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 all of the official visitors from this past weekend.
Alabama hosted 11 official visitors this past weekend, so let’s get straight to what SEC Country heard on each prospect:
5-star defensive end LaBryan Ray (Madison, Ala.)
Several people close to the Alabama program said Ray’s visit seemed to be a hit. The confidence level of getting Ray to commit on National Signing Day remains very high. That could be backed up with another in-state defensive end canceling his official visit to Alabama this upcoming weekend.
Ryan Johnson, a 4-star defensive end, told SEC Country on Sunday that he has eliminated Alabama from contention because “there’s too many people.” I do not know if the staff told him recently that there’s no room for him, but he hasn’t been considered a “take” for several months now.
Now, if Alabama did tell him to move on, that would mean that the staff feels very confident with Ray, who is the team’s top and only target at defensive end. Ray has been considered by SEC Country to be a near-virtual lock to Alabama for several months.
4-star WR Henry Ruggs III (Montgomery, Ala.)
Getting Ruggs on campus this past weekend was very important because Florida State did put a dent in the Tide’s chances at signing him. Those inside Alabama’s program still believe it’s a two-team race for Ruggs, but the Tide still are confident that the electrifying receiver will sign with Alabama.
Ruggs is expected to take an official visit to Penn State this upcoming weekend, but there’s a problem with that. His basketball team at Lee High School plays this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Unless he skips a game or leaves after Saturday’s game, which doesn’t have a scheduled time yet, I can’t see that trip taking place.
So, it’s very possible Alabama will be the last school he sees before making a commitment, which is supposed to happen on signing day. Don’t be surprised if it happens before then, though.
4-star WR DeVonta Smith (Amite, La.)
Smith has been one of Alabama’s top targets since January of 2016 when he de-committed from Georgia. He was accompanied on this trip by his parents and grandparents. One source who spoke with Smith after his official visit told SEC Country that the trip was “great.”
The 4-star prospect will take an official visit to Miami this upcoming weekend before committing on National Signing Day. Alabama remains in good position to land Smith. There are whispers out of Baton Rouge that LSU is slowly losing confidence.
4-star S Todd Harris (Plaquemine, La.)
I’m going to start this update by heading to Gainesville, Fla., where 4-star cornerback Chris Henderson was. Henderson had emerged as the team’s top cornerback target recently. He took an official visit to Tuscaloosa last weekend and coach Nick Saban quickly followed up on that by heading to Miami to visit him in his home.
Henderson took an official visit to Florida this past weekend, and the word out of Gainesville is that the Gators are very confident with where they stand with the South Florida prospect. At this point, Alabama would need to make up a lot of ground in the next week.
So, that’s why this visit to Alabama for Harris was big for the Crimson Tide’s hopes at adding another defensive back. Junior college defensive back Jhavonte Dean de-committed from Alabama over the weekend, but that doesn’t affect Harris’ spot because this decision was expected.
With Henderson looking Florida bound, it’s looking like Harris is the only defensive back left on the board. Remember, this past summer, Harris said if he received the Alabama offer, it would completely change his recruitment. Expect Alabama to be in his ear all the way until signing day.
4-star DT Phidarian Mathis (Monroe, La.)
With 5-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon trending toward Michigan, as of now, getting Mathis on board becomes that much more important for Alabama. The Crimson Tide need to get at least one of the two between Solomon and Mathis, and I think it will.
4-star JACK Christopher Allen (Baton Rouge, La.)
One of the most important items for Alabama to accomplish this weekend was locking in one of its top commitments. It would appear as if the Tide checked the box on this.
One source close to the Alabama program told SEC Country that “Chris Allen is locked in.” The 4-star linebacker from Baton Rouge, La., visited LSU the previous weekend, which obviously scared some Alabama fans. Allen was originally supposed to visit Tuscaloosa the previous weekend, but he rescheduled his visit for this past weekend. That was because there was only one visitor that weekend in Tuscaloosa and the staff wanted him there this past weekend because the majority of Alabama’s commitments were going to be on campus.
Despite Allen’s recent visit to LSU, the feeling around the Alabama program was that Allen was more locked in than what those in Baton Rouge were saying.
Allen told SEC Country before he committed to Alabama that out of all the coaches he communicated with, he was closest with outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi. He’s also said that he feels like Alabama presents the best opportunity for development.
4-star LB Markail Benton (Phenix City, Ala.)
Benton was thinking of taking an official visit to Georgia, but he chose to end his recruitment over a week ago. He was back in Tuscaloosa to help Alabama recruit Ruggs, which he’s been doing for several months now.
4-star DT Akial Byers (Fayetteville, Ark.)
There are still academic concerns with Byers. He told SEC Country earlier this month that he needed to retake the ACT. The problem with that is the next ACT test date is not until Feb. 11. Complete scores come out on Feb. 28.
So, what could happen is Byers can sign with Alabama on signing day, and the school could choose to place him in its junior college of choice. The team could also part ways with him and fill his spot with a remaining member on the defensive line board.
His situation is a bit unclear.
4-star QB Mac Jones (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Jones is one of the most vocal Alabama commitments on Twitter. Even though he’s facing stiff competition at the quarterback position with Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa already being enrolled, Jones is 100 percent set with the Crimson Tide.
— Mac Jones (@macjones2017) January 23, 2017
4-star OL Kendall Randolph (Madison, Ala.)
Randolph recently canceled his official visit to Florida, which was scheduled for this upcoming weekend. He was in town this past weekend to spend more time with Steve Sarkisian, who he’s trying to get to know better, and help Alabama recruit in-state stars Ray and Ruggs III.
Other than Kyriq McDonald, who is already enrolled at Alabama, there isn’t any other recruit that is closer to Ray than Randolph. Ray, McDonald and Randolph have been extremely close since they were little kids.
3-star TE Kedrick James (Waco, Texas)
James, a 3-star tight end commit from La Vega High School (Waco, Texas), told us after he committed to Alabama that he wouldn’t visit any other schools. That remains the case after visiting Tuscaloosa this weekend.
James’ father, Brandon Baggett, told SEC Country that the family is 100 percent comfortable with sending Kedrick to Alabama for college.
“He won’t be taking any other visits,” Baggett said. “We are super-excited for Kedrick.”
The family had a chance to talk with Saban, as all of the official visitors do, and the plan for James was received very well by the family.
“They’d like for him to be a triple threat as a blocker, run routes off the line and run a few fade routes from a wide receiver position,” Baggett said.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound prospect is one of two tight ends in the Class of 2017. Major Tennison, a 4-star tight end, is already enrolled at Alabama.
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All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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