Brian Daboll was hired to be Alabama offensive coordinator on Feb. 17. Since then, the Crimson Tide offered six quarterback prospects: Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Dakereon Joyner, Tanner McKee, Matt Corral (committed to Southern Cal), Emory Jones (Ohio State) and Jack Tuttle (Utah).
Scratch one: Four-star dual-threat prospect Thompson-Robinson eliminated the Tide from his list of favorite schools on Tuesday night. He will not consider Alabama moving forward. The main reason why is because of his and his mother’s lack of relationship with Daboll and Tide coach Nick Saban.
“We have had relationships with other schools and their coaches for months now,” Dorian’s mother, Melva Thompson-Robinson, told SEC Country. “Choosing schools is not indicative of issues or problems. At the end of the day, he can only go to one school in Fall 2018, so a lot of schools are not going to be that final choice.”
What Thompson-Robinson touches on is critical in recruiting — relationships. Now, the Alabama staff will get on the road in mid-April to visit quarterbacks around the country when the evaluation period begins. The team will play host to several QBs at its quarterback camp in early June. The staff will get that face time it needs.
The one quarterback in the Class of 2018 who I thought Alabama had a great shot at landing because of a longstanding relationship was Jack West, who is from Saraland (Ala.) High School. West committed to Stanford over Alabama, and is not considering the Tide moving forward. He’s locked in with the Cardinal.
Trevor Lawrence, the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect, is being courted by Alabama but he is locked in with Clemson. Jacob Sirmon, a 5-star prospect, is headed to Washington where his father is a professor. His brother also is committed to the Huskies. Emory Jones actively is recruiting for Ohio State, and so is Matt Corral for USC and Jack Tuttle for Utah; Justin Fields is 100 percent committed to Penn State, he says.
But the biggest issue Alabama will have in the 2018 recruiting class is convincing a top-flight quarterback to sit behind three young, talented players.
Jalen Hurts led the Tide to the national championship game as a freshman. Tua Tagovailoa enters as the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat prospect and an Army All-American. Mac Jones was the starting QB of Team USA in the 19-U game.
If Tagovailoa and Jones both pan out, it’s possible the prospective ’18 quarterback doesn’t play until 2020. That’s contingent on this plan:
- Hurts starts and plays the entire 2017 season; Tagovailoa and Jones both redshirt.
- Hurts starts in 2018 season. Depending on development, Hurts could decide to leave for the NFL. Class of 2018 QB redshirts.
- Hurts/Tagovailoa/Jones plays the 2019 season. Tagovailoa and Jones will be redshirt sophomores. Class of 2018 QB will be a redshirt freshman.
- Tagovailoa and/or Jones will leave for the NFL at the end of the 2019 season. Tagovailoa/Jones starts 2020 season as redshirt junior. Class of 2018 QB will be a redshirt sophomore.
In today’s college football landscape, there’s a 50/50 shot that Jones and/or Tagovailoa will transfer. Exactly 50 percent of the top 50 quarterbacks in each recruiting class from 2011 to 2014 transferred. Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell and Blake Barnett all transferred when it was clear Hurts was Alabama’s quarterback of the future.
The Tide will need to convince an elite quarterback prospect to make the trek to Tuscaloosa this spring or summer and hope he falls in love with Alabama like Tagovailoa did last year. When Tagovailoa and his family visited, Southern California was his leader and proclaimed dream school. The Tide changed his mind on that in a week.
With the way the quarterback dominoes are falling this year, it’s looking like a similar situation is going to need to happen this year.
Even though the depth chart at Alabama is thin with only three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, it’s not ideal for a top recruit because all three are young. Despite the Tide being a top team every single year, it may be a tough sell for Saban and Daboll to convince a top quarterback to commit to Alabama.