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.
Johnson’s de-commitment had nothing to do with grades
Several Alabama fans feared that junior college linebacker Gary Johnson would eventually de-commit from Alabama’s Class of 2017 because of academic concerns. That turned out to be true on Sunday afternoon; however, it had nothing to do with bad grades.
Johnson, who is the nation’s No. 1 junior college linebacker and plays for Dodge City (Kan.) Community College, is currently taking college algebra through a different school in Kansas. That caused him to de-commit.
“The SEC doesn’t accept online classes that are not taken from the junior college that a prospective student athlete graduates from,” Dodge City linebackers coach Michael Starkey told SEC Country. “Gary has chosen to take college algebra through another junior college here in Kansas, and the SEC doesn’t take it.”
Well, could Johnson just retake the class at Dodge in order to be eligible? He could. But, Johnson said if he went that route, he would graduate in June and would not be able to report to his next school until July. He’s not interested in prolonging his stay at Dodge.
The 4-star recruit spoke to SEC Country last week, and he said his grades were good enough to qualify when he graduates this May. He met with his academic adviser on Friday when she delivered the bad news that the algebra class would cause him to not be able to attend his dream school. Missouri, which was one of the schools recruiting Johnson strongly, will also not be able to sign him because of the rule.
It wasn’t all bad news for Johnson on Sunday. He picked up an offer from the University of Miami. Johnson said Florida State, Ohio State and West Virginia were the non-SEC schools that were communicating with him the most recently.
Where Alabama turns now
The loss of Johnson definitely hurts Alabama. Johnson was highly regarded by the Alabama staff as it felt the junior college prospect was a player who could have seen immediate playing time next season.
Alabama now has three linebackers committed in the Class of 2017, but Johnson was the only player out of the group being recruited as a middle linebacker. The three current LB commitments: 5-star prospect Dylan Moses and 4-star talents VanDarius Cowan and Markail Benton are being recruited as inside linebackers. The loss of Johnson could give Alabama a better chance to land two JACK prospects, which I think it will. JACK is a hybrid of defensive end and outside linebacker — Tim Williams plays JACK for Alabama.
At this time, I think Alabama signs 4-star linebacker Christopher Allen (Baton Rouge, La.) and 4-star defensive end Jarez Parks (Sebastian, Fla.) Allen is down to Alabama and LSU, and he’ll announce his commitment on National Signing Day. Though Allen publicly states Alabama and LSU are co-leaders, a source very close to the Southern University Lab High School standout said it’s the Tide who hold the edge for his signature at this time. Allen is a major priority for Alabama. He recently told SEC Country that Tide outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi is the coach he’s closest with in his recruitment.
The Tide are pitching Allen to be the next ‘Tim Williams,’ who, like Allen, is from Louisiana.
“They have said that I could come off the edge like Tim Williams and play the linebacker position like Reuben Foster,” Allen told SEC Country. “It’s kind of unbelievable that they are comparing me to these guys. Those guys are great, so I’m just wowed when they say that.”
As for Parks, he’s certainly quieter when it comes to where he’s leaning in his recruitment. The 4-star prospect visited Tuscaloosa this summer and had commitment on his mind. He decided to hold off on a decision because he wanted to make sure Alabama was the school for him. The Tide are still viewed as the team to beat, but Florida and Florida State remain big players in his recruitment.
Other prospects to watch
Baron Browning, a 5-star outside linebacker from Kennedale (Texas) High School, took an official visit to Alabama for the Texas A&M game, but the Crimson Tide still appear to be on the outside looking in. Texas, Ohio State, Texas A&M and UCLA are in the mix for Browning. The Longhorns are considered the favorite for Browning, but if Texas goes ahead and fires Charlie Strong, Alabama would have a great shot at making up significant ground. He’s expected to make his commitment on Nov. 29.
According to SEC Country Auburn recruiting reporter Benjamin Wolk, Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has been in touch with Tigers linebacker commit Tadarian Moultry lately. Moultry was on Alabama’s radar this summer when he committed to Auburn, but he did not make a committable offer at the time. Moultry has had a terrific senior season, though, and Alabama is showing him attention. He’s certainly one to watch moving forward, especially if Alabama goes all out to land his commitment.
In-state linebacker Monty Rice has been on Alabama’s radar, but he doesn’t hold a committable offer at this time. The Tide hold a commitment from his teammate, Kyriq McDonald, and are likely to land LaBryan Ray, another one of Rice’s teammates. It’s very probable Rice would jump on board if Alabama pushed for a commitment. Georgia is currently the favorite for Rice.
Walter Grant, a 4-star linebacker from Cairo (Ga.) High School, has Alabama and Georgia as his top two schools. The Tide love the versatility Grant possesses, and he was personally offered by Nick Saban. Grant is likely to stay in-state and commit to Georgia, though.
Robert Beal, a 4-star Georgia commit, surely raised some eyebrows when he visited Tuscaloosa for the Kentucky game earlier this month. It seems his desire to take official visits elsewhere, though, is just an opportunity to travel on the weekends. It’s highly unlikely he flips from the Bulldogs.
Nate McBride, a 4-star linebacker from Vidalia (Ga.) High School, once considered Alabama his top school. That’s changed over time, mainly because Kirby Smart is now Georgia’s coach. It seems like a near certainty that McBride also is Georgia bound.
Hunter’s top 5
Devon Hunter released his top 5 late Sunday night, and Alabama did make the cut, as expected.
The 4-star safety from Virginia also included Virginia Tech, Florida, Auburn and North Carolina in the mix. Alabama has ground to make up for Hunter’s commitment. I actually believe Alabama is No. 5 in this race. He just hasn’t visited Tuscaloosa as much as the other places on this list. He’s expected to take an official visit to Alabama for the Iron Bowl, then make his commitment shortly after.
Safety is a big need in the Class of 2017, and he’ll be drilled with that message if he follows through with that visit.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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