Alabama has landed a quarterback, a 6-foot-7 offensive tackle and could add one of the nation’s top linebackers before the week is over.
For most of his recruitment, Auburn was considered the overwhelming favorite to land Markail Benton, the nation’s No. 6 outside linebacker, but when Benton announces his commitment Friday afternoon at his high school, Alabama is the likely pick. You can find out more analysis on why I think Alabama will land Benton here.
SEC Country readers submitted questions related to Alabama football recruiting to me on Twitter (@ChrisK_AJC), and here were the top ones:
Can Alabama land both Markail Benton and Will Ignont?
I do not think it’s possible at this time. If Benton ends up committing, Alabama will have three linebacker commits in the Class of 2017 (four-stars VanDarius Cowan and Gary Johnson are the others). The plan is for Alabama to sign four or five linebackers in this class.
Alabama is in the mix for several linebackers, Ignont, a four-star linebacker from Buckhorn High School (New Market, Ala.), is one of them, but many big targets are still on the board. Five-star IMG Academy studs Dylan Moses and Robert Beal are likely at the top of the wish list. Four-star Christopher Allen (Baton Rouge, La.) should also be viewed as one of the team’s top uncommitted targets. Though considered a strong Georgia lean, Nate McBride (Vidalia, Ga.) is loved by the Alabama staff. He’s not talked about too much, but four-star Tyler Taylor (Buford, Ga.) is higher on Alabama’s board than many think.
So, right now, it remains to be seen if there is room for Ignont with so many top linebacker targets on the board.
Other than Benton, are there any other recruits who can commit soon?
I think it’s safe to put four-star offensive tackle Austin Troxell (Madison, Ala.) on permanent commit watch. He’s expected to make a decision before his senior season starts. Like Elliot Baker earlier this week, Troxell could make a commitment out of nowhere. He’s not the type that looks for attention.
Four-star wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (Montgomery, Ala.) is expected to make a decision before his season begins, too. Ruggs could also commit out of nowhere. Like Troxell, he is pretty quiet on the recruiting front. Alabama remains the main contender to land the athletic slot receiver. I do not expect Ruggs to play for anyone other than Alabama.
Another wide receiver who could come off the board soon is four-star Jerry Jeudy (Pompano Beach, Fla.). He has not said when a commitment should be expected, but it would not be a surprise if he pulls the trigger soon. Alabama should be considered the favorite for Jeudy, who is very good friends with Crimson Tide star WR Calvin Ridley.
Ignont should also be on this list of who could commit soon. He was going to announce his decision this week but decided to hold off on doing that. A commitment could come at any time now. But again, will there be space for Ignont to join the Tide if he wants to?
Any update with Troxell, especially with Alabama adding Elliot Baker?
This is a good question, because Alabama now has two offensive tackle commits in the Class of 2017 (Baker and five-star Alex Leatherwood). I have thought that Troxell will end up in Alabama’s class, and I don’t think anything has changed with Baker on board.
Troxell is not the type of player to stop considering a school because it has other offensive tackle commits already in its class, either.
I spoke with Troxell this past Saturday as he finished up his visit to Auburn for Big Cat weekend, and he told me everything remains the same. He’s still torn 50-50 between Alabama and Auburn.
“I love both schools. I’m still really torn on the decision,” Troxell told SEC Country. “I really don’t know what I’m going to do. I really like both places, so it’s just going to be whatever fits me best.”
Why do you consider Devonta Smith a five-star talent?
One SEC assistant summed it up quite simply to me, “That kid is amazing.”
Sure, he doesn’t have the frame right now. He only stands at 6-foot-1 and is only 160 pounds. I wouldn’t worry about the weight right now, though. Once he gets on a proper weight training and nutrition program, the weight won’t be an issue. He has the frame to fill out.
But what makes him special is his catch radius and elite route-running skills. Each time I’ve seen Smith, he’s dominated. He competes like he always has something to prove when he doesn’t. Out of all the receivers I’ve seen this spring, Smith has been the best.
247Sports and Scout currently rank him a five-star talent, while ESPN and Rivals have him listed as a four-star.
Here he is easily beating Stanford Samuels, a five-star cornerback:
Amite WR Devonta Smith beats top CB Stanford Samuels. https://t.co/Wsql7L6Xz1
— Julie Boudwin (@Julie_Boudwin) April 17, 2016
Where does Akial Byers stand with the Tide after camp?
What’s interesting about Byers, a four-star defensive tackle who hails from Fayetteville, Ark., is the fact that Arkansas hasn’t offered him yet. That’s good news for Alabama, because it has made him one of the priorities at defensive tackle.
Byers was on campus this week for camp, and according to his head coach, the Crimson Tide lead.
“I would say that because of the time and the energy and the relationships that they have built with him,” Mahan said, according to 247Sports. “That’s the key. They have a plan and they have talked about that plan from the very beginning and they have Akial’s best interest in mind. It’s more than just offering a scholarship and hope you come here. They’ve been very diligent in the process.”
Alabama is also considering five-star Marvin Wilson (Bellaire, Texas) and four-star Aubrey Solomon (Leesburg, Ga.) at defensive tackle. Junior college star Isaiah Buggs (Ruston, La.), is also being considered at defensive tackle, but he could play defensive end, too.
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.