Auburn coach Hugh Freeze’s penchant for getting high-profile prospects to reconsider continued Saturday, when five-star defensive end Jamonta Waller changed his pledge from Florida to Auburn.
Waller, who attends Picayune Memorial High School in Mississippi, had been committed to Billy Napier and the Gators since June 19.
The No. 18 overall prospect in 2024, Waller is one of two five-star recruits in Florida’s third-ranked class, along with quarterback D.J. Lagway, who is No. 16 overall. He is the third top-45 player to flip to Auburn since late July, joining outside linebacker Demarcus Riddick (No. 44 overall), who flipped from Georgia on July 26, and wide receiver Perry Thompson (No. 43 overall), who flipped from Alabama on July 29.
The addition of Waller bolsters a 18th-ranked class that now has eight ESPN 300 players in it. If Waller signs a letter of intent, he’ll be the first five-star prospect to sign to come down to the Plains since outside linebacker Owen Pappoe (No. 8 overall) signed in 2019.
In 10 games for the Maroon Tide, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Waller had 56 tackles (31 solo) with 19 tackles for loss and 9 sacks.
Auburn’s defense came into this week third in the SEC in pass defense (202.8 YPG), but its 21 sacks were tied with Mississippi State for eighth in the conference. Waller and Riddick will give defensive coordinator Ron Roberts two solid building blocks for the future.
Freeze’s first year with the Tigers (6-4, 3-4 SEC) has been a little inconsistent, but a 48-10 domination on the road at Arkansas on Saturday marked their third straight victory. Quarterback Payton Thorne had 251 total yards and four total touchdowns (three passing) in the win, while the defense had five sacks, forced two turnovers and held the Razorbacks to 255 total yards.
Thorne, who transferred from Michigan State in the offseason and has split time with Robby Ashford, has now thrown for multiple touchdowns in three straight games, including three touchdowns apiece in wins over Mississippi State and Arkansas.