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 LSU defensive back commit Kelvin Joseph and Mississippi State wide receiver commit Malik Heath.
Another Alabama-LSU recruiting war is here
NEW ORLEANS — At the start of this year, Kelvin Joseph told SEC Country that LSU was worried about losing his commitment. The Tigers had reason to because he admits he was very close to flipping to Alabama last summer after several visits to Tuscaloosa.
Not much has changed for Joseph and his interest level in Alabama. The 4-star cornerback from Scotlandville Magnet High School (Baton Rouge, La.) told SEC Country over the weekend at the New Orleans Opening regional that he still thinks the Tigers are worried about losing him to the Crimson Tide.
“They don’t mention it to me anymore, but you can tell when I visited Alabama a lot over the summer that they were (nervous),” Joseph said.
The nation’s No. 5 cornerback — according to 247Sports composite rankings — said he’s “90 percent committed” to LSU. The other 10 percent is missing because Joseph said he needs to see how LSU does this season under Ed Orgeron in his first full year in Baton Rouge.
Joseph said the Tigers need to have a winning season — but 7-6 isn’t good enough — for him to remain committed to LSU.
“I want to play for a national championship team and change the program around,” Joseph said. “I feel like I can do that at Alabama because they work hard every single day. They can put me into a position where I can succeed.”
Joseph, who was invited to the prestigious Nike Opening finals at the company’s headquarters in Oregon this summer, said he hears weekly from Alabama defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley. That doesn’t compare to LSU’s recruitment of Joseph, who hears from the Tigers every single day.
That’s important to him because he said whichever team makes him feel like the biggest priority will have a big advantage when he shores up his commitment in the future. Ansley has made it known to Joseph that he is important to the Tide’s Class of 2018 plans.
“I need you here; that’s what coach Ansley basically says every time we talk,” Joseph said.
The Baton Rouge native would be the third prospect in the past two classes from LSU’s city to commit to Alabama if he ended up flipping. In the Class of 2017, the Tide landed 5-star linebacker Dylan Moses and 4-star linebacker Christopher Allen out of Baton Rouge.
Don’t expect a final decision from Joseph any time soon. The reason why he didn’t de-commit or flip this past summer is because he said “nothing would have changed” his recruitment status because there’s plenty of time to go until National Signing Day.
Multiple sources close to Joseph’s recruitment have told SEC Country that Joseph has been close to de-committing from LSU multiple times. If he did back off his recruitment at some point down the road, Alabama would be the clear team to watch. Cornerback is arguably the biggest position of need for the Tide in the Class of 2018 after not signing any at the position in 2017.
Joseph had 72 tackles, 7 for loss with 2 sacks, 5 interceptions, 16 pass breakups and 3 defensive touchdowns last season.
Tide looking at Mississippi State WR commit at different position
Malik Heath, a 4-star wide receiver from Callaway High School (Jackson, Miss.), said he’s 100 percent committed to Mississippi State, but it took him a few seconds to answer whether he actually was solid with the Bulldogs.
Heath said his options are open despite him saying he’s all in with Mississippi State. One of the schools he’s still considering is Alabama. Heath said he’s been to Tuscaloosa five or six times for visits.
“Alabama is always going to be up there for me because of who they are,” Heath told SEC Country. “They practice like NFL players.”
Though he’s rated as the nation’s No. 38 wide receiver in the Class of 2018, Alabama is recruiting Heath at safety. He doesn’t mind playing safety in college because he wants to do whatever it takes to see the field early when he gets to the next level.
Because he’s been to Tuscaloosa several times, he’s already acclimated to the campus. Heath said Alabama doesn’t compare to the other schools he’s visited.
“It’s just different at Alabama,” Heath said. “They just work so hard there. Everything is so different. Alabama is just so strict and they prepare you for the NFL.”
Despite his familiarity with the Crimson Tide, Heath said they are either third or fourth on his list of favorites. Mississippi State is still No. 1, followed by Tennessee and either Alabama or Louisville for his No. 3 spot.
For now, Heath remains focused on the Bulldogs.
“It feels great to be committed to Mississippi State because they’ve showed me a lot of love over the years,” Heath said. “When I’m on campus, they always tell me how much they need me.”
Nation’s No. 1 OT can see himself fitting in at Alabama
Devontae Dobbs made his first trip to Tuscaloosa on Tuesday to check out the start of Alabama’s spring practice. He came away impressed with two things in particular — Nick Saban and the weight room.
Dobbs, the nation’s No. 1 offensive tackle in the Class of 2019 from Belleville (Mich.) High School, told SEC Country that he could see himself fitting in with the culture at Alabama when he makes his college decision.
“If my decision is to go here, then yes, because they have players doing what I want do,” Dobbs said. “They work hard and they make it clear that you are not going to be given anything.”