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Sterling says two other schools pursuing stronger than Alabama
Aaron Sterling is 90 to 95 percent committed to Alabama. The remaining percentage points are because he wants to keep an open mind to make sure Alabama is the school he wants to attend.
He remains strongly committed to the Crimson Tide despite Tennessee and South Carolina pursuing harder for his commitment. The Tide staff talks to Sterling around once a week while the Gamecocks’ and Volunteers’ staff communicate with him almost daily.
From the sounds of it, it’s the Gamecocks appear to be in the best position to flip Sterling. Will Muschamp told Sterling that he was going to do whatever it took to watch his game on TV.
The 3-star defensive end from Tucker (Ga.) High School was very excited to talk about South Carolina.
“They have a really good coaching staff,” Sterling told SEC Country. “They are really honest with me. They are very straight to the point with me when it comes to my recruitment. They’re just really cool. I can talk to them about anything. That’s the type of relationship I have with them.”
Alabama needs defensive linemen in the Class of 2017. It’s arguably the Tide’s biggest priority. So I would not expect Sterling to just get pushed out of the class, especially with there just not being many elite linemen this year.
Outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi wants Sterling to play outside linebacker if he sticks with his commitment. Defensive line coach Karl Dunbar wants him to play defensive end. It sounds like Sterling would be a JACK linebacker at Alabama.
Dunbar isn’t Sterling’s primary recruiter, but the two have been working on building a relationship. About a month after Dunbar had been hired by Alabama, the commit and the new coach had barely spoken.
“Our relationship is much better now,” Sterling said. “He texted me earlier this week saying to have a good season and to have a good game (Saturday). He just wanted to make sure everything was going well at home, too. He has a really good personality. He can joke around with you. He’s just a very cool coach.”
What’s interesting about Sterling’s recruitment at this point is Georgia has backed off almost completely. When asked which other schools he was considering, Sterling only said South Carolina and Tennessee. He said Georgia now only checks in with him once every two weeks, which is a big change from almost the daily communication he was getting from the Bulldogs a few months ago.
“They used to hit me up often but now I guess the season is about to start so everyone is busy,” Sterling said. “They haven’t been hitting me up like they were.”
This is the part of the story that makes me believe that Sterling’s status with Alabama is much less than the 90 to 95 percent level he said. South Carolina and Tennessee are definitely going to get an official visit from him. The school he’s committed to may receive one. It would be one thing if he’s been to Tuscaloosa a lot and just wants to experience something new, but he hasn’t.
He has heard the rumors of him not ending up in Alabama’s recruiting class when National Signing Day rolls around. When asked about his thoughts on that, Sterling didn’t say anything that should make fans who want to see him remain in the class feel any better.
“We’ll just have to wait and find out,” Sterling said with a smile. “That’s really it.”
What Smith’s delay means for Alabama
Alabama looked like it was ready to pick up a commitment this past Monday from one of the nation’s best wide receivers. But then Southern Louisiana went under water in a devastating flood causing thousands of people in the state to lose their possessions.
That tragedy caused Devonta Smith, a 4-star prospect from Amite (La.) High School, to hit the brakes on his college choice. He didn’t just hit the brakes on his commitment, he made sure they screeched.
Smith now won’t announce his commitment until signing day. That’s a giant change from what was supposed to happen on Monday. Smith also swears he had no idea which school he was going to pick if he ended up making his decision at the time. Sources close to the situation maintain that Alabama was likely going to be the choice.
The Army All-American said he was so unsure of his decision that he was just going to go with his gut once he sat down at the table if he had committed.
“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Smith explained to SEC Country’s Sam Spiegelman. “The main reason I pushed it back was due to all the flooding and the tragedy that’s happening. Right now, I’m not worried about the recruitment. The season is coming and I have all the way to February. I have a lot of time, so I don’t have to rush anything.
Alabama will wait as long as it takes for Smith. His decision to wait until signing day affects nothing when it comes to whether or not they’ll take someone over him. But his decision to wait until February is good news for everyone other than the Tide.
Like I said, all signs were pointing toward him committing to Alabama. Now, Miami and LSU, his two other finalists, get almost six months to push Smith toward their respective school.
He will take official visits to Southern California, Notre Dame, Miami and Nebraska. LSU and Alabama are not going to get visits because he can travel to both those schools whenever he wants.
All of the schools recruiting him told Smith they respected his decision to wait until February to make his commitment.
“Those teams really want me and they’re not going to rush me to do anything,” Smith said. “I’ll take my visits during the season, but I won’t be talking to coaches all through the night like I was last year. The coaches can text me, but it’s up to me if I want to talk to not. If I don’t want to talk because I have to get rest for the next day, then that’s on me. It’s my cellular device and I can do what I want with it.”
I still expect Alabama to land him when he makes his decision in February. Once again, he’s great friends with Tide freshman defensive back Shyheim Carter and has a great relationship with Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and assistant director of player personnel Sam Petitto has been in his life for much of his childhood.
Note on elite WR who visited this weekend
You may have seen on Twitter this weekend that one of the best wide receivers in the Class of 2017, James Robinson, was visiting Alabama for the team’s scrimmage.
Robinson, the nation’s No. 9 wide receiver from Lakeland (Fla.) High School, has multiple red flags off the field which has made several top programs stop recruiting him entirely. He had a top two of Clemson and Florida several months ago. The Tigers have pretty much ended their recruitment of him and he’s not believed to be a take for the Gators.
The majority of the top teams who have offered have entered wait-and-see mode with Robinson to see if he improves off of the field. With the Tide still being in good position for 4-star wide receivers Henry Ruggs III and Devonta Smith, I do not believe Alabama is strongly pursuing Robinson at this time.
New offer out for the Tide
Jarell Cherry, a 2018 4-star defensive end from David W. Carter High School (Dallas), has picked up an offer from Alabama.
Cherry visited Tuscaloosa this summer for one of the Tide’s camps and was one of the top standouts. He is rated as the nation’s No. 8 weakside defensive end in the Class of 2018.
“I felt very honored to be able to be presented with the offer by Nick Saban himself,” Cherry told SEC Country. “He spoke about how they have one of the highest graduation rates in the country and also how their career-building with the team is known to be pretty successful. This offer was truly a blessing to me and a very high achievement.”
The 6-foot-3, 226-pound prospect has no plans on committing anytime soon.
— blessed (@rell202000) August 19, 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.