AUBURN, Ala. — Jacoby Stevens pulled up to the Auburn athletic complex in style on Saturday afternoon.
Well, the best way to say that was Gus Malzahn did. While the majority of the tour group Stevens was a part of returned to the complex via a charter bus, he did not.
Malzahn was his chauffeur in a still looks-just-off-the-showroom-floor BMW i8. That’s the one with the scissor doors at a retail price of $140,000. The normally reserved Waffle House connoisseur splurged with that purchase for his 50th birthday in February.
That purchase was also meant to provide a memorable visit for elite recruits in town for Big Cat Weekend like the Tennessee native. It clearly did that with Stevens.
“The car was amazing,” Stevens said. “It was like floating on air and I didn’t feel anything. Coach Malzahn got a really good deal on that.”
Stevens (Oakland High School/ Murfreesboro, Tenn.) said Auburn wants him at safety.
“They say they not only want me as a defensive back but also to play offense for them to show why all these recruiting sites list me as the nation’s No. 1 athlete,” Stevens said.
Big Cat Weekend made its mark on him.
“I put this visit as one of my higher visits,” Stevens said. “I know I rant and rave still about that Georgia visit I took earlier this year. That’s still one of the best visits I’ve ever had and I put this Auburn visit right under that.”
The big connection to Auburn on Saturday was his relationship with new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. Stevens committed to Steele when he was at LSU, but he has since backed off that pledge.
“Coach Steele was definitely a big deal and now he is bringing that trust factor with me to Auburn,” Stevens said. “Then (Auburn offensive coordinator) coach (Rhett) Lashlee has been on me when I was a freshman and when I committed to LSU and now that I re-opened my recruitment he’s been on me now. That just means a lot. Then you have (defensive backs) coach (Wesley) McGriff coming from the (New Orleans) Saints from the NFL. He’s growing on me fast and there are a lot of things going on that make Auburn a school that I am taking very seriously.
Stevens said Auburn “definitely helped itself” with him after his trip.
“I put my Top 7 out there with my recent tweet and I put that out there because I want to see other schools with a clean slate and see what they might possibly have for me,” Stevens said.
The five-star prospect said the Auburn coaches were “amazing” and the school separates itself with a “genuine” family atmosphere. He also enjoying watching the staff interact and have fun with one another. He wasn’t allowed to drive Malzahn’s car, though.
“I am pretty sure Coach Malzahn’s wife and also the NCAA wouldn’t have been too happy with that,” Stevens said. “It was really cool, though. The first thing that went through my mind was I’m pretty sure Cam Newton is pretty jealous of that car if he doesn’t have one.”
He’s rated as the nation’s No. 1 athlete and the No. 25 player overall for the Class of 2017. Stevens had set a commitment date for his birthday on July 19th but backed off that decision after discussing the matter with his family and advisors.
“I will still make my commitment before my senior season,” he said. “I want to focus on my last year in high school.”
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.