Alabama is on the hunt for its seventh straight recruiting championship. Join us here on SEC Country for a daily recap of Alabama recruiting news, insight on what’s happening behind the scenes, and for a glimpse at what’s coming next.
The Najee Harris saga lives another day
The end is near on when and where 5-star running back Najee Harris will play college football in 2017. It surely has been an interesting journey to cover over the past year.
Harris, the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect, will either show up to Tuscaloosa or Ann Arbor as soon as Saturday night after the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He is not expected to make any public decision about where he’ll attend. He’ll just hop on a flight and go to his city of choice.
Harris’ brother, Malachi, made his intentions known on where he hopes Najee attends school.
I want my brother to go to Michigan simple as that. He can be a legend there! https://t.co/E992y3lRuB
— Malachi Harris (@Playboikai24) January 3, 2017
I don’t think anyone truly knows what Harris will do. I also don’t think anyone is going to have an affect on his commitment, just like when Landon Collins made his mother angry on national television by picking Alabama over LSU. Najee is going to do what Najee wants to do.
His brother wants him at Michigan. His trainer has said he wants him at Alabama and another source said he wants him at California. This will all be over by Monday when he’ll enroll in the school of choice.
According to both Alabama and Michigan sources, he has made both coaching staffs feel confident that he’ll be attending their school. For someone who says he doesn’t like the attention his recruitment has cast on him, he sure has everyone’s attention.
For what it’s worth, for the second straight day, Alabama quarterback commit Tua Tagovailoa and Harris have been hanging out with each other all night, per SnapChat videos. Tagovailoa, an early enrollee like Harris, told SEC Country that he believes he’s rooming with the running back when the two get to Tuscaloosa. It’s unclear if he has as good of a relationship with any of the Michigan commits like he does with Tagovailoa. Will that matter, though? Like everything else in Harris’ recruitment, it remains unclear.
Jarez Parks talks Alabama
When it comes to the recruitment of 4-star JACK linebacker prospect Jarez Parks, it has seemed like it has been a matter of when he’ll actually commit to Alabama, not if.
Parks, who is Alabama’s top uncommitted target at JACK, told SEC Country at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl practice on Tuesday that he doesn’t know why people believe the Crimson Tide are the frontrunners for his commitment.
“I don’t know why people keep saying that,” Parks told SEC Country’s Jesse Simonton. “They’re a great school. They’re doing an amazing job recruiting, not only just recruiting me but recruiting my mom and everybody I’m close to in the loop, and that’s definitely a good thing they’re doing right now.”
The reason why so many people believe Alabama is the team to beat is because he nearly committed to the Tide last July during the team’s invite-only cookout. Several team sources have told SEC Country since then that Alabama is the team to beat. Florida State is viewed as Alabama’s biggest competition, with Florida trailing in the third spot.
Alabama has positioned itself nicely with Parks because of outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi, who has spearheaded his recruitment.
“He’s a character, but he’s a really good dude,” Parks said of Lupoi. “You can tell that he has genuine thoughts about my future and whatnot. He does want the program to succeed due to if I did come or whatnot, but you can tell that he has genuine thoughts about me and my future.”
One of the main things that has impressed Parks the most about Lupoi is the coach’s approach when it comes to his recruitment. Lupoi isn’t just concerned about how Parks can fit into Alabama’s defense.
“He’s actually learning about who I am,” Parks said. “He’s learned how to contact me through ways that if I don’t answer my phone, he can still reach other people to get to me. That’s pretty cool.”
The Army All-American doesn’t have a set commitment date. He could decide to announce his decision at any moment, he said. He’ll visit Auburn and Florida this month.
Javon Kinlaw says South Carolina leads
Aubrey Solomon, the 5-star defensive tackle from Lee County High School (Leesburg, Ga.), told SEC Country earlier this week that Alabama has a “huge lead” for his commitment. But it’s not all good news on the defensive line front.
Javon Kinlaw, a 4-star junior college defensive lineman, told SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan that South Carolina leads over Alabama for his commitment.
“It’s because of the communication and the relationships,” he said for why the Gamecocks’ lead.
Now, could Kinlaw saying South Carolina leads be linked to Alabama feeling good about where it stands with Solomon and 4-star defensive end LaBryan Ray? It’s very possible. But, there’s also a possibility that Alabama 4-star defensive tackle commit Akial Byers doesn’t end up in the Tide’s class when signing day rolls around. He has some academic issues to work through and Alabama has heard about his poor performance during Under Armour week against top offensive linemen. I, personally, didn’t see Byers win a single rep in practice down in Orlando last week.
So, if Byers does end up not being in Alabama’s class, the Tide will almost certainly replace him with another defensive lineman because the position is arguably the biggest need in the Class of 2017. That’s when Kinlaw and 4-star defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis come into play.
Right now, it’s unclear if Alabama would take Kinlaw. I was told that Mathis is still a “take” for the Tide.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Follow Chris on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.