One of Alabama’s top recruits in the Class of 2016 was dismissed from the program after being on campus for only five months. We begin the weekly mailbag with the recruiting impact that may have on this year’s class.
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 the mailbag next week.
That said, here are the top questions from our readers this week.
Are there any OT recruits that may raise their interest in Alabama due to Charles Baldwin’s dismissal?
For those that missed the big news Thursday, Alabama dismissed offensive tackle Charles Baldwin for a violation of team rules. Baldwin was rated as the nation’s No. 2 junior college player in the Class of 2016. He enrolled at Alabama in January. Baldwin was not expected to get much, if any, playing time this season but the loss of Baldwin opens up another scholarship.
At offensive tackle, Alabama’s main targets are five-star Isaiah Wilson and four-stars Austin Troxell, Trey Smith and Elliot Baker. The Tide also have a commitment from four-star Alex Leatherwood.
The thought before the Baldwin news broke was Alabama would sign four-to-five offensive linemen. My predictions in my first mock signing class included Troxell, Leatherwood and guards Wyatt Davis and Kendall Randolph.
Does this change Alabama’s plans now with how many offensive linemen it plans on signing this class? I don’t know. It’s too early to say. We will find out more information as the dust settles from this.
But to answer your question, I think out of the recruits I named, Baker’s interest may increase because he’s a junior college prospect. There’s always the time factor with JUCO prospects. He may see Baldwin’s dismissal as a chance to move up the depth chart quicker if he was to choose Alabama.
Besides Alabama commit VanDarius Cowan, who else is the team recruiting at outside linebacker?
Five-star Dylan Moses is the headliner out of this group. Alabama offered the nation’s No. 1 outside linebacker when he was in eighth grade. At one point in his recruitment, Moses named Alabama as his leader. He has changed that, and now Texas leads with Alabama trailing right behind. Right now, I think he’ll end up at LSU. He pretty much grew up on that campus and before transferring to IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.). He played his high school ball at University Lab, which is pretty much across the street from Tiger Stadium. If Les Miles is still at LSU next season, I think Moses will be the Tigers. Alabama definitely will not give up, though.
Four-stars Robert Beal and Christopher Allen are also top targets. In the mock signing class I did on Wednesday, I have Alabama signing Allen. Allen has named Alabama his leader since February and that’s significant because he lives in Baton Rouge and most people believe that’s the school he will wind up at when he makes a commitment. Allen has made several visits to Tuscaloosa over the past several months, and that’s always a good sign. When it comes to Beal, Notre Dame — the school he was originally committed to — seems to be trending once again.
Other outside linebacker targets include four-stars Markail Benton and Willie Gay.
Do you think we will lose any of our current commitments?
Yes, I do. I think three-star defensive end Aaron Sterling won’t be a part of Alabama’s class. Georgia has made him a priority, and I just think there are higher-rated recruits that Alabama feels strongly about.
Then there’s five-star running back Najee Harris. I really have no clue what Harris is going to do at this point. He could stick with Alabama, butgoing elsewhere remains a possibility. He’s going to continue to take visits to other schools and welcome other coaches courting him for their programs. In every interview he does, he says he’s 100 percent committed. Sometimes, that really doesn’t matter. Keeping Harris on board is going to be a dogfight, but it’s a fight Alabama is willing to get in the cage for.
At this time, those are the only two commitments that I can see flipping.
What’s the deal with Nico Collins?
Collins told a reporter earlier this week that Michigan was “probably” his leader, which led to that publication running with that by calling the Wolverines his official leader. That’s not the case. He doesn’t have a top school right now.
But what looked to be a lock for Alabama several months ago doesn’t look so certain anymore. Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and Clemson are all in the mix, but the out of state schools are definitely trending here. Collins visited Georgia for its spring game and came away from that impressed with freshman quarterback Jacob Eason.
Alabama has lost some ground here, but the Tide will be in it until the end. Collins is one of the team’s main wide receiver targets along with Devonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and Jeff Thomas.
What impact do you think Karl Dunbar will have on recruiting?
Karl Dunbar has what a lot of college assistants don’t have — double-digit years of NFL coaching experience. Almost every single recruit has dreams of playing in the NFL after their college experience is over. Dunbar knows what it takes to get to the NFL and how players can hone their skills to get to that level. Recruits want to hear about how you are going to prepare them for a possible future career in the NFL, and Dunbar can show every recruit his resume.
There is one potential negative with the hire — he hasn’t recruited for a school in 11 years since he was LSU’s defensive line coach. Recruiting has drastically changed since then. We won’t know how good of a recruiter Dunbar is for quite some time.
The defensive line is a huge focus for Alabama this class, so we will see if Dunbar is able to help the Tide land some of its major targets such as five-stars Marvin Wilson and Tyler Shelvin and four-stars LaBryan Ray and Ryan Johnson.
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.