After receiving some bad news Sunday from a major quarterback target, Alabama seemingly picked up fantastic news out of nowhere late Wednesday night.
That’s our main topic for this week’s edition of SEC Country’s Alabama recruiting mailbag.
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.
Bailey Hockman to Florida State. Who is left for us to get?
Hockman’s commitment to Florida State definitely dealt a blow to Alabama’s quarterback big board. But the Crimson Tide got great news late Wednesday night.
Tua Tagovailoa, the nation’s No. 2 dual-threat quarterback from Honolulu, is currently on Alabama’s campus. That’s huge news because he’s the Tide’s No. 1 priority at quarterback. For him and his family to make the 4,000-mile trip from Hawaii to Tuscaloosa shows just how interested they are in Alabama.
Tagovailoa told SEC Country when he released his top eight last month why he is so high on the Tide.
“Coach Saban has talked to us and his beliefs are God first before anything,” Tagovailoa said. “Every school is going to have good academics. Every school is going to have good football. But when you have a coach like Saban, who believes in God and is a defending champion, that makes it even more special.”
Tagovailoa, who threw for 2,916 yards and scored 35 total touchdowns during his junior season, has been especially focused on Alabama since he became the first quarterback the Tide offered after the decommitment of Jake Fromm, who flipped to Georgia.
“I didn’t even know I was in Alabama’s range to get offered. It says a lot for them to go this far for someone like me,” Tagovailoa said. “I really do take this into consideration because it’s something that is very meaningful because Nick Saban has taken almost everyone that he has recruited to a national championship. That says a lot about his program.”
If Alabama misses out on Tagovailoa, there are still other options.
Lowell Narcisse, a four-star prospect from St. James (La.) High School, is the only other quarterback left in the Class of 2017 that remains uncommitted and holds an offer from Alabama. Narcisse, who originally was committed to Auburn before backing off his pledge, was high on the Crimson Tide before choosing the Tigers. But if Alabama wants to get back in the race for Narcisse, it has some work to do. LSU and Auburn are believed to be the perceived favorites.
Several other 2017 quarterbacks have visited over the last month, but likely will have to attend camp at Alabama in order to receive an offer.
Jack Walker, three-star, Madison, Miss. — Visited Alabama more than a year ago. His best offer is from Miami.
Taylor Powell, three-star, Fayetteville, Ark. — Visited Alabama March 11. He holds an SEC offer from Vanderbilt.
Jacob Free, three-star, Brantley, Ala. — Visited last week and holds an offer from Louisville.
What’s the latest on Demetris Robertson going to Bama?
The only way Demetris Robertson goes to Alabama to play college football will be if he’s on an opposing team with a date at Bryant-Denny Stadium. He won’t be playing for the Crimson Tide.
Robertson, who is the only unsigned five-star prospect in the Class of 2016, was down to Alabama, Georgia, Stanford, Notre Dame, California and Georgia Tech as of a few weeks ago. His guardian, Carlos Robertson, told SEC Country that Alabama is no longer under consideration.
The nation’s No. 1 wide receiver was originally committed to Alabama before backing off that pledge, but he won’t be re-committing to the Tide.
I’ve believed for months now that Robertson will end up at Georgia, and I am sticking with that prediction. Carlos Robertson said look for Demetris to make a commitment in the next week or so.
Where does Bama stand with elite defensive ends, particularly in the JUCO ranks with Jarez Parks and Joshua Kaindoh?
To quickly answer the second part of your question, Parks, a five-star defensive end from Sebastian (Fla.) River High School is likely to end up staying in-state. Florida is viewed as the favorite. Kaindoh isn’t considering Alabama at this time. He’s set on playing college football in the North.
As far as other defensive ends Alabama is after, we’ll start with the junior college prospects you asked about.
Josiah Coatney, Holmes Community College — Alabama will host Coatney on an official visit this weekend. He’s scheduled to make his commitment May 5, which should be considered good news for the Crimson Tide because the other two perceived favorites, Ole Miss and Florida will have hosted him before Alabama. Coatney is a 2016 recruit and is a take for Alabama right now.
Robert Beal, four-star DE, Norcross High School — Beal is one of Alabama’s top priorities on the defensive line in the Class of 2017, but in order for the Crimson Tide to land his commitment, his sister needs to be admitted into the school.
Beal, a four-star defensive end from Norcross (Ga.) High School, decommitted from Notre Dame in February after finding out his sister was denied admission into the school.
“If (the schools) can’t take her, then I won’t be there,” Beal told DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell at Nike’s “The Opening” regional camp in Atlanta a few weeks ago.
Since he decommitted from Notre Dame, Beal has only visited three schools — Alabama, Florida State and Georgia.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder said those three schools are some of the colleges he’s considering the most right now. When he visited Alabama, Beal noticed a major difference between it and other colleges he has visited.
“Alabama does everything different there than everyone else,” he said. “From the players to the coaches and the way they feed the players.”
I would consider the Crimson Tide one of the favorites right now along with Georgia and Florida State.
LaBryan Ray, four-star DE, James Clemens High School — Ray, the nation’s No. 5 defensive end, hasn’t put out his top 10 just yet, but he knows four schools that will for sure make the cut.
Ray, a four-star prospect from James Clemens High School (Madison, Ala.) told SEC Country that Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Florida State will make the cut when he releases his top schools at some point this spring. He told me this week why Alabama will make the cut.
“I’ve been to Alabama a couple of times now,” Ray said. “I’ve been there for games and regular visits, too. I like it there a lot. I’m really comfortable with (Alabama defensive line coach Bo) Davis and the overall feel of the school.”
Davis was one of several coaches Ray named as far as having a good relationship. He said he communicates with Davis almost every other day.
“He’s upfront with me. He tells me what I should expect if I go to Alabama,” Ray said. “He’s not going to lie about anything. That’s really good to know.”
Even though he doesn’t know when he’s going to commit, Ray does know the reason for why he would choose the Crimson Tide.
“It would be because of the relationship I have with the coaches,” Ray said. “That would be the first reason. The next reason would be because of the feeling I get when I’m there.”
It would be a surprise if he ends up anywhere other than Alabama when he makes his commitment.
Ryan Johnson, four-star DE, St. Paul’s Episcopal — Johnson, a four-star defensive end from St. Paul’s Episcopal (Mobile, Ala.), visited Alabama and Auburn on back-to-back days last week. One of the rivals impressed him more than the other.
“I liked sitting down with both coaches and getting a feel for the staffs,” Johnson said of his visits. “I think I liked Alabama more. Just seeing how they practice and how they work was impressive.
“I like the business feel of Alabama. They produce a lot of players that end up going to the NFL. They also produce a lot of players that get degrees. They have a very high graduation rate.”
When Johnson visited Alabama, several Crimson Tide coaches showed him the defensive line depth chart in hopes of getting him on board.
“They were asking me if I was going to commit that day,” Johnson told SEC Country. “(Defensive coordinator Jeremy) Pruitt was showing me a lot of love. He recruited me pretty hard at Georgia, and that’s definitely carried over.”
Not only did Pruitt try to get Johnson to commit, but so did defensive line coach Bo Davis and Nick Saban himself.
“It definitely made me feel special, but I know I’m not ready to make any decisions yet,” Johnson said. “I’m just taking the process slowly. I don’t want to rush into anything.”
Johnson’s decision is likely to come down to Alabama and Auburn. I like Alabama’s chances here, too.
I would focus on those defensive ends for now. More names will emerge as we head into summer.
Realistic chances of flipping VanDarius Cowan and Shaun Wade?
I think there’s a very realistic chance VanDarius Cowan flips to Alabama this weekend. Cowan, a four-star outside linebacker from Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High School, has been committed to Florida State since late December, but there has been lots of chatter as of late on a possible flip.
Cowan, who is rated as the nation’s No. 5 outside linebacker, is one of Alabama’s biggest priorities. It would be a huge win for the Tide if they can lock up his commitment this weekend when he visits Tuscaloosa.
On Shaun Wade, I think there’s a chance he flips from Ohio State, but I don’t think it’s going to be any time 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 three 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.
Alabama has two young cornerbacks on its roster in sophomores Minkah Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey — both former five-star signees. The pair shined last year as freshmen and are the clear starters for this year’s squad.
However, that alone would not prevent the Tide from potentially flipping the elite Buckeyes pledge.
“I think I would be in the rotation if I went to Alabama,” Wade said. “It doesn’t hurt anyone’s chances if I can’t play right away. If I work hard, I can still get on the field.”
I wouldn’t get too excited just yet over a possible flip.
Is there a chance for Alabama to get Tyjon Lindsey?
Lindsey, a five-star wide receiver from Centennial High School (Corona, Calif.) recently released his top 10. Alabama was one of the schools he named, along with Auburn, Texas A&M, Tennessee, USC, Oregon, Michigan, Nebraska and Notre Dame.
He’s planning on making a Southeastern tour at some point, but until he does, I don’t think Alabama is a contender.
Texas A&M, Ohio State and USC are in the best position to land him, in my opinion. The Aggies especially because his friend, quarterback Tate Martell, is committed there. The two actually lived together for quite some time.
That’s all for this week. Make sure to comment below to have your question answered for next week’s mailbag.
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.