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 5-star wide receiver Justyn Ross and top-10 wide receiver Jacob Copeland.
Ross the latest to fall in love with Clemson
Clemson is the hottest school in the recruiting world.
The Tigers have commitments from the nation’s Nos. 1 and 2 players in the country in 5-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence and defensive end Xavier Thomas. Clemson also has an excellent chance at landing the No. 3 player in the country in 5-star running back Zamir White, who’s scheduled to make his commitment on June 27; the nation’s 1 offensive tackle Jackson Carman listed Clemson as his No. 1 school just two weeks ago after his first ever visit there; and most believe the Tigers will land 5-star defensive end KJ Henry.
Now, 5-star wide receiver Justyn Ross, who’s from Central High School in Phenix City, Ala., is the latest highly ranked recruit to fall in love with the school after one trip there.
— Justyn Ross . ?? (@_Jross5) April 11, 2017
It's legit bro ? https://t.co/lcT6tQjYre
— Justyn Ross . ?? (@_Jross5) April 12, 2017
That second tweet is Ross quote tweeting 5-star linebacker Teradja Mitchell, another Alabama target, who will visit Clemson on April 22.
There’s no doubt that the Tigers have loads of momentum on the recruiting trail after beating the Crimson Tide in the national championship and building one of the most insane athletic facilities in the country. Combine that with coach Dabo Swinney, who recruits all rave about, and you have a successful product to sell the best high school football players in the country.
Now, do I think Alabama has to worry about Clemson when it comes time for Ross to make his commitment? Sure. But, I still believe it’s going to be hard for any school outside the state of Alabama to get his commitment because of the amount of times he’s been to both schools. It should be noted, though, there’s not much of a “closer to home” argument that can be made for Clemson and Alabama.
His mother, Charay Franklin, who is stationed in Kuwait with the National Guard where she’s a truck driver, will also play a big role in her son’s decision.
She’s been overseas since June and won’t return until the summer. She also hasn’t been able to go with her son on recruiting trips, but she’s still up to date on which schools her son is considering.
“She’s still in group text conversations with coaches, so she’s still very involved with my recruitment,” Ross told SEC Country in October. “She’s told me that when the day comes to commit that I’m going to be the one to make the decision and not her.”
Ross has told SEC Country that he won’t make a commitment before she returns home; and during our last interview, he planned to take his recruitment all of the way until National Signing Day. So, even if Clemson has some buzz around it with Ross, it will have to maintain the momentum until February.
What Alabama has going for it is familiarity. He’s been to Tuscaloosa numerous times and has a former teammate and close friend in Markail Benton, who was a part of the 2017 class, going there this summer.
“It’s just natural every time I go there,” Ross told SEC Country last month at the Atlanta regional for Nike’s Opening event. “I know everything about the school by now.”
He still needs to continue building his relationship with new wide receivers coach Mike Locksley and new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, but Ross talks to coach Nick Saban at least once every two weeks.
It’s no lock that Ross ends up in Crimson next season, but the good news is the nation’s No. 4 wide receiver will take plenty of visits to Tuscaloosa over the next several months. His next one is scheduled for A-Day next weekend.
Alabama in the top 5 for top 10 WR, but does it mean anything?
Jacob Copeland, the nation’s No. 9 wide receiver from Escambia High School (Pensacola, Fla.), released his top 6 Wednesday and Alabama, along with Auburn, Florida, Tennessee and Ole Miss, made the cut.
But does this list actually mean much?
Just this past weekend, Copeland told SEC Country’s Benjamin Wolk, who covers Auburn for us, that his decision was already down to Auburn and Florida and that he would commit to one of those two programs at the Under Armour All-America Game in January.
“When I show up at those campuses, I always feel love,” Copeland said. “I can do what I want. I don’t have to do this and that like other schools want me to do. I always come here and feel welcome, and I’m always welcome at Florida. Those two places I feel really good at and know I could live there for four to five years.”
Last month, Copeland told SEC Country that Alabama, after a visit there in late February for junior day, was rising on his list after not being in contention at all.
“It seems like they’re going to change the game up a little bit,” Copeland said. “We (him and Brian Daboll) chopped it up for a while when I was there and he said they want to pass the ball more this year. Usually, Alabama only focuses on one wide receiver, so I didn’t really have much interest in them. After talking to him, Alabama is getting back up there. I want to see what they look like throwing the ball this season.
“That was why I wasn’t really considering Alabama all that much. It didn’t make sense for me because there would always be a receiver who’s there that would be in front of me that they would focus on.”
Copeland claims that the change of heart from his comments on Auburn and Florida this past weekend stems from significant conversations with coaching staffs that he’s considering.
“I realized there are some coaches who really feel in their hearts to care about my career and life after football,” Copeland said in a statement.
Florida appears to have the edge in Copeland’s recruitment because he was the first recruit Jim McElwain offered when he became the coach of the Gators. Copeland has also told SEC Country that McElwain has said to him that he’s the No. 1 wide receiver he wants in the Class of 2018.
“I was the first recruit he offered,” Copeland said. “That was my freshman year and he’s been recruiting me heavy ever since. He told me I’m his biggest priority. He actually showed me his board and I was the No. 1 receiver on it.
“Coach Mac told me he’s going to stay on my trail and I’m going to look good in orange and blue. I communicate with coach Mac every day and a lot of the staff. They treat me like I’m theirs, like I’m already a player there.”
I fully expect Copeland to choose Florida when he announces his commitment at the Under Armour game.