The Auburn Tigers pretty much came up with aces during the 2017 college football season, winning the SEC West and finishing ranked in the top 10 of the final AP poll. The momentum from the Tigers’ 10-4 season carried over to the recruiting trail where once again War Eagle Nation was given a lot to cheer about in respect for what lies ahead. But which member of Auburn’s 2018 recruiting class could make the biggest impact this fall?
Per the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings, Auburn may have slipped from No. 8 in 2017 to No. 12 in ’18, but do not let the rankings fool you. In 2017, the Tigers were given high marks for inking one five-star, 10 four-star talents, and 11 three-star prospects. If the recruiting stars mean anything, one could argue Auburn just signed an even better class than the year before with 16 four-star players and eight three-star prospects. The Tigers were third in the SEC behind No. 1 Georgia and No. 7 Alabama while finishing comfortably ahead of Florida (No. 14), LSU (15), Texas A&M (17), South Carolina (19), and Tennessee (20).
Auburn always recruits well leaving very little space for incoming players to steal some playing time, but if there are any newcomers capable of making something happen, watch for these five.
Asa Martin, RB
Martin heads to Auburn as one of the top 10 running back prospects in the nation. He joins the Tigers in a time of need after both SEC Offensive Player of the Year Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway declared early for the NFL draft. Head coach Gus Malzahn gets an added bonus with Martin, who is an early enrollee. With extra time to prep him for the 2018 season, expect Martin to fill the all-purpose void Johnson left behind.
Martin had more than 20 reported offers choosing Auburn over Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, Georgia and LSU.
Quindarious Monday, DB
Landing Monday was a very big win for defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. Monday was listed as a top-10 athlete in the nation but will help replace the very big shoes of departed senior safeties Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts. Monday is a big hitter who can come downhill to provide run support and has great size (6-3, 185) to help out over the top in Cover 2. Monday is another early enrollee who will benefit from being in the system when fall camp rolls around.
Auburn landed Monday over offers from Alabama, Florida State, Florida, Clemson, Tennessee, Oregon, Oklahoma and Michigan.
Daquan Newkirk, DT
Newkirk spent his 2017 season at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and signed with Auburn as a four-star, a rarity for any junior college talent. Newkirk is a rare athlete, as he earned All-District honors while at The First Academy in Orlando as both a running back and defensive lineman during his senior year. Newkirk (6-3, 282) has the speed and power to rush the quarterback as a defensive tackle, and he should fit right into the Tigers’ defensive system. As an early enrollee, he will get extra snaps this spring, which should increase his chances of making an impact in the fall.
Auburn essentially wrapped up Newkirk out of high school. Newkirk kept his early commitment to the Tigers letting all other hopeful recruiters know that his dream school was Auburn.
Christian Tutt, CB
Tutt may not be a finished product but physically he is ready to compete. The U.S. Army All-American has appealing size (5-11, 193) and speed for a corner. He is capable of playing man and off-coverage while being an asset against the run. Auburn has depth and talent at corner, but if Tutt can take advantage of being an early enrollee, expect him to see early playing time as a true freshman.
Tutt was one of the more highly recruited corners in the 2018 class with more than 30 offers extended. Auburn won out over Ohio State, Clemson, Arkansas, Florida, Penn State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, USC, Miami and LSU.
Harold Joiner, RB
Joiner is that type of running back every offensive coordinator wants. With great size (6-3, 220) and athleticism, Joiner can just as easily run over a defender as he can break away from one. The U.S. Army All-American will certainly challenge for playing time once he picks up the offense. The No. 5-ranked running back per 247Sports could end up being Pettway’s replacement in Auburn’s backfield.
Joiner had more than 30 offers to choose from, denying Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, Michigan State, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and LSU to sign with the Tigers.
— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience and is a member of the FWAA. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and has his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanWrightRNG.