Quality defensive linemen are of importance to Alabama in the Class of 2017, and the Crimson Tide just landed one of its top targets.
Akial (pronounced uh-KEEL) Byers, a 4-star defensive tackle from Fayetteville (Ark.) High School, committed to Alabama while on an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa. Byers becomes Alabama’s first interior line commit in the Class of 2017. He chose Alabama over offers from Ohio State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Oklahoma.
Fayetteville coach Benji Mahan told SEC Country that Byers has favored Alabama for several months now. Mahan shared what college assistants like about Byers’ game.
“After watching the first three clips in his highlight, they usually say that’s the type of player that they are looking for,” Mahan said. “Most of them include his hips and his feet and say how quality they are. They say he’s what they are looking for in a defensive lineman. The days have changed where teams are looking for 330-pound defensive linemen. They are looking for guys that can move and get off blocks and get after the ball carrier. He fits the mold.”
Alabama is recruiting Byers, a 6-foot-4, 275 pound prospect, as a 3-technique, which means he would line up on the outside shoulder of either the left or right guard. Three-techniques are usually the defensive tackles most associated with quickness and creating disruption in the backfield, which is what the first three plays show in his highlight reel below.
Mahan said what Byers liked most about Alabama was how much time the Crimson Tide staff put into securing his commitment. It was more than any other school recruiting him.
“I’ve been very impressed with the amount of time and energy they have invested in him because it has shown me why Alabama is in the position they are in,” Mahan said. “They work really hard in making sure they get the best players in the country, and it’s not just Coach (Nick) Saban. Coach Napier has spent a lot of time with Akial. It shows how Alabama is a well-oiled machine.”
Alabama is still recruiting several other defensive tackle targets in this recruiting class. Five-star prospect Marvin Wilson (Bellaire, Texas) remains a priority for the Crimson Tide. He won’t make his commitment known until National Signing Day, but Alabama will hold a spot open for him if he wants to join. Four-star Alabama linebacker commit VanDarius Cowan told SEC Country that he believes Wilson is favoring the Tide as of now. Other DT targets include LSU commit Tyler Shelvin and Michigan commit Aubrey Solomon. Three-star in-state prospect Neil Farrell is also on Alabama’s board.
Mahan acknowledged that he did not think Byers was the team’s top target but was in that top group of players Alabama wanted. He thinks the Crimson Tide just scored a gem though in Byers.
“We don’t have guys like him coming through here every day,” Mahan said with a laugh. “We have some really good high school players here, but he has some quality genes. The combination of his explosion, size and speed makes him the total package. We’d like to have eight more Akial’s in here.”
Byers is rated as the nation’s No. 13 defensive tackle and the No. 2 overall prospect in the state of Arkansas.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Chris Kirschner covers Alabama football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.