AuburnSports – THE WAR ROOM

It’s now crunch time for Hugh Freeze and his chances for the 2023 season and beyond.

The transfer portal has been open for 11 days and players are making their visits and narrowing down their options. Most are planning to enroll in January so time is of the essence. Auburn needs help at a variety of positions.

The early signing period begins Wednesday as well, which means most high school players of note will be signing on the dotted line. Auburn had a terrific week of flips — new commitments from defensive back Colton Hood and offensive lineman Connor Lew are welcome additions to a Class of 2023 haul that needed augmentation — but more work is needed.

If Freeze and his staff are the recruiters we think they are, well, this is when they must prove their mettle.

So let’s get to work. It’s time for another WAR ROOM, presented by Lynch Toyota of Auburn.


The most high-profile visitor this weekend will be Coastal Carolina transfer Grayson McCall, whom Rivals has as its No. 3 portal quarterback and No. 16 overall available players. According to data from PFF, McCall is the nation’s top-rated deep passer (98.1 grade out of 100 on throws longer than 20 yards) and is also elite in the 10- to 19-yard range.

In three seasons as the Chanticleers’ full-time starter, McCall completed 70 percent of his throws for 8,019 yards and 78 touchdowns. He was intercepted just eight times in 780 attempts. Coastal won 31 games with McCall behind center.

Auburn wanted to be first in line to make its pitch. That happened. Now the Tigers must sell their vision for how McCall can take that next step with a new offense engineered by Hugh Freeze and new offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery.


North Carolina State transfer Devin Leary is also expected to visit this weekend. Leary took most of the snaps for the Wolfpack over his four-year career at NC State. He had over 6,800 yards passing, 62 touchdowns and was intercepted 16 times while completing 60% of his passes.


Four offensive lineman have committed to play for Auburn next fall so far, but Freeze needs more. He’ll have a pair of transfers and a JUCO player visiting this weekend.

Ben Scott is coming from Arizona State, where he accumulated valuable playing time and experience. Following a redshirt year his first year in Tempe, Scott became one of the Sun Devils’ consistent starters on the offensive front. Auburn needs that experience and if the Tigers could pick up Scott, that’s one big fish.

Dillon Wade is another transfer that Auburn is targeting to help in its reconstruction of a depleted offensive line. He brings limited game experience from his time in Tulsa, but his development is further along than some of the high school commits, which makes him an attractive option.

Auburn will bring in Izavion Miller, a JUCO player who is currently committed to Ole Miss. Miller is out of Southwest Mississippi CC and has a big upside at 6-foot-6, 325 pounds.

This will be his first visit to Auburn this year.


Defensive line coach Jeremey Garrett will have his hands full this weekend with the number of visitors along the defensive line coming in. Two transfers, two of Alabama’s best high school defenders and an Arkansas commit will make the trip.

Let’s start with Vanderbilt transfer Elijah McAllister, who has one year of eligibility remaining. McAllister was a team captain for the Commodores during his final season in Nashville, playing in all 12 games.

He totaled 65 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, forced two fumbles and had one interception during his career at Vanderbilt.

Dion Wilson Jr. played in 20 games over the last three seasons for Arizona, each season seemingly getting increased playing time. During his final season with the Wildcats, Wilson tallied 19 tackles, a tackle for loss and a sack.

James Smith and Qua Russaw are expected visitors this weekend as well. The defensive pair out of Montgomery have visited Auburn several times this fall and both are top-five players in the state.

They visited Alabama last weekend, electing to visit Tuscaloosa rather than participate in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game, in which they were both nominated to play. It should be important to note that Smith and Russaw may not be locks for a visit, but it’s a win for Auburn if the two show.

An even bigger win would be getting them to commit and could provide a monumental jump for Auburn’s 2023 class.

Arkansas commit Stephen Johnson will take his first visit to Auburn of the year this weekend. The Fayetteville, Ga., native had the Liberty offer in-hand while Freeze was at the school and now Auburn has popped up in his recruitment.


One transfer and one high school prospect are visiting this weekend at the receiver position.

The most notable is Rara Thomas, the Mississippi State transfer who recorded a catch in all 12 games this season for the Bulldogs.

Career-wise, Thomas has 62 receptions for 878 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in two seasons at Mississippi State. He visited Georgia last weekend and Ole Miss is another school in the mix for the 6-foot-2 receiver.

Thomas is an Alabama native, originally from Eufala.

Auburn also welcomes in Western Kentucky commit Eric Singleton Jr., who has started picking up some bigger offers in recent weeks. When it comes to his commitment to the Hilltoppers, he’s still committed, but noted earlier this week that it wouldn’t be “that hard” for a program to change his mind.


The Tigers probably need to grab one or two tight ends before next season and Rivaldo Fairweather could be a nice addition to the team. During his three seasons at FIU, he had 54 receptions for 828 yards receiving and five touchdowns.


Dillon Johnson is another Mississippi State transfer set to visit the Plains this weekend. Over three seasons with the Bulldogs, Johnson had 1,198 yards rushing on 229 carries and scored 11 touchdowns.

Not only is he a threat to run the ball, but Johnson can also impact the game on passing plays. He had 149 receptions, 864 receiving yards and a touchdown in his three-year career.

Auburn offered Jamarion Wilcox out of Douglasville, Ga., not too long ago, and shortly after, the Tigers were in his top four schools. Ohio State, Kentucky and Clemson are also in the mix, as he’s set to visit Auburn this weekend.


Three commits are returning this weekend for their second official visits. Defensive lineman Darron Reed, running back Jeremiah Cobb and center Bradyn Joiner are all set to make one final return to the Plains before early signing day next week.

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