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 4-star Georgia outside linebacker Quay Walker and touch on who’s expected on campus for spring practice on Thursday.
Alabama recruiting priority LB the hardest
Back in January, Nick Saban made a stop at Crisp County High School in South Georgia. There were a lot of confused fans who follow recruiting closely because the main Class of 2017 player at Crisp was 4-star DE/LB Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant, who wasn’t favoring Alabama at the time. Several fans asked me why Saban was wasting his time there when Bryant wasn’t going to Alabama.
Saban’s main reason for being at Crisp that day was to tell the coaching staff that 4-star outside linebacker Quay Walker was going to be a main priority for the Crimson Tide in the Class of 2018. And that he is.
“I get on the phone and I talk to coach (Nick) Saban, (Alabama defensive coordinator) coach (Jeremy) Pruitt and I talk to the outside linebackers coach (Tosh Lupoi) a lot,” Walker told my DawgNation colleague Jeff Sentell. “I talk to all those guys. I went down there on a visit and they showed me that I was one of the top recruits they were trying to get in.”
Walker, the nation’s No. 14 outside linebacker said Alabama has shown him how explosive he is and how that explosiveness can be translated into early playing time if he ended up on the Tide’s roster next season.
Alabama signed a loaded linebacker class in the Class of 2017 headlined by 5-star prospect Dylan Moses. But Moses, like Markail Benton and VanDarius Cowan, who were also a part of the Class of 2017, were recruited to play inside linebacker. The focus at the position group in the Class of 2018 is on outside linebackers.
Which school is on him the hardest?
“That’s Alabama there,” Walker said. “No doubt about that.”
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound prospect said Alabama and Florida are the two schools on him the hardest. He said the Gators are ‘right behind or neck-and-neck with Alabama.’
Walker has swayed with his interest levels in schools recently by how hard each school has come after him. In December, Georgia was the school on top for him because it recruited him the hardest. In February, it was Auburn, the school “Big Cat” Bryant signed with. Now, it’s Alabama.
He makes an interesting point about why it’s so important for recruits to feel wanted by the schools coming after him.
“That’s what all of this recruiting is all about,” Walker said. “I’m looking at these schools who want me, not basically where I want to go. The school that wants me the most will basically be the best decision for me, my future and my family.”
The players who the staff wants and prioritizes makes it clear that they have a good chance to come in and make a difference for that program. Normally, if a recruit says he talks to a program once every two weeks, that player isn’t a big priority. If it’s every day, like it is Walker, then it tells you how high that prospect is on the wish list.
“It seems like Alabama and I both have a strong mutual feeling right now regarding one another.
“I talked to Coach Saban about getting down there and getting the chance to play early. Because you know the past few years you have seen like four or five linebackers at Alabama leave. So after this upcoming year they are going to need some more linebackers come in.”
Auburn looked like the clear cut favorite to land Walker when Bryant signed with the Tigers on National Signing Day. Both players had said previously that they were going to be a package deal and wanted to play with each other on the next level.
That’s no longer a guarantee.
“A lot of people think that I am going where ‘Big Cat’ is going but at the end of the day it is going to be my decision,” Walker said. “A lot of people have seen once everybody saw in the articles that I wanted to go play with Big Cat. I know plenty of people think that I’m going to go to Auburn but it is going to be the best decision for me, though.”
Though Walker is loving Alabama right now, he made it clear that he wouldn’t classify the Tide as his leader. He claims no favorites, but with Walker’s clear message about whichever school recruits him the hardest that’s the school he’ll up at, the Tide are in a good position for him when he does commit.
Defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley, who established himself as a top recruiter in his first year at Alabama, is Walker’s primary recruiter. Those two have established a tight bond.
“It is like every day with him,” Walker said. “That’s a coach right there I have really bonded with over this past couple of months. He tells me the same things. Like basically most people are scared to go to Alabama. They don’t want to compete. That is basically what it is all about there. He tells me a lot of things that has my mind thinking a lot about Alabama.”
Thursday visitors for Alabama’s spring practice
The following players are expected to make it to campus when the Tide take the field for practice:
- Priority defensive tackle target Jalen Cunningham, who is from Odenville, Ala.
- Four-star running back Master Teague III (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) Teague doesn’t have an offer from Alabama, but listed it as one of his top schools this week.
- Teague’s teammate, Trey Knox, a 2019 4-star wide receiver, will also make the trip. Like Teague, Knox doesn’t hold an offer from the Tide.
Cunningham is viewed by the staff as a must-get. I expect him to eventually commit to Alabama at some point. He has listed the Tide as his leader. Cunningham is the cousin of Vanderbilt great Zach Cunningham.