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Ray getting comfortable with Dunbar
PINSON, Ala. — Alabama defensive line coach Karl Dunbar was in Pinson, Ala., Friday night at the James Clemens vs. Clay-Chalkville game to check out one of his top priorities in the Class of 2017: 4-star defensive end LaBryan Ray.
Ray, the nation’s No. 3 defensive end from James Clemens High School (Madison, Ala.), was in the backfield all night against Clay-Chalkville and played a big part in his team’s win. Ray’s dominant performance Friday night is one reason why Alabama wants him to commit to the Tide.
The state of Alabama’s No. 1 prospect visited Tuscaloosa for the Western Kentucky game a few weeks ago, and Dunbar sought out Ray on the sidelines during warm-ups. What was his main message to Ray?
“I’m ready for you to come play next year,” Ray said Dunbar told him. “We need you.”
Ever since Dunbar was hired by Alabama in May, he’s made sure Ray knows how much he’s wanted by the Tide. The two have gotten close over the past four months.
“We’re building a better relationship every day,” Ray said. “We’ve been talking pretty much ever since he got hired. When I went down there a few weeks ago, I saw that he kind of teaches the same things as (former Alabama assistant) Bo Davis did. There are a lot of similarities.”
Getting defensive linemen in this year’s class is arguably the team’s top priority because of the talent Alabama is going to lose this year. Alabama has only one defensive line commitment in 4-star defensive tackle Akial Byers.
Alabama is the overwhelming favorite to land Ray when he makes his commitment, mainly because of the numerous trips he’s taken to Tuscaloosa over the past several months and the fact that two of his good friends, 4-star offensive guard Kendall Randolph and 3-star defensive back Kyriq McDonald, are committed to the Tide.
Ray is aware that almost everyone following his recruitment believes he’ll end up at Alabama. But he wants to be clear that a decision has not been made just yet.
“You got to think about it — it’s not what everyone else thinks because you’re the one who has to go there,” Ray said. “You have to make the best decision for you and your family, so I think that’s what fans need to understand.”
The Under Armour All-American is still considering his top 6 schools of Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi State. The only official visit he has set up is to Florida for the LSU game on Oct. 8. His other visits are going to happen in December and January. Alabama and Tennessee are two schools guaranteed to get visits.
He is still saying that a commitment could come on one of those official visits. If not, look for his decision on signing day.
It would be a shocker if he committed to any school other than Alabama.
“Alabama is definitely one of those places I can see myself at,” Ray said. “It’s one of the home-state schools. It definitely has that home feeling with me being only two hours away.”
The latest with Collins
A few months ago, if you had told me that 4-star wide receiver Nico Collins wasn’t going to be a part of Alabama’s 2017 class, I would have called you crazy. Now, if you tell me that Collins is going to be a part of the Tide’s class, I’ll just look at you a little funny.
Collins, the nation’s No. 13 wide receiver from Clay-Chalkville High School (Pinson, Ala.), says Alabama, Georgia and Michigan are tied at the top in his recruitment. The reality is, Alabama is more so No. 3 in the race to land the state of Alabama’s No. 3 prospect.
Sources close to Collins’ recruitment have told SEC Country that the Bulldogs and Wolverines are ahead of the Crimson Tide. That’s the way it has been for several months now and nothing has changed.
Collins is still saying all of the right things, though. He still loves Alabama and can visualize himself in a Tide jersey come next year.
“It is close to home; I have a (former) teammate (wide receiver T.J. Simmons) up there who would be there with me,” Collins told Jeff Sentell of DawgNation. “The coaching staff is just amazing and I can really see myself there.”
Alabama has two wide receiver commitments in this year’s recruiting class in 4-star recruits Jerry Jeudy and Tyrell Shavers, and it’s in good position to add 4-star players Devonta Smith and Henry Ruggs III down the road. The Tide are likely to sign only four receivers, and those are the four I expect to end up with Alabama.
That possibly could change if Collins chooses Alabama on signing day.
Dunbar and and fellow Alabama assistant Mario Cristobal were both at Collins’ game Friday night. Cristobal, who recruits the Birmingham area, has really made Collins a priority. But I don’t believe it’s going to matter in the end.
The 6-foot-5, 195-pound prospect seems like the kind of kid who wants to do his own thing and not what his community may want. And I think in the end, his desire to go to college out of Alabama will be why the Tide lose out on Collins.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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