Jeff Sentell/SEC Country
Nakobe Dean is one of Alabama's top inside linebacker targets in the 2019 class.

How Shane Lee’s commitment affects LB board for Alabama

Alabama finished seventh in the recruiting rankings in the 2018 class, but expect the Crimson Tide to be back on top come 2019. SEC Country’s Chris Kirschner will answer the Recruiting Question of the Day each weekday. You can ask him your questions on Twitter or on Facebook. Find our previous questions and answers here.

Where does Alabama turn to now at inside linebacker?

I didn’t see the commitment of Shane Lee, a 4-star inside linebacker from St. Frances Academy (Baltimore), coming on Tuesday night. I knew Lee had visited Tuscaloosa from Thursday through Sunday last week, but I didn’t realize he would commit to Alabama so soon.

I knew Lee was a top target for the Tide at inside linebacker, but I thought 5-star prospect Nakobe Dean, 4-star prospect Christian Harris and junior college prospect Lakia Henry were going to be the only ILBs the Tide signed this cycle.

But now Lee is on board and Dean, Harris and Henry still remain top targets for Alabama. I think the Lee commitment affects 4-star prospect Vonta Bentley the most out of the group. Bentley is an in-state prospect from Jackson-Olin High School who has Alabama as his No. 2 school behind Clemson. Alabama may have to miss on one or two out of the group of Dean, Harris and Henry now.

I caught up with Dean a few weeks ago, and it definitely seemed like Alabama was one of his top 2 or 3 choices.

“I do feel like when I go there that I am a top priority,” Dean said of Alabama. “They treat me like one. Every time they text and call me, they always tell me that they want and need me. Coach [Nick] Saban himself has told me how much he needs me. He said if he could take me this year [2018 class], he would.”

I also caught up with Christian Harris last week. It was clear to me that Alabama is his leader, and the reason why he didn’t go so far to say it outwardly was because he wants to keep some intrigue in his recruitment. Check out this quote when I asked if Alabama was his leader.

“I have … I have like … I wouldn’t say I have a leader because I do want to visit at least one or two more big-time schools, but Alabama is definitely up there at the top of my list,” Harris said.

Those pauses between where Harris says “I have” and “I have like” were 4 seconds and 7 seconds long, respectively. It was clear that he didn’t want to say the wrong thing or tip his hand one way or the other.

With Henry, he can’t take any visits until his junior college semester ends next month. I expect him in Tuscaloosa shortly after his semester ends. He has said that he wants to commit to a program before his season at Dodge City Community College ends. My pick goes to Alabama.

The Crimson Tide whiffed at inside linebacker recruiting in the 2018 class. The Crimson Tide wanted JJ Peterson, but once Jeremy Pruitt left for Tennessee, Peterson to the Volunteers was a done deal. The Tide also liked Vernon Jackson, but it became apparent that he wasn’t going to sign with Alabama, so the staff stopped recruiting him. The team also liked Brandon Kaho, but he surprisingly signed with Washington.

Alabama did sign 3-star inside linebacker Jaylen Moody, who surely was a backup plan for the team. He was offered in the final days leading up to National Signing Day. He’ll likely redshirt this season.

Getting inside linebackers in the 2019 class is of the utmost importance. Dylan Moses and Mack Wilson are likely the starters heading into this season. Moses showed that he’s bound for stardom while Wilson has shown that he’s likely the next Tide linebacker who’s going to get selected early in the NFL draft. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him leave after this season. After Moses and Wilson, there are lots of unknowns. Ben Davis hasn’t developed the way we thought he would coming out of high school, and Markail Benton hasn’t played yet.

The good news is that this class is already on the right path with Lee on board and Dean, Harris and Henry looking like early Tide leans.

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