Alabama’s arguably most important target in the Class of 2017 was on campus this week, and the visit could not have gone any better. We begin our mailbag with that news.
Each week, we hope to answer some of the most pressing questions asked by our readers. You can either ask me on Twitter (@ChrisK_AJC) or comment below this article and we’ll use the best ones for next week’s mailbag.
With that being said, here are the top questions from our readers this week.
How confident are you with predicting Tua in this class?
For those of you that missed it, I predicted that Alabama will get a commitment from four-star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa when he announces his commitment. Tagovailoa and his family visited Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss from Honolulu this past week. The Tagovailoas were supposed to leave Alabama on Tuesday, but they stayed two extra days in Tuscaloosa.
The visit to Alabama went extremely well. Out of the three schools they visited, it was the only school they visited for multiple days. The family went to Alabama for almost a full week and loved everything about it.
Tagovailoa’s father said if his son was to make a decision today, Alabama would be the school he’d pick.
But it wasn’t that that really caught my eye. It was the fact that the family has already had discussions of moving from Hawaii to the South, so they can be close to Tua. Those conversations show just how interested they are in Alabama.
“We have talked about a lot of those things, even if he was staying on the West Coast,” Galu Tagovailoa, Tua’s father, said. “I have kind of looked at some jobs on the West Coast in my field. We also needed to consider that we needed to look at jobs in Mobile or in that area. That was one of the biggest reasons why we took this trip as a family. When it comes down to making a decision like this, it’s a family decision.”
That’s why I am relatively confident with my pick in Tagovailoa choosing Alabama when he makes his commitment. Before this visit, I would have put the odds of landing him at 1 percent. Now, I’m 50-50. Southern California will still be a huge factor in his recruitment because the family, including Tua, have made it clear that the Trojans have a special place in their hearts. He will most likely visit USC again in the coming months, and we’ll see how he feels after that visit.
Alabama is definitely in a good spot, though. It would not shock me at all now if Tagovailoa suits up for the Crimson Tide in 2017.
Which recruits are on commit watch this weekend?
I think there are a few guys that would not surprise me if they ended up committing this
weekend at A-Day.
The most likely guy to commit this weekend, in my opinion, is four-star offensive tackle Austin Troxell. He told me two weeks ago that he plans on making a decision before his senior season begins. After visiting him at his school, I like where Alabama stands with him, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him pull the trigger.
Another guy I can see making a commitment this weekend is four-star wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. The Florida native is close to Alabama star Calvin Ridley and his brother, Georgia freshman Riley Ridley. Jeudy has made it known that the Crimson Tide led for him. He says each school in his top 10 is even, but I think Alabama still holds the top spot. Ridley ended up committing at A-Day and it would be fitting if Jeudy did the same.
Finally, four-star linebacker Christopher Allen could commit. He told me in New Orleans this past weekend that he’s closer to committing to Alabama more so than any other school. Most in the recruiting industry believe he’ll end up at LSU but for two months now, Allen has told me the Crimson Tide lead. I truly believe him when he says Alabama is his favorite. This isn’t a Mack Wilson situation where he said Florida led for him. No one believed that, and if you did, I am sorry. Allen would be a great addition to a linebacker class that already has VanDarius Cowan and Gary Johnson.
Other guys I could see committing: Four-star defensive end Ryan Johnson, four-star wide receiver Henry Ruggs (if he ends up visiting) and four-star offensive guard Edward Ingram.
Are we still in the race for Cam Akers?
Akers de-committed from Alabama last month, but the Crimson Tide’s recruitment of the elite running back hasn’t stopped.
In fact, it may be better than it was when he called himself an Alabama commit.
“They continuously contact me, daily,” Akers told SEC Country at Nike’s “The Opening” regional in New Orleans on Sunday. “It’s not just me they are recruiting, either. They are always hitting up my mom to tell her to tell me to call them.”
When he de-committed from Alabama, Akers made it clear that he was still going to consider the Crimson Tide. Right now, I think Georgia is the strongest competition Alabama needs to worry about.
The 5-foot-11, 212-pounder is expected to make a visit to Alabama in the coming months. He did say that if Alabama continues to recruit him at a high level, then he would have no reservations about re-choosing the Crimson Tide.
Alabama’s chances of flipping Tyler Shelvin and Shaun Wade?
Tyler Shelvin admitted he “lost focus” on his longstanding commitment to LSU shortly after visiting Alabama a few weeks ago, and that could only be considered good news for the Crimson Tide.
Shelvin, a five-star defensive tackle from Notre Dame High School (Lafayette, La.), told SEC Country that Alabama is currently his No. 2 school.
“I like (defensive line coach) Bo Davis. I like Coach Saban a lot,” Shelvin said. “They are both great people. My recruiting coach at Alabama, (running backs coach Burton) Burns, is also great. They have a lot of good people there.”
The 6-foot-3, 345-pounder did say that he is 100 percent committed to LSU, yet he’s still looking around. Normally, when recruits say they are 100 percent committed “for now,” or they are “still looking,” it means the players aren’t fully committed to their school of choice.
I would be surprised if Shelvin didn’t back off his commitment to LSU at some point. If he did, I like Alabama’s chances.
On Shaun Wade, I think there’s a chance he flips from Ohio State, but I don’t think it’s going to be anytime soon. He is working on being an early enrollee, so Alabama fans won’t have to wait all the way until National Signing Day if he does decide to flip.
I had a chance to talk with Wade, a five-star cornerback from Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) recently, and he told me Alabama is his No. 2 school.
“It’s close to home. They’re talking really well to me,” Wade told SEC Country. “Those are the two main reasons right now. They would develop me as a player and could help me play any DB position — safety or corner. I could come in and play whatever. They aren’t just going to develop me as a one-side corner.”
The other four programs chasing Wade do have a clear advantage over the Crimson Tide — early playing time. Wade believes he could see the field sooner at Florida, USC, Stanford and Notre Dame than at Alabama.
Wade told me a couple of weeks ago that he was going to visit Alabama for its spring game, but he will not be on campus Saturday.
I wouldn’t get too excited about a possible flip just yet.
How solid is Alex Leatherwood’s commitment considering he visited LSU for the second time this past weekend?
This has been a popular question over the past few weeks.
Leatherwood, a four-star offensive tackle from Booker T. Washington High School (Pensacola, Fla.), not only visited LSU this past weekend, but also Florida.
But I have to say, I think Leatherwood is one of Alabama’s strongest commits. Sure, he’s taking trips to other schools, but he’s also actively recruiting some of the nation’s top players for Alabama.
He also said he doesn’t believe there’s a school out there that can offer him the same daily competition in practice like Alabama can. How the players and coach interact with each other is something that is important to Leatherwood. Again, he thinks the players and coaches interact with each other better than everywhere else that he’s visited.
I expect Leatherwood to sign with Alabama. It would be a big shock to me if he went anywhere else.
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.