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.
Some momentum LSU’s way for Smith?
Devonta Smith, one of Alabama’s top targets at the wide receiver position in the Class of 2017, was in attendance for LSU’s game against Ole Miss this past Saturday, and that’s somewhat significant because it was his first visit to Tiger Stadium this fall.
Smith, a 4-star prospect from Amite, La., has definitely had a hot-and-cold relationship with LSU over the past several months. He told SEC Country this summer at The Opening he wanted to leave the state for college and said he wasn’t a fan of the Tigers’ offense. Fast forward a few months and LSU had ceased communication with the state’s No. 1 prospect after he delayed his commitment.
LSU’s coaching staff has picked up communication with Smith once again, and he’s been impressed with what he’s seen.
“They’re throwing the ball more,” Smith told SEC Country’s Sam Spiegelman. “I want to see them continue to do that. He (LSU wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig) just told me that now that the coach (Les Miles) was fired to watch the things that are going on. I have watched and he’s stuck to his word about the offense opening up.”
Should that matter when it comes to Alabama’s chances with its top remaining uncommitted wide receiver target? Not necessarily. Sources on the Tide’s side remain extremely confident that Smith will be a part of Alabama’s signing class.
There has been some chatter that Smith could make a decision before National Signing Day, but he said that’s not the case.
“I’m going to wait until signing day; even if I do know before then, I’m going to wait until signing day,” Smith said.
The U.S. Army All-American was in Tuscaloosa for Alabama’s game against Kentucky on Oct. 1. He is not planning on taking an official visit to Alabama because of how many times the Louisiana prospect has been there throughout his recruitment.
Alabama has two wide receiver commitments in the Class of 2017 in 5-star prospect Jerry Jeudy and 4-star prospect Tyrell Shavers. The Tide are hoping to add Smith and 4-star prospect Henry Ruggs III.
Is Shelvin a legitimate option for Alabama?
Tyler Shelvin is LSU’s longest-tenured commitment in the Class of 2017, but that hasn’t stopped him from flirting with Alabama throughout his recruitment.
Shelvin, a 4-star defensive tackle from Notre Dame High School (Lafayette, La.), hasn’t visited Tuscaloosa in more than a year and doesn’t seem like a major threat at flipping his commitment from LSU.
The only possible way Shelvin departs from the Tigers’ class is if Ed Orgeron is not retained by LSU.
“As long as he’s there, I’m there,” Shelvin told Spiegelman. “He’s recruited me throughout. LSU was my first offer and coach O — I can’t explain it — but he’s the best.”
The 6-foot-3, 350-pound prospect said his relationship with Alabama defensive line coach Karl Dunbar is not as strong as his relationship with Orgeron. One of the reasons for that is because the pair has not talked face to face. Dunbar has seen Shelvin play this season, but NCAA rules prohibit coaches and recruits from having conversations while at recruits’ high school.
“Coach Dunbar texts me and I text him,” Shelvin said. “He came to one of the games, but we couldn’t talk because of NCAA rules. We stay in touch every now and then. He just wants me to go there and play up front for him.”
Shelvin said he’s planning on taking an official visit to Alabama for the Iron Bowl. If Orgeron isn’t at LSU in 2017, this recruitment is one to watch, but until that happens, Shelvin is LSU bound.
New safety target emerging?
One of the least talked about recruits when it comes to Alabama and the Class of 2017 is junior college safety Johnathan Abram.
Abram, who attends Jones Community College (Columbia, Miss.), originally signed with Georgia. He actually got significant playing time for the Bulldogs before he decided to transfer. The main reason why he decided to leave UGA was because of Jeremy Pruitt’s departure from the school.
“We’re extremely close,” Abram told SEC Country.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound prospect is being recruited by Pruitt once again, and the Tide defensive coordinator wants him at nickel back and safety. Safety is one of the biggest needs for Alabama in the Class of 2017, so it would make sense for the Tide to target a junior college prospect with SEC experience.
Abram said he hears from Pruitt every single say.
“He just wants me to play for him again and come fill in because I’m needed,” Abram said.
Abram is down to Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee. He is a December graduate so a decision is quickly approaching for the junior college prospect.
He is planning on taking an official visit to Alabama, but a date for that trip has not been set just yet. Abram is definitely a prospect to keep an eye on moving forward.
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked by Alabama fans is whether 4-star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will stick with his commitment. After all, Tagovailoa plays his high school ball more than 4,000 miles away from Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The tweet below shows where Tagovailoa’s mind is at with just a few months to go before his recruitment will come to an end.
In about 7 weeks.. HI?➡️T.U.A?
— Tua Tagovailoa (@Tuaamann_) October 26, 2016
The Honolulu native is planning to be an early graduate, so those five official visits he had talked about before seem unlikely to happen. His high school football team should advance far into the state playoffs, and if that happens, it’s highly unlikely Tagovailoa will take several official visits.
Again, I do not think there’s anything to worry about when it comes to his commitment.
Here is a list of other Alabama commitments who have said they are planning on being early enrollees:
• 5-star offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood
• 5-star running back Najee Harris
• 5-star wide receiver Jerry Jeudy
• 5-star linebacker Dylan Moses
• Nation’s No. 1 junior college prospect, 4-star offensive tackle Elliot Baker
•4-star athlete Chadarius Townsend
• 4-star wide receiver Tyrell Shavers
• 4-star running back Brian Robinson
• 4-star linebacker VanDarius Cowan
• 3-star tight end Major Tennison
• 3-star defensive back Kyriq McDonald
• 3-star offensive guard Hunter Brannon
• 2-star long snapper Thomas Fletcher
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Follow Chris on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.