Byron Cowart, the No. 1-ranked player in the ESPN 300, committed to Auburn on Wednesday morning, choosing the Tigers over Florida. The 6-foot-4, 258-pound defensive end from Armwood High School (Seffner, Fla.) announced his decision live on ESPNU.
The five-star defensive lineman should help an Auburn defensive unit that was tied for 92nd in the FBS in sacks (with 21) this past season. The Tigers’ defense also ranked in the bottom five in the SEC in points per game, total yards allowed, passing yards allowed and rushing yards allowed.
Auburn’s lackluster effort on defense last season led to the dismissal of Ellis Johnson and the hiring of former Florida head coach Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator. While at Florida, Muschamp built a strong relationship with several key recruits, including Cowart.
Cowart, who registered 11 sacks and 21 tackles for loss as a high school senior, took an official visit to Auburn the weekend of Jan. 16, followed by an unofficial visit to Florida the following week. In the end, it was Cowart’s strong relationship with Muschamp that ultimately led to his decision.
Cowart is the first player from Florida ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect in the ESPN 300 and the first No. 1 overall prospect Auburn has signed since ESPN began keeping player rankings in 2006.
Commitment impact: Landing the nation’s No. 1 prospect will always have a big impact, but Cowart’s impact on Auburn can’t be understated. Defense was clearly the weak point of the Tigers last season, as they had only 21 sacks and were near the bottom of the SEC in most major statistical categories.
Cowart can be an instant-impact recruit who helps jump-start Muschamp’s rebuilding of the Auburn defense.
What he brings: