Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. Today, we talk the latest with one of the nation’s top wide receivers.
Arjei Henderson is down to Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. — Arjei Henderson has been committed twice before. His first commitment came back in February 2017 when he pledged to Oklahoma. That lasted two months. He then committed to Oregon in late July before de-committing in November.
Henderson, a 4-star wide receiver from Fort Bend Travis High School (Richmond, Texas), said the third time will be the charm for him. His next decision will be final. He’s down to Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
“I just want to handle these official visits this spring and make my decision sometime after those visits or this summer,” Henderson told SEC Country at the Pylon 7v7 National Qualifier. “I’ll probably just take those three visits. I don’t see the point in taking the other two visits. I’m not looking at anyone else.”
The nation’s No. 8 wide receiver didn’t publicize this, but he did visit Tuscaloosa last year, so there is some familiarity there with the campus. All three of his finalists will get trips from him in the coming months when recruits are allowed to start taking official visits beginning in April.
Oklahoma and Texas A&M are considered the favorites to land Henderson when he makes his commitment; however, he stressed that no school has an advantage.
“They’re all even,” Henderson said. “Each of them has an equal chance with me. Sometimes I wake up and like Alabama, and the next day I like all three of them. It’s just been a crazy process and I can’t wait to see where it all ends up.”
The 6-foot-1, 183-pound prospect broke down why each school is a finalist for him.
Alabama: “Alabama speaks for itself, just who they are and what kind of program they are. The winning attitude that [Nick] Saban and the rest of the coaching staff bring to the program is just something I would love to be a part of.”
Oklahoma: “With Oklahoma, that was my first love. I committed there my sophomore year. I’ve never seen a coaching staff come after me as hard as they do. They stuck with me through the Oregon commitment and Oregon de-commitment. They never gave up. They kept pushing for me. It’s real love and real recruitment.”
Texas A&M: “It’s just the tradition there. I’m from originally from Austin, Texas, so I’d love to do what I do on the football field here at home in Texas. That plays a big part for A&M.”
Henderson watched the National Championship Game and noticed the difference in the Tide’s offense when Tua Tagovailoa took over for Jalen Hurts in the second half. He also noticed the three freshmen wide receivers who made an impact — Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and DeVonta Smith.
Something Alabama put to rest last season is the myth that freshmen don’t play in Tuscaloosa. That’s just not the case.
“That just let me know that the next guy up — there are studs who can play behind the starters,” Henderson said. “The people they breed from the No. 1 spot to the No. 3 spot — everyone can play at Alabama. Everyone there wants to eat.
“That plays a big part in this. They played a lot of young guys this past season and it showed that if you can play, they’re willing to let you. If you show them that you’re willing to handle your business out there, they will put you on the field.”
Still, Henderson isn’t tipping is hand on which way he may be leaning. He said he talks to Saban, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher about the same amount of time. He also said he is constantly keeping up his relationships with the coaches on each staff.
One of those coaches he’s in constant communication with is Alabama wide receivers coach Josh Gattis, with whom Henderson has developed a close relationship since the coach was hired in January.
“He’s a like brother and father figure to me,” Henderson said. “He makes me feel like I would be taken care of out there. I would be under people who want to see me succeed on and off the field.”
Alabama is in the mix here, but I think the nation’s No. 50 overall prospect is going to have to be blown away on his official visit to Tuscaloosa for the Tide to get Henderson committed.
Alabama makes graphic for 5-star DT
Ishmael Sopsher doesn’t have Alabama in his top 12, but the Crimson Tide are still strongly recruiting the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle from Amite (La.) High School.
— ishmael sopsher (@isopsher) March 7, 2018
Top schools lists this early don’t mean much and are subject to change. Alabama is going to be a contender here when Sopsher makes his decision. He’s a former teammate of DeVonta Smith and current teammate Devonta Lee is a major target for the Crimson Tide.
Miss a previous edition? Find every post of SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings recruiting notebook right here.