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.
Byers pledges to Tide; updated look at DL board
If you read this notebook on Saturday, you were not surprised to see 4-star defensive tackle Akial Byers commit to Alabama on Sunday night. Byers became Alabama’s first interior lineman commit in the Class of 2017.
Byers is one of the Crimson Tide’s top defensive tackle targets, but Alabama is not done recruiting elite linemen. Alabama still has its eyes on several defensive tackles such as 5-star Marvin Wilson, 5-star Tyler Shelvin (LSU commit), 4-star Aubrey Solomon (Michigan commit) and 3-star Neil Farrell. At defensive end, the Crimson Tide’s top targets are 4-star LaBryan Ray, 4-star junior college prospect Isaiah Buggs, 4-star Ryan Johnson and 3-star Justin Thomas. Alabama does have a commitment from 3-star prospect Aaron Sterling, but I don’t think he will end up with the Crimson Tide come National Signing Day.
Ray and Thomas are the most likely prospects to join in this group. Wilson and Johnson remain question marks, although there is a good chance those guys are committed to Alabama come National Signing Day.
More commits coming this week?
Alabama will have its biggest recruiting week for the rest of the summer as the Crimson Tide hosts loads of blue-chip prospects for Nick Saban’s camp. The majority of Alabama’s top targets will be on campus at some point this week, and that could lead way to several more commitments by the time the weekend gets here.
Here are the prospects most likely to commit by the time the week is over. It’s in order of who’s most likely to pull the trigger:
3-star TE Major Tennison (Bullard, Texas)
2018 4-star WR Mark Pope (Hialeah, Fla.)
JUCO CB Jhavonte Dean (Blinn College)
4-star OT Kendall Randolph (Madison, Ala.)
4-star S Hamsah Nasirildeen (Concord, N.C.)
Tennison de-committed from Texas on July 15, and that came as no surprise. Tennison has emerged as the team’s top target at tight end over the last month and a commitment to Alabama should happen before he departs Tuscaloosa at the end of the week.
Pope has told SEC Country that he is likely to make a summer commitment and choose between Florida and Alabama. He has also said that Alabama leads for him. Because he’s going to be on campus and in the presence of coaches, it’s very possible he makes his commitment this week.
Dean has emerged as a potential cornerback for Alabama recently. He caught the eye of the Tide staff during a satellite camp at TCU in June, and he visited Tuscaloosa shortly after that. He put up a blistering 40-yard dash time of 4.3 seconds in front of defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley on that visit and received an offer at that time. Alabama is the perceived favorite to land him when he makes a commitment. He has told SEC Country that he wants to wait until August to decide, but if everything goes well, he could get it over with.
Randolph is expected to make a commitment before his senior season begins, and Alabama is considered the overwhelming favorite. He is the brother of former Alabama basketball standout Levi Randolph. Kendall has always said that Alabama is near the top of his list, but he has never gone to the point of actually naming the Crimson Tide his leader. There’s really no secret though of which school he is leaning toward.
Nasirildeen has said he usually goes back-and-forth on who his leader is between Alabama, Florida and South Carolina. The Crimson Tide are in good position for Nasirildeen as he makes his second trip to Tuscaloosa this offseason. I don’t think a commitment is coming this week mainly because he’s going to visit Florida on Friday for its prospect camp. I think he’ll want to check out Gainesville before making a decision.
Multiple 5-star prospects on campus this week
Around 50 4- and 5-star prospects will be in Tuscaloosa to hang out and compete.
Here are the 5-star prospects expected at Alabama:
COMMIT: Alex Leatherwood, offensive tackle (Pensacola, Fla.)
Tyjon Lindsey, wide receiver (Centennial, Calif.)
Chase Young, outside linebacker (Hyattsville, Md.)
D’Andre Swift, running back (Philadelphia)
Terrace Marshall, 2018 wide receiver (Bossier City, La.)
Kelvin Joseph, 2018 LSU cornerback commit (Baton Rouge, La.)
Zack Kuntz, 2018 tight end (Camp Hill, Penn.)
Lorenzo Lingard, 2018 running back (Orange City, Fla.)
Lindsey is a strong Ohio State lean with his good friend Tate Martell, a 5-star QB, being committed there. It would be a big surprise if Lindsey went anywhere other than Ohio State. He did tell reporters Saturday after his Auburn visit that the Tigers would be in his top three if he had one. That’s most likely the best position Alabama can finish.
Swift, the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose back, is believed to be favoring Georgia right now. Anthony McFarland, a 4-star all-purpose back, named Alabama his top school last week at The Opening.
Young, like Lindsey, is believed to be favoring Ohio State at this time. The Alabama staff believes it can get in the mix with a fantastic visit. Though he’s listed at defensive end, the Crimson Tide is recruiting him at JACK, which is a hybrid of outside linebacker and defensive end.
It’s always good getting several younger 5-star prospects on campus. Both Marshall and Joseph have expressed interest in Alabama in previous interviews.
Here’s Lindsey on campus Sunday:
— Tyjon A. Lindsey ® (@tyjonlindsey) July 18, 2016
More prospects to keep an eye on
There are tons of prospects that are visiting Alabama this week, but frankly, not all of them are going to end up with the Crimson Tide. A lot of these prospects that visit for camp are hoping the staff recognizes them with the hopes of getting an offer.
But there are several more big names that Alabama fans should get familiar with. Here they are:
4-star LB Markail Benton (Phenix City, Ala.)
4-star LB VanDarius Cowan (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.)
4-star QB Mac Jones (Jacksonville, Fla.)
2019 ATH Trey Sanders (Port Saint Joe, Fla.)
4-star WR Henry Ruggs (Montgomery, Ala.) — committing Aug. 1. Strong Alabama lean.
4-star LB Christopher Allen (Baton Rouge, La.)
4-star DE Jarez Parks (Sebastian, Fla.)
4-star OT Jedrick Wills (Lexington, Ky.)
Junior college DL reacts to Alabama offer
Emmit Gooden was one of the top defensive linemen recruits in the Class of 2016. He listed Alabama as one of his finalists before committing to Mississippi State. I recall talking to someone close to the program before National Signing Day, and he told me that Gooden was not a take at the time.
Gooden has since enrolled at Independence Community College to work on his academics and is now a part of the 2018 class. He remains “committed” to Mississippi State, although because he didn’t qualify, he is not bound to the Bulldogs. He just considers himself a commit.
He was one of the visitors Alabama hosted Sunday, and the Crimson Tide extended a scholarship offer.
“It means whenever I’m done with junior college, I have a place to call home,” Gooden told SEC Country of his offer. “They know what type of ball I can play. They just want me to take care of business in junior college.”
Gooden is rated as the nation’s No. 1 overall junior college prospect in the Class of 2018. He is definitely one to watch moving forward.
— TheRealEmmitG (@What_A_Star5) July 17, 2016
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.