Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. It’s Monday, and we talk the latest with one of the top 5 defensive ends in the country.
Antonio Alfano visits Alabama, moves up commitment timeline
Antonio Alfano, the nation’s No. 5 strongside defensive end from Colonia (N.J.) High School, made his second visit to Alabama last weekend. Alfano spent two days in Tuscaloosa before traveling to Georgia on Sunday.
What was different about this visit for Alfano compared to his first trip was the quality time he spent with some of the players. Alfano spent his Saturday night hanging out with Isaiah Buggs, Raekwon Davis, Anfernee Jennings and several other players, playing video games in the dorms.
Getting to see how they bonded with each other was important for Alfano. One of his main criteria in choosing a school is the brotherhood he will join.
“From talking with the guys, they just told me that it’s not easy there,” Alfano told SEC Country. “I am not expecting it to be easy. But if you buy into what they’re doing, you’re going to go really far with the program that Alabama has. Alabama is a very successful program, so there’s no doubt in my mind if I go there that we would win a [national championship].”
The 4-star prospect spent a lot of time with coach Nick Saban, defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi and defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski over the weekend. Alabama is recruiting Alfano to play both defensive end and defensive tackle. Lupoi mentioned the possibility of also playing some Jack linebacker, which is a hybrid of weakside defensive end and outside linebacker, depending on how his body develops.
Alfano has the ability and athleticism to play numerous positions. While Alabama wants him on the defensive line, some schools are recruiting Alfano to play tight end or linebacker.
The 6-foot-5, 278-pound prospect has shown himself to be a testing warrior. Just a week ago, Alfano posted eye-popping numbers at Nike’s The Opening New Jersey regional camp, where he posted one of the top Nike Sparq ratings in the country. Alfano ran a 4.82-second 40-yard dash, had a 36.6-inch vertical jump, ran a 4.27-second shuttle and threw the power ball 46 feet.
He is the only prospect among the top 90 in the current Sparq ratings who weighs more than 257 pounds. His short shuttle time of 4.27 seconds was better than the one recorded by 5-star running back Noah Cain in that event.
It’s clear why he’s a top priority for the Tide, but just how badly does Alabama want him? One of the main questions Alfano had entering his visit to Tuscaloosa was just how wanted he was by the staff. He got that answer.
“They told me that I am the No. 1-ranked kid on their recruiting board,” Alfano said. “I didn’t know that. They really want me down there. They think I could come in as a freshman and have the chance to start. They talked a lot about the depth chart. They really need defensive linemen.”
Just last week, Alfano told reporters at the Nike camp that he was going to make his college decision after his senior season, with official visits coming in the fall. That plan has changed. The only visit he has set is to Penn State for the Nittany Lions’ spring game this weekend. After that, he and his father will weigh the options.
He said he now will make a decision no later than Aug. 1. He will make just one official visit this fall.
“We thought about it a lot,” Alfano said referring to the conversation he had with his father about a commitment. “I want to prevent myself from losing any scholarships in case I get hurt during my senior season. I want to have a school locked in before my senior season.
“After Aug. 1, I am locked in with the school I choose. I will know where I want to go. After I make my decision, that’s it. I’m locked in,” he said. “There will be no official visits other than the school I am going to. I am not taking any official visits this spring. There will be one official visit, and that’s the school I am picking.”
Top schools will be released in about a month. Alabama and Georgia will make the cut. Penn State also will make the cut. It would be a surprise if any school other than one of those three will earn his commitment.
Why are Alabama and Georgia going to be finalists for him when he makes his commitment?
“They are the best of the best and offer great things for me,” Alfano said. “They can help me develop as a person and as an athlete. They offer a lot of great things after football. They are also giving me if not the most attention, then two of the schools that are recruiting me the hardest. You can’t go wrong with the finalists in the national championships. You can’t go wrong with either one.”
The state of New Jersey’s No. 1 prospect said he didn’t see many differences between the two programs. He mentioned how Kirby Smart took a lot of the methods he learned from Saban and applied them to his program at Georgia. He said he sees Smart building his own version of Alabama in Athens, Ga.
A big difference between his trip to Tuscaloosa and Athens is that he didn’t get a chance to spend time with the players at Georgia. He spent just one day at Georgia. With a commitment on the horizon, that extra day and the opportunity to hang out with some of the Tide players could be the difference between the two schools because brotherhood is so important to him.
It’s also clear that he would like to play for an established, winning program.
“I definitely want to go to a school that is already there and has been there,” Alfano said. “I wouldn’t have a problem going to a school that is on the rise, either. I think the advantage of going to a college that has been there is that they already know what it takes to get there every year. … There’s no beating around the bush. They know what it takes. If you do everything they tell you, you are going to become a monster.”
It certainly sounds as if Alabama is in an excellent position with one of its top overall targets. An accelerated commitment timeline doesn’t hurt the Tide’s chances one bit.
Christian Williams commits to Alabama
In case you missed it earlier Monday evening, Christian Williams — one of Alabama’s top cornerback targets in the 2019 class — committed to the Crimson Tide. Williams said he likely was going to make a decision on National Signing Day, but if you read our coverage here on SEC Country, you would have known that a decision before the season wouldn’t have been a surprise. He’s a 4-star prospect from Daphne, Ala.
Alabama had been the behind-the-scenes leader for several months. I actually thought he was going to wait until this Saturday to commit when he’s in town for A-Day, but now he will arrive as a commit and can start recruiting other uncommitted players in town.
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