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The latest with a 5-star Ohio State commit
Shaun Wade is one of Alabama’s biggest priorities in the Class of 2017, but if the Crimson Tide are going to change his commitment, they are going to have to flip him away from Ohio State.
Wade, a 5-star cornerback from Trinity Christian High School (Jacksonville, Fla.), has been committed to the Buckeyes for almost two years now but has maintained that he’s still looking around.
Ohio State’s biggest competition for Wade is Alabama. Despite what you may see elsewhere about his interest in Notre Dame, Florida and Michigan, this is really only a two-team race.
Wade was on Alabama’s campus this past Friday to get away from Hurricane Matthew, which made its way through Jacksonville, Fla., this past weekend. He has family in Montgomery, so it was a way to see them and to travel to a school he’s strongly considering.
This was his father’s first time getting to see Alabama, and he came away impressed.
“I haven’t been everywhere, but (Alabama’s) dorms really threw me for a loop,” Randy Wade told SEC Country. “I was like, ‘Whoa.’ At the end of the day, I don’t think it’s going to be a (big) decision-maker because that’s not going to get you anywhere as far as education or in sports.”
When Wade’s commitment to Ohio State is usually broached, the first — and usually most important — talking point is the fact that Columbus, Ohio, is far away from home.
The U.S. Army All-American has told SEC Country previously that he’d like as many family members as possible at his games on Saturdays. That would be quite difficult to do if he ended up signing with Ohio State.
His father said the distance from home is not going to be a factor at all in his son’s decision to either stick with the Buckeyes or sign elsewhere.
“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.”
Randy said he and his wife, Gwendolyn, are closer to the Ohio State staff than Alabama. That’s not necessarily a red flag. He’s been committed there for nearly two years, so that should be expected.
Randy said Shaun’s relationship with the Alabama staff is very good because of how often he is talking to either defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley or coach Nick Saban.
Though Shaun’s parents may feel more comfortable with Ohio State’s staff, this decision is going to be made by the recruit.
“At the end of the day, it’s just about what he wants more,” Randy Wade said. “He knows the schools that give him the best chance for the NFL. He knows the places that have a better than average education. He just now has to pick which one he wants.
“Of course if he wanted to stay closer to home, the two choices would be Florida or Alabama right now. He has all of these options. Now, he just needs to see which one is going to fit him the best.”
As far as Alabama’s chances of flipping Wade, it needs to continue to build a relationship with his parents. With him being an early enrollee, a final decision will likely be made in late November or December.
Whichever school lands him needs to have an open and honest relationship with his parents.
“We just want to know that wherever he goes and if anything happens to him, that we can call at 3 in the morning,” Randy Wade said. “We want to know that when he signs at a school that we can still have a pipeline of communication. As a parent, that’s all I really care about. We know how it is after you sign and things change, so we just want to keep that communication.”
The Wades will be back in Tuscaloosa for an official visit, which will either come for Alabama’s game against Texas A&M or Auburn. It will likely be for the Iron Bowl because Wade takes his SAT on Oct. 22, which is the day of the Texas A&M game.
What’s up with Leatherwood?
Since 5-star offensive tackle commit Alex Leatherwood took his official visit to Michigan two weekends ago, he’s made some eyebrow-raising remarks regarding his commitment to Alabama.
He echoed those comments in an interview with Scout on Tuesday.
“The strength of my commitment is a little less than what it was, but I do still feel good about it,” Leatherwood said. “I am a little more open to schools now than I was, but I am still committed.”
The nation’s No. 5 overall player remains fully committed, he says, but he’s just making sure that Alabama is the right school for him.
“I’m exploring these opportunities I have more because it’s a four-year decision that I need to be 100 percent sure of,” Leatherwood told SEC Country.
The Under Armour All-American has been committed to Alabama for more than a year now and remains one of the Tide’s best recruiters. It’s extremely rare for a commit to recruit others the way Leatherwood does and ultimately flip to a different school.
He doesn’t know what it would take for him to change his mind on Alabama.
“I don’t know, maybe an unnatural phenomena of utter realization or intuition,” Leatherwood said.
The 6-foot-6, 327-pound prospect remains on track to graduate early from Booker T. Washington High School (Pensacola, Fla.). That’s good news for Alabama because, like Wade, a final decision will have to be made in a few months.
As for those fans concerned about what Leatherwood will ultimately do, he has a message for you: “Roll Tide,” Leatherwood said.
I still believe that Alabama is going to be the school he suits up for in 2017.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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