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.
Neal still strongly considering Alabama
Evan Neal was an Alabama commit for a little over a week, but he remains high on the Crimson Tide.
Neal, a 6-foot-7, 360-pound sophomore (yes, you read that correctly) offensive lineman from IMG Academy, told SEC Country over the weekend that the only reason why he de-committed from Alabama in the first place was because he’s only 15 years old. His family believed it was premature to make a college decision that early.
“I still have an ample amount of time to figure out what I want to do,” Neal said. “I still love Alabama.”
Neal said he doesn’t have any favorites right now, but he mentioned Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Florida State and Miami as several schools that have his attention. He did say that he wants to play in the SEC, so Alabama should remain in the mix for him until he’s ready to make his decision.
“I like Alabama a lot, obviously, because I committed to them,” Neal said. “They are always going to be high on my list.”
When he visited Tuscaloosa over the summer, one thing stood out to him immediately — championship trophies.
“It gave me goosebumps,” Neal said.
Just how good is Neal? Well, for being on a team that has a roster full of college football prospects, he is a starter. For being 15 years old and 360 pounds, he carries his weight very well.
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisK_AJC) August 27, 2016
He said he’s by far the biggest person in his family. He has a cousin who is a defensive end that stands at 6-foot-8, but he only weighs 260 pounds. His massiveness is a huge reason why Neal will be a highly rated national recruit when the 2019 rankings come out.
With Neal at IMG Academy, a football powerhouse, expect him to get stronger and better as he competes against future college football players daily. He also has two teammates, Thomas Fletcher and Trey Sanders (another 2019 recruit), who are currently committed to Alabama. Those two guys talk about Alabama a lot to him, but he already has a favorable opinion of the Tide.
“I love that offensive line. They have so much tradition,” Neal said. “They just go out there and hit people in the mouth. I love it. I also want to go to the NFL one day. I was thinking (at the time of committing) that Alabama is the best place for me to make that happen.”
Hightower hoping to hear from Alabama
College coaches will be able to reach out to 2018 recruits on Sept. 1, and 4-star wide receiver Brian Hightower is hoping the Crimson Tide staff slides into his DMs.
The IMG Academy standout said he hasn’t been in contact with Alabama lately because he doesn’t believe he has a phone number for anyone on staff. He has been in touch with Clemson, Florida State, Notre Dame, Southern California and Miami lately.
But the nation’s No. 4 wide receiver in the 2018 class is hoping Alabama gets in touch with him because of the team’s ability to churn out wide receivers in the NFL.
“You look at all of them and they are some of the best at what they’re doing,” Hightower told SEC Country. “Calvin Ridley is one of the best wide receivers in college football right now. Julio Jones is arguably the best receiver in the NFL and Amari Cooper is coming up, so that definitely helps Alabama.”
The Army All-American said that despite his lack of communication with the Tide coaching staff, he is strongly considering Alabama. He just wants to get to know Tide wide receivers coach Billy Napier better and see what his plans are for him if he does end up committing to Alabama.
“It’s Alabama. Everybody loves Alabama,” Hightower said. “When you get a scholarship to play football at Alabama, it’s a blessing. It doesn’t happen that often.”
5-star DT not really interested in Alabama?
The nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle in the Class of 2018 doesn’t sound too interested in Alabama at the moment.
Taron Vincent, a 5-star prospect from IMG Academy, shook his head no when asked if he cared if the Tide reached out to him come Sept. 1. Why is that? Ohio State seems to have a major stronghold on his attention right now.
“(Ohio State defensive line) coach (Larry) Johnson, the atmosphere, the school, just everything about the school,” Vincent said on what he likes about Ohio State. “Coach Johnson recruited my older brother (to Penn State), so I’ve always been around him and kind of grew up with him.”
He acknowledged that the Buckeyes are in fact the team to beat at the moment. Vincent can’t remember the last time he communicated with Alabama, but he does have a connection to the school.
“My old teammate Cyrus Jones went there,” Vincent said. “I went to Alabama my freshman year and really liked the atmosphere and the coaches.”
Vincent said he doesn’t have any plans to visit Tuscaloosa any time soon. I think it’s safe to say fans should not expect the Tide to sign the top defensive tackle in 2018.
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.