defensive line. To be able to contain the high powered offenses in today’s college football world you’ve got to be able to control the line of scrimmage, something Auburn hopes to address beginning with this weekend’s group of visitors.

One of the biggest names expected in is five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson out of Baker County High in Florida. A powerful pass rusher and presence at defensive end, the 6-3, 258 Jefferson is rated as the No. 2 defensive end in the country and fifth player overall by Scout.com in the class.

Having already visited Alabama, Ole Miss and Cincinnati officially and with plans to see Auburn, Ole Miss and LSU before making his decision, Jefferson remains open at the moment. While he won’t officially visit Florida there is no question the Gators remain in the picture as well for the talented defensive end prospect.

He will be joined by fellow Floridian and good friend, five-star end Byron Cowart out of Armwood High in Seffner, Fla. Rated the No. 3 defensive end in 2015 by Scout.om, Cowart is very close with Muschamp as is Jefferson. That is a big reason why both are visiting Auburn this weekend and have the Tigers on their final list of schools.

At 6-4, 265 Cowart has the size and skills to also be an immediate contributor for the Tigers at end with a huge need for pass rushers for position coach Rodney Garner. Florida, Florida State and Alabama are all still in the picture for Cowart, but no question Auburn is squarely in the running with Muschamp back on the Plains.

Byron Cowart

Rounding out the all-star trio for this weekend’s visitors is four-star Terry Beckner from East St. Louis, Ill. Ranked the No. 5 defensive end in the country, but capable of playing tackle on the next level, Beckner is physical at the point of attack and has the quickness to be a mismatch inside against guards and centers.

A disruptive force at the Under Armour All-American Game playing alongside Cowart, Beckner became close friends with his fellow standout and that bond could pay dividends for the Tigers down the road. With Cowart close with both Jefferson and Beckner and Auburn the only school in the mix for all three, it will be interesting to see how things shake out down the stretch, but Ohio State could be the team to beat for the Midwestern standout.

It’s not just the weekend that could end up being big for Auburn’s defensive line hopes with five-star tackle Daylon Mack scheduled to visit following weekend. A powerful interior player who has the athleticism to make plays in the backfield, Mack overcomes a lack of height with great pad level and quickness at the point of attack. TCU may be the slight leader at the moment, but both Auburn and Texas A&M are in the picture.

Auburn is also expected to get a visit later in January from speedy defensive end Arden Key. A former South Carolina commitment who is now looking at the Tigers, Gamecocks, Georgia, LSU and Miami, Key is the type of pass rusher the Tigers are looking for in this class. He’s expected to visit Auburn either Jan. 23 or Jan. 30 before making his decision.

Arden Key

Another five-star visitor expected this month is Georgia commitment Trenton Thompson. While still solidly a Bulldog, he’s long had a close relationship with Garner as well as Auburn defensive tackle Montravius Adams. Those two things have kept the Tigers in the mix and a visit could make things more interesting down the stretch.

A wildcard in the 2015 class could be 6-8, 250 athletic freak Prince Tega Wanogho from Edgewood Academy. Originally a 2016 prospect after moving in from Nigeria, he was re-classified on Monday and will now sign with a school this year. Auburn is definitely very much in the mix for a player who could play either defensive end or tight end on the next level with Georgia, Vanderbilt and several others a strong possibility. Alabama is also expected to jump into the mix with an offer now that he’s available in this class. His recruiting will take off dramatically in the coming weeks with Auburn expected to get one of his official visits.


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