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The most important remaining targets for Alabama
Alabama already has 25 commitments in the Class of 2017, so barring any de-commitments and possible gray or blue shirts, the remaining spots are limited. With that being said, here are the most important recruits, in my opinion, on Alabama’s wish list this holiday season.
1A) Aubrey Solomon, 5-star DT (Leesburg, Ga.) — Solomon is the nation’s No. 2 defensive tackle in the Class of 2017, but you can definitely make the case that he could be No. 1. Each time I’ve seen Solomon play, he’s been in the backfield. He’s been Alabama’s top defensive tackle target for pretty much the entire year. With the Tide needing several elite defensive linemen in this class, you better believe Alabama is doing everything it can to get Solomon on board. I’ve been told that Alabama is slightly ahead of Georgia at this time, but Solomon may be the leader in the 2017 class as far as being all over the place when it comes to his recruitment.
1B) LaBryan Ray, 4-star DE (Madison, Ala.) — It’s hard to say Solomon is more important than Ray and vice versa, that’s why I have them listed as 1A and 1B. Ray has been Alabama’s top priority in-state since he received his offer earlier this year. Again, Alabama’s depth on the defensive line isn’t deep in 2017. Signing Ray would help that. I believe Solomon and Ray could make their way into the rotation next season if they committed.
3) Henry Ruggs III, 4-star WR (Montgomery, Ala.) — Out of all the players I’ve seen compete this year, there may not be a more explosive prospect than Henry Ruggs III. Based on he eye-test alone, there wasn’t a faster player I’ve seen in pads. Alabama only has two wide receivers committed in the class, but the Tide would love to add Ruggs. He has can’t-miss potential written all over him.
4) DeAngelo Gibbs, 4-star S (Loganville, Ga.) — A source close to Alabama recently told SEC Country that it’s very possible the team doesn’t sign any true cover cornerbacks in this class — instead focusing on safeties who could play multiple positions. Gibbs fits that mold with his size. He’ll make his commitment known on Jan. 1. I like where Alabama stands with him right now, but it’s a close race with Georgia.
5) Jarez Parks, 4-star LB (Sebastian, Fla.) — Parks has looked like a near lock for Alabama’s class since July. Nothing has changed on that front. He rarely speaks with the media — and it’s unclear when he’ll announce a decision — but I expect him to be a part of the Crimson Tide. Alabama is recruiting him at JACK, which is a hybrid of defensive end and outside linebacker. Christopher Allen, who is committed, also plays JACK. Getting Parks and Allen in the same class would be a massive haul.
6) DeVonta Smith, 4-star WR (Amite, La.) — One of the smoothest route runners in the Class of 2017, Smith has been a priority for Alabama since January after he de-committed from Georgia. It looked like he was going to announce a commitment to Alabama this August, but he ultimately delayed a decision until National Signing Day. Because numbers are so tight and depending on how things shape out, there’s a possibility that there just isn’t space for four wide receivers — that’s dependent on Ruggs committing, which I think he will. But, I just can’t see how you pass on someone with Smith’s talent. I have a feeling Alabama will find the room to add him if he wants in. LSU is hot on Alabama’s tail, though.
7) Javon Kinlaw, 4-star DT (Goose Creek, S.C.) — Alabama was quickly viewed as the favorite for the junior college defensive lineman after he de-committed from South Carolina. But will there be room for him if Solomon and Ray commit to Alabama? That would be four defensive linemen in Solomon, Ray, JUCO signee Isaiah Buggs and 4-star defensive tackle Akial Byers. Byers has some academic work to complete before getting to Alabama, so it’s possible he could become an academic casualty.
8) Phidarian Mathis, 4-star DT (Neville, La.) — Even after Alabama’s addition of Buggs, Mathis remains a possible addition for the Tide. It’s a two-team race for his commitment with LSU being the other team in the mix. The only reason why Kinlaw is ahead of Mathis on this list is because I think the former has a better chance of playing immediately than the latter.
These are the recruits where Alabama will have to miss on some of the players above, more spots open in the class or some unexpected de-commitments happen.
Ryan Johnson, 4-star DE (Mobile, Ala.) — Over the summer, it looked like Johnson was favoring Alabama over Auburn. The board has completely changed since then. Kinlaw and Mathis were not considered priority targets. Buggs looked like a longshot to end up in Alabama’s class. Johnson has been passed on the board.
Nico Collins, 4-star WR (Pinson, Ala.) — Collins is still one of the three main wide receiver targets Alabama is after, but the Tide have a similar player already committed in the class in Tyrell Shavers. Missing out on Collins wouldn’t be a huge blow because of that.
Chris Henderson, 4-star CB (Miami) — For the reasons mentioned above, Alabama isn’t so sure if it wants to add a cornerback in this class, but the team is still going to recruit the position. Henderson will visit Tuscaloosa on Jan. 13.
Elijah Conliffe, 4-star DT (Hampton, Va.) — There was a time where it looked very likely Conliffe was going to be a part of Alabama’s class. That time has passed as new names have emerged. He missed his chance to commit. He’ll now have to wait if he wants to play at Alabama.
Tariq Castro-Fields, 4-star CB (Upper Marlboro, Md.) — Castro-Fields isn’t a likely addition even if Alabama decides to add another defensive back, a source said.
Anthony McFarland, 4-star RB (Hyattsville, Md.) — The only way McFarland ends up in Alabama’s class is if 5-star running back Najee Harris flips his commitment. It doesn’t look like that’s happening as of now.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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