Alabama Football: Vols and Aubies with serious recruiting troubles


Two Alabama Football rivals, Auburn and Tennessee are struggling to keep pace in recruiting. College football coaches with new teams often face talent-depleted rosters. In many cases, they start so far behind with a new program, their first recruiting cycle does not accomplish enough.

There are exceptions. Some head coaches in new jobs are so trending up in the profession, they have immediate recruiting success. That is not happening with Auburn, Head Coach Bryan Harsin and Tennessee, Head Coach Josh Heupel. Neither coach has ever led a Power Five team, much less a team that believes it should be a destination for elite players.

The recruiting relationships built while coaching lesser programs are almost solely in a talent level below elite. Given the challenge, can Harsin and Heupel catch up in their 2022 signing classes? There is time left, largely because COVID restrictions have resulted in every program being behind. Nick Saban’s recruiting machine has only six commits and is ranked No. 12 so far.

Other indications are the two programs will be unable to catch up to other top SEC teams. Both schools are on a downward trend in the quality of athletes they are attracting.

Competing with Alabama Football requires signing top players

Auburn is trying to compete with Alabama Football for a few top players. So far, the players Bryan Harsin is getting verbal commitments from are not top players.

Auburn 2022 Verbal Commits (from the 247Sports Composite)

Harsin’s top-rated of his three verbal commits is a 4-Star QB, ranked as the No. 261 player in the ’22 class. The other two are ranked nationally at No. 512 and No. 562.

Auburn is in contention for four Top 150 players. Two of them are likely to sign with Nick Saban. That is if Alabama Football has room.

So far, Auburn has the No. 41 class in team rankings. That is the 10th best class among SEC teams.

Tennessee 2022 Verbal Commits

Josh Heupel has two verbal commits. His pair of 3-Stars are ranked No. 597 and No. 706.

The Vols may be in contention for three Top 100 players. Otherwise, the top targets for Tennessee are in a range of No. 232 to No. 630 in the player rankings.

Heupel currently has the No. 60 class and the 12th best in the SEC.

What should worry fans of the Tigers and Vols are recruiting trends. Using the 247Sports player ratings, Auburn’s 2020 class averaged a player rating of 90.92. In 2021, the average rating slipped to 88.38 and is 88.33 currently.

The 2020 class for Tennessee had an average player rating of 89.91. It was 88.57 in the ’21 class and is currently 86.40.

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There is a given in recruiting that occurs cycle after cycle. Great players want to play with other great players. That does not bode well for Bryan Harsin or Josh Heupel.