Auburn football: Tuscaloosa area 4-star OL stays local, spurns Tigers

Auburn football will always be behind the 8-ball for recruits in the Tuscaloosa region due to the in-town presence of Alabama, and that was the case again on Monday night as Northridge 4-star Wilkin Formby chose to stay local with the Crimson Tide.

Formby is Alabama’s third 4-star class of 2023 commit and the Crimson Tide’s second offensive player in the class. He’ll likely be tasked to one day protect 2023 quarterback-commit Eli Holstein out of Zachary, LA, and more imminently, incoming freshmen signal-callers Ty Simpson or Jalen Milroe.

It should be noted that Formby’s grandfather played for Bear Bryant, making it unlikely any other school was eligible to actually land him. Bill O’Brien and Holmon Wiggins, whose offices are about a 10-minute drive from Northridge’s campus, were the primary recruiters for the six-foot-seven, 300-lb OT, apart from his grandfather Rod’s established legacy in Tuscaloosa.

Formby is the nation’s 83rd-overall recruit and the No. 10 recruit in all of Alabama. He is the highest-rated OT in the state. The other schools announced in Formby’s finalist included Tennessee, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, and Auburn football.

Auburn football must start winning recruits like Wilkin Formby

In many ways, Wilkin Formby is the white whale of Auburn football recruitment, not only right now, but through the entirety of the Gus Malzahn era. The Tigers have been able to reel in several high-level rushers (Kerryon Johnson, JaTarvious Whitlow, Tank Bigsby) throughout the years, but have seldom put them in position to thrive due to lackluster OL recruitment.

Alabama and Georgia have annually put themselves in contention for the College Football Playoff because of the trench wins that have eluded Malzahn, and now Bryan Harsin on the recruiting trail.

Moving forward, the OL needs to be a priority, especially considering the fact the entire OL is all upperclassmen. Bradyn Joiner needs another OL in the Class of 2023, and evidently, the Auburn High School product will not be joined by the Tuscaloosa-area titan.