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 Alabama’s official visitors from this past weekend.
Alabama picks up momentum with key targets
Alabama’s biggest recruiting weekend before National Signing Day happened to fall during the same weekend as the Crimson Tide’s celebration of their latest national championship. That wasn’t any coincidence.
The team made sure the majority of its top remaining targets were in town this past weekend because the coaching and recruiting staff knew that Tuscaloosa was going to be buzzing for the parade. The fans turned out in a big way as it was estimated that more than 40,000 Tide fans were in Tuscaloosa celebrating with the team. That kind of love doesn’t go unnoticed by recruits.
With that being said, here’s what I’ve heard regarding Alabama’s visitors.
- The most-talked-about recruits visiting Alabama were 5-star American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) cornerbacks Tyson Campbell and Patrick Surtain Jr. It’s been discussed countless times in this space for months now, but the Tide desperately need help in the secondary heading into next season as every starter from this past season has moved on from the program. SEC Country was told that Campbell and Surtain and their families had a fantastic time in Tuscaloosa this past weekend. One source close to the program believes Alabama now leads for both cornerbacks. That’s how confident the team is right now at landing the premier defensive backs. Once the source told me that, I followed it up by asking another person, who spent lots of time with both players this past weekend, how he felt about Alabama’s chances with the talented prospects. The second source told me that he, too, believes Alabama is the team to beat for both recruits, but he believes the cornerbacks don’t want to play together in college as they did in high school. He believes Campbell is ultimately going to do his own thing and end up signing with Georgia or Miami. But Alabama is in a good spot right now to land at least one of the two top targets at cornerback.
- Alabama offered 4-star cornerback Taiyon Palmer on Sunday night after the official visits were completed. Lots of fans started to panic because they believed it meant the team didn’t feel confident in landing either Surtain or Campbell. This offer has nothing to do with where the team feels like it stands with the 5-star cornerbacks. Offensive line coach Brent Key offered Palmer. Palmer cannot commit to the Tide right now if he wanted to. Alabama and other programs around the country offer kids late in the process every year. Teams need backup options just in case their top targets sign elsewhere.
- Something to also note with Surtain: His father interviewed for the defensive backs position vacated by Derrick Ansley’s departure to the Oakland Raiders. Surtain Sr. was passed over for Karl Scott. There still remains the possibility that Surtain Sr., who is the coach at American Heritage, could receive an opportunity down the road with the Tide as an on-field assistant. There is no ill will from Surtain Sr. on not getting the DBs job; in fact, the father of the nation’s No. 1 cornerback loves the program and is a big Nick Saban fan.
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- LSU has been the longtime favorite for Surtain because of his family’s ties to Louisiana, but Alabama has slowly chipped away at the Tigers’ lead for several months and Surtain himself believes he has a legitimate opportunity to see the field right away in Tuscaloosa and compete for several championships. Now, it appears that Alabama has the momentum for one of the top 10 players in the country.
- One source told me that Justyn Ross, a 4-star wide receiver from Central High School (Phenix City, Ala.), had a blast on his visit. The word is that he was fully engaged with the staff and players. The source went on to say that he has never seen Ross “act like he has” this past weekend. The Tide hit a home run with Ross.
- I exchanged some messages with 4-star Alabama linebacker commit Quay Walker, who has been very shaky with his pledge to the Tide. Walker spent lots of 1-on-1 time with Saban on Sunday. The coach gave Walker the standard ride around in his luxury car. Walker also got to talk to former Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland, which made Walker very happy. “He told me that Alabama is the school that’ll get me to where I’m trying to go and he talked to me about his career,” Walker said. The longtime commit also admitted that he didn’t feel comfortable at first when he arrived in Tuscaloosa because Jeremy Pruitt and Ansley, the two coaches he was closest to, are gone. That changed as the weekend progressed. “I actually told [Tennessee linebacker commit] JJ [Peterson] that it didn’t feel right at first, but things went well after meeting with the new coaches.” It also helped Alabama by pairing Walker with Mack Wilson, who was his host. Wilson has turned into arguably the team’s top peer recruiter.
- Two sources feel like Alabama is the team to beat for 5-star offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere after he visited the Tide with his mother this past week. He still has visits to Florida and Ohio State before he makes his decision, but the Tide feel good about where they stand with him.
- Alabama leads for 4-star defensive end Malik Langham. It would be a surprise if Langham didn’t end up choosing the Tide.
- I haven’t heard anything about Alabama commits Bobby Brown and Vernon Jackson. Last I heard on Brown was that he is essentially locked in with the Tide at this point, even though Texas A&M is trying to change his mind. I’m not sure where Jackson’s head is.
- All in all, it was an excellent weekend for the Tide. They rolled out the red carpet for these recruits in town and the recruiting staff worked overtime to make sure the players and their families had a good time. We’ll see how good of a weekend it truly was in a few weeks when National Signing Day rolls around on Feb. 7.
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