Auburn lands top offensive guard recruit for '24

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A day after beginning his Auburn tenure with a 59-14 victory over UMass, Hugh Freeze isn’t resting.

Freeze and his staff scored a huge commitment on Sunday as Mater Dei High School (California) offensive lineman DeAndre Carter (No. 42 overall in the 2024 ESPN 300) pledged to play down on the Plains.

“I went in there with expectations, and they pretty much just exceeded them like super high,” Carter told ESPN of his official visit in late June. “You know, I loved all the coaches I met. It was my first time down there. I loved everything, from football to the education and just the program and school as a whole.

“When I got there, I talked to the players. They all introduced themselves to me. It was really nice.”

Carter, the top-ranked offensive guard in the class and the ninth ESPN 300 prospect the Tigers have secured, also considered Michigan State and Texas.

Since July 17, five ESPN 300 prospects have come into the fold for the Tigers, including a pair of high-profile flips: linebacker Demarcus Riddick (No. 41 overall; Georgia) on July 26 and wide receiver Perry Thompson (No. 40 overall; Alabama) on July 29. Auburn’s class is ranked 19th in ESPN’s team rankings.

Offensive line coach Jake Thornton was hired at Auburn in December after spending the past two years at Mississippi. Under his tutelage, the Rebels led the SEC in total offense (492.5 YPG) in 2021 and ranked third nationally in rushing offense (261.6 YPG) last season. Conversely, the Tigers’ offense averaged 378.5 total yards (10th in the SEC) but finished third in the conference in rushing with 205.8 YPG in 2022.

In the victory over the Minutemen on Saturday, the Tigers ran for 289 yards, and four different players — quarterback Robby Ashford and running backs Sean Jackson, Jeremiah Cobb and Damari Alston — all found the end zone.

“Coach Freeze and Coach Thornton, I’ve talked to them before,” Carter said. “But I think the main thing that got me was their atmosphere. It’s just like a family atmosphere over there.

While suiting up for California powerhouse Mater Dei, he has gone up against some of the best competition in the country inside the Trinity League. He’s not about to be fazed about what will await him with Auburn.

“I mean, I like playing against the best competition,” Carter said, “so I know that’s a really, really good league to get into [the SEC]. But it’s not like a ‘I have to go there’ kind of deal.”

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