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 a 5-star, in-state wide receiver and Alabama sends its congratulations to major targets.
Justyn Ross talks top schools
BEAVERTON, Ore. — Justyn Ross was asked a simple question by SEC Country at The Opening Finals: Which school that he’s considering has the most appealing depth chart at wide receiver?
“Auburn because I think that’s where they are lacking right now,” Ross said. “It does help them a lot because as a receiver you always want to just come in and be able to compete for a spot right away.”
That’s important because Auburn is a big threat to Alabama right now for the nation’s No. 5 wide receiver in the Class of 2018, per the 247Sports composite rankings. The Crimson Tide have depth at wide receiver after signing four last year, but Alabama is pitching to him that it doesn’t have many wide receivers like the 6-foot-4 Ross. In 2018, he’d be one of three Tide receivers at least that tall (Derek Kief and Tyrell Shavers) according to the current Alabama roster.
“They don’t have a lot of receivers of my caliber,” Ross said of Alabama. “They don’t have a lot of receivers who can run and be a red-zone threat at the same time.”
Ross played on the same 7-on-7 team as 5-star Clemson quarterback commit Trevor Lawrence at The Opening Finals last week. That’s also important because those Tigers are also a huge threat to Alabama.
The Under Armour All-American is looking for a school that has an appealing depth chart and good quarterbacks either already on the roster or committed. Ross is a big fan of Lawrence.
“Everything about his ball is just perfect,” Ross said. “I don’t know what it is, but it’s always just there on target. He’s probably the best quarterback I’ve thrown with. His ball placement just makes it so easy to catch.”
While it’s clear that playing with Lawrence this past week made an impression, he’s also high on the other teams he’s considering and their quarterback situations, as well.
“I think all of them have great quarterback situations,” Ross said. “You have (Jarrett) Stidham at Auburn, Tua (Tagovailoa) and Jalen (Hurts) at Alabama. Clemson has a good quarterback coming in with Trevor (Lawrence). Florida State has (Deondre) Francois. All of them have good quarterbacks.”
Stidham could potentially leave Auburn after this season and declare for the NFL draft. Could that hurt the Tigers’ chances with Ross if that happens? Not necessarily.
“They have a good quarterback situation with Malik (Willis) there,” Ross said. “He throws a good ball, so I think they have a good quarterback situation even if Stidham leaves.”
Ross has a top 5 of Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida and Florida State. He said that list is subject to change depending on if another school jumps in the mix and shows him something he hasn’t seen. His research into schools begins with the team’s quarterback situation and then pivots to the depth chart at receiver.
But those five schools, he believes, present the best opportunity for him at the moment. He said Alabama, Auburn and Clemson are recruiting him the hardest. Is it likely that his decision comes down to those three schools when he makes his commitment on National Signing Day?
“Probably because of the communication between them and the relationship I have with those schools,” Ross said. “It’s just going to be me completely falling in love with this program and calling it home.”
Alabama congratulates Justin Fields and Luke Ford
Justin Fields, a 5-star quarterback from Harrison High School (Kennesaw, Ga.), and Luke Ford, a 4-star tight end from Carterville (Ill.) High School, are two of Alabama’s top targets in the Class of 2018.
Both Fields and Ford were on the winning 7-on-7 team at The Opening Finals at Nike headquarters on Monday. The Crimson Tide staff sent along an edit to both elite recruits congratulating them on their achievement.
— Noah Ford (@nonoford97) July 5, 2017
Alabama is in a good position for Ford.
Since de-committing from Arkansas, Ford has visited Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and LSU. The Crimson Tide received a visit from Ford on June 17. He quickly told SEC Country after that trip that the Tide were on top. They still are.
“Alabama stands out because of the facilities and the new offensive coordinator [Brian Daboll],” Ford said. “He’s coached (Rob) Gronkowski. He was with the Patriots and won five Super Bowls there. Alabama stands out really high on my list. They’ve made it clear that I’m their No. 1 target at tight end. That means a lot to me because it’s Alabama.”
It should be noted that Ford, along with the nation’s No. 1 junior college tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson, are considered to be the top targets at tight end for Alabama. Wood-Anderson will take an official visit to Tuscaloosa on July 21 before announcing his commitment on August 1.
As for Fields, who was named the Elite 11 MVP, Alabama is still in the race. But I believe Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Georgia are still ahead right now. He did tell SEC Country last weekend that after his first visit to Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide are in the mix.
“I just love the way Coach Daboll coaches,” Fields said. “Of course, they are going to contend for national championships every year. They also have most of the best players in college football. Just getting to practice with those guys every day is going to get you better.”
Fields will visit Auburn on July 13 and Georgia on July 16. He doesn’t have a set visit to Alabama scheduled yet, but don’t be surprised to see him in Tuscaloosa on July 21 for the team’s invite-only cookout.
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