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.
Which Alabama-LSU recruiting battles are Tide projected to win?
With it being Alabama-LSU week, I figured we’d look at some of the major battles the teams will face in recruiting this year. The Tide will look to extend their five-game winning streak against the Tigers this Saturday and plenty of major targets are expected to attend.
Here are several battles I think will go in Alabama’s favor as of today:
Christopher Allen, 4-star linebacker, Baton Rouge, La.
It’s either going to be Alabama or LSU for Allen when he decides on National Signing Day. Publicly, Allen says both programs are tied on top in his recruitment. That’s not exactly the case, according to a source close to Allen. It’s Alabama that holds the edge for him. Allen is likely waiting to see what LSU does with its next head coach, if Ed Orgeron isn’t retained.
The Tide staff is extremely high on Allen, specifically outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi. Allen recently told SEC Country that out of the coaches he communicates with in his recruitment, he’s closest with Lupoi. That’s important because Lupoi would be Allen’s position coach at Alabama as he’s being recruited at the JACK position.
The staff is hoping it pulls Allen out of Louisiana just like it did with a guy who could be his predecessor: Tim Williams.
Todd Harris, 4-star safety, Plaquemine, La.
Harris is considering Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss heavily, but this recruitment should come down to the first two schools mentioned.
LSU was thought of as the favorite for Harris during the summer, but he decided to hold off on committing. The Tigers picked up a commitment from 4-star safety Grant Delpit, then added 5-star safety JaCoby Stevens. That didn’t look like a legitimate possibility until August.
Why does that matter? Harris has said that the depth that LSU has at safety is definitely something that is on his mind. The Tigers’ coaching staff has still recruited Harris, but he feels like it wouldn’t be a giant deal to LSU if he went elsewhere.
“I still feel like I am a top target for (LSU), but if they don’t get me, they do have two solid safety commitments already, so I don’t think they’re too worried,” Harris said.
Alabama is drilling its depth chart into Harris’ head.
“I know they are very short on defensive backs,” Harris said. “If I go there, I know I have a chance to make an impact immediately. I know they don’t have any true safeties in the 2017 class. The board is still clear right now. It’s a great opportunity for playing time and a freshman to get out there next year and ball out.”
Alabama is in very good position here.
Phidarian Mathis, 4-star defensive tackle, Neville, La.
Mathis is very quiet when it comes to his recruitment, but this is an Alabama-LSU battle, despite him saying those two schools and TCU are all tri-leaders.
Alabama defensive line coach Karl Dunbar and wide receivers coach Billy Napier are tag-teaming Mathis’ recruitment, and they are doing a good job with the 4-star defensive tackle.
“They talk to me every single night,” Mathis said. “I’m close with coach Dunbar and coach Napier. They text me every day. Sometimes it’s just a little message telling me to get better that day. It means a lot to me because it shows me that they care about me and really want me.”
Mathis will be in Baton Rouge this weekend for the game. Could the winner of the game be the winner in his recruitment? Expect a decision after the season.
Some other targets to keep an eye on: 5-star LSU safety commit JaCoby Stevens, 4-star LSU defensive tackle commit Tyler Shelvin, 4-star junior college defensive end Isaiah Buggs, 4-star wide receiver Devonta Smith (not really a battle because LSU is far behind Alabama) and 5-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson (I guess. If you’re familiar with my work, you know why this is.)
Just how much of a surprise was Moses’ commitment?
Speaking of Alabama-LSU recruiting battles, Dylan Moses, the nation’s No. 1 outside linebacker from IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), shocked the recruiting world on Oct. 2 when he abruptly committed to Alabama over LSU following his official visit to Tuscaloosa for the Kentucky game.
His own high school teammates didn’t see it coming. Two of his teammates, 4-star wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon and 4-star safety Grant Delpit, are two of LSU’s highest-ranked commits. Both of those recruits thought Moses was going to join them in Baton Rouge next year.
“I was confused because this was so out of the blue,” Ausbon told SEC Country’s Sam Spiegelman. “Nowadays, guys commit using edits and all of that, so this came out of nowhere. We had talked about certain things, but something happened that he couldn’t be at that program (LSU). So, why wait? I can see him there, but it still surprised me.”
Moses told SEC Country after committing to Alabama that the main reason why he didn’t choose LSU was because Les Miles was fired. Had Miles been the Tigers’ coach in 2017, Moses said he would have committed to LSU.
The 5-star recruit made waves on social media when he was spotted at LSU’s game against Southern Mississippi last month, but the recruit insisted there was nothing to it. Well, that’s up for the reader’s interpretation because Moses had said when he committed that his recruitment was 100 percent over and he would not be taking additional visits to schools not named Alabama.
He did show up in Tuscaloosa for Alabama’s game against Texas A&M and was escorted to the field by assistant director of player personnel Sam Petitto. Moses also spent lots of time with the other Tide commitments that day.
But one of his teammates at IMG, 2018 4-star running back Asa Martin, doesn’t think his recruitment is over yet. Prior to Moses’ commitment, the pair talked about going to LSU.
“I was real surprised,” Martin said of Moses’ pledge to Alabama. “I thought he was going to LSU. He was talking to me about going there and I was talking to him about going there. I thought he was real solid with LSU.
“I think it’s still up in the air. It’s home, and there’s nothing better than that. No matter what colleges or anything, it’s home, so I don’t think it’s over yet.”
The Under Armour All-American is an early enrollee, so there’s not much more time remaining for LSU’s hopes at flipping Moses. There’s also still uncertainty at who will be the team’s next coach. Ed Orgeron has won each of the games he’s coached thus far at LSU, but the Tigers have plenty of big tests remaining. If LSU decides to remove the interim label from Orgeron and make him the permanent coach, I think there’s a tiny chance LSU could change Moses’ mind.
At this time, though, I see Moses sticking with his commitment. Alabama is not worried about losing the 5-star prospect.
A name to remember?
I was recently told by a source close to the Alabama program that the staff has been keeping a close eye on 4-star athlete Markquese Bell from New Jersey. Offensive line coach Mario Cristobal is his recruiter, as the Northeast is one of the main areas he prioritizes along with South Florida.
Bell doesn’t have an offer from Alabama, but he is being recruited as a safety. I’ve written countless times over the past several months that safety is one of Alabama’s biggest needs in the Class of 2017. The Tide are recruiting 4-star prospects DeAngelo Gibbs, Devon Hunter, Xavier McKinney and Todd Harris at the position, along with junior college prospect Johnathan Abram.
It’s possible Alabama doesn’t sign any of those players, although I think it has the best chance signing Harris (full mock class comes out Wednesday).
Bell said Cristobal hasn’t mentioned what he needs to do to receive an offer or if one should be expected, but the nation’s No. 6 athlete said if Alabama offered, it would definitely shake up his recruitment.
“I would highly consider them,” Bell told SEC Country. “It was my dream school growing up. I used to play with them on the video games and just always wanted to go there.”
The 6-foot-3, 194-pound prospect is scheduled to make a commitment Dec. 1. The problem with that is Harris is committing Jan. 1, so the prospect I believe Alabama will get will still be uncommitted.
We’ll be tracking Bell moving forward, especially because safety is one of the hardest positions to project for Alabama.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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