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.
State’s top prospect nowhere near decision
Alabama landing 4-star linebacker Markail Benton over Auburn was a big recruiting win, but it may prove to be more fruitful than just that.
Benton is teammates at Central High School (Phenix City, Ala.) with 2018 4-star wide receiver Justyn Ross. Ross is the No. 1 player in the state of Alabama in the Class of 2018 and one of the Crimson Tide’s top targets.
When Benton was uncommitted and seeing which school was going to fit him best, Ross accompanied him on almost every trip. Benton has said that he doesn’t plan on taking other visits other than to Tuscaloosa, so Ross may need a new partner to go on trips elsewhere.
Ross joked that he’s on the hunt for a new travel partner.
“I really don’t know who I’m going to bring,” Ross told SEC Country. “I might just have to go by myself.”
When Benton committed to Alabama, he quickly told SEC Country that his main target for who he wanted to join him in Tuscaloosa was Ross. The two are extremely close. It’s one of the reasons why sources believe Alabama is the favorite to land Ross when he makes his decision.
“Markail and I are like brothers,” Ross said. “We are always with each other. Like on recruiting trips, Markail and I always go together, so that’s why I believe people think that I will follow behind Markail with my decision.
“Markail knows at the end of the day I’m going to make my own decision, so he really hasn’t been in my ear as much, but I know that he wants me to join him in Tuscaloosa.”
There’s no timeline for Ross to make a decision. He’s taking it slowly because his mother is currently deployed in Kuwait with the National Guard. She won’t return to the United States until 2017, so he hasn’t put too much thought into which schools he’s strongly considering at this point.
“By the time she comes back, I should have my mind made up about my top schools,” Ross said.
Expect Alabama and Auburn to be two finalists when that time comes for Ross to release his top two schools.
Stevens says his recruitment is over, but is it?
JaCoby Stevens committed to LSU on Monday, but Alabama was at the top at one point in his recruitment.
Stevens, a 5-star safety from Oakland High School (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), told our own Jeff Sentell, who was on the scene for the nation’s No. 2 safety’s commitment ceremony, that the Crimson Tide led for two weeks before the Tigers took the lead for good.
“They were just preaching to me that Saban is the guy that taught all these (coaches) from Georgia and the guys at Alabama now, so why not go to the primary guy?” Stevens said. “It made sense to me, so that’s why I did like Alabama.
“The thing they showed me with Saban is that you have guys like Mark Barron and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix. They showed me meal plans and how they are going to take care of me off the field and in the classroom. I liked it.”
LSU beat out Alabama mainly because it was Stevens’ “first love,” as he described it. He didn’t visit Baton Rouge this summer, but a trip there this past spring was key. That trip to LSU was the standard that every other school needed to beat.
“It was finalized when I visited LSU during the spring,” Stevens told SEC Country. “I got the feeling that I thought I could commit. I didn’t want to admit it, so I kept going on visits. LSU was always that dark horse, though. That spring visit was the secret. The thing people knew is that I was there, but they didn’t know it had that sort of effect.”
As I’ve mentioned previously, Stevens’ mind has changed quite frequently throughout his recruitment. He committed to LSU before, de-committed and re-committed. He was silently committed to Georgia for a few months and had Alabama on top, too.
He says he’s only taking one official visit this fall though, and that’s to LSU.
“I feel like I don’t need to take any more official visits because I feel like this is the right choice for me,” Stevens said. “I don’t need people to try to persuade me otherwise. They all had their chance when I de-committed my junior year.”
Will Stevens keep to that mindset? That remains to be seen. Alabama linebacker commit VanDarius Cowan said something similar to Stevens and now he’s taking all five official visits, so it’s possible Stevens changes his mind down the road.
Byers to take all five official visits
Talking about official visits, Alabama 4-star defensive tackle commit Akial Byers took to Twitter Monday night to announce that he’ll be taking all five official visits.
When he committed to Alabama in June, Byers’ other top schools included Ohio State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Oklahoma.
Byers is silent when it comes to his recruitment, so his status with the Crimson Tide is unknown.
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.