BEAVERTON, Ore. — 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.
Why Alabama regained its footing with 5-star DT Marvin Wilson
Shortly after news broke back in April that Bo Davis, Alabama’s former defensive line coach, had to resign because of alleged recruiting violations, Marvin Wilson, the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle, tweeted he was no longer considering the Crimson Tide. Things have changed in a positive direction for Alabama since then.
The main reason why Alabama is “really high” on Wilson’s list of favorite schools which include, most notably, Florida State and LSU is because of his relationship with two of the Crimson Tide’s top commits.
“(Five-star offensive tackle) Alex Leatherwood and (four-star linebacker) VanDarius Cowan are very close friends of mine, and they helped Alabama get back into it,” Wilson told SEC Country. “They have been telling me to just all get together and win a national championship.”
Leatherwood and Cowan have helped Alabama gain several commitments from the nation’s top players in 2017, such as 4-star quarterback Mac Jones, nation’s No. 1 junior college offensive tackle Elliot Baker and 4-star linebacker Markail Benton. Can the duo help secure one of the Crimson Tide’s biggest targets?
Wilson will make his decision on National Signing Day, and I do like Alabama’s chances here. New defensive line coach Karl Dunbar has some work to do to form a strong relationship with Wilson but there’s still several months to go until signing day.
“It’s still really basic right now,” Wilson said of his relationship with Dunbar. “I’m still learning about him right now and just starting to get to know him.”
Just how high is Wilson on Alabama?
I had a chance Saturday to catch up with the aforementioned Cowan. If there’s one thing Alabama fans need to know about the Crimson Tide commit, it’s that he’s very outspoken and will say whatever is on his mind.
Cowan has had his recruiter hat on this week and one of his main targets is Wilson. Cowan believes Alabama is on top for the nation’s top defensive tackle.
“I think we’re his No. 1 school,” Cowan told SEC Country. “I just think he’s trying to enjoy his recruitment and announce on National Signing Day. He knows we need d-linemen and he knows he wants to play with the best. Every time I say something to him, he just smiles and says, ‘Roll Tide.’ ”
Cowan’s message to Wilson is straightforward — and he thinks the 5-star talent is receptive to what he’s saying.
“I’m telling him if he wants to play with the best, come play with the best,” Cowan said. “You know my saying, “Savages want to play with savages,” so we’re trying to have a real life goon join the savages.”
McFarland loving constant communication with Saban
The nation’s No. 4 all-purpose running back Anthony McFarland, Jr. hears from Nick Saban more than any other Alabama staff member.
McFarland said if he had to name a leader right now, it would be Alabama. Saban’s influence in McFarland’s recruitment is one of the main reasons for why that is.
“It’s been really cool talking to Coach Saban every once in a while,” McFarland told SEC Country. “Usually, you talk to the position coaches once in a while. I feel like I’m talking to Saban more than anyone else on staff. That’s a great thing to me. I’m loving that. He’s one of the best football coaches ever. It’s great getting that knowledge from him.”
Though Alabama has two other running back commits in the Class of 2017, 5-star talent Najee Harris and 4-star prospect Brian Robinson, McFarland would provide a different change of pace from those two backs. That’s why he’s not concerned with the depth chart at Alabama.
“I don’t get into stuff like that because I’m a versatile player,” McFarland said. “I can play any position on the offense — slot receiver, even tight end if they need me — I can do anything.”
Miami and Maryland are the two schools that are Alabama’s biggest competition for the DeMatha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, Md.) star. But on his most recent trip to Tuscaloosa, which was last month, McFarland saw a side to the school that many on the outside don’t see.
“The family vibe I got there was great,” McFarland said. “People see it as a football factory but I went down there and vibed with the coaches and players. Every time I go down there, it’s all family. I’m talking to Nick Saban once every week. I was hanging with Reuben Foster a lot and Trevon Diggs when I went down there.”
McFarland plans to take all five official visits before making a commitment. He will take an official visit to Alabama for the Iron Bowl in late November.
Dylan Moses not likely to end up at Alabama
Moses told SEC Country on Saturday that he’s ‘iffy’ about Alabama because of the amount of linebacker commits the team has in 2017 (VanDarius Cowan, Markail Benton and Gary Johnson are committed.)
“Alabama is great,” Moses said. “I saw that they got two more commitments (Benton and Cowan). It kind of has me a little iffy about it because I don’t really know how I fit inside that. I’m still trying to look at that.
“They keep telling me that they have room for me, but just looking at it, all of the linebackers they have there now — and with two more (recent) linebacker commits — they’re probably going to get some more. I’m trying to think about it.”
If Moses is worried about playing time and depth charts, it’s highly unlikely he’s going to choose a school that had two 5-star linebacker commits in 2016 and one that already has three commitments in 2017. The plan is for Alabama to sign at least four linebackers in 2017.
Though Moses once considered Alabama his leader, it looks like a longshot for him to end up in this class, especially if he holds on to the mindset of not necessarily wanting to compete for a starting spot.
Elite safety to officially visit Alabama
Devon Hunter, a 4-star safety from Indian River High School (Chesapeake, Va.), told SEC Country that he will take an official visit to Alabama.
Ignont officially done with Alabama
Will Ignont, a 4-star linebacker from Buckhorn High School (New Market, Ala.), was once silently committed to Alabama. He backed off of that a few weeks ago after learning that there was no space for him at the time.
He told SEC Country that he’s no longer holding out hope for the Crimson Tide.
“They are not in the picture anymore,” Ignont said.
Ignont is now focusing on Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Florida State and UCLA.
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.