The commitment of 4-star prospect Zion Puckett out of Spalding High School in Griffin, Ga., was a big one Friday for the 2019 Auburn football recruiting class.
Puckett is expected to play cornerback when he arrives at Auburn. He is the second (and possibly third if Jashawn Sheffield, recruited as an athlete, ends up in the secondary) member of the defensive backfield for the 2019 class (and that class is climbing the rankings if you didn’t see this earlier).
Since 2015, Auburn has signed 17 defensive backs, including the two committed for 2019. Ten of those players were ranked as 4-star talents and seven were 3-star recruits. Here’s a look at the defensive backs the Tigers signed in those five classes.
CB Zion Puckett: 6-0, 200 (Spalding HS, Griffin, Ga.)
CB Jaylin Simpson: 5-11, 185 (Frederica Academy, St. Simons Island, Ga.)
S Smoke Monday: 6-2, 188 (Carver HS, Atlanta)
S Jamien Sherwood: 6-2, 207 (Jensen Beach HS, Jensen Beach, Fla.)
CB Christian Tutt: 5-11, 195 (Thomson HS, Thomson, Ga.)
CB Roger McCreary: 6-0, 179 (Williamson High School, Mobile, Ala.)
CB Malcolm Askew: 5-11, 192 (McAdory HS, McCalla, Ala.)
CB Noah Igbinoghene: 5-11, 196 (Hewitt-Trussville HS, Ala.)
S Jordyn Peters: 6-1, 191 (Muscle Shoals HS, Ala.)
CB Traivon Leonard: 6-0, 196 (Oxbridge Academy, West Palm Beach, Fla.)
CB John Broussard Jr.: 5-11, 181 (Central HS, Phenix City, Ala.)
S Marlon Character Jr: 6-0, 170 (Grady HS, Atlanta) *
CB Jayvaughn Myers: 6-1, 187 (Pasco HS, Dade City, Fla.)
S Daniel Thomas: 5-11, 208 (Robert E. Lee HS, Montgomery, Ala.)
S Jordan Colbert: 6-2, 205 (Griffin HS, Griffin, Ga.) *
S Tim Irvin: 5-8, 195 (Westminster Christian School, Miami) *
CB Javaris Davis: 5-10, 187 (Ed White HS, Jacksonville, Fla.)
CB Carlton Davis: 5-1, 202 (Norland HS, Miami)
S Jeremiah Dinson: 6-0, 195 (American HS, Miami)
* Transferred, no longer on team
When you look at the projected depth chart for this season, you’ll find starters from three classes and at least three of the four members of the current freshmen class each look capable of spot duty or better.
2018 projected depth chart
Starters: Jamel Dean, Noah Igbinoghene
Backups: Roger McCreary, John Broussard, Traivon Leonard, Christian Tutt
Analysis: The interesting thing at this position is that the two starters weren’t supposed to be in those spots. First, Dean was ruled medically ineligible after signing with Ohio State in 2015. He transferred to Auburn, sat out 2016 with an injury and came on strong in the second half of the season and appears ready to replace Carlton Davis, who left school a year early for the NFL (Tampa Bay drafted him in the second round).
The other starter, Igbinoghene came to Auburn as a high school track star, receiver and kick returner. He caught six passes last year as a freshman and returned 24 kickoffs for an average of 23.7 yards per return with a long of 72. But he transitioned to the defensive side in spring practice and coaches and teammates have raved about his ability. That allowed Javaris Davis to slide into the nickel role that Kevin Steele uses so much on defense.
Starter: Daniel Thomas
Backup: Smoke Monday
Starter: Jeremiah Dinson
Backup: Jamien Sherwood
Starter: Javaris Davis
Backups: Jordyn Peters, Jayvaughn Myers
Analysis: First, Davis is one of Auburn’s top players in the secondary. He intercepted two passes last year and broke up six passes. A former high school running back, he’s also one of, if not the Tigers’ fastest player. Thomas came on the scene as a freshmen when he picked off two passes in the Iron Bowl, but has been chasing those expectations since. Monday is an impressive-looking freshman and has pushed Thomas this fall. That’s a good thing because now Steele feels better about his depth at safety. Dinson is the QB in the secondary, fitting since he played some QB in high school. He’s an exceptional athlete with a nose for making plays (47 tackles last season, four pass breakups).
On top of all that, there’s not a senior in the bunch. It’s possible with big seasons that Dean and/or Davis could generate NFL interest like Carlton Davis did a year ago and bolt early. If both return (and even if they don’t), you’ll see some fierce competition for playing time in the secondary for years to come.