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Wade visiting Alabama for Iron Bowl
One of Alabama’s biggest priorities in the Class of 2017 is committed to Ohio State, but the confidence the Crimson Tide have in flipping 5-star cornerback Shaun Wade is high.
Wade, the nation’s No. 3 cornerback from Trinity Christian High School (Jacksonville, Fla.), confirmed with SEC Country that he will be in Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl in late November. He’ll also take official visits to Ohio State on Nov. 5 for the Buckeyes’ game against Nebraska and on Nov. 12 for Virginia Tech’s game against Georgia Tech.
The timing of his visit to Alabama is enormous because a “final” decision on his commitment to Ohio State is expected in late November or early December; however, his parents are likely not going to accompany him on that trip to Tuscaloosa because the Wades have family in town that weekend. His parents have visited Tuscaloosa before, but his father, Randy, told SEC Country that they are closer to the Ohio State staff than they are to Alabama’s coaches. More time for his parents to be around the coaches would be ideal, but Alabama will be happy to just host the 5-star prospect.
The U.S. Army All-American has been committed to Ohio State for two years now, so it’s not going to be the easiest flip for Alabama to pull off. After all, if Wade didn’t have love for the Buckeyes, he likely would have de-committed by this point with several top schools continuing their pursuit of him.
But the reasons for why many in the recruiting industry are confident a flip is likely in Wade’s future is because of Alabama’s proximity to a bunch of his family members in Montgomery. That’s where he was born and where a lot of his extended family remains. Wade has previously said he wants as many family members in the stands at his games on Saturdays as possible, so Alabama would be the logical destination for that to happen.
Wade’s father downplayed the significance of that in a recent interview with SEC Country. The reason why Wade would flip, if that’s what he chose to do, would not have anything to do with the school being closer to home.
“It’s ultimately about the relationships he has with the coaches,” Randy Wade said. “It’s his decision at the end of the day, and people are going to believe what they want. I understand people are going to say (Alabama) is close, but I just think it’s crazy. His relationships with the Alabama staff is going to be what brings him over there and not just because he was born there.”
Despite his interest in other schools such as Florida and Virginia Tech, this recruitment is ultimately a two-team battle between Alabama and Ohio State. The Tide are going to go all out in this battle until his National Letter of Intent is signed.
Here’s Wade burning by fellow Ohio State defensive back commit Isaiah Pryor for an easy score:
— D1 Gridiron (@D1Gridiron) October 22, 2016
5-star DE no longer has a top 3 after Alabama visit
Xavier Thomas, the nation’s No. 2 overall player in the Class of 2018, was in Tuscaloosa this past weekend for the first time. For that reason, Alabama was admittedly not one of his top schools prior to the visit.
That has now changed.
Entering this past weekend, Thomas, a 5-star defensive end from Wilson High School (Florence, S.C.), had a top three of Clemson, Georgia and South Carolina in no specific order. Florida State and Ohio State were also in the mix, but this visit to Alabama for the Texas A&M game was a turning point in his recruitment.
“I actually changed it right after this visit because after visiting Alabama, I am confused on who my top schools in order are,” Thomas told SEC Country. “So, I’m just going to take it slowly now. I didn’t have Alabama in my top 5 at all, but now after this visit, that is definitely changing.”
One of the reasons for the big change is two conversations he had prior to the game with coach Nick Saban and outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi. Both coaches told Thomas he is Alabama’s No. 1 priority in the Class of 2018.
Thomas kept a close eye on Alabama linebackers Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams on Saturday because that’s how the Crimson Tide plan on utilizing the 5-star recruit if he chooses the Tide. Both players will have moved on from the program by the time 2018 rolls around, and depth moving forward is needed.
“Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson are both projected to be first-round picks, and that position is low because they only have one commitment on the defensive line in the 2017 class, so I am very needed,” Thomas said. “It doesn’t really make a difference, even if the depth was thick. I would still be willing to go because I know my work ethic and what I am capable of.”
With this being Thomas’ first visit to Tuscaloosa, he went in with high expectations, and they were exceeded.
“People told me I would fall in love if I came to Alabama, and they weren’t lying,” Thomas said. “The fans are everywhere. The game-day experience is amazing. That place was rocking from start to finish. It was a great experience, one of the best ones I’ve ever actually experienced.”
The U.S. Army All-American plans to make it back to Tuscaloosa in the future, but no dates for those visits have been set just yet.
Collins appreciates Napier’s gesture
Nico Collins has been a major Alabama priority ever since his 10th-grade year at Clay-Chalkville High School (Pinson, Ala.). At one point, Collins said he favored the Crimson Tide, but now they have some company at the top.
Collins, a 4-star wide receiver, told SEC Country that Alabama, Georgia and Michigan all remained tied at the top after his visit to Tuscaloosa this past weekend. This visit was the first time the in-state prospect trekked to Tuscaloosa this fall.
Wide receivers coach Billy Napier spotted Collins on the sidelines and brought him out on the field during warm-ups. It was a gesture that Collins appreciated.
“He was just saying that this is how it feels to be a part of the Crimson Tide on game day,” Collins said. “It meant a lot to me.”
Collins is planning on returning to Tuscaloosa for an official visit, but the date for that trip has not been set yet, as is the case for his visit to Georgia. He has three officials set: to Michigan on Nov. 5 for the Wolverines’ game against Maryland; to Florida State on Nov. 26 for the Seminoles’ game against Florida; and to LSU on Dec. 9. Because of his visit to Florida State on Nov. 26, that means Collins will not be in Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl.
He still plans to make his commitment on National Signing Day, but I do not expect Alabama to gain his commitment at this time. Though the Tide are tied on top, sources close to Collins have said that the nation’s No. 13 wide receiver would like to leave the state of Alabama for college.
Collins has 43 receptions for 866 yards and 9 touchdowns this season.
Cowan plans on appealing Army Bowl decision
After being kicked off of Palm Beach Gardens’ football team, VanDarius Cowan, a 4-star Alabama linebacker commitment, lost the privilege of playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The Army Bowl’s bylaws state that high school players have to play in their team’s last game in order to be eligible, according to USA Today. National recruiting director of the Army Bowl Erik Richards said Cowan is planning on appealing that decision.
“Ninety percent of the time it’s because of an injury,” Richards told USA Today. “A player doesn’t finish the season and then wants to play in the Army game and puts himself in jeopardy of getting hurt again. Ten percent of the time it’s for situations like this.
“There are two sides to every story and he has an appeal process that we have been told he and his family are planing to take advantage of. The selection committee and management team will look at the situation after that.”
Alabama is sticking by Cowan, and the staff has told him that his scholarship to the school is still intact. He took an official visit to Tuscaloosa this past weekend with his mother. Cowan remains a firm commitment and is on track to be an early enrollee.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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