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.
Alabama starts signing day with ___ commits and adds ___ commitments that day?
This is a good question that hasn’t been asked to me by anyone, so I appreciate the outside-the-box thinking here, Richard.
Last year’s National Signing Day was insanely busy for me. Alabama added a whopping eight commitments that day. I do not expect it to be that wild come this signing day mainly because mostly every one of Alabama’s big fish will be off the board by then.
Answering your question requires knowledge of which targets could announce their decisions on Feb. 1. Four-star wide receivers Devonta Smith and Nico Collins are expected to announce on signing day. Four-star offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson potentially could announce on that day if he doesn’t do it at the Under Armour All-American game. Five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson will announce on signing day. Four-star defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon could announce on that day if he doesn’t extend his recruitment past signing day.
I expect Alabama, which currently has 20 commitments, to add two commitments that day — Smith and Isaiah Wilson. The Tide will enter with 27 commitments. Before signing day, Alabama will add 5-star CB Shaun Wade and 4-stars in DE LaBryan Ray, DE/DT Elijah Conliffe, DT Phidarian Mathis, TE Major Tennison, S Todd Harris and WR Henry Ruggs to its class. Those are the guys I am currently projecting the Tide to sign before signing day.
As for that first Wednesday in February, Smith is as close as you can get as far as a lock is concerned. He’s been a strong lean to the Tide for several months now. LSU, the in-state school, has pretty much given up recruiting him because the staff knows it’s a lost cause.
Isaiah Wilson is someone I go back and forth on. I was told by someone close to him that Wilson is perfectly fine being part of a large offensive line class, which Alabama will have with at least five commitments. This is really a two-team race between Michigan and Alabama. Wilson has visited Alabama multiple times now and will be back to Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl. His comfort level at Alabama is very high, mainly because of offensive line coach Mario Cristobal.
What are the chances Alabama flips Shaun Wade?
I’m going to quote my favorite musician, Chance The Rapper, for a second: “And we back. And we back. And we back. And we back, And we back.” And we back with the Shaun Wade questions.
Wade, a 5-star Ohio State cornerback commitment from Jacksonville, Fla., has the crown for the prospect I am asked about the most. For several months now, I have predicted Alabama will flip the Buckeyes commit. I have not heard anything that has made me back down from that.
Wade likely won’t flip, if he does, until late November or December. He’s an early enrollee, so his recruitment will have to be over by January. Alabama defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley has targeted Wade as his top guy at the cornerback position ever since he joined the Tide’s staff in February.
There are several big things that favor Alabama. The main thing is Tuscaloosa’s proximity to his family. The majority of Wade’s family lives in the Montgomery, Ala., area. That’s very important to Wade, who has told SEC Country several times that he wants many of his family members to be able to see him play in person on Saturdays. His mother is also an Alabama fan.
Alabama is also the only school Wade is considering that can offer him the same things Ohio State can — a legendary head coach, the chance to compete for national championships every season and the coaching needed to turn him into a potential first-round draft pick.
He already has said that he sees no major differences between Alabama and Ohio State. Because Alabama is close to home and virtually the same school in Wade’s eyes, he flips eventually.
With all of the visits Henry Ruggs has taken to Auburn, do you think he ends up in this class?
I am definitely not as confident in predicting Ruggs in Alabama’s class as I once was. Ruggs was, at one point, my no-doubt-about-it lock for the Crimson Tide. That’s no longer the case.
With that said, I still am predicting Ruggs in this class. I’ve spoken to Ruggs quite a bit over the past several months, and I know his feelings about Alabama. I also know those close to him favor the Tide.
Ruggs is expected back on Auburn’s campus Saturday for its game against LSU. By season’s end, I can’t see him giving the Tigers a strong look because Gus Malzahn will have been fired by then or should have a foot and half his body out of the door because I expect Auburn to continue to drop games. Auburn’s quarterback situation is also less than ideal. After all, other SEC players are saying one of Auburn’s quarterbacks can’t even throw the ball. That’s a problem and a big one for a receiver considering the school.
I can’t see Ruggs’ sudden adoration for Auburn lasting long. He should commit to Alabama before the end of the year.
Who’s on the board at defensive back for Alabama?
Alabama has two commitments at defensive back: 4-star junior college cornerback Jhavonte Dean and 3-star defensive back Kyriq McDonald. McDonald is likely a nickelback on the next level, but Alabama has said he should see time at both safety spots, cornerback and nickelback. He’s pretty much a utility defensive back.
The Tide would like to add two more defensive backs in the Class of 2017, but will they? Wade, who we mentioned above, is in my current projection. Chadarius Townsend, who is committed to Alabama as an athlete, told SEC Country earlier this week that he’s loving playing the cornerback position. He could play corner or wide receiver at Alabama.
At safety, Todd Harris, who I have Alabama acquiring, is a 4-star prospect from Louisiana. He’s considering Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss at this time. Devon Hunter, a 4-star prospect from Virginia, has Virginia Tech and Florida ahead of Alabama at this time. 5-star LSU commit JaCoby Stevens is the wild card here. If LSU decides to fire Les Miles, does Stevens look around? If so, that’s good news for Alabama. The Crimson Tide finished second to the Tigers at the time of his commitment.
What’s with the two random crystal ball predictions for Marvin Wilson to Alabama?
Out of all the defensive linemen Alabama is considering in the Class of 2017, Wilson is the least likely to end up in the Tide’s class. You already used the word to describe two writers projecting Wilson to end up in Alabama’s class — random.
From the intel I’ve gathered from sources close to the Alabama program and those close to Wilson, there’s almost no chance the 5-star prospect ends up in the Tide’s class. In fact, he’s not even considered Alabama’s top target at the defensive tackle position despite him being a 5-star prospect. That honor would belong to Aubrey Solomon.
If Bo Davis was still Alabama’s defensive line coach, there would have been a great chance Wilson would have ended up in the Tide’s class. Davis is no longer the coach, though. Wilson’s relationship with new defensive line coach Karl Dunbar is nowhere near as strong as his was with Davis.
There’s a less than 1 percent chance Wilson is rolling with the Tide.
What happened with Jedrick Wills?
Wills, the 4-star offensive tackle from Lexington, Ky., was supposed to announce his commitment almost two months ago but has since gone silent. I was told Wills had a commitment video ready to go but, obviously, that never posted.
Alabama was viewed as the favorite to land Wills when he made his decision. From what I’ve been told though, Wills wants to play tackle in college. He’s not too interested in playing guard, which is where Alabama is recruiting him.
Could that be the holdup with his decision? Quite possibly.
According to his high school coach, a commitment potentially could come by the end of October.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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