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5-star LB says people would be shocked to know how high he is on Alabama
KENNEDALE, Texas — Baron Browning is definitely a wanted man by the Alabama staff. You could just tell by looking at what Tide outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi was wearing on the sidelines.
Straight off the jet from Tuscaloosa for Alabama’s game the following night against Southern California, Lupoi graced the Kennedale High School sidelines in a full suit on Friday. He immediately went from Alabama’s charter flight to see one of the team’s top targets at linebacker upon arriving in Dallas.
Lupoi made it in time to see Browning force a fumble on the game’s first play and made sure to stay through halftime, even though the team was set to play in its season opener against the Trojans in less than 24 hours.
Browning, a 5-star linebacker, told SEC Country after his team’s 21-20 win, that he and Lupoi are very close, and that could be one of the reasons why he chooses Alabama, if he does go there.
“I love coach Lupoi,” Browning said. “I know if I go there that I’m going to be in good hands. My dad had a chance to meet him today, and he already likes him. My dad is not an easy man to please. He just knows real from fake.”
Many people in the recruiting industry don’t think Alabama has much of a chance to land Browning when he makes his commitment on Nov. 29, but that’s not necessarily the case. Why, yes, he is strongly considering a bevy of schools including Texas, Ohio State, Southern California, UCLA and others, but Alabama is in the thick of things, too.
The latest word on the street is that Texas is the behind-the-scenes favorite at the moment, but Browning wants to be clear that those reports out there are purely speculative.
“I feel like people think Alabama is lower on my list because I just don’t talk about them,” Browning said. “I don’t really tweet about any school. People would be shocked to know just how high I am on them. That’s just like with Texas with how people think they are my leader, but I’ve never said that. I like them, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve never said they were my leader. People don’t know what tricks I have up my sleeves.”
While those comments could be good news for Alabama, Browning still needs to make it back to Tuscaloosa. He hasn’t visited Alabama in more than a year, but he is planning on being there for a game this fall. He was expected to make the trek to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 26, just three days prior to his commitment, but he did not realize that the Michigan-Ohio State game was the same day as the Iron Bowl. He is in the process of rescheduling the official visit to Alabama, but he isn’t 100 percent sure if that trip is going to happen.
The good news, though, is that he was in attendance for the Tide’s 52-6 rout over the Trojans. Browning was looking forward to seeing how Alabama would respond after losing several key players to the NFL draft, and it responded in a big way. The defense held USC to less than 200 yards and pressured Trojans quarterback Max Browne all night.
The U.S. Army All-American is also aware that several more Tide players will be leaving after this season. The need for linebackers in the Class of 2017 is big, which is why Alabama is planning on signing at least four.
“I’ve talked to Alabama about it, and I know the opportunity is there for me to come in and possibly start if I work hard,” Browning said. “With where he wants me to play, the only player that would be there still is Terrell (Hall).”
Browning was at Texas’ home opener Sunday night. The Longhorns are on the rise, but he knows the Tide are going to be a top program for as long as Nick Saban is there.
“There’s proof in the pudding, and that’s what you look for when you make a commitment,” Browning said.
Why LSU’s loss matters to Alabama recruiting
Let’s not forget that Les Miles was practically fired by LSU last year. After the Tigers’ season-opening loss to Wisconsin, the hot seat talk is here to stay.
LSU showed, once again, that nothing has really changed with its offense. It was anemic. For a team that entered the weekend as a national championship favorite by some, the Tigers are likely going to have to win every game from here on out to make that a possibility. Will they do that? Serious improvement is needed, which makes me believe that it won’t happen.
That’s good news for Alabama on the field in 2016, obviously, and also perhaps 2017, too.
The Tide and Tigers are battling it out for several elite prospects in the 2017 class: 5-star linebacker Dylan Moses, 5-star LSU safety commit JaCoby Stevens, 5-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, 4-star junior college defensive end Isaiah Buggs, 4-star safety Todd Harris, 4-star linebacker Christopher Allen and 4-star LSU defensive tackle commit Tyler Shelvin, 3-star LSU defensive end commit Justin Thomas, 2018 5-star cornerback Kelvin Joseph could potentially be flip candidates down the road.
If LSU does not improve, this will likely be Miles’ final season as the Tigers’ coach. Whenever there is a coaching change, recruiting is severely impacted. Not only is there a head coaching change, but usually staffs are nearly completely overhauled.
As I’ve written several times before, the only way I see Moses, the nation’s No. 1 outside linebacker in 2017, not in an LSU jersey is if Miles is fired. Moses didn’t list LSU as one of his top schools near the end of the college football season last year because of the hot seat talk surrounding Miles. He also told SEC Country that how the administration was treating Miles was wrong.
Moses recently told SEC Country that Alabama is the school that’s recruiting him the hardest. A source close to the team said that the Tide are indeed putting the full-court press on Moses.
The Under Armour All-American did consider Alabama his favorite at one point, and if Miles is out as LSU’s coach down the road, expect Alabama to potentially be the team to beat.
There are several defensive line prospects listed above and all of them are very close to Tigers assistant Ed Orgeron. Is it possible that if LSU decides to part ways with Miles that he gets a promotion? Absolutely. He’s not only one of the top assistant coaches in college football but also one of the top recruiters in the country. He’s also beloved by pretty much every single player that he has coached. If he stays, those players would likely still favor LSU over Alabama. Also, Wilson is not likely signing with Alabama regardless if Miles is fired.
Stevens, like Moses, did have Alabama as his No. 1 school for some time, too. He recently committed to LSU and said Alabama finished in second place. At the time of his commitment, Stevens did say that he would only take one official visit, and that was going to be to LSU. Almost always if a coach is fired, every single commit rethinks their stance with the school. With a player who frequently changed his mind before committing, expect Stevens to give Alabama a hard look once again if Miles is gone.
While it may be time to move on from Miles and start fresh, Alabama could also significantly benefit.
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.