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What should we make of Tagovailoa’s comments?
Alabama quarterback commit Tua Tagovailoa set the recruiting world on fire when he said he and 5-star running back Najee Harris will be on the same flight from San Antonio, Texas, to Birmingham, Ala., on Sunday.
If that was the case, that would mean Harris, Alabama’s longest-tenured commitment is sticking with his pledge to the Crimson Tide. After talking with a source inside the Harris camp about Tagovailoa’s comments earlier in the week about rooming with Harris in Tuscaloosa and then saying they’ll be on the same flight, what he said should bode well for the Tide’s chances.
“I’ll just say Tua is a smart kid and leave it like that,” the source said.
As we were talking, the report broke about Tagovailoa saying the two were on the same flight. That’s when things got interesting.
“He (Tua) wasn’t supposed to leak that out yet,” the source said. “Tua doesn’t know anything.”
I can read that contradictory quote in two ways:
1) Tagovailoa, in all of his interviews at the Army Bowl this week, has pretty much been the unofficial spokesman for Harris’ recruitment. Harris has declined almost every single interview in Texas so far, outside of the people who pay for access at the event. So, perhaps he has told Tagovailoa what he’s actually going to do and trusts him enough to say what’s actually going on.
2) My interpretation of a member of Harris’ camp saying Tua wasn’t supposed to say anything is that the source wants this recruitment to drag out as long as possible, stay mysterious and create headlines every day until he shows up at his school of choice. The first part of the quote is saying that the two flying together is true, but then the second part is saying he doesn’t know anything. Odd.
The problem with No. 2 is that it’s not Harris’ style to want the attention drawn to him; however, the way he’s handled his recruitment in Texas has brought on more attention than the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect says he wants. While you have to respect the fact that Harris has chosen an unconventional method to “announce” his decision, this would have been easier if he said he’s sticking with Alabama or going to Michigan.
Unless he doesn’t know.
I spent a week with Tagovailoa, his parents and coaches in Hawaii and can say that the quarterback is not the type of person who is going to make up stories just because he wants to get a laugh out of the media’s expense. If Tagovailoa says Harris is on his flight — then basing it off my knowledge of who he is — the running back must have told him. Tagovailoa isn’t going to pull this out of thin air just to say it. That’s not him and he has nothing to gain by not telling the truth.
At this point, Harris has to know what Tagovailoa has said about his recruitment with all of the media that is there. If he wasn’t happy with what his friend said, one would think he would tell him to keep quiet. Instead, Harris was in his natural state — goofing off and smiling — while Tagovailoa was talking to the media right in front of him.
— Jesse Re Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) January 4, 2017
Harris and Tagovailoa have hung out together every single night they’ve been in Texas over the past week. While I don’t think Harris’ relationship with Tagovailoa is what ultimately keeps him committed to Alabama, it’s not insignificant, by any means.
So, what should we make of the leak comment and Tagovailoa saying Harris will be flying with him to Alabama on Sunday? It truly is hard to say because of how bizarre and how much of a circus this recruitment has turned into?
If there’s one thing I’ve come to know since covering Harris over the past year, it’s to expect the unexpected. Alabama will not celebrate until he shows up in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama offers preferred walk-on
Panic set in late Wednesday night for Alabama fans when they saw the following tweet below:
— ⚡️Nicholas Sims⚡️ (@THENICHOLASSIMS) January 5, 2017
This is Nicholas Sims, a 2017 running back from Mobile, Ala., who runs a 4.35 40-yard dash, according to his Hudl profile. Yes … a running back. Yes … the same position Harris plays. But, this offer is not a scholarship offer. It’s a preferred walk-on spot, according to Sims. And, it’s not an offer to play running back at Alabama. It’s to play defensive back/wide receiver, so it has nothing to do with Harris’ decision.
Rest easy … for now.
Tagovailoa also recruiting DeVonta Smith
Not only is Tagovailoa making sure Harris sticks with his commitment to Alabama, he’s also helping the Tide with their two main wide receiver targets —Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith — while he’s in San Antonio for the Army Bowl.
Tagovailoa told SEC Country that Ruggs told him that he’s down to Alabama and Florida State. Smith’s finalists are condensed to Alabama, LSU and Miami. But the Tide quarterback is making sure he’s in Tuscaloosa next season.
“Tua is just an uplifting person,” Smith told SEC Country’s Jesse Simonton. “He just brings that and says we can do a lot of things at Alabama.”
Smith was on the wrong end of a viral play on Tuesday. During 1-on-1 drills, Georgia 5-star safety commit Richard LeCounte pushed Smith over a bench on the sidelines and almost into a trash can. It likely would have been grounds for an ejection in a game. For the record, LeCounte didn’t apologize, Smith said.
“I wasn’t trying to fight back,” Smith said. “I thought he was going to let me go, but he kept going. Stuff like that happens. I’m not going to let that stuff get to me and stop me from doing what I want to do. That wasn’t going to stop me from doing my best against anyone else that stepped up in front of me. It really made me go harder.”
And by all accounts, Smith was arguably the best wide receiver in practice that day, despite the one rep that everyone will remember. His consistency is one of the main reasons why Alabama, LSU and Miami, his final three schools, want him.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there are not many smoother route runners in the Class of 2017 than Smith. He’s been one of Alabama’s top wide receiver targets ever since he de-committed from Georgia in January.
Alabama has been viewed as the favorite to land him mainly because of his relationships with the staff.
“We have had a great relationship since my eighth-grade year,” Smith said of Tide wide receivers coach Billy Napier. “He’s been there ever since. He’s never slacked off on anything.”
Not only is he close with Napier, but he’s extremely tight with assistant director of player personnel Sam Petitto, who was sort of like a father figure to Smith growing up. Petitto got his coaching start at Smith’s high school in Amite, La.
LSU has emerged as a top threat to Alabama as the Tigers have ramped up their recruitment efforts of Smith. One of the main reasons for that is because of LSU wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig. The Tigers assistant has been named as a possible offensive coordinator for the Oregon job.
“Really, that would be important,” Smith said of Craig staying at LSU.
“If he leaves, another wide receivers coach would come in and it would probably be too late to get to know him because signing day is just a few weeks away.”
Smith will take an official visit to LSU next weekend and then travel to Tuscaloosa on Jan. 20 before taking his final visit to Miami the weekend before National Signing Day.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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