Posted 27 mins ago
In-state LB clarifies Auburn’s standing among top schools
When Vonta Bentley spoke with SEC Country last month, his main message wasn’t great news for Auburn.
Bentley called Clemson his leader. That hasn’t changed. But what was unnerving to the Auburn side was how Bentley considered the Tigers to be far on the outside compared to Clemson and Alabama. Based on his comments, however, it seemed like the Auburn staff wasn’t making as much of a push for the Jackson-Olin (Ala.) linebacker as a few other prospects in the 2019 class.
That wasn’t Auburn’s intent, several sources have made clear.
Bentley is among the Tigers’ favorite linebackers in that class, and they made sure to correct the record in short order. After a Clemson visit earlier this month, Bentley drove through Auburn with a few of his teammates to drop off defensive tackle signee Coynis Miller who was set for a multi-day stay.
On that trip — his second this spring — Bentley noticed an increase level of attention and interest from the Tigers.
“I’d say most of the coaching staff are writing letters to me now after that little visit I took up there,” Bentley told SEC Country. “All the coaches, they be communicating with me. They’re always pumped up, excited, loud. I’ll say that. They’re always screaming. T-Will [linebackers coach Travis Williams] was all shouting, ‘Vonta’s here, Vonta’s here,’ when I got there. That was funny.”
It has caused a shift for Bentley.
Auburn is no longer on the outside looking in. He still refers to Clemson as his leader and admits other programs are going to have to show him something more to top Dabo Swinney and Co. But Auburn is in the conversation now with Bentley telling SEC Country that Auburn has moved into the No. 2 spot above Alabama (the Crimson Tide are expected to bring in a star-studded linebacker class and Bentley isn’t feeling as much love).
While Auburn hasn’t recruited him the hardest yet, the Tigers are likely to change that tune.
Williams already got that started on Bentley’s most recent visit.
“He says basically what Clemson says. He wants me, that I’m a top player. He sat me down to watch my film,” Bentley said. “Going over stuff, he was just being real with me. He told me things I needed to get better at. That’s what I like about him. He wasn’t just telling me what I was great at, but stuff I need to work on too. I really like that.”
The one thing that separates Clemson: his connection with Swinney.
Bentley said when he goes there he always spends time with Swinney in his office. Those conversations range from football to many non-football topics. He has started to receive similar treatment at Auburn with Gus Malzahn. Bentley visited earlier this spring with his mother, which gave him the first look into Malzahn and his recruiting approach.
“I went to his office and talked to him for a pretty good minute. I had went with my coach and sat in there just talking and chopping it up. I would say Clemson head coach and Auburn head coach are the ones talking to me the most,” Bentley said. “At Alabama, I’ll only talk to coach Saban after practice or something like that and say he needs some linebackers.”
Bentley’s process isn’t close to complete.
He wants to take his time with his commitment, perhaps looking toward an end-of-season decision. Bentley wouldn’t mind waiting until National Signing Day, but he mentioned the uncertainty of being able to wait that long because of numbers restrictions his top schools might have at linebacker. In other words, he wouldn’t want to wait so long his school of choice didn’t have an open scholarship for him.
Still, Bentley hopes to check out a few more schools, namely LSU, Tennessee and Ole Miss.
As he closes in on his decision, the relationship between Auburn and Jackson-Olin will be the key. TD Moultry and Miller have started that pipeline the last two recruiting classes. Bentley confirmed that can only help Auburn come decision time.
“I’d say as far as Auburn, it does help. We can catch up with the players that are down there. We can hear how Auburn really is and what they like about it. We’re in touch with TD and Coynis, so that’s going to help with other players from J-O,” Bentley said. “It’s always going to be an advantage when you can talk to one of the players who’s already down there. You can learn why they like it, which I can tell why they like it because those coaches are pumped up and have fun while still handling their business.”