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.
Shaun Wade likely sticking with Ohio State
For the past several months — dating back to spring of this year — I have said that it was very likely Alabama was going to eventually flip 5-star Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade. Wade was in my most recent mock signing class, but in it, I said that I was no longer confident with the pick.
For the first time, I am no longer projecting Wade to be in Alabama’s Class of 2017. Over the past month, confidence has diminished — despite Wade taking an official visit to Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl. Why is that? That’s not quite clear. There were rumors out there that the staff no longer wanted Wade in its class, but I never bought it. Sources close to the staff told me several times over the past several months that Wade was a top priority.
There were several signs over the past several weeks that showed the staff had conceded the battle to Ohio State.
First, Alabama never conducted an in-home visit with Wade. That’s a telling sign because he is an early enrollee and by the time the contact period starts again, which is on Jan. 12, he would have already enrolled at the school of choice. The staff was expected to visit him last Monday, but the Tide postponed it because Ohio State was visiting him that day.
A source close to Ohio State said it was during that visit from the Buckeyes’ staff where Wade reaffirmed his commitment. It’s very possible that Wade called the Alabama staff after that visit to tell it of the news, but, again, that’s unclear.
Alabama was supposed to visit Wade during his state championship game this past Saturday, but the coaches did not make it to Orlando for the game.
By the looks of it, Alabama conceded Wade to Ohio State after a long, arduous process of trying to get the nation’s No. 3 cornerback to Tuscaloosa. It looked — for a while — like it was going to be an easy pitch. Wade is originally from Montgomery, Ala., lots of his family still lives there, his mother is an Alabama fan and he can get the same football development much closer to home.
But our Ohio State reporter over at Landof10, Jeremy Birmingham, sums it up nicely on why the Buckeyes were going to be hard to beat in the end:
The relationships that (defensive backs coach Kerry) Coombs, Urban Meyer, (offensive coordinator) Tim Beck and others have with the prospect and his family are genuine. I’ve gone back and forth on Wade’s recruitment through the years and the one thing that I keep coming back to is this: he never had to commit to Ohio State two years ago, but he did. He never had to stay committed while he visited other schools repeatedly during the last year, but he did. Ohio State didn’t have to allow it, but they did.
A final decision on what Wade will do is likely coming at some point on Monday, according to his father, Randy Wade. All signs point to Wade keeping true to his almost-two-year pledge to Ohio State.
DeAngelo Gibbs feels wanted by Alabama
DeAngelo Gibbs, a 4-star safety, had one of the best weeks any high school football player can have.
Here are the highlights of Gibbs’ past week: Nick Saban — arguably the greatest coach in college football history — landed a helicopter on Grayson High School’s football field to recruit him, he and his Grayson teammates won a state championship over Roswell in what was one of the most thrilling high school games I’ve seen and he finished off the week on an official visit to Georgia, where I’m sure he was treated like a king.
Not a bad week.
Shortly after winning a state title, Gibbs opened up on where he stands with his recruitment now that it can receive all of his attention until he makes his commitment at the Under Armour All-American game.
Gibbs’ recruitment is shaping up to be an Alabama-Georgia race in the final weeks. After speaking with Saban a few days ago, the message from Alabama is clear.
“We need you. We have to have you. We have to have you on board,” Gibbs said of Saban’s message to him. “It’s a great atmosphere at Alabama. They’re saying everything great at Alabama.”
One of the “great” things the Tide are saying is the opportunity to make an immediate impact. Getting multiple safeties committed in this class was one of Alabama’s main priorities. The Tide picked up a recent commitment from 4-star prospect Daniel Wright at the position, but they are hoping Gibbs joins, too.
The need of versatile defensive backs, in particular, is important for Alabama this year. Eddie Jackson won’t be back next season and it’s likely Marlon Humphrey will declare for the draft. With there being spots open for the taking in the secondary, Saban told Gibbs that if he came in and worked hard, it’s possible he sees the field from Day 1.
“Walk right in and I’m there, pretty much,” Gibbs said as he pointed to the ground as if the job could be his for the taking. “It’s very enticing. At the end of the day, I know what I’m looking for and I know what they are looking for.”
The nation’s No. 3 safety is looking for the best opportunity that helps develop him into the best NFL prospect he can be by the time he leaves school. He said Alabama’s ability to churn out NFL draft picks at defensive back helps the Tide’s cause. He also said his close relationships with the Georgia commits will have zero bearing on his decision.
The 6-foot-2, 204-pound prospect released his final five schools on Sunday night and Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn and Florida all made the cut.
When asked if he thinks he can tell Saban that he’s not going to Alabama, Gibbs was very enlightening with his answer.
“It would be very difficult,” Gibbs said. “I’m sure other recruits have gone through the same thing. Multiple recruits who have gone through the process have had to tell him no. It’s something that Nick Saban rarely hears — no. It would be tough if it comes to that circumstance.
“He was telling me that this opportunity only comes once in a lifetime.”
Commit coming this week?
One of Alabama’s biggest priorities finally visited Tuscaloosa for the first time this past weekend — nation’s No. 1 junior college defensive end Isaiah Buggs. Buggs took an official visit to Alabama, and it’s the last trip he’ll be able to take with the dead period in effect.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast product will announce his commitment Wednesday, which is the first day midyear junior college graduates can sign a national letter of intent to their school of choice. I’ve been told by several sources that Alabama is likely going to be the school Buggs picks.
That’s surely a huge change of events from just two weeks ago. Buggs wasn’t viewed as a serious Alabama target because he had never followed through with visiting Tuscaloosa, even though he said he’d eventually trek there.
But with him following through with his visit this past weekend signified a huge turning point in his recruitment because LSU was viewed as the favorite. Heading into Buggs’ official visit, one source even went as far to say, “Buggs is pretty much a lock” for Alabama.
If Alabama ended up receiving his commitment and signature this Wednesday, it would be a tremendous recruiting victory once again for Saban and Alabama over LSU.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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