Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. Today, we discuss the latest with in-state running back Harold Joiner and 5-star defensive end KJ Henry.
Joiner talks Alabama offer and Tide’s chances
Harold Joiner, the state of Alabama’s No. 2 running back from Mountain Brook High School, picked up an offer from the Crimson Tide on Wednesday. But from the sound of it, the chances he goes to Alabama aren’t high right now.
There are two reasons for that.
The first reason is Alabama’s scholarship offer to Joiner was as an athlete. While talking to SEC Country on Wednesday night, Joiner was adamant about wanting to play running back in college — something LSU is pitching. While talking to Nick Saban on Wednesday, the five-time national champion mentioned running back, H-Back, wide receiver, linebacker and safety as potential positions he could play if he were to commit to the Tide. Saban compared him to Tim Williams, who obviously didn’t carry the ball for Alabama.
“I want to play running back,” Joiner said. “I want that to be my primary position. The only position I would think about switching to would be wide receiver, but I want to play running back first.”
Because Joiner is set on being a tailback in college, Alabama doesn’t present the greatest opportunity for an easy path to guaranteed early playing time. The Crimson Tide are loaded in the backfield. Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs, B.J. Emmons, Najee Harris and Brian Robinson make the case for the deepest position at Alabama. Those guys were all blue-chip prospects as recruits.
Joiner was honest about his feelings when asked if that depth would impact Alabama’s chances at getting a commitment from him, which he says could happen in December or National Signing Day.
“Yes, that is something that would hurt their chances,” Joiner said. “All of those guys are really good. They have a ton of depth and they may bring in some more. I’m willing to compete anywhere, though.”
That doesn’t sound like someone whose recruitment dramatically shifted after picking up a scholarship offer from the in-state power. The only thing that changed in his recruitment: Alabama is now planted in his top 5, but it’s clear the Tide are no higher than third.
Just last year, however, another highly touted recruit told SEC Country that he was concerned about depth: freshman linebacker Dylan Moses. Moses told SEC Country last summer that he was ‘iffy’ about Alabama because of the amount of linebackers Alabama already had on campus and the ones they had committed. He eventually changed his mind about that, which is something Joiner will have to do as well.
LSU appears to be the frontrunner to land Joiner’s services primarily because the Tigers are pitching to the 6-foot-4, 218-pound prospect to be their lead back in the Class of 2018 and the chance to play as a freshman. LSU running back Derrius Guice will likely leave for the NFL draft after this season because he’s expected to be a first-round pick next year, so a starting spot will be open. The Tigers didn’t sign an elite running back in the Class of 2017, so the chance to play early is real at LSU.
While visiting Baton Rouge, Joiner said he’s had that sense of seeing himself wearing the purple and gold one day. He hasn’t felt that anywhere else.
“I’ve had that feeling at LSU,” Joiner said. “They have great coaches who are ready to compete for championships. They said I would see the field my freshman year. They have a downhill offense, which I like.”
Auburn, which is where he’ll be this weekend for the Tigers’ spring game, is also associated with Joiner because, like LSU, the Tigers want him to play running back and a little wide receiver. But it’s clear that Auburn’s plan for him, if he did commit there, doesn’t exactly match Joiner’s wishes.
“Those are the two schools — more so LSU — that tell me that I can play running back there,” Joiner said. “They also communicate with me every day. LSU strictly wants me at running back. The coaches there told me that I could switch positions only if I wanted to.”
Now, compare that to Saban’s message to Joiner on Wednesday and you’ll see why it’s currently unlikely he chooses Alabama.
“He was telling me that I need to come to camp to see which position I could play later on,” Joiner said. “He doesn’t know which position I would play right now if I went there.”
Alabama already has a commitment at running back from 4-star prospect Dameon Pierce, but he hasn’t visited Tuscaloosa in several months. It’s very possible he eventually departs the class as other schools pursue. But, unlike Joiner, when Pierce committed to the Crimson Tide, the one thing he wasn’t concerned about was depth.
5-star DE drops top 10 list, but it’s really just a top 4
KJ Henry released his top 10 on Wednesday night, but there are only four schools that are really worth paying attention to at this moment: Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State. The other six schools are behind those four, but he won’t admit it publicly.
Henry, a 5-star defensive end from West Forsyth High School (Clemmons, N.C.), has told SEC Country in the past that Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State were schools that will likely be in the race for him until the end of his recruitment.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound prospect has noticed Alabama’s ability to churn out NFL prospects every single year. He mentioned how Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson are expected to be selected early in the draft. That matters to him.
It’s one of the biggest reasons why the Crimson Tide, Buckeyes and Tigers are all in good shape to land Henry. Those three schools have shown that not only do they win on a consistent basis, but they also produce NFL prospects every year.
“That’s definitely one of the biggest factors — being successful in helping players get to the league,” Henry said last month. “They’re teams that have a lot of really good players. To have them just turn out good players every single year is a good look for them, and it’s all about how they’re winning and how they’re going to continue to keep winning.”
As a junior playing defensive end and tight end, Henry registered 17 sacks, 6 blocked punts and 6 touchdown receptions.
Watch for Alabama and Clemson here. Both of those teams are very confident with where they stand for Henry’s services. Tide outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi is Henry’s primary recruiter. That’s certainly a good thing. Lupoi has established himself as arguably the best assistant in college football when it comes to recruiting.
“I talk to coach Lupoi a lot. He’s a great guy,” Henry said. “He’s really funny to be around. Just being on their leaderboard as one of their top prospects and being wanted by such a great school is a really good feeling.”
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