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.
Firmest to softest commitment status for each Alabama commit
1) Hunter Brannon, 3-star OG, Cullman, Ala.
Brannon immediately committed to Alabama after earning an offer from the staff at a camp this summer. Brannon’s uncles are former Alabama players Wesley, Justin and Taylor Britt. Brannon has dreamed about playing for Alabama since he was 7 years old. His commitment is locked in cement.
2) Thomas Fletcher, 2-star LS, Bradenton, Fla.
Fletcher won’t take visits elsewhere. His recruitment is over. When he committed to Alabama, he told SEC Country that even if he wasn’t playing football, he could see himself being a regular student.
“It’s a school — and a lot of schools are like this — I can see myself going there if I wasn’t playing football,” Fletcher said. “I believe I could definitely enjoy myself both with school and football at Alabama.”
He also made it a goal this summer to earn an offer from Alabama after not receiving one last year at camp.
3) Elliot Baker, 4-star OT, San Francisco
When Baker committed to Alabama, he was supposed to visit Auburn a few days later. He ended up canceling that visit and every other visit after that. He knew Alabama was the school for him once he visited this summer.
“Alabama has been a dream school of mine from about a year ago this time from when I started playing my freshman year (at City College),” Baker said. “I asked my offensive line coach, ‘What do I need to do to go to Alabama to play there and get a scholarship?’ It’s always been a school that I’ve wanted to go to. Seeing the place in person is just crazy. It felt right.”
Baker is the No. 1 junior college prospect.
4) Kendall Randolph, 4-star OG, Madison, Ala.
Randolph is the younger brother of former Alabama basketball player Levi Randolph. Kendall was a big reason why Levi ultimately chose Alabama, as he told him he wanted him to stay in state. When it came time for Kendall’s decision, his younger brother Alex played a big part.
“Because I wanted him to be an Academic All-American,” Alex said. “My other brother, Levi, was an Academic All-American for Alabama.”
Alex, who is 5 years old, will be very upset if Kendall flips his commitment.
5) Tyrell Shavers, 4-star WR, Lewisville, Texas
Shavers’ recruitment blew up this spring after a fantastic performance at the Nike Opening regional camp in Dallas. Shavers ran a 4.28 40-yard dash and picked up several offers shortly after that.
He visited Tuscaloosa this summer and committed on that visit. He has since said that his recruitment is over. No more visits for him.
6) Mac Jones, 4-star QB, Jacksonville, Fla.
Jones is one of Alabama’s top recruiters now that he has committed. He flipped his commitment from Kentucky to Alabama this summer and hasn’t looked back since. He has now focused his attention on getting several other top recruits to join him in Tuscaloosa.
“I’m just really trying to get those players to come out to see how special of a place Alabama is beyond the football field,” Jones said. “You want to help those people out that are looking at other schools. I just feel like it’s my job to help present the facts to help with their decision.”
He is one of two quarterbacks committed in this class.
7) Brandon Ruiz, 3-star K, Gilbert, Ariz.
Alabama doesn’t have to worry about a kicker commit this year like it did last class when Eddy Pineiro flipped to Florida. Ruiz won’t take any visits elsewhere and is set with his commitment to Alabama.
8) Kedrick James, 4-star TE, Waco, Texas
James seemingly committed out of nowhere last month, but he’s 100 percent solid with his decision. He’s not expected to visit any other schools.
“They have the same goals as me. They aren’t going to let each other down and neglect one another. Those are the guys I want to be with,” James told SEC Country.
Alabama could potentially sign two tight ends in this class.
9) Brian Robinson, 4-star RB, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Robinson has flirted with other schools, most notably Georgia, but the Bulldogs are expected to pick up a commitment in a few hours from 5-star prospect DAndre Swift. The Bulldogs already have a commitment from 4-star recruit Toneil Carter, too, so Georgia is done at the running back position in 2017.
That being said, Georgia is now an unlikely place for Robinson to flip. Alabama also is a school that allows Robinson to accomplish one of his biggest goals.
“I’ve always dreamed about playing for Alabama,” Robinson told SEC Country. “I never thought about any other schools besides Alabama. It’s a top-notch program that happens to be in my city. It’s a dream come true.”
Don’t expect him to flip.
10) Kyriq McDonald, 3-star CB, Madison, Ala.
McDonald picked up an offer from Alabama this spring and ended up committing together with Randolph, who is mentioned above. McDonald is going to play all over the secondary for the Tide, but he has expressed a desire to visit other schools. He is unlikely to change his commitment, though.
“I am ring-chasing,” McDonald said. “That’s what hard work gets you — rings. Hard work pays off.”
He is trying to recruit his teammate, 4-star defensive end LaBryan Ray, to join him in Tuscaloosa.
11) Markail Benton, 4-star LB, Phenix City, Ala.
At one point, Benton appeared like a lock for Auburn. The Tigers led for Benton at one point, but about a month prior to him announcing his commitment, that changed. The Tide took the lead and never relinquished it after that.
He has not decided if he is going to take other visits, but his commitment is solid.
12) Chadarius Townsend, 4-star ATH, Tanner, Ala.
Like several others on this list, Townsend has dreamed about playing for Alabama. Although he is solid, he has expressed a desire to visit other schools such as Florida and Florida State. With that being said, he loves being a part of the Tide family.
“A commitment is a commitment. You can’t argue with that,” Townsend said.” Alabama is a great school and they are a top-notch program. I know they can help me get to the NFL.
“Alabama is different than other schools. I feel more comfortable there than other schools. I don’t know what it is, but it’s just really great to be there.”
He will either play wide receiver or cornerback for Alabama.
13) Tua Tagovailoa, 5-star QB, Honolulu
There’s going to be a lot of chatter over the next several months about Tagovailoa’s status with Alabama, especially if Jalen Hurts wins the starting quarterback job eventually. Let’s get this out of the way now: Hurts’ abilities will not affect Tagovailoa’s commitment. Loyalty is extremely important to the Tagovailoas.
“I don’t believe that he’ll waver from his verbal commitment to Alabama because he’s prayed hard on it,” his mother Diane said. “Once he makes up his mind, he’s a man of his word. Once he makes up his mind, that’s what he’s going with.”
He is expected to take official visits, most notably to Southern California which was his dream school at one point. I still cannot see him flipping, knowing how loyalty is a big deal to the family.
14) VanDarius Cowan, 4-star LB, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
By far the most vocal commitment out of the group, Cowan surprised many when he announced that he had changed his plans of not visiting any other school to taking all five official visits. He has de-committed twice previous to his commitment to Alabama, but I can’t see him doing it again. He absolutely loves Alabama and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
If Pruitt gets a head coaching opportunity, I could see Cowan taking a good look at other schools, but at this time, he’s set with his commitment.
15) Alex Leatherwood, 5-star OT, Pensacola, Fla.
Leatherwood will take all five official visits but like Cowan and Jones, he is one of the team’s best and most effective recruiters. He has been to Tuscaloosa countless times and loves the Tide despite his flirtation with Florida, his No. 2 school.
It’s going to be tough to flip the nation’s No. 5 overall player, but it’s not impossible.
16) Najee Harris, 5-star RB, Antioch, Calif.
Harris’ every move is going to be closely monitored until he signs his papers and heads off to Alabama. With him being the nation’s No. 1 overall player, every top program in the country wants him to flip his commitment. But as one source close to him told me, it’s going to be difficult.
“(President) Obama wouldn’t be able to change his mind,” the source said.
Harris is going to take visits elsewhere and be wooed by those schools, but he should stick with his commitment.
17) Jerry Jeudy, 4-star WR, Pompano Beach, Fla.
Right after Jeudy committed, he told SEC Country that he was still going to entertain other schools in their desire to flip him away from Alabama. It’s going to be hard, though.
Jeudy is very good friends with Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley. He has also known for quite some time that he’s also wanted to play for the Tide. The nation’s No. 6 wide receiver is also looking forward to playing alongside his friend.
“I’ll have one more year with Calvin, and he’ll teach me the ropes,” Jeudy said. “He’ll show me how he got stuff done. He’ll show me the way.”
Jeudy said Florida was his No. 2 school.
18) Akial Byers, 4-star DT, Fayetteville, Ark.
Byers is virtually silent when it comes to his recruitment. I do not recall any site talking to him after he made his commitment to Alabama, this one included. All I know about Byers is that he will take all five official visits; other than that, he is a complete mystery.
19) Jhavonte Dean, 4-star CB, Brenham, Texas
Dean’s recruitment could get interesting if Miami aggressively tries to flip the junior college prospect’s commitment. He is originally from South Florida.
20) Gary Johnson, 4-star LB, Dodge City, Kan.
Johnson is only 70 percent committed to Alabama at this time and will take visits elsewhere. Even though Alabama is his dream school, he has not been fully on board with his commitment since the day he gave the staff his pledge. It’s going to be a battle to keep him committed.
21) Aaron Sterling, 3-star DE, Tucker, Ga.
Sterling doesn’t know if he’s going to take an official visit to the school he’s committed to and doesn’t know when he’ll visit next. South Carolina and Tennessee are recruiting Sterling harder than Alabama. I don’t see him in this class.
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.