Alabama was dealt another blow to its quarterback big board Sunday afternoon. One more main target chose a school not named Alabama.
Bailey Hockman, a four-star lefty from McEachern High School (Powder Springs, Ga.), committed to Florida State over Alabama and North Carolina. Hockman was one of two quarterbacks that Alabama was seriously considering to fill the void of Jake Fromm after he de-committed and chose Georgia last month.
The other quarterback Alabama is after is Hawaiian standout Tua Tagovailoa from St. Louis School in Honolulu, the same school Marcus Mariota shined at when he was a college prospect.
There’s a reason to be concerned about Tagovailoa, though, if you’re a Crimson Tide fan. He lives over 4,000 miles away from Bryant-Denny Stadium. It’s also not easy to just make a weekend trip from Honolulu to Tuscaloosa as it is for him to visit Southern Cal, a school that Tagovailoa has labeled his “dream school.” The Trojans also can be considered the Crimson Tide’s biggest competition at this time.
That means when he does visit, whether it be for an unofficial visit this summer or in an official capacity this fall, the time he spends on campus will be of the utmost importance because he doesn’t have the luxury of visiting whenever he wants.
Tagovailoa named Alabama in his top eight, and the nation’s No. 2 dual-threat quarterback is high on Alabama for a very important reason — Nick Saban’s religious beliefs. The school Tagovailoa chooses has to have a coach that is on the same level spiritually as him.
“Coach Saban has talked to us and his beliefs are God first before anything,” Tagovailoa told SEC Country. “Every school is going to have good academics. Every school is going to have good football. But when you have a coach like Saban, who believes in God and is a defending champion, that makes it even more special.”
It should be noted that during the same interview, Tagovailoa said Southern Cal was his leader, but it was clear Alabama had made a dent in his recruitment.
“You have to realize that (Hawaiian prospects) usually only get offers from West Coast schools, and you just come to expect that,” Tagovailoa said. “But with something like Alabama, knowing that I am so far out of their boundaries, it’s kind of crazy. When I got offered, it was something really big for me and our school.”
If Alabama misses out on Tagovailoa, there are other options for the Crimson Tide.
Lowell Narcisse, a four-star prospect from St. James (La.) High School, is the only other quarterback left in the Class of 2017 that remains uncommitted and holds an offer from Alabama. Narcisse, who originally was committed to Auburn before backing off his pledge, was high on the Crimson Tide before choosing the Tigers. But if Alabama wants to get back in the race for Narcisse, it has some work to do, as LSU and Auburn are believed the perceived favorites.
Several other 2017 quarterbacks have visited over the last month but likely will have to attend camp at Alabama in order to receive an offer.
Jack Walker, three-star, Madison, Miss. — Visited Alabama more than a year ago. His biggest offer is from Miami.
Taylor Powell, three-star, Fayetteville, Ark. — Visited Alabama March 11. He holds an SEC offer from Vanderbilt.
Jacob Free, three-star, Brantley, Ala. — Visited last week and holds an offer from Louisville.
Sixteen of the top 20 pro-style quarterbacks are already committed to schools and seven of the top 10 dual-threat QBs in 2017 have pledged to their school of choice. There are slim pickings for Alabama, but a quarterback could emerge over the next several months as we head into summer.
Getting a commitment from a quarterback in this class is important for depth chart purposes not necessarily in 2017, but in 2018. It’s rare that a quarterback in the SEC plays as a true freshman, so let’s look at what the depth chart could look like in 2018.
David Cornwell: redshirt senior (pending NFL draft decision)
Blake Barnett: senior (pending NFL draft decision)
Jalen Hurts: junior
2017 commit: sophomore or redshirt freshman
2018 commit(s): true freshman
Recruiting is all about building for the future of the program, and that’s why landing a top-flight quarterback in this year’s class is so important for Alabama and why Tagovailoa, the Tide’s top QB target, is going to be treated like a king by Saban and his staff when he makes it to the mainland.
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.