Gus Malzahn recruiting

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn talks during Auburn early recruiting period round-up presser on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018 in Auburn, Ala. Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

As Auburn inches closer to its innovative Big Cat Weekend the first weekend in June, the Tigers find themselves lagging behind many of their SEC counterparts on the recruiting trail. 

Currently, Auburn has only six commitments — two four-stars and four three-stars, ranking the Tigers  28th nationally and, perhaps more significantly, ninth in the SEC — behind not only powerhouses Alabama, LSU and Georgia, but also Mississippi State, South Carolina and Arkansas. 

Even worse, the Tigers have lost five commitments (four since the New Year) in the 2020 recruiting class, including standout in-state four-star outside linebackers Demouy Kennedy and Quandarrius Robinson and four-star defensive end Andy Boykin out of Georgia. 

That's not to say that some of those players won't find their way back onto the Tigers' commit list, as stepping away from an earlier pledge has become increasingly common as players receive more offers, attend more camps and visit more campuses.

But having  almost as many decommitments as commitments at this stage isn't a good sign, especially with rising stature and importance of the early signing period. 

The biggest commit so far for the Tigers is four-star Kobe Hudson, a 6-1, 186-pound wide receiver out of Troup County in LaGrange, Georgia. Hudson, the 68th-ranked player overall in the Class of 2020 in 247Sports composite rankings, also held offers from Alabama and Clemson before giving his verbal commitment to the Tigers. 

Auburn's other four-star commit is J.J. Evans, a 6-2, 285-pound receiver out of Montevallo. He is ranked the No. 114 player nationally and No. 5 in Alabama.

The Tigers have added two commitments to meet their biggest need of the 2020 class — offensive linemen, or more specifically, offensive tackles — with Auburn planning to field five senior starters along the line this season. 

Auburn picked up a commitment from junior college three- star tackle Jonathan Buskey and three-star guard Avery Jernigan in February. 

That's not nearly enough linemen to meet the Tigers' needs, and they will look to add at least three to four more linemen to the class. 

Auburn is battling LSU for guard Miller Merriweather-Lewis, a three-star prospect out of Trinity Catholic in Ocala, Florida. 

Auburn is expected to one of its top tackle prospects, Javion Cohen, for Big Cat Weekend. The three-star out of Central-Phenix City is also strongly considering Florida and South Carolina, where he was once committed, among others. 

Four-star outside linebacker Trenton Simpson is expected to take an official visit to The Plains for Big Cat Weekend. The Charlotte, North Carolina native also has offers from Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. 

The visitor list of Big Cat Weekend will become clearer next week as plans are finalized. There are sure to be a number of additional high-priority targets visiting The Plains for the Tigers' premiere recruiting weekend of the year.

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