Alabama has now landed its fifth offensive lineman in the Class of 2017, setting up what’s turning out to be Nick Saban’s best offensive line class on paper.
Jedrick Wills, a 4-star offensive tackle from Lafayette High School (Lexington, Ky.), has announced his commitment to Alabama in a video with Bleacher Report. Wills joins 5-star offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood, nation’s No. 1 junior college offensive lineman Elliot Baker, 4-star offensive guard Kendall Randolph and 3-star offensive guard Hunter Brannon in the Crimson Tide’s Class of 2017 group of offensive linemen.
Wills’ interest level in Alabama spiked this summer after spending some time with Leatherwood, one of the Crimson Tide’s best recruiters, at The Opening, Nike’s premier football camp for high school players. Alabama defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley is Wills’ primary recruiter. Ansley’s relationship with Wills dates back to when he was a coach at Kentucky.
Lafayette coach Eric Shaw said Wills’ interest level in Alabama was always there even when it didn’t seem obvious. He did admit that the interest picked up after his star player started to narrow his focus on a few schools, such as Notre Dame, Kentucky, Georgia and Florida.
“Who wouldn’t want to go be a part of a program like that?” Shaw told SEC Country. “He has made some visits there and he really likes the atmosphere there. He likes their tradition of success, so that’s why he’s interested in them. Academically, the school meets his needs, too.”
What kind of player is Alabama getting in Wills? Despite his size, Wills does not like running alongside fellow offensive linemen in sprints at Lafayette. He instead opts to run with the defensive backs and running backs.
“To see this 300-plus pound young man run with little guys and challenging himself to keep up with them really changed the focus and mindset of everyone else on the team,” Shaw said.
The nation’s No. 10 offensive tackle plays on both sides of the ball for Lafayette, and it was a big reason why the school made it to the state championship game in 2015. The plan for Wills when he gets to Alabama is to keep on the offensive side of the ball. That’s where Shaw thinks Wills is best-suited to succeed.
“He’s a very intense, aggressive and violent player on the field,” Shaw said. “The position he plays, you have to be very violent with your hands. He understands that he has a little nastiness to him that helps him be able to dominate every play.
“He’s going to be a great asset for any program.”
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.