Welcome back to SEC Country’s Alabama recruiting mailbag.
It’s a big week for Crimson Tide recruiting, as Alabama is expecting numerous top recruits on campus this weekend and next week for camp. But the most-asked question by readers had nothing to do with a player who is visiting this week.
That’s where we begin with this week’s mailbag.
JaCoby Stevens … still UGA bound?
The confidence level in 5-star safety JaCoby Stevens going anywhere other than Georgia has grown over the last month. Before that time, it looked like Stevens was a lock for the Bulldogs. What changed?
Stevens took a trip to Alabama last month, and shortly after that, he publicly told reporters that Georgia was no longer his leader. Coincidence? Here’s what he told SEC Country about his trip to Tuscaloosa:
“Alabama is a pretty good school. It’s a school that I am definitely considering at this point,” Stevens said. “I can’t really say what Alabama’s chances of getting me are. I can’t say it’s a great or bad chance right now because I need to go back in the lab and compare all of the schools.”
If there’s one thing that fans should know about Stevens, it’s that he’s a workout freak and a perfectionist when it comes to his game. What he liked most about Alabama is that both defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin pointed out things to his game that needed improvement. He liked that.
Stevens recently told another site that Auburn, LSU and Georgia were the schools sticking out the most to him, but that’s not entirely accurate. Alabama is in that group as well, he told SEC Country.
It’s going to be a battle to get Stevens, but Alabama has made up so much ground over the last month and truly has a good chance at getting his commitment. He will make a commitment before the month is over.
Who is the DB most likely to fill Xavier McKinney’s spot?
I don’t think it’s Stevens, although I know everyone reading this is hoping I say his name. I think the most likely defensive back to fill the spot of Xavier McKinney, who just de-committed from Alabama on Thursday, is 3-star Kyriq McDonald.
McDonald plays at James Clemens High School (Madison, Ala.) and has had a fantastic spring and summer that has seen him go from under the radar to a prospect with an Alabama offer. From my talks with him and those close to him, I don’t see him going anywhere other than Alabama. McDonald is also teammates with 4-star defensive end LaBryan Ray and 3-star linebacker Monty Rice, who also could end up at Alabama.
Does Tyler Shelvin’s size scare off Alabama or is he still a top DL target?
Tyler Shelvin, a 5-star LSU defensive tackle commit, showed up to The Opening, Nike’s premier camp for the nation’s top high school football players, weighing 376 pounds. He’s overweight right now, but he still had an excellent performance at The Opening. Shelvin consistently won his reps against a really good offensive line class.
When I previously talked to a source close to the Alabama program, weight was the biggest concern for the staff. He’s gained quite a bit of bad weight this offseason, but once he plays himself back into shape, who knows how good he can be.
With that being said, if I were to guess where he stands on the defensive tackle board, Shelvin would be fourth behind 5-star Marvin Wilson and 4-stars Akial Byers and Aubrey Solomon, who surprisingly committed to Michigan.
Do you know which school leads for McKinney now, and is Alabama still in the mix?
McKinney’s decision to de-commit from Alabama was a big surprise. Last week at The Opening, he spent the majority of his time around other Alabama commits and gave no indication that this was going to happen. It also needs to be said that this was McKinney’s decision only. The staff did not tell him to de-commit.
Last month, McKinney told SEC Country that Clemson and Florida were the schools right behind Alabama. He does not have a public leader at this time, but Clemson looks to be in the best position. His teammate and good friend LeAnthony Williams is committed and his former Roswell High School teammate Tre Lamar is currently a freshman linebacker for the Tigers.
I do not expect Alabama to sign McKinney and I don’t expect him to continue to show interest in the Crimson Tide.
Who do we have the best shot at landing: Trey Smith, Jedrick Wills, Cesar Ruiz or Isaiah Wilson?
Trey Smith is my pick in this group. The 5-star offensive tackle grew up a giant Alabama fan, and he still cheers for the Crimson Tide to this day. Smith admitted that he once wasn’t favoring schools that had depth on the offensive line, but he has altered his stance on that. He now doesn’t care if there’s competition for a starting job.
“They stand pretty high on my list,” Smith said of Alabama. “The Crimson Tide’s process works obviously. They send so many players to the league. Every time I go down there, they show me the left tackle film from Andre Smith to big Cam (Robinson). The film is impressive. Pretty much every left tackle there has been drafted in the first round. Even D.J. Fluker who played right tackle was taken in the first round.”
Alabama has two offensive tackle commits in the 2017 class in 5-star Alex Leatherwood and the nation’s No. 1 junior college offensive lineman Elliot Baker. If Smith joins, this could be one of the best offensive line classes in recent memory.
Quick note on the other offensive linemen listed in the question: Jedrick Wills, a 4-star tackle, will visit Alabama this week. From what I was told last week in Oregon at The Opening, he’s starting to grow fond of Alabama. The same can be said about the nation’s top center, Cesar Ruiz. Ruiz named the Crimson Tide his leader at The Opening, but I don’t know how much stock to put in that just yet. He needs to attend camp to receive a committable offer. Isaiah Wilson, a 5-star tackle from Brooklyn, N.Y., is expected to visit Alabama this week. This is a Michigan and Alabama battle right now, but from what I was told, he wants to play somewhere that offers the quickest path to early playing time. If he changes his mind about that like Smith did, I think Alabama would have a great chance.
Is there any more news on Alabama flipping Shaun Wade or getting other CBs?
There’s no new news in Alabama flipping 5-star Ohio State cornerback commit Shaun Wade. This is going to be a long, drawn out process. I still expect Alabama to flip him when he does make his final decision. Though he says Florida is in the mix, I don’t believe the Gators are a serious player. Wade has the majority of his family living in the Montgomery area, and that’s important to him. His mother is also a big Alabama fan.
There is some news on the Tide getting other cornerbacks, though. Blinn College cornerback Jhavonte Dean is one name to watch. He will be on Alabama’s campus this coming week. I have received confirmation that Dean is a take for the staff, and that’s important because he considers the Crimson Tide his leader.
Dean told me Friday that he doesn’t think a commitment could come when he visits, but a decision is likely happening next month. If this visit goes well for Dean, expect him in Alabama’s class. He has two years of eligibility left.
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.