3 reasons Emmanuel Henderson is unlikely to pick Auburn football

Auburn football Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Auburn football Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /

Auburn football is in the running for 5-star running back prospect Emmanuel Henderson, but the hard reality is they are unlikely to land him.

I know that isn’t what Tigers fans want to hear, and I understand that I am not likely to love many of the replies I get for this one.

But I’m not getting my hopes up.

Here are 3 reasons why I don’t believe Auburn football is likely to land the stud rusher when he announces where he will be playing for the 2021-22 season:

1. Auburn football doesn’t spend much on recruiting

Josh Vitale of the Montgomery Advertiser made the hearts of nearly every Tigers fan sink when he tweeted the recruiting budget numbers for the Auburn and Alabama football programs:

To recap, Auburn spent 31% of what the Tide did on their 2020 football team recruitment efforts. Given the team just replaced their coaching staff–knowing full well they would be on the hook for buyouts–it is unlikely the team is going to sniff Alabama’s recruiting budget with an unproven (on the Plains and in the SEC) first-year coach.

2. Henderson raved about the Plains, not the current coaching staff

Emmanuel Henderson was likely shown all of the bells and whistles–or as many as he can be treated to in times of COVID-19–when he was on his recruitment trip to Auburn.

He certainly had nice things to say about his time on the Plains afterward:

"“It’s a great school,” Henderson said of Auburn last September. “When you go there it feels like home. I love the environment.”"

Worse yet, Henderson also had a strong rapport with Gus Malzahn–you know, the guy that got handed his walking papers this past offseason–after his fall recruitment trip to tour Jordan-Hare Stadium and the rest of the Auburn athletics facilities:

"Henderson also was close to former head coach Gus Malzahn. Bryan Harsin, hired as Malzahn’s replacement in December, is just starting to build a relationship with Henderson."

“Just starting” to build a relationship with the #22 recruit in the 2022 class and the #1 running back overall is another way of saying that Harsin and co. are way behind the 8-ball in landing Henderson on March 13th…perhaps too much so.

3. The competition is too fierce

The 6-5 Auburn Tigers will have the defending National Champions–and heated interstate rivals–Alabama to contend with for Henderson’s services. After viewing Najee Harris dominate en route to what should be a fruitful NFL career, Henderson sounds open to being molded by the Tide coaching staff:

"“I can always move around because I’m an athlete,” he said of what the UA staff is pitching to him. “I can play special teams, I can play slot receiver, wherever they need me.”“They’re real,” Henderson said of what he likes about the Tide staff. “They’re going to stay truthful to you, give you good advice, things like that.”"

Notice the tangible reasons beyond “being made to feel like home” he provided for why Alabama could be his choice.

Beyond the undefeated, reigning National Champions, Auburn football will have competition from Clemson, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee, and USC.

Half of that field had a significantly better 2020 than Auburn did, and Clemson is projected to be the #1 team in the field next season according to oddsmakers.

Harsin and his men will bring this program back to the top of the football world (we hope) but it won’t happen overnight.

Be patient, Auburn fans. War Eagle!

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