Welcome in to the Alabama recruiting mailbag, I am your letter-opener Chris Kirschner.
Questions for the mailbag were submitted to me via my Twitter account, which you can follow here. If you didn’t get a chance to submit your question for this edition of the mailbag, you still can send me questions for future editions by tweeting me or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There were A LOT of good questions this week, so let’s dig in.
Where do you think Blake Barnett ends up?
Nick Saban confirmed on his radio show Thursday night that former 5-star quarterback recruit Blake Barnett has withdrawn from Alabama.
Lots of fans sent Barnett hate for his decision due to the timing of the quarterback’s decision. We now know why Barnett decided to transfer at this point. He is going to take advantage of a loophole in the NCAA transfer rules, which allows him to attend a junior college then pending his GPA for the term is over 2.5 and he graduates, he’d be eligible to play at his next 4-year university one calendar year from when he transferred from Alabama. We usually hear college football players having to sit an entire year when they request a transfer, but Barnett is going around that with this loophole.
After Barnett finishes his time at his junior college of choice, the question obviously becomes where will he land? Barnett will assuredly be one of the most sought-after transfers.
With him being from the West coast, I do think that’s where he’s going to wind up. I’ll give you my top two choices for him: Oregon and UCLA.
The Ducks were actually the favorites to land his commitment when he chose the Tide back in 2014. Barnett believed he fit Oregon’s scheme well at the time, and the good news for him is that it hasn’t changed much. Oregon will be looking for a starting quarterback in 2017 as quarterback Dakota Prukop, an FCS transfer will have graduated. The Ducks currently have a true freshman quarterback on campus in Justin Herbert. He’d likely be the favorite to be the next starting quarterback for Oregon.
UCLA already has one of the best quarterbacks in college football and possibly the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft in Josh Rosen. But the school is close to Barnett’s home in Corona, Calif. The Bruins were the first team to offer Barnett as a recruit, but would he want to wait a year and sit behind Rosen? It appears as if Barnett, who transferred because of playing time, wants to play immediately.
With Les Miles getting fired from LSU, who do you now see filling out Alabama’s class?
My prediction for who Alabama signs has not changed even after the firing of Les Miles. Alabama currently has 20 commitments, and the following players are who I expect to round out the class: 5-star Ohio State cornerback commit Shaun Wade and 4-stars in DE LaBryan Ray, DE/DT Elijah Conliffe, DT Phidarian Mathis, JACK Jarez Parks, OT Isaiah Wilson, TE Major Tennison, S Todd Harris and WRs Henry Ruggs and Devonta Smith.
That’s 30 commitments. The numbers are going to be sorted out later but Alabama is in good position to sign all of those guys.
If you want a better picture of how Miles’ firing affects Alabama recruiting, I suggest you check this out.
Who is more likely to sign with Alabama: Jedrick Wills or Marvin Wilson?
Alabama has lost some steam with both Wills, the 4-star offensive tackle from Lexington, Ky., and Wilson, the 5-star defensive tackle from Bellaire, Texas. But this question is very easy to answer.
Alabama is more likely to sign Wills.
I’ve stated for some time now that it’s highly unlikely Wilson is in Alabama’s recruiting class. If Bo Davis was still coaching the defensive line, it’s possible Wilson would have even favored Alabama by now. After Karl Dunbar took over for Davis, he had a big hole to climb out of because he had no relationship with Wilson.
It should also be noted that multiple sources from the Alabama program have told SEC Country that Wilson is not the team’s top target at defensive tackle. That would be 4-star Aubrey Solomon from Leesburg, Ga.
Alabama knows that Wilson is unlikely to choose the Tide, so it is not going all out in their pursuit for him.
As for Wills, he was supposed to make his commitment two months ago. If he had gone through with that, Alabama was most likely going to get his commitment. He has since gone silent with his recruitment, but his coach told SEC Country that a commitment could now come by the end of October.
It’s unclear why Wills decided to delay his commitment, but multiple sources close to his recruitment told SEC Country he had notified coaches he was going to commit to Alabama. So what exactly happened?
According to a source, Wills is adamant about playing offensive tackle on the next level. Well, that would be a problem for him if he chose Alabama because the staff is recruiting him at guard.
Unless Wills changes his mind about playing guard, I do not see him in this class at this time, but he’s more likely to end up at Alabama than Wilson.
Why isn’t Alabama pursuing Marvin Wilson harder?
It’s not like Alabama isn’t pursuing the 5-star prospect, it’s just that he isn’t the No. 1 target on the board.
For outsiders, I’m sure it’s hard to comprehend why a 5-star prospect wouldn’t be the team’s top priority at defensive tackle. Getting quality defensive linemen is arguably the team’s top priority in the Class of 2017, but the staff feels good about who they could potentially sign at the position.
As stated above, Wilson is a long shot to end up in Alabama’s class, so the staff is focused on several other defensive linemen. Four-star prospects LaBryan Ray, Aubrey Solomon, Phidarian Mathis, Isaiah Buggs and Elijah Conliffe should be considered the top priorities on the defensive line.
Is Phidarian Mathis the one recruit no one is really talking about who ends up at Alabama?
The reason for that is because Mathis, a 4-star defensive tackle from Neville High School (Monroe, La.), is very quiet when it comes to talking about where things stand in his recruitment.
I caught up with Mathis last week, and I came away with the impression that Alabama should be considered the team to beat for his commitment.
Both Karl Dunbar and wide receivers coach Billy Napier keep in contact with Mathis every single day. That tells you how big of a priority he is for the team.
He also feels like Alabama is recruiting him the hardest. That matters because recruits always want to feel like they are a priority to the schools they are considering.
Mathis also knows the depth chart for next season is favorable for a freshman to get playing time.
“They always tell me that they’re going to need a lot of defensive linemen next year because most of those guys up front are leaving this year,” Mathis said. “They are telling me that I can come in and make a big impact immediately.”
He’s quick to admit that early playing time is a major factor in his recruitment. Because of that, he says, Alabama has a great chance at landing his commitment when he’s likely to announce his decision in December or January.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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