Welcome back to the weekly edition of SEC Country’s Alabama recruiting mailbag.
Each week we like to check out Chris Kirschner’s mail stack to see what questions Crimson Tide fans have when it comes to the team’s recruitment. This week, we take a look at which commit could have the biggest rise in the rankings, how a long snapper’s commitment could shake up the class, outside linebacker targets, a likely scenario if the team misses on a 4-star wide receiver and a question on two offensive linemen.
It’s time to open the mail. Here are this week’s top questions, which were asked via my Twitter account.
Which of Alabama’s current commits will have the biggest rise in the rankings before signing day?
I believe 4-star WR Tyrell Shavers is due for a big bump in the rankings.
Currently, he’s the nation’s No. 22 wide receiver. For a guy that’s 6-foot-6 and ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash — wind-aided or not — that speed combined with his height is an unbelievable pairing.
I think he’s outside the nation’s top 20 receivers because his production level for someone his size was not what you’d think it would be. As a junior, Shavers caught 37 passes for 803 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those are not eye-popping stats, but that could be because his quarterback at Lewisville (Texas) High School was more of a run-first quarterback. According to his coach, Lewisville has a pass-first quarterback this year, so Shavers’ stats should see a bump.
He’s already risen in the rankings quite a bit in the last several months. After posting the 4.38 40-yard dash time, Shavers, who was a 3-star at the time, quickly moved up to a 4-star. His offer count doubled and the nation’s top programs started calling.
Shavers received an invite to The Opening football camp, where he’ll have the opportunity to showcase his talents against the nation’s top prospects. If he performs well, expect to see Shavers take a giant leap in the rankings.
How does the long snapper’s commitment affect this signing class from a numbers standpoint?
First off, it was surprising that Alabama used a scholarship on long snapper Thomas Fletcher (IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.). That’s no disrespect to Fletcher, who is the nation’s top-rated long snapper. Usually, long snappers are preferred walk-ons, so that says a ton about Fletcher’s talent on the field. But using a scholarship on Fletcher means there is one less spot for someone I have projected in the latest mock signing class.
The number of players Alabama can sign this year is in the range of 25-27. I did not have Alabama taking two special teams players, and I already had the Crimson Tide at the maximum of 27 players. That means one name on my list has to go.
In the latest mock class, I had Alabama taking 5-star offensive guard Wyatt Davis, who recently committed to Ohio State. The number of offensive linemen I had Alabama taking was four. The Crimson Tide have two commitments at offensive line: 5-star tackle Alex Leatherwood and 4-star tackle Elliot Baker. I think Kendall Randolph, a 4-star guard from Madison, Ala., is likely to join. Talking to sources close to the program since Fletcher’s commitment, it’s possible that Alabama only takes three offensive linemen in this class, so there’s where Fletcher’s spot could go.
If Alabama lands 5-star tackle Isaiah Wilson or 4-star Trey Smith, and the Tide is strongly recruiting both, things once again get interesting from a numbers game. It’s July 1, though. The numbers are going to get MUCH clearer as we finish the summer.
Do you think we need to add one more OLB? And if so, who?
Alabama 4-star commits VanDarius Cowan and Markail Benton are listed at outside linebacker on their scouting profiles, but both of them are being recruited at at inside linebacker by Alabama, as is Gary Johnson. So, there’s a definite need at outside linebacker in this class, even with three linebacker commits already on board.
Right now, I’d say Christopher Allen, a 4-star OLB from Southern University Lab High School (Baton Rouge, La.), is the likeliest addition. He’s listed Alabama as his leader since February and hasn’t budged on his stance. What’s more important than him saying the Crimson Tide hold the edge is him actually making it to campus for visits multiple times since February. The visits these kids take are much more important than what comes out of their mouths. Just like Alabama pulled Tim Williams out of Baton Rouge three years ago, I think the Tide do it again with Allen.
Ryan Johnson, a 4-star DE from St. Paul’s Episcopal (Mobile, Ala.), is being recruited at the JACK position, which is a hybrid of defensive end and outside linebacker. He’s another likely possibility to join the class at some point. Auburn is gaining some momentum with Johnson, so it’s going to be important to get him back on campus in the coming weeks.
Then you have names such as 5-stars Dylan Moses and Baron Browning, who would be welcomed in this class with open arms, but Alabama is trailing for these two players right now. Robert Beal, a 4-star OLB, has Georgia and Alabama on top, but it’s looking more likely he’ll become a Bulldog.
What happens with the fourth linebacker spot is going to be very interesting over the next several months.
If Alabama doesn’t get Nico Collins, do you think it takes Jeff Thomas?
I don’t think Alabama will sign 4-star wide receiver Nico Collins (Pinson, Ala.). I am fairly confident in saying that. Speaking with sources close to him, the thought is he would like to leave the state of Alabama to play college football.
Michigan is the team to beat right now. He’s made multiple visits to Ann Arbor, Mich., in the last several months and has loved it more each time. Of note: His dad is a big Wolverines fan. Alabama is trailing here, and it must make up a lot of ground.
On Jeff Thomas: I reported that the 4-star wide receiver tried to commit to Alabama two weekends ago. His commitment was not accepted at the time, but it has nothing to do with his on-field performance. Thomas performed well in a 7-on-7 camp with his East Saint Louis (Ill.) High School teammates, according to sources. The staff loves the nation’s No. 9 wide receiver’s game, but there are academic concerns right now with Thomas. That was the reason why Alabama decided to pass on him at this time.
The plan right now is to take four wide receivers, and Alabama looks to be in really good position to hit that number. The Tide already hold a commitment from 4-star Tyrell Shavers and are in the driver’s seat for 4-stars Devonta Smith (Amite, La.), Henry Ruggs III (Montgomery, Ala.) and Jerry Jeudy (Pompano Beach, Fla.).
Again, like I said above, numbers are going to be tight. Can Alabama squeeze in a fifth wide receiver if those guys I just mentioned all commit (and I am confident they will)? Alabama likes Thomas, but there may not be space for him come fall. That’s how good this wide receiver class is going to be.
Any shot at the OL from Tennessee (Trey Smith) and the OL from Kentucky (Jedrick Wills)?
Alabama is recruiting both prospects. But I don’t think Jedrick Wills, a 4-star tackle from Lexington, Ky., is strongly considering the Tide right now, even though he included them in his top eight schools a few days ago. I would not pay much attention to him at this time.
Trey Smith, a 4-star tackle from Jackson, Tenn., is a huge Alabama target. Smith grew up a Crimson Tide fan. He visited Tuscaloosa several times, and Alabama will be a factor in his recruitment until he makes a commitment. I’ll learn more about where Alabama stands with him this upcoming week when I travel to Oregon for Nike’s “The Opening” camp.
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.