Auburn football: Tigers welcome 2 local prospects for visits

Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Sunday, and SEC Country looked at two prospects who visited over the weekend. Also, Auburn made the top 10 for a prospect not mentioned regularly enough.

2 local prospects visit Auburn over weekend

Auburn hosted two local prospects over the weekend that likely will generate some fan interest.

Let’s start with the slightly less local prospect: defensive tackle Corrie Hutcherson from Birmingham.

The 6-foot-5, 265-pound George Washington Carver (Ala.) lineman holds offers from Ole Miss, Purdue, Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic, Troy and UAB. He has the frame to build on, but Auburn has yet to offer.

Defensive line coach Rodney Garner likes to get his eyes on recruits as often as possible. It allows him to see how prospects develop physically, which is one of the toughest tasks defensive line coaches have to deal with. It likely won’t be the last time Hutcherson visits Auburn, as the Tigers continue to evaluate defensive linemen.

There are prospects ahead of Hutcherson on the Tigers’ board for now, but he’s a down-the-line possibility.

As for prospect No. 2, some people might say this is burying the lede.

The second key visitor on Saturday was Auburn High (Ala.) outside linebacker Mohamoud Diabate. He’s one of the best pass rushers in the country, has already been invited to The Opening Finals, ranks as one of the best 150 players in the country and — what’s important to most Auburn people — is right in the program’s backyard.

There hasn’t been much traction between Auburn and Diabate since his recruitment took off.

Diabate has been offered by the following teams (buckle up): Alabama, Florida State, Florida, Louisville, LSU, Michigan, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas A&M, UCF, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Wake Forest.

Auburn has been noticeably absent from that list for a while — to the ire of many outside the program who view Diabate as the perfect fit for the Buck position in Kevin Steele’s defense.

According to Diabate, that hasn’t changed since his visit over the weekend.

It seems odd, given Diabate’s national status. One explanation just might be that Auburn plans to take one Buck in the 2019 class, and the Tigers already have their No. 1 option in mind. Derick Hall from Gulfport, Miss., has been the player Auburn has pursued most consistently at that position.

Auburn contending for under-mentioned Georgia athlete

Here’s a top-10 list of note and a recruitment to keep an eye on the next few months.

Zion Puckett is listed as the No. 36 wide receiver in the country and the No. 227 overall prospect nationally. Those marks make him the 25th-ranked player in Georgia.

I bring those specific rankings up for a few reasons:

  • Auburn doesn’t necessarily view Puckett as a wide receiver. It’s not that the Tigers don’t think he could become a solid receiver. Simply, Auburn views Puckett as one of the highest cornerbacks on its board.
  • As a result of that status on Auburn’s board, he is neither seen as the 227th overall prospect or the 25th prospect in Georgia. He’s much higher in the minds of Tigers decision makers.

His top 10 included Alabama, Auburn, Duke, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee and Texas A&M. Puckett’s relationship with Auburn cornerbacks coach Marcus Woodson is among the strongest. His return visits to the Plains in the near future should be closely followed.

Also of note: Puckett plays for the same Cam Newton 7-on-7 team with players committed to or linked to Auburn such as Bo Nix, Owen Pappoe, Jaylin Simpson, George Pickens and Jashawn Sheffield. Those relationships won’t define the decision, but they can’t hurt.

Auburn sets tone for 2020 WR from Louisiana

Daran Branch already thought highly of Auburn. He has even fonder thoughts about the Tigers given the latest twist in his recruitment.

The 2020 wide receiver from Amite, La., held offers from Memphis and Tulane already. Auburn took that to a new level earlier this week when it offered the 6-foot-2, 175-pound prospect. Branch picked up his offer from the Tigers, which immediately catapulted them to the top of his interest list.

“I feel blessed. That gave me a great feeling. One of the biggest offers I have now, so they are at the top of my list right now,” Branch said.

He’s not in a rush, of course, though the fact Auburn offered early matters.

Given his conversation with other coaches, Branch thinks offers could come from Oklahoma State, Arkansas and LSU in the near future. He will take a few camp visits this summer — including Auburn — which likely will enhance the national perception of the 2020 prospect.

Branch has visited Auburn once in the past, he told SEC Country.

Miss a previous Auburn recruiting notebook? Find every daily recap of Auburn Tigers recruiting right here.

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