We are now less than three months to go until National Signing Day 2017. The day itself shouldn’t be as crazy as 2016’s for Alabama because the majority of the Tide targets will have made their decisions by then.
This class is going to be bigger than the normal 25-man signing class because of the attrition Alabama sustained this past summer and fall. Right now, I have Alabama at 30 signees in the Class of 2017. It’s still a very fluid situation, but 29 or 30 seems like the logical number with the needs Alabama has to fill with its remaining spots. Grayshirts will surely be discussed as signing day gets closer, but it’s way too early for Alabama to discuss that with recruits.
As far as who’s currently committed to Alabama, I don’t expect any of those recruits to flip. That includes Najee Harris, Alex Leatherwood and Tua Tagovailoa — the three recruits I am consistently asked about on almost a daily basis.
With that said, here’s who I think Alabama will sign come Feb. 1, 2017:
* indicates current commit
** indicates commitment who plans on being an early enrollee
** Tua Tagovailoa, 4-star prospect, Honolulu
Tagovailoa was expected to take all five of his official visits this fall, but he’s taken zero. That’s good news for Alabama because it’s the only school he’s visited since this summer. He’s also an early enrollee, so the possibility of taking several visits is highly unlikely. When he committed to the Tide in May, many people who follow recruiting closely believed he would ultimately flip to Southern Cal because of its proximity to his home in Hawaii. That seems virtually impossible now. Tagovailoa is locked in with his commitment.
* Mac Jones, 4-star prospect, Jacksonville, Fla.
Mac Jones flipped his commitment from Kentucky to Alabama this summer and hasn’t looked back since. Like Tagovailoa, Alabama is the only school he’s visited. Jones has also been one of the Tide’s best recruiters. Because of the rules at his high school, Jones can not graduate early.
Running back (2)
** Najee Harris, 5-star prospect, Antioch, Calif.
Seeing Harris on this list will surely make everyone associated with the Alabama football program exuberant. Obviously, the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit has flirted heavily with other schools as of late, most notably Michigan.
Sources close to Alabama and Harris remain optimistic that the best running back prospect in recent memory will sign with Alabama.
** Brian Robinson, 4-star prospect, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Robinson grew up wanting to play for Alabama, and there’s no way he de-commits, unless the Tide part ways from him. I don’t see Alabama doing that, though, considering he lives in Tuscaloosa. But if he doesn’t graduate early, which he is scheduled to do, could he be a possible grayshirt candidate considering the Tide’s depth at the position?
Wide receiver (4)
** Jerry Jeudy, 5-star prospect, Pompano Beach, Fla.
Jeudy committed to Alabama over Florida this summer, and he hasn’t visited any schools since then. He’s very good friends and former teammates with Calvin Ridley and has expressed his desire of wanting to learn under him once again. He’s not flipping.
** Tyrell Shavers, 4-star prospect, Lewisville, Texas
Like many other Alabama commitments, Shavers has shut down his recruitment. He doesn’t talk to coaches from other schools and has zero desire of going anywhere other than Alabama.
Devonta Smith, 4-star prospect, Amite, La.
Ever since he de-committed from Georgia in January, Smith has been Alabama’s to lose. His relationships with assistant director of player personnel Sam Pettito, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, wide receivers coach Billy Napier and freshman defensive back Shyheim Carter give the Tide a giant edge over LSU, Miami and TCU. He’s also been to Alabama more than any other school. That’s astounding considering he lives less than two hours away from Baton Rouge. He’s my second-biggest lock for Alabama. He’ll announce his decision on National Signing Day.
Henry Ruggs, 4-star prospect, Montgomery, Ala.
Ruggs was very easy to read prior to Aug. 1. That was the original date of his commitment ceremony, and he was expected to choose Alabama. Since then, Ruggs has been very quiet with his recruitment. He has a top five of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Penn State. I’ve heard nothing to suggest that Alabama shouldn’t be the choice when he makes his commitment at some point after the season. I’m not extremely confident like I once was, but Alabama still is in good shape with one of the most electrifying prospects I’ve seen in person.
Tight end (2)
** Major Tennison, 3-star prospect, Bullard, Texas
Tennison is Alabama’s most-recent commitment, and his recruitment is already complete. He will not take any additional official visits and will enroll at Alabama in January.
* Kedrick James, 3-star prospect, Waco, Texas
Like Tennison, James has also shut down his recruitment and isn’t taking visits elsewhere.
Offensive line (4)
** Alex Leatherwood, 5-star tackle, Pensacola, Fla.
Leatherwood has done his fair share of flirting with other schools, such as Michigan and Florida, but it would be stunning if he flipped his commitment to either of those schools. The nation’s No. 7 overall recruit was in attendance for the Texas A&M game, and he told SEC Country afterward that his commitment is rock solid.
** Elliot Baker, 4-star tackle, San Francisco
Baker committed to Alabama in the summer, and he canceled his visits elsewhere after doing so. He doesn’t plan on visiting any other schools before enrolling this summer.
* Kendall Randolph, 4-star guard, Madison, Ala.
Randolph has been quiet with his recruitment since committing in August, but he’s been at several Alabama games this fall. Like the majority of the other commitments, Randolph hasn’t visited anywhere other than Tuscaloosa.
** Hunter Brannon, 3-star center, Cullman, Ala.
Brannon dreamed of playing for Alabama, and once he got the offer this summer, he committed on the spot. He has shut down his recruitment.
Defensive line (4)
* Akial Byers, 4-star defensive tackle, Fayetteville, Ark.
Byers is the most silent commitment in Alabama’s class. He previously expressed interest in wanting to take all five of his official visits, but to my understanding, he hasn’t taken any. Alabama coaches were at his high school game the week the Tide played Arkansas. Byers doesn’t do any interviews, so there’s no way of knowing where his head is.
Elijah Conliffe, 4-star defensive tackle, Hampton, Va.
Conliffe was on campus for the Texas A&M game, and Alabama still is the clear leader. He’s my pick for Alabama’s next commitment. A decision is likely coming this month.
Phidarian Mathis, 4-star defensive tackle, Neville, La.
Mathis is mainly considering Alabama and LSU. He previously told SEC Country that Alabama was the team recruiting him the hardest. Alabama has definitely prioritized the Louisiana product, and I don’t think it misses on him considering LSU’s defensive line.
LaBryan Ray, 4-star defensive end, Madison, Ala.
Ray is my biggest lock for Alabama’s class. He’s been to Tuscaloosa countless times and has become extremely comfortable at Alabama. Tennessee is Alabama’s biggest competition, which helps because the Volunteers are turning into a dumpster fire.
** Dylan Moses, 5-star prospect, Bradenton, Fla.
Despite his surprise trip to LSU less than two weeks after his commitment to Alabama on Oct. 2, the staff is not concerned about him flipping to the Tigers.
** VanDarius Cowan, 4-star prospect, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Cowan was kicked off his high school team last week, but the Alabama staff assured him that his spot in this recruiting class is safe. He is planning on taking official visits elsewhere, but his commitment to Alabama is rock solid.
* Markail Benton, 4-star prospect, Phenix City, Ala.
Benton has been at every Alabama home game this season, and his plan moving forward is to be at the rest of the team’s games in Tuscaloosa. His recruitment is over, as he won’t visit other schools and doesn’t talk to any coaches outside of the Tide’s staff.
Christopher Allen, 4-star linebacker, Baton Rouge, La.
It’s either going to be Alabama or LSU for Allen when he decides on National Signing Day. Publicly, Allen says both programs are tied on top in his recruitment. That’s not exactly the case, according to a source close to Allen. It’s Alabama that holds the edge for him. Allen is likely waiting to see what LSU does with its next head coach, if Ed Orgeron isn’t retained.
Jarez Parks, 4-star defensive end, Sebastian, Fla.
Alabama, behind the scenes, has led for his services since the summer. That’s still the case, though publicly, he claims no leaders. I was recently told that Parks will “definitely” be in Alabama’s class.
Defensive back (4)
** Kyriq McDonald, 3-star corner/safety, Madison, Ala.
McDonald has expressed interest in taking some official visits to California, but it seems like those trips are just an opportunity to travel across the country. It would be a complete shock if he flipped his commitment.
* Jhavonte Dean, 3-star cornerback, Brenham, Texas
Dean hasn’t visited any school since he committed to Alabama this summer. Is his commitment to Alabama solid? Yes. I don’t expect him to change his mind, even if former Tide cornerback Kendall Sheffield is his teammate at Blinn College.
Shaun Wade, 5-star cornerback, Jacksonville, Fla.
Wade is currently committed to Ohio State, but I’ve said for months that I think he’ll end up flipping his commitment to Alabama. It’s not a guarantee that he does it, but everything Ohio State has to offer him, Alabama does — and it’s closer to his family.
Todd Harris, 4-star safety, Plaquemine, La.
Harris is considering Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss heavily, but this recruitment should come down to the first two schools mentioned.
LSU was thought of as the favorite for Harris during the summer, but he decided to hold off on committing. The Tigers picked up a commitment from 4-star safety Grant Delpit, then added 5-star safety JaCoby Stevens. That didn’t look like a legitimate possibility until August.
Why does that matter? Harris has said that the depth that LSU has at safety is definitely something that is on his mind. The Tigers’ coaching staff has still recruited Harris, but he feels like it wouldn’t be a giant deal to LSU if he went elsewhere.
“I still feel like I am a top target for (LSU), but if they don’t get me, they do have two solid safety commitments already, so I don’t think they’re too worried,” Harris said.
I’m not too confident in this pick, but Harris is probably the most likely safety target to choose Alabama.
** Chadarius Townsend, 4-star prospect, Tanner, Ala.
Townsend has flirted with Florida hard, but it’s difficult to see him choose any place other than Alabama. It’s been his dream school for the majority of his life. He projects to play either cornerback or wide receiver at Alabama.
* Brandon Ruiz, 3-star kicker, Gilbert, Ariz.
There will be no Eddy Pineiro situation for Alabama this year. Pineiro flipped to Florida late in the process last year, leaving Alabama without a kicker commit. Ruiz’s recruitment is over. He’s not visiting any other schools. Ruiz will likely be penciled in for Alabama’s starting kicker next season.
** Thomas Fletcher, 2-star long snapper, Bradenton, Fla.
Like Ruiz, Fletcher is likely going to start for Alabama next season. He’s the nation’s top long snapper and one of Alabama’s most solid commitments.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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