Jamonta Waller, a 4-star linebacker from Picayune Memorial (Miss.), is a fan of Auburn coach Hugh Freeze. As Waller noted in an interview with Auburn Live this week, Freeze is “definitely a Mississippi guy.”
He certainly is that.
Freeze was born in Oxford, Miss., played baseball at Northwest Mississippi Community College, graduated from Southern Miss and later was head coach at Ole Miss.
Now coaching the Tigers, he plans to use his local knowledge in Mississippi to help Auburn make a recruiting splash in the Magnolia State during the 2024 cycle. And it’s the perfect year for that as Mississippi has yet another strong class of prospects.
All told, 14 players in the state claim Auburn offers. Many of them already have visited the Tigers this year. Waller, the No. 4 prospect in Mississippi for 2024, will experience Auburn for the first time Friday.
Freeze isn’t the only member of the Auburn football staff with links to Mississippi.
The Tigers have several ties to the Magnolia State
Defensive coordinator Ron Roberts was head coach at Division II Delta State from 2007-11; tight ends coach Ben Aigamaua worked in various roles during a seven-year stint at Ole Miss; defensive line coach Jeremy Garrett is a native of Senatobia and played at Ole Miss; secondary coach Wesley McGriff was Ole Miss defensive coordinator in 2017-18 and previously coached cornerbacks there under Freeze; offensive line coach Jake Thornton had the same position at Ole Miss before leaving for Auburn last winter.
Kamarion Franklin, a defensive lineman from Lake Cormorant and the No. 1 recruit in Mississippi, visited Auburn for the first time last week. After giving the trip rave reviews, he said he felt a connection with Freeze and Garrett due to their Mississippi ties.
“It’s good, especially with Coach Freeze and Coach Garrett, they’re from Mississippi, so it stands out,” Franklin told Auburn Live.
Will these connections pay dividends for the Tigers? Time will tell.
Pulling top recruits out of that state and away from Mississippi State and Ole Miss is a challenge. Additionally, Alabama, LSU and others certainly have made their presence felt there, too.
Auburn hasn’t signed a ton of players from Mississippi in recent years
Success there isn’t a given for Auburn. Historically, the Tigers have been hit or miss in the state.
Auburn signed just one player from Mississippi in the 2023 class — 4-star offensive tackle Izavion Miller of Southwest Mississippi Community College. But he actually played high school ball in Memphis, Tenn.
The Tigers didn’t sign anyone from Mississippi in 2022.
Running back Jarquez Hunter and safety Cayden Bridges, both Mississippi natives, were Auburn signees in 2021. Jumbo athlete J.J. Pegues was the Tigers’ lone Magnolia State signee in 2020; he now plays for Ole Miss.
The 2019 class, on paper, was a homerun for Auburn in Mississippi. The Tigers signed a trio of 4-star defenders in edge Derick Hall and ends Jaren Handy and Charles Moore. Hall became a star for Auburn, but Handy and Moore didn’t last long and transferred out.
From 2015 to 2018, a span of four recruiting classes, Auburn did not sign a single player from Mississippi.
But now Auburn has a head coach — and staff — with countless connections to the state. And with Freeze running the show, it’s reasonable to assume the Tigers’ impact in Mississippi will grow.
Here’s a closer look at some Auburn targets in Mississippi
-Notable 2024 recruits in Mississippi with Auburn offers …
4-star DL Kamarion Franklin, Lake Cormorant: No. 1 recruit in Mississippi, visited Auburn earlier this month and plans to return. Official visit is possible.
4-star LB/Edge Jamonta Waller, Picayune Memorial: Makes first visit to Auburn on Friday. Tigers are in a strong position to land an official visit.
4-star DL Jeffery Rush, Pascagoula: Tigers lead for the state’s No. 5 recruit in the On3 Recruiting Prediction Machine; he visited in January.
4-star RB/ATH Daniel Hill, Meridian: Alabama is the RPM favorite but Hill plans to visit Auburn this spring.
4-star DL Terrance Hibbler, Holmes County Central: Plans to attend Auburn’s A-Day game April 8.
3-star LB Tristan Jernigan, Tupelo: Tigers offered last week; he will visit them Saturday.
3-star OT Isaiah Autry, Fulton Itawamba Agricultural: Visited Auburn in January and hopes to return.
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