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.
Alabama in touch with Mathis every day
Alabama’s biggest need in the Class of 2017 is defensive linemen. Defensive linemen Jonathan Allen, Dalvin Tomlinson and Dakota Ball will graduate. Da’Shawn Hand, a junior, could decide to leave for the NFL draft, though he hasn’t made big contributions.
The Crimson Tide would like to add at least four defensive linemen in this recruiting class, and one name to keep an eye on is 4-star defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis.
Mathis, who is from Neville (La.) High School, told SEC Country that Alabama is recruiting him the hardest at the moment. Defensive line coach Karl Dunbar and wide receivers coach Billy Napier are tag-teaming Mathis’ recruitment.
“They talk to me every single night,” Mathis said. “I’m close with Coach Dunbar and Coach Napier. They text me every day. Sometimes it’s just a little message telling me to get better that day. It means a lot to me because it shows me that they care about me and really want me.”
Napier was at Mathis’ game Friday night, but the two didn’t get the chance to talk. When he does talk to Alabama about his recruitment, the staff reminds him how badly they’d like for him to commit to the Tide.
“They always tell me that they’re going to need a lot of defensive linemen next year because most of those guys up front are leaving this year,” Mathis said. “They are telling me that I can come in and make a big impact immediately.”
He’s quick to admit that early playing time is a major factor in his recruitment. Because of that, he says, Alabama has a great chance at landing his commitment when he’s likely to announce his decision in January.
Alabama isn’t considered the favorite. LSU is the front-runner to land Mathis, according to 247Sports’ Crystal Ball, with the Tigers getting 100 percent of the predictions from various recruiting experts. But Mathis may be keeping his eyes on schools outside of the state of Louisiana.
In addition to Alabama and LSU, Florida, Georgia and Texas San-Antonio were the schools mentioned by Mathis as to who keeps tabs on him. If we are to read into his answer when asked why people believe LSU is the favorite to land him, the Tigers don’t appear to be in the best shape.
“LSU is definitely a great place, but I’m looking for a place that feels like home,” Mathis said. “I feel comfortable going out of my state for college. I’ve been in Louisiana for a while now. I think it would be great to go somewhere else for school.”
Florida is the only school that will get an official visit from him at this point. Alabama is being considered for one of the five spots, but he’s hesitant on going to Tuscaloosa because he wants to visit places he hasn’t been to regularly. He’s been to Alabama more three times.
The Tide are recruiting Mathis at both defensive tackle and defensive end. One of the big reasons why Alabama likes Mathis is because of his versatility. Alabama defensive tackle commit Akial Byers and 4-star defensive tackle target Elijah Conliffe both have the ability to play any spot on the line, too.
As far as where Mathis stands with the Tide, he didn’t name them a leader, but Alabama is in good position to land him when he makes his commitment.
“Alabama is a great team, and I love them,” Mathis said. “Alabama has a great squad and a great coaching staff. They treated me like I was at home when I have visited.”
Leatherwood to visit Auburn again, but it doesn’t matter
Five-star offensive tackle commit Alex Leatherwood will visit Auburn once again this weekend when the Tigers take on Texas A&M this weekend.
Does that trip matter as far as his commitment to Alabama is concerned? Not at all. Auburn is not a factor in his recruitment. If anyone was going to flip the long-time commit, it would be either Florida or Southern California.
This trip is basically a chance for him to check out an SEC game for free and a chance to travel with his good friend Nick Brahms, who is an Auburn commit.
Don’t look into this visit more than that — a free trip.
Teammate of Alabama commit looking for an offer
Jacquez Jones is the Hillcrest High School (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) teammate of Alabama running back commitment Brian Robinson, and Jones would like the opportunity to join Robinson at Alabama.
Jones, a 2018 3-star linebacker, also has another connection to Alabama. His uncle, Juwan Simpson, played linebacker for Alabama from 2002-2006. Simpson was second on the team in tackles in 2006.
The Alabama legacy is hoping he gets the chance to play where his uncle did 10 years ago.
“My uncle has programmed me to go to Alabama and follow in his footsteps,” Jones told SEC Country. “If I did get that offer, I wouldn’t commit immediately, but they definitely will be one of my top schools. I just like the way their defense plays. It’s something I would like to be a part of.”
Jones visited Alabama on Saturday with Robinson for the team’s game against Western Kentucky but didn’t leave with an offer. He did get a chance to speak to multiple coaches while on the visit, but they told him to just continue to wait it out.
You can bet that he’ll be waiting as long as it takes.
“It would mean a lot to me — actually — it would mean the world,” Jones said about a potential offer. “Alabama is my dream school.”
Follow Chris on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.