Auburn football makes top 10 for Georgia ATH, named No. 1 choice for Alabama LB

Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Monday, and one Georgia Class of 2019 athlete amended his top schools list in a conversation with SEC Country. Also, a 2020 linebacker has the Tigers on top.

Georgia ATH amends top-schools list to add Auburn

When Tra Wilkins released his top 10, Auburn didn’t make the list.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound athlete — recruited by most as an outside linebacker — had a top group of Georgia, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Nebraska, Alabama, South Carolina, Michigan, Tennessee and Mississippi State. The Auburn omission came as a bit of a surprise given Wilkins’ background at Stephenson High in Stone Mountain, Ga., which has given recent commitments to Auburn in the form of Carlito Gonzalez and Jalil Irvin.

Wilkins only needed one trip to the Plains to amend his top 10.

He told SEC Country that Auburn is now firmly within his top 10 and should even be considered one of his favorites. Wilkins attended the Tigers’ most recent junior day. That resulted in the change in heart regarding Auburn.

As of now, Wilkins doesn’t have a timeline for a decision.

2020 linebacker places Auburn on top

Jackson-Olin High School has been good to Auburn the last few recruiting cycles.

The Birmingham, Ala., school has provided the Tigers with 2017 linebacker TD Moultry and 2018 defensive tackle Coynis Miller. Jammal Abrams and Vonta Bentley are the 2019 recruits who Auburn is targeting, though Abrams is already committed to Florida. The trend won’t stop in the 2020 class, either.

Auburn offered 2020 linebacker Quandarrius Robinson last summer. He has since picked up offers from South Carolina and Oregon. Robinson is 6-4 and 200 pounds, so his sheer size stands out on a football field.

He has always had major interest in Auburn. For the first time (to my knowledge), Robinson announced the Tigers were his No. 1. In an interview with Rivals.com’s Chad Simmons published Monday, Robinson called Auburn the leader for now.

“I have visited Auburn five or six times and I went to a lot of their games last season, so I am really liking them a lot right now,” Robinson told Simmons. “They are my No. 1 school because I believe they really want me. I know it is not time for me make a decision yet, but they are recruiting me like it is my time and like I am a priority.”

Miss a previous Auburn recruiting notebook? Find every daily recap of Auburn Tigers recruiting right here.

Alabama gets commitment from 4-star Muscle Shoals LB

Muscle Shoals linebacker Jackson Bratton is Bama’s second commitment for the Class of 2020. (Photo from Jackson Bratton, via Twitter)
Auburn running back JaTarvious Whitlow (28) had a 70-yard touchdown run during the Tigers’ first spring scrimmage on Saturday. (Julie Bennett/jbennett@al.com)

Gus Malzahn wasn’t ready to say if any of Auburn’s five running backs created any separation in the Tigers’ ongoing backfield battle, but one definitely stood out among the pack during the team’s first scrimmage Saturday morning.

Each running back received between five and 10 carries during the roughly 100-play scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium, but JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow made the most of his touches. The redshirt freshman made perhaps the most impressive play of the scrimmage, breaking off a nearly 70-yard touchdown run, according to a source, after reversing field behind the line of scrimmage.

“It was something like you see on ‘Madden,’ where you just go one way and he reversed the other way,” left guard Marquel Harrell said. “It was a good run. It brought some energy to the field. It was a good run for him.”

Whitlow’s highlight-reel touchdown run was one of the bright spots for an offense that committed five turnovers, including four interceptions, on the day.

It was also something that wasn’t completely unfamiliar to his teammates, who have almost come to expect such playmaking ability from the 6-foot, 216-pound running back.

“I saw that about Boobee, I think, last fall camp,” right guard Mike Horton said. “I’ve always seen that about him. I’ve always spoke highly about Boobee. I know he’ll be a great player. I love him a lot.”

Whitlow redshirted last season after injuring his ankle during fall camp, but the LaFayette native impressed in his limited opportunity before the injury and then gained some notoriety within the team for his explosiveness and elusive running style when he was cleared to return for practices during the Tigers’ bowl preparation at the end of last season.

His rise has continued this spring, as he competes with the likes of Kam Martin, Devan Barrett, Asa Martin and Malik Miller for the starting running back position in an offense needing to replace its two best running backs, Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway.

“Boobee’s been pretty impressive all spring,” linebacker Darrell Williams said. “I told him today, pretty much, the ball’s in his court. Whatever he wants to be, that’s what he can be…. I feel like Boobee is a guy who has a lot of spotlight on him right now just because of the improvement that he’s been doing. He had an injury last year, so he was kind of under the radar, but he’s coming out a little more, so that’s pretty good.”

Malzahn said that he saw good things from all of Auburn’s running backs on Saturday, while multiple players also pointed to the performances of Kam Martin and Barrett out of the backfield during the first scrimmage. Still, there’s something about Whitlow’s ability to create something out of nothing that has made the former three-star recruit an offseason standout.

Malzahn and coaches will review the film from Saturday and start to establish a pecking order among the running backs–and it wouldn’t be surprising if Whitlow continues to rise to the top of that depth chart this spring.

“It’s funny, because I don’t know where he got the name Boobee from, but it’s like (the movie) ‘Friday Night Lights,’” Harrell said. “When you put Boobee in, we gonna win. That’s kind of what reminds me of Boobee. He brings great energy, which we need at times.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Report: Alabama in talks for home-and-home series with Notre Dame, Texas
Alabama’s Michael Williams, middle, celebrates his 3-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter against Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship game at Sun Life Stadium on Monday, January 7, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Florida. (C.W. Griffin/Miami Herald/MCT)

Alabama is in talks to hold home-and-home series with two college football powers at some point in the future, The Tuscaloosa News reported Saturday.

According to The News’ article, the Crimson Tide is trying to hammer out deals with Notre Dame and Texas — two of the teams Alabama defeated to win national titles during the Nick Saban dynasty years.

Alabama last played a home-and-home series against a non-conference opponent in 2010 and 2011, when Penn State came to Tuscaloosa and Alabama visited State College, Pa. in consecutive years.

The Tide has opened the season against high-profile programs at neutral sites the last six seasons.

In September, Alabama will face Louisville in Orlando.

Cushman & Wakefield Arranges $51M AL Sale

Cushman & Wakefield has arranged the $51 million sale of The Apartments at the Venue in Valley, Ala. Valley is a city of approximately 10,000 residents situated on the Alabama-Georgia state line about 45 miles northwest of Columbus, Ga.

The decade-old, Class A, 618-unit apartment community features a number of amenities, including three resort-style pools, a pair of state-of-the-art clubhouses with business centers, a fitness center, detached garage units and private access gates.

More than $1 million has been invested in the property in the last three years, giving the next investor flexibility to focus on value-add and additional development land.

The Apartments at the Venue is situated in one of the Southeast’s prime auto corridors. It is 20 minutes southwest of Kia, which employs 3,000, and the upcoming Sentury Tire plant, which will offer 1,000 jobs by next year.

Tertiary market

“The biggest challenge was finding a $20 million to $25 million equity check for a tertiary market, as the attractive in-place loan was low—55 percent—leverage,” Cushman & Wakefield’s executive managing director Jimmy Adams told MHN.

“Ultimately we had a very competitive process, which we accomplished by focusing resources on investors looking for growth, scale or balancing their portfolio leverage.”

The Apartments at the Venue sold for $82,524 per unit.

In the transaction, Adams, Robert Stickel and Craig Hey of Cushman & Wakefield represented the seller, Irinda Capital Management and BRT Realty Trust. Hamilton Point Investments purchased the asset.

“The Apartments at the Venue arrived to the market with strong in-place yield and an attractive, low-leverage full-term IO assumable loan,” Adams said.

$4.6M student housing project in progress near USM Gulf Park

Image of the interior design for the student housing complex. (Photo Source: WLOX)
The old Triton building in Long Beach will be converted into student housing for USM students at the South Mississippi campus. (Photo Source: WLOX)

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) –

A developer is converting the old Triton building in Long Beach into a student housing complex.

Encompass, a Kentucky-based company, is working with Gulf Coast Student Housing LLC. to turn the structure into Friendship Oak Village.

This is a $4.6 million conversion on a tight timeline. The proximity to the campus will invite students to walk to class.

“The students will be here on September 15, so we want to be available then. Right now, we’re going through our demo phase. We’ll be done with demolition in a few weeks and then we’ll start doing construction on the inside,” Parrish said.

Work is currently underway to demolish interior walls in the structure on Railroad St., across the tracks from the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus.

While the university has talked about building dorms on the Gulf Park campus, this private project will offer student housing and bring opportunities for USM to attract more out of state students to the coast.

“Eventually this is going to be 122 unit student housing. Each room will be two students per room. It’ll be 74 units that will be extra large rooms, and we’ll have 48 rooms that will be normal dormitory style rooms,” said contractor Lee Parrish.

The project is not associated with the University of Southern Mississippi, but the dormitory style development could go a long way towards attracting students to the Gulf Coast campus. That’s why the City of Long Beach is excited about the opportunity.

“We want them to be bigger and better because kids who are living in Kentucky or Wisconsin could come and go to college on the beach, give back to Mississippi and work here,” according to Jenny Levens with the City of Long Beach.

Even though it’s a private venture, housing will be offered at a per semester rate. Multiple lounge areas will be available along with study rooms, a gated pool and controlled access parking.

There will be an official groundbreaking ceremony at Friendship Oak Village on Monday. Construction is expected to be completed by mid-August.

Auburn defeats Alabama in dramatic fashion to win SEC title

When it comes to excitement, the match-play format in college golf often lives up to the hype.

That trend continued Sunday in the SEC Championship final, a battle between archrivals Auburn and Alabama. It was an Iron Bowl matchup for college golf, and it came to an astonishing conclusion.

The Tigers edged out the Crimson Tide, 3-2, at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course in St. Simons Island, Ga., to earn an SEC title. But they only pulled it out after epic deciding match.

The matches were tied 2-2 as the final duo of Wells Padgett (Auburn) and Jonathan Hardee (Alabama) played their last two holes.

Padgett was 2 up at that point and just needed to halve one of the final two holes to close out his match and give Auburn the SEC title. But Hardee didn’t shy away, in fact nearly acing the par-3 17th on his way to a kick-in birdie and a win to push the match to 18.

Jonathan Hardee nearly aced the par 3 17th hole! Nevertheless, Hardee birdies it and we are all square going to Hole No. 18! Incredible shot by the senior from Greer, S.C.! #RollTide pic.twitter.com/nsMPFrieac

— Alabama Men’s Golf (@AlabamaMGolf) April 29, 2018

The senior had the momentum and it made sense that turn would unnerve his freshman opponent. Uhh, not quite.

Padgett played the 18th textbook and left himself a slippery 20-footer for birdie to close out a 1-up win and the championship.

He hit a perfect putt that he knew was in a good 5 feet from the cup.

What a moment.

The celebration came after Auburn had clinched its first SEC Championship crown in 16 years. The No. 7 Tigers were Golfweek‘s fourth-highest ranked team in a loaded SEC field this year and played exactly to that billing in the stroke-play portion.

Auburn posted an 8-over 848 to finish in a tie for fourth in stroke play, and with the top eight squads making match play, they easily moved on.

The fourth-seeded Tigers pulled out a narrow 3-2 triumph over No. 5 Arkansas in the quarterfinals and then downed top-seeded LSU, 4-1, in the semis.

Alabama, which also posted 8-over 848 but earned the sixth seed, defeated No. 3 Vanderbilt – the defending champs – 3-2 in the quarters and took down Florida, 3-1-1, in the semis. The Crimson Tide actually earned the first two points in the final, as Lee Hodges defeated Jovan Rebula, 2 and 1, in the opening match and Davis Shore blitzed Ryan Knop, 6 and 5, in the third match.

But Trace Crowe made a statement with a 2-and-1 in the second match over Davis Riley, and Brandon Mancheno followed with his own 2-and-1 triumph over Wilson Furr. And then Padgett stepped up to close things out.

After going winless in their first five events of the season, the Tigers have now won four of their last six.

You can keep up with all men’s conference championship results here. Coverage of women’s conference championships reside here.

WATCH: 5-star LB Owen Pappoe predicts undefeated run against Alabama after Auburn commitment

Owen Pappoe, Auburn’s new 5-star linebacker commit, has a bold prediction for the Tigers’ performance against Alabama in future Iron Bowl matchups with him on the Plains.

Last Tuesday, the player from Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga., and a member of the Class of 2019 spoke to FOX 5 Atlanta shortly after his commitment to Auburn. He didn’t hold anything back when asked if he had a message for Alabama.

“Man, we’re going to go 4-0 against them,” Pappoe told FOX 5 Atlanta. “We’re going to go 4-0.”

Check out the full video below:

That’s a strong statement from Pappoe, who likely was dealing with a rush of emotions after making his college choice known. You can understand his excitement. Still, it’s probably not the best idea to predict a 4-0 run against Alabama.

After all, the Crimson Tide have won three of the last four Iron Bowl matchups. As long as Nick Saban is coaching Alabama, it will be hard for Auburn to string together consecutive victories against the Crimson Tide. The Tigers won each meeting between the rivals from 2002-07. But since then, Auburn has claimed just three victories in the series.

Still, Tigers fans — and new Auburn commits — own bragging rights for the moment after Gus Malzahn’s team beat Alabama last November. That is, if you ignore that little detail that the Crimson Tide went on to win the national title despite not claiming an SEC West crown.

Latest MLB draft projections for South Alabama’s Travis Swaggerty

South Alabama center fielder Travis Swaggerty (21) is expected to be a first-round pick in the 2018 MLB draft on Monday. (Mike Kittrell/AL.com)

South Alabama’s Travis Swaggerty likely won’t have to wait long to hear his name called in the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Swaggerty, the Jaguars’ two-time All-Sun Belt Conference center fielder, is projected as a first-round pick in the draft, which beings Monday (6 p.m. Central, MLB Network). If selected in the first round, he’d be the first USA player taken so early since pitcher Mike Zimmerman went No. 27 overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1990.

The lefty-swinging Swaggerty batted .296/.455/.526 with 10 doubles, 13 home runs, 38 RBIs and nine steals in 57 games for the Jaguars in 2018. The Denham Springs, La., native scored 57 runs and finished among the national leaders with 53 walks, while also displaying fine range and a powerful arm in the outfield.

Swaggerty — who was not drafted out of high school — is one of six prospects expected to attend the draft in person at MLB Network’s New Jersey studios on Monday night. Set to join him are Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm and a quartet of high school players: first baseman Triston Casas (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), shortstop Xavier Edwards (Wellington, Fla.), catcher Anthony Seigler (Cartersville, Ga.) and pitcher Carter Stewart (Melbourne, Fla.).

Swaggerty burst onto the 2018 MLB draft scene following an excellent showing last summer with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, proving to be one of the best players on the roster. Though his junior season at South Alabama did not live up to its preseason All-America promise, he’s still expected to be a first-round pick on Monday.

The Oakland Athletics, who hold pick No. 9, are a popular potential destination for Swaggerty. ESPN’s Keith Law has projected Swaggerty to Oakland in all three of his mock drafts, while MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo did the same in his final mock draft released on Wednesday. (Update: Law’s final mock draft posted on Monday morning has Swaggerty going at No. 14 to the Seattle Mariners).

However, there is some late buzz that Swaggerty might slip to later in the round due to his uneven performance as a college junior. CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa has Swaggerty lasting until the Washington Nationals at pick No. 27 in a mock draft released Sunday, while Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo hinted via Twitter on Saturday at some potential drop in Swaggerty’s stock.

Has Travis Swaggerty dropped out of the top 10 or he’s still guaranteed to be drafted that early?

— Toan (@sportsfantoan) June 2, 2018

Definitely not a guarantee now. It sounds like his fall is pretty real. Could get into the 20s. Check out where he goes in our latest mock: https://t.co/W7TMHQRWiK #MLBDraft https://t.co/5hHy8nlQ9t

— Carlos Collazo (@CarlosACollazo) June 2, 2018

Should Swaggerty go in the Top 10, he’d be guaranteed a signing bonus of more than $4.5 million according to MLB’s draft slotting system. If he lasts until the latter stages of the first round, he’d still be looking at a guarantee of more than $2.2 million.

With only the top 78 picks set for Monday (Rounds 1 and 2, plus compensation and competitive balance picks), Swaggerty is the only South Alabama player expected to be taken on Day 1 of the draft. Outfielder Dylan Hardy, third baseman Brendan Donovan, first baseman Wells Davis, catcher Carter Perkins, pitchers Tyler Carr and Zach Greene, as well as Jaguars signees Zach Young (a junior-college pitcher) and Ethan Wilson (an outfielder from Andalusia High School) could all be selected in the later rounds.

Rounds 3-10 of the draft begin at noon Central on Tuesday, with Rounds 11-40 commencing at 11 a.m. Wednesday. The final two days of the draft will stream live via MLB.com.