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 Alabama’s top linebacker targets.
Alabama in excellent shape with Louisiana LB
Christian Harris named Alabama his leader after his first visit to Tuscaloosa in February. The Crimson Tide remained his leader for a short while, but he seemed to back off those comments once LSU offered him.
Harris, a 4-star athlete from University Lab School (Baton Rouge, La.), grew up wanting to play for the Tigers. After all, where his school plays football is pretty much in the backyard of Tiger Stadium.
But it sounds as if Alabama is once again in control of Harris’ recruitment. He didn’t come out and outwardly say the Tide are on top, but he was wrestling with the question when directly asked if Alabama was the team to beat.
“I have … I have like … I wouldn’t say I have a leader because I do want to visit at least one or two more big-time schools, but Alabama is definitely up there at the top of my list,” Harris said.
Those pauses between where Harris says “I have” and “I have like” were 4 seconds and 7 seconds long, respectively. It was clear that he didn’t want to say the wrong thing or tip his hand one way or the other.
And Harris does want to visit other schools before making a commitment, which will happen this summer, he said. Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Texas and Texas A&M are some of the schools he wants to check out. Alabama, Florida State and Georgia are expected to receive official visits after his school lets out on May 18.
Another important note to mention about Harris’ recruitment is that the two schools most associated with him — Alabama and LSU — are recruiting him on different sides of the ball. The Tide like him at inside linebacker while the Tigers like him as an H-Back.
Right now, the Tide have an advantage when it comes to positional preference.
“I am open to anything, but I feel like I would be more valuable on defense as a defensive player,” Harris said. “I am still kind of thinking about it, but I am leaning toward defense right now. I always have felt like a defensive guy. I love hitting. I’ve played both ways my entire life, but I just feel like I would be better on defense than offense.”
Nick Saban, defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi and inside linebackers coach Pete Golding envision Harris playing a similar role as his former high school teammate, Dylan Moses. Moses has the versatility to play all of the linebacker spots in the Tide’s defense, much like Harris would.
Harris plays defensive back for University Lab, so he can drop into coverage. He has the speed to rush off the edge, too, as he plays wide receiver. That’s why Alabama covets him. He has the versatility to play every down. When Alabama gets into its nickel or dime packages on defense that require an extra DB, Harris wouldn’t need to be subbed out because he has the ability to drop into coverage.
So when he was on campus last weekend for the team’s scrimmage, he kept a close eye on Moses and Mack Wilson — two linebackers to whom the team has compared Harris.
“I was mainly watching Dylan [Moses] and Mack Wilson because that’s who I can see myself being if I go there,” Harris said. “I think they did really well. I saw Dylan blitz off the edge a lot, which I wasn’t expecting because he’s an inside linebacker. I like watching Mack Wilson because, like me, he can drop back into coverage. He got a lot of picks last season and can make big hits when needed.”
Harris had a chance to reconnect with Moses during the visit. Moses told Harris about his experience at Alabama and how difficult it is to earn playing time. Moses was frank and told him that it’s a lot of hard work and at points can be challenging, but Harris said Moses told him that because of how hard the work is, he feels like he has gotten better as a player.
The nation’s No. 16 athlete’s recruitment could end up resembling Moses’ recruitment. Moses was expected to sign with LSU when he made his decision, but he surprisingly committed to Alabama after taking an official visit to Tuscaloosa for the Kentucky game in October 2016.
Moses, from Baton Rouge, was destroyed on social media by Tigers supporters. Harris remembers what Moses went through, but he’s not going to let that affect his decision in the end.
“I think about that a lot,” Harris said. “It’s my decision, though. It’s not their decision. It’s not about what’s best for them. It’s what’s best for me. So, I’m not going to worry about them.”
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound prospect was accompanied by his parents, grandfather and a cousin on his most recent visit to Tuscaloosa, and he said all of them loved it. Harris said that each time he’s been to Tuscaloosa he falls in love with the coaches and the facilities. He called Alabama’s facilities the best he’s seen.
Inside linebacker is one of the team’s primary positions of need in the 2019 class. Alabama signed 3-star prospect Jaylen Moody in the 2018 class, but it was clear that he was a last-minute option as he was offered just days prior to National Signing Day after Alabama knew it wasn’t going to sign Vernon Jackson, JJ Peterson and Quay Walker.
There’s a chance Alabama could lose Mack Wilson after this season, in addition to Keith Holcombe, who will have exhausted his eligibility. That would leave Joshua McMillon, who has received little playing time; Ben Davis, who hasn’t developed to what we thought he would turn out to be; Markail Benton, who redshirted as a freshman; and Moody.
The opportunity to play early in Tuscaloosa next season is there, and Harris realizes it.
“A lot of people have told me that if I go to Alabama, I’m not going to play, so I should go to LSU because I have a better chance of playing,” Harris said. “So when the coaches broke down the depth chart, it really opened my eyes up a little more.”
Though Harris wouldn’t admit it, it seems as if Alabama has a sizable lead over every other school.
Nick Saban calls recruits from the White House
Alabama was in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to be recognized by President Donald Trump for winning the national championship. (Sorry, UCF). So, of course, Saban was going to use that as an opportunity to recruit.
Nick Saban tells me he called recruits from the White House.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) April 10, 2018
Saban never misses an opportunity to recruit. Any time Saban is at a major event, such as the NFL draft and even the White House, he calls recruits.
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