Why Alabama may have an uphill battle with one of its top QB targets; 5-star prospect explains why Tide aren’t in mix anymore
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 quarterback target Jarren Williams, 5-star linebacker Teradja Mitchell and defensive back Jaycee Horn of Georgia.
Jarren Williams close to making a commitment again?
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jarren Williams seems like he’s close to committing once again. But to whom?
Williams, who is one of the hottest recruits in the nation, told SEC Country that it’s very possible that he could announce his decision in a week or two. His spring season at Central Gwinnett High School (Lawrenceville, Ga.) ends this Friday, and he said a commitment could be coming soon after that.
“It will definitely be before the season,” Williams said. “I was trying to get it done after spring practice, but if not then, it should be sometime soon after then — maybe a few weeks after.”
What does that mean for Alabama’s chances? Well, the longer he waits to make his decision, the better it will be for the Crimson Tide. If he announces his intentions within the next few weeks, it likely won’t be to Alabama. The team offered the nation’s No. 17 dual-threat quarterback a scholarship just last month, so the relationship between him and the Alabama staff isn’t strong.
While Alabama is recruiting Williams, the team is going through his coach at Central Gwinnett instead of Williams himself. Todd Wofford, who is Williams’ coach, coached Blake Sims when he was at Gainesville High School.
“The funny thing is I don’t really talk to them much,” Williams said of Alabama’s staff when asked how often he hears from the Tide. “They mainly go through Coach Wofford because they have a good relationship with him. I do want to hear from them more. I do care about that. I want to talk to them so I can build a good relationship with them. It matters a lot.”
That quote should be of significance to Kentucky, the school Williams de-committed from on April 24. There’s no school in the country that Williams has a better relationship. Again, relationships are of great importance to the 3-star prospect.
No school has prioritized Williams like Kentucky.
The 6-foot-2, 206-pound prospect has improved mightily over the past year. When he attended a camp in 2016, one scouting service said a position change was likely going to come soon for Williams if he didn’t improve. On Sunday, Williams was named a finalist for the Elite 11 competition, which is for the nation’s top quarterback prospects.
Even when it didn’t seem likely that Williams was going to blossom into a budding quarterback prospect, the Wildcats always believed in him, and it was a big reason why he ultimately committed to them originally.
“To me, it’s not all about the name. It’s bigger than that,” Williams said. “It’s about the relationships and loyalty they have showed me. I have the strongest relationship with them. I feel very comfortable there. I know the players very well. It feels like home there.”
So, why de-commit from Kentucky if he likes the school so much? Williams didn’t feel right showing interest in other schools as a commit.
“I just talked to my dad and coach and came to the decision that the best thing to do was because I wanted to visit some other schools — and out of the respect to the University of Kentucky — I didn’t want to give them a bad look because I am the quarterback and considered the face of the program’s class. It was best to de-commit to give them the respect.”
Williams hasn’t visited any school since de-committing, but he has hosted several schools at Central Gwinnett in the past few weeks. Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU and Tennessee were in Georgia last week to see the QB. Alabama, Florida and Ole Miss are coming by the school this week.
Several of those schools mentioned have told him that he’s their priority at the quarterback position in the Class of 2018.
“Kentucky, LSU and Florida has said it in a way,” Williams said. “Florida has told me a lot that I’m their guy over and over, but they haven’t specifically said I’m No. 1. Alabama has said I’m very high on their list. Coach [Nick] Saban told me that on the visit I took there [in March]. He said they are looking for a guy like me. He wants me to get to camp.”
That last line is very important.
Alabama likes evaluating its quarterbacks in camp. Each quarterback currently on Alabama’s roster went to the team’s summer camp before enrolling. Saban and his staff put their quarterback targets through a variety of on-field drills and “interviews,” where prospects are asked to draw plays on a whiteboard and answer which receivers they should throw to in certain coverages.
Williams may make his commitment before the Tide’s camp in early June. If he does pull the trigger before then, it’s unlikely his commitment would be to Alabama. That’s why it’s so important for Alabama’s chances that he takes as much time as possible with his decision.
“They [Kentucky] told me that I’m their No. 1 priority,” Williams said. “They still have been recruiting me very hard. I told them that they’re still No. 1 on my list. That hasn’t changed at all.”
He’s unsure if he’s going to visit any school in the next few weeks, which is more good news for Kentucky’s chances. It would be a big win for the Wildcats to get Williams back on board because all of the powerhouse SEC programs want him to be the face of their respective recruiting class.
The Wildcats hold the edge in several important areas for Williams and his upcoming decision: best relationship with coaches, best opportunity to come in and make an immediate impact and the city where he has felt most comfortable in.
So, what would it take for Alabama or another school to be No. 1?
“I really just have to have that feeling about that school that it’s the right place for me,” Williams said. “I have to pray a lot about this. God is going to show me where to go. That’s what is going to happen when it comes time.”
Why Alabama fell out of favor for 5-star LB
Like Williams, Teradja Mitchell is going to announce his commitment in the next few weeks. Alabama doesn’t have a shot with Mitchell, though.
The 5-star linebacker from Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School (Virginia Beach, Va.) told SEC Country that he’s split between Florida State and Ohio State. Mitchell visited Tuscaloosa in late February and showed considerable interest in Alabama, but he feels the school lacks in one big area.
“Alabama is definitely one of the better schools to go to if you want to be developed as a football player, but academically, I felt like it wasn’t the school for me,” Mitchell said. “That’s why Alabama fell off for me.”
The nation’s No. 2 inside linebacker wants to major in business management when he gets to college with the hopes of owning his own commercial real estate endeavor after his football career is finished.
Why does he think that Alabama’s business school isn’t up to par with either FSU or Ohio State?
“It’s not that it’s not up to par, but looking at Ohio State’s alumni base and Florida State’s alumni base, I just feel like those two schools were the best fit for me for what I want to do after football,” Mitchell said. “Those schools separated themselves with their academics for me and their transition to life after football.”
The 6-foot-2, 242-pound prospect will visit Florida State this weekend. It is his last visit before his commitment. He’s not sure how either school is going to separate from one another in the weeks leading up to his decision.
“They both have coaches who can develop me into the best player I can be,” Mitchell said. “I can’t really decide between those two coaches. It’s going to come down to my talk with God and me figuring out which school presents the best opportunity for me for my life after football.”
Quick note on Tide CB target
Jaycee Horn, a 3-star cornerback from Alpharetta (Ga.) High School, was named the defensive backs MVP at the Charlotte Nike Opening regional event on Sunday. He told SEC Country that Alabama still is his leader. Horn is one of the Tide’s top targets at cornerback.
In case you missed it, I suggest reading over this in-depth story on where Horn stands with Alabama and what his father, who had a very successful career in the NFL, had to say about the Crimson Tide.
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