For a minute, well, that’s what it seemed like, Alabama appeared to hold the edge in 5-star safety JaCoby Stevens’ recruitment. Then, suddenly, LSU grasped the lead, and the Tigers landed his commitment Monday.
The Crimson Tide shouldn’t feel too deflated after losing out on Stevens. After all, the nation’s No. 2 safety wasn’t strongly considering Alabama until he took a visit to Tuscaloosa in mid-June. Up until that point, Stevens was Georgia’s prospect to lose. He was silently committed to the Bulldogs at one point, and the gap between Georgia and the next school was massive.
So, for Alabama even to make a dent in his recruitment just shows how fantastic of a job the coaching staff did to get him to waver on his silent commitment to Georgia. He told our own Jeff Sentell, who is on the scene, that Alabama led for two weeks and finished in second place.
Now that Stevens is out of the mix, Alabama will focus its attention on the following safeties:
Kyriq McDonald, 3-star, Madison, Ala.
McDonald is currently committed to Alabama, but he’s not a true safety. The Tide’s plans for McDonald include pretty much every single position in the defensive backfield — free safety, strong safety, cornerback, star. That’s one of the main reasons why Alabama made him a priority over the past few months and why McDonald decided to choose the in-state school.
“I haven’t let off the pedal yet,” McDonald told SEC Country last week. “I’m not going to until I finish making it. I’m playing as a freshman. You can catch me on TV.”
Hamsah Nasirildeen, 4-star, Concord, N.C.
Nasirildeen is listed as the nation’s No. 12 outside linebacker, but if he ends up committing to Alabama, safety is where he’d play.
His recruitment is very fluid. He told SEC Country that some days Alabama is his leader then the following day it could be South Carolina, Florida or Florida State. Needless to say, he doesn’t feel like he’s anywhere close to making a decision.
Nasirildeen did say why he would commit to Alabama if he did choose the Crimson Tide.
“They put a high level of kids into the NFL and they graduate a high number of players each year,” Nasirildeen said. “They win a lot of national championships, too.”
The Army All-American visited Tuscaloosa two times this offseason. He may be the one to watch for Alabama in this group of safeties.
Todd Harris, 4-star, Plaquemine, La.
Out of the recruits listed here, there may not be any player in the country that Stevens’ commitment to LSU affects more. For several months now, Harris has been pegged as a lock for the Tigers’ Class of 2017 defensive back haul.
The problem for Harris is now LSU have two safety commits in its 2017 class: Stevens and 4-star prospect Grant Delpit. Will the Tigers take three safeties? It’s not common for a team to take three safeties in any recruiting class, but the question is will Les Miles and his staff make an exception for Harris?
If not, things get interesting for Alabama and Harris. Before picking up an offer from the Crimson Tide on July 20, Harris said if that happened it would be a game-changer in his recruitment. Before that date, LSU and Ole Miss were on top for him. Alabama is now in the mix.
“Well, they’re winning national championships, so that pretty much says it all right there,” Harris said. “Nick Saban is a great coach, so you’re going somewhere with a great coaching staff and you’re not selling yourself short.
He is expected to make his commitment at the Under Armour All-America game in January.
Xavier McKinney, 4-star, Roswell, Ga.
You may recognize this name. McKinney was committed to Alabama until reopening his recruitment last month. His decision to de-commit from Alabama was surprising.
Two weeks before his decision to back off his pledge to the Crimson Tide, McKinney told SEC Country that he was 100 percent committed. So, what exactly happened? He said he just wanted to make sure he was making the right choice. His de-commitment was not a matter of the staff pushing him out of the door. Tide coaches want McKinney in this class, but now Alabama definitely is going to have some work to do if he is to rejoin.
Clemson and Florida were tied for No. 2 at the time of his de-commitment, but the Tigers likely hold the edge at this time. His teammate at Roswell High School, 4-star cornerback LeAnthony Williams, is committed to Clemson and his former teammate, Tre Lamar, is a freshman linebacker for the Tigers. Those two guys are always in the ears of McKinney.
If I were a betting man, I would say McKinney won’t be an Alabama commit once again.
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.