Alabama is shooting for its seventh straight crown as recruiting champions.
Currently, the Crimson Tide is ranked second behind Ohio State. Alabama has 14 commits to Ohio State’s 13. The average Buckeyes commit is ranked higher than the Tide’s at the moment, which is why OSU is ranked No. 1.
What bodes well for Alabama’s chances at another run for the top spot is the fact that the Tide are in the middle of the race for several 5-star prospects. In 2016, Alabama signed three 5-stars (OT Jonah Williams and LBs Ben Davis and Lyndell “Mack” Wilson).
With eight months to go until National Signing Day 2017, I am currently expecting the Tide to sign five 5-stars, which we will get to below.
That number should help get the Crimson Tide its seventh straight title as recruiting champions.
With that being said, here’s SEC Country’s second mock signing class for Alabama.
* signifies current Alabama commitment
Tua Tagovailoa*, Saint Louis School, Honolulu
Mac Jones*, The Bolles School, Jacksonville, Fla.
Tagovailoa, a 4-star prospect, was back on Alabama’s campus a few weeks ago for the team’s summer camp. He got to spend valuable time with some of the team’s other commits, which is always good considering he lives 4,000 miles away from Bryant-Denny Stadium. He’ll be around Alabama commits and targets for nearly a week next month when he participates in Nike’s “The Opening” recruiting camp.
Despite him living so far away, don’t expect him to get cold feet when it comes time to sign.
From my talks with him and his family, they’ve made it clear that a commitment is a commitment. The only way I can see Tagovailoa leaving Alabama is if offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin gets a head coaching opportunity elsewhere. The Tagovailoas have developed a good relationship with Kiffin, but even then, they are close with Nick Saban.
Jones, a 4-star prospect, has been added on this list since the first mock signing class. He’s locked in with his commitment after flipping from Kentucky last month. He’s one of the team’s top recruiters.
Running back (2)
Najee Harris*, Antioch High School, Antioch, Calif.
Brian Robinson*, Hillcrest High School, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Running back is one of Alabama’s top priorities in the Class of 2017, but I expect Alabama to sign only two tailbacks. That’s a change from the three I expected last month.
Najee Harris is the big name on this list. He’s the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit. With that distinction, other programs are going to continue to put on the full-court press, even if he is committed to a school.
Harris has been committed to Alabama for more than a year now but has continued to take visits elsewhere, most notably to Southern California, UCLA and Ohio State.
It’s going to be a battle to sign Harris come National Signing Day, but it’s a race Alabama is willing to run. Harris is the highest-rated running back recruit since LSU’s Leonard Fournette. In the end, I think he sticks with Alabama, but I am definitely not confident right now.
Brian Robinson, a 4-star prospect, has been committed to Alabama for several months now and I don’t see him in another jersey than the Tide’s. He grew up an Alabama fan and has dreamed about playing for the Tide.
Wide receiver (4)
Tyrell Shavers*, Lewisville High School, Lewisville, Texas
Devonta Smith, Amite High School, Amite, La.
Jerry Jeudy, Deerfield Beach High School, Pompano Beach, Fla.
Henry Ruggs, Robert E. Lee High School, Montgomery, Ala.
After signing only two wide receivers in 2016, the position is one of Alabama’s top priorities. This is the group I am most confident in with my predictions.
The Tide got its first commitment earlier this month from 4-star prospect Tyrell Shavers. After announcing his commitment, he said his recruitment was over and that he will early enroll at Alabama this January.
Devonta Smith, a 4-star prospect, has a great relationship with Tide defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, grew up with guidance from Sam Petitto, Alabama’s assistant director of player personnel and is close friends with 2016 signee Shyheim Carter. That trio’s influence will be key on Smith’s decision. His personality also fits with Alabama’s style. He’s all business when it comes to his recruitment.
Jerry Jeudy, another 4-star wideout, is close friends with Calvin Ridley. Seeing Ridley blow up as a freshman has to be encouraging for Jeudy. He named Alabama as his leader at one point in his recruitment but has backed off of that. That doesn’t matter. Alabama is still the favorite to land him. Miami is considered his No. 2 team right now.
Out of all the uncommitted recruits in the 2017 class, I am most confident in projecting Henry Ruggs, a 4-star prospect, to Alabama. He’s a slam dunk, no doubt about it, lock for the Crimson Tide. He loves everything about Alabama and has visited countless times.
Tight end (1)
Zech Byrd, Stanhope Elmore High School, Millbrook, Ala.
Byrd is a 3-star prospect, but one Alabama is high on regardless of his ranking. He’s 6-foot-6 and weighs 235 pounds. He’s the big-body type of tight end that the Crimson Tide loves. Byrd, like many of the other top prospects in the state, loves Alabama.
Alabama fans should also keep a close eye on Major Tennison, a Texas commit. The Tide staff loves Tennison, who is also 6-foot-6. It would not surprise me to see Alabama push for him to flip.
Offensive line (4)
Alex Leatherwood*, Booker T. Washington High School, Pensacola, Fla.
Elliot Baker*, City College of San Francisco, San Francisco
Wyatt Davis, St. John Bosco High School, Bellflower, Calif.
Kendall Randolph, Bob Jones High School, Madison, Ala.
This group is led by Alex Leatherwood, another longtime Alabama commit. I had one SEC assistant tell me that Leatherwood, a 5-star prospect, is a “future NFL player.” He’s a prototypical left tackle and one the Crimson Tide staff hopes sticks with his commitment. He has taken several visits to other schools, most notably Florida, but the offensive tackle maintains he’s 100 percent committed. He is one of the team’s best recruiters.
Elliot Baker, the nation’s No. 1 junior college offensive tackle, joins this group after his commitment to Alabama earlier this month. Like several other Crimson Tide commits, he has already shut down his recruitment. He was supposed to visit Auburn the week he committed to Alabama, but he canceled that trip.
Wyatt Davis is a 5-star offensive guard from California. He listed Alabama as his leader at one point and I think the Tide are still the favorite here. It would be another huge West coast win for Kiffin if he could help pull Davis away from the California schools.
Kendall Randolph, a 4-star offensive guard, is the brother of former Alabama basketball player Levi Randolph. His recruitment is likely to come down to the in-state schools and the Tide will win out.
Defensive line (4)
Marvin Wilson, Episcopal High School, Bellaire, Texas
LaBryan Ray, James Clemens High School, Madison, Ala.
Ryan Johnson, St. Paul’s Episcopal High School, Mobile, Ala.
Akial Byers, Fayetteville High School, Fayetteville, Ark.
The big fish in this group is Marvin Wilson, the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle. Wilson has had an up-and-down relationship with Alabama, especially after Bo Davis resigned. Right after Davis resigned, he said he was no longer considering Alabama. That has changed. The Tide are in the mix, and at least one Alabama commit believes he favors the team. He is extremely close with Leatherwood and Cowan, the team’s best recruiters. They will be in his ear all the way until National Signing Day. I think his friendship with those guys pays off.
Alabama has made defensive end LaBryan Ray, a 4-star, a major priority in this class. Now that his teammate picked up a recent offer, who is also now projected in this class below, look for them to join the Tide this summer.
I believe Ryan Johnson’s recruitment will come down to Auburn and Alabama. Johnson, a 4-star prospect, grew up an Auburn fan but Alabama has told him how much he means to this class.
Akial Byers, a 4-star prospect, is my pick for the team’s second defensive tackle addition. He was on campus for Alabama’s camp earlier this month. Sources tell SEC Country Alabama is the favorite to land him when he announces his commitment.
VanDarius Cowan*, Palm Beach Gardens High School, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Gary Johnson*, Dodge City Community College, Douglasville, Ga.
Markail Benton*, Central High School, Phenix City, Ala.
Christopher Allen, Southern University Lab High School, Baton Rouge, La.
Cowan, a 4-star prospect, de-committed from Florida State twice before committing to Alabama. He’s now arguably the strongest commitment Alabama has. He’s not going anywhere. Cowan is one of the team’s best recruiters.
Johnson has made multiple visits to Tuscaloosa since his commitment, but he still says he’s 70 percent committed at this time. Several schools are still pursuing the junior college 4-star prospect, including Ohio State, Baylor and Arizona State.
Benton, a 4-star prospect, committed to Alabama over Auburn earlier this month. He, like many of the commits above, says his recruitment is over. We’ll see if that holds.
Allen, a 4-star prospect, lists Alabama as his leader and has done so for several months now. Even though he’s from Baton Rouge, he has been enamored with Alabama’s program for some time now.
Defensive back (4)
Xavier McKinney*, Roswell High School, Roswell, Ga.
Shaun Wade, Trinity Christian Academy, Jacksonville, Fla.
Kyriq McDonald, James Clemens High School, Madison, Ala.
Hamsah Nasirlideen, Concord High School, Concord, N.C.
McKinney remains 100 percent committed to Alabama, but he has Clemson and Florida tied for No. 2. I still believe the 4-star prospect will remain committed as long as Alabama wants him in this class.
As I’ve said for several months now, I think Alabama eventually flips Ohio State 5-star commit Shaun Wade at some point during his process. Even though he lives in Jacksonville now, he claims Montgomery as his actual hometown. Most of his family still lives in the area and that’s very important to Wade.
McDonald joins this list for the first time after picking up an offer from Alabama this past weekend. I believe he will be a part of a package deal with his teammate 4-star defensive end LaBryan Ray. He can play both safety and corner.
Nasirlideen lists Florida and Alabama as his top two schools. He’s made multiple trips over the past several months to Tuscaloosa and has loved it every single time. With Maleik Gray having committed to Tennessee, he may be the team’s top target at safety.
Chadarius Townsend*, Tanner High School, Tanner, Ala.
Townsend is still being pursued by other schools and he’s told SEC Country that he wants to visit Florida, Florida State and LSU. He’s visited Georgia. Townsend is a true 4.4 40-yard dash guy. He can play either corner or wide receiver in college. He wants to be a kick and punt returner, too.
Brandon Ruiz*, Williams Field High School, Gilbert, Ariz.
Ruiz was offered a scholarship earlier this month after the team’s kicking camp, and he jumped on the offer. He has said that his recruitment is over. You better believe Alabama made sure of that after last year’s situation with now Florida kicker Eddy Pineiro.
PREVIOUS MOCK CLASSES:
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Chris Kirschner covers Alabama football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.