Auburn Tigers News: Freshman OT steps up in bowl practice, Hugh Freeze believes top-five 2025 class is possible

In today's edition of Auburn Tigers News, a freshman offensive tackle is stepping up in bowl practice, and Hugh Freeze believes a top-five class is on the horizon.

Oct 28, 2023; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Auburn Tigers linebacker Jalen McLeod (35) tackles Mississippi
Oct 28, 2023; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Auburn Tigers linebacker Jalen McLeod (35) tackles Mississippi / John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
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In today's edition of Auburn Tigers News, a freshman offensive tackle is stepping up in bowl practice, and Hugh Freeze believes a top-five class is on the horizon

Tyler Johnson was a late commit to the Auburn Tigers in the recruiting class of 2023. The #39 offensive tackle in the class of 2023, Johnson was originally committed to Texas Tech before flipping to the Tigers near the end of his recruitment.

He redshirted this fall, but according to linebacker Jalen McLeod, the OT has leveled up during bowl preparations and could have a much bigger role in the upcoming seasons, per Auburn Rivals:

“Man, he's gotten like 10 times better — literally mean it, 10 times better — since he came in from fall camp,” said McLeod, who has 5.5 sacks this season. “We've been having some good one-on-ones, and I'm like, 'Wow. This not the same Tyler that I was going up (against) a few weeks ago.’

“That's how crazy it is. He's probably understanding that his role's about to be bigger, and he's got to step up. He's working for it in the weight room, he's getting extra work, maintaining his weight. Tyler's definitely stepping up and becoming better, literally.”

Senior offensive lineman Kam Stutts noted that this is "some of the best ball" that Johnson has played since he got to the Plains, and he believes the freshman has a bright future.

Hugh Freeze sees top-five class on horizon

When Auburn football head coach Hugh Freeze arrived on the Plains, he said that the 2024 and 2025 recruiting classes were going to be instrumental to the rebuild of the program, and after a lot of hard work, he and his coaching staff locked down the #7 recruiting class in the nation after the early signing period.

Freeze's goals are to have a top-ten class in 2024 and a top-five class in 2025, and he believes that the Tigers are well on their way to accomplishing those goals, per Auburn Undercover:

“We just gotta keep holding on and add some to it. So, yeah, I think with what we did this year in the short time we had, I think it's a reasonable expectation to think we should be around that top five range,” Freeze said of the recruiting classes.

The Tigers' recruiting class of 2025 currently has eight commits and is ranked #3 in the nation, per 247 Sports.