As Alabama and Georgia continue to separate themselves from the rest of the SEC, and with other programs like LSU and Texas A&M charging forward, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the likes of Auburn to compete on the recruiting trail with their arch rival Crimson Tide. That’s not to say that it’s becoming too difficult to compete full stop, however.
A 6-foot-3, 207-pound star for Hillcrest High School (Evergreen, Ala.), Riley picked the Tigers ahead of scholarship offers from fellow finalists Texas A&M and the likes of LSU, Oklahoma and Tennessee, to name but a few.
“It just feels like home,” Riley told 247Sports. “I love Auburn. It’s a family atmosphere. And it has a vibe here.”
And the Tigers and their fans love Riley. The linebacker became the fifth recruit of the month for Auburn, and both the second linebacker and player from Alabama to take the leap to Auburn.
It’s been a huge month for the Tigers, who had six members of their Class of 2020 before June 1 and now have a rapidly filling class. Riley is one of the five highest-rated members of Auburn’s current class, and the second-highest rated defensive player.
The one defensive star in front of Riley? Simpson, who is the gem of the class thus far. A fellow four-star linebacker, the Mallard Creek (N.C.) High School star is ranked as one of the top-55 overall prospects in the Class of 2020 by 247Sports.
Simpson, who will compete at The Opening finals, was apparently won over during Auburn’s Big Cat Weekend at the end of May, and Simpson took one final visit with his family the following weekend as he quietly weighed his personal decision.
“I love the coaching staff, love the program, the atmosphere and how (linebackers coach Travis Williams) builds players up,” Simpson told 247Sports. “You don’t have to be a 5-star there. You don’t have to be the perfect guy. He’s going to build you up to get you to the level you need to be at.
“My family loves (Auburn). Being 45 minutes away growing up, I went and watched games there. My mom loves it there.”
Together with Riley, Simpson should help the Tigers shore up their linebacking corps for years still to come.