Alabama will have to figure out how to replace 2 of its most important members of its 2016 team heading into this season: defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson. It won’t be an easy task.
When you take a look at the roster, defensive line depth is an issue for the coming season, unless Alabama lands a couple of big targets on National Signing Day.
So, that’s why the biggest question entering Feb. 1’s signing day is how Alabama will close its 2017 class on the defensive line.
Pressing Question: How much depth can Alabama add to its defensive line?
The Crimson Tide will have the following defensive line targets making commitments on signing day:
- 5-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon
- 5-star defensive end LaBryan Ray
- 4-star defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis
Alabama already has 4-star junior college defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs in Tuscaloosa. He was one of 12 early enrollees. Crimson Tide fans should get familiar with Buggs because he should make an impact this season.
The Tide also have a commitment from 4-star defensive tackle Akial Byers, who will likely be a “sign and place” recruit. That means Byers, who may not qualify academically, will sign with Alabama on signing day and then likely will be placed in a junior college of Alabama’s choosing. These recruits essentially have to be “re-recruited” after spending two years at junior college, though.
That makes signing two of the three recruits listed above that much more important. I believe Alabama will get at least two of those players, but it’s certainly not a slam dunk. The likeliest addition Ray, who has been deemed a strong lean to Alabama since picking up his offer from the Tide in early 2016. Ray is Alabama’s No. 1 target at defensive end and is an in-state recruit. The Tide rarely miss on those guys.
Solomon is Alabama’s top defensive tackle target, but he’s been all over the map in his recruitment. The Tide are still holding out hope that they can reel in Solomon, who, as of early January, said Alabama held “a huge lead.” Michigan is a legitimate threat to land Solomon, though.
If Solomon goes to the Wolverines, that makes signing Mathis a huge priority on signing day. Mathis has been viewed as one of the team’s defensive line targets for several months now, but he’s never outwardly said Alabama is the favorite to land his commitment, unlike Solomon. LSU is Alabama’s biggest competitor for Mathis. What may work in the Tide’s favor when it comes to Mathis’ decision is that LSU is a major player for 5-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson.
You may ask why I’m not including 4-star defensive end Jarez Parks in this group. Well, Alabama is recruiting him at JACK, which is a hybrid of defensive end and outside linebacker. The Tide have not recruited him specifically at defensive end since they started recruiting him.
If Alabama can land two out of the trio of Ray, Solomon and Mathis, it will be a successful defensive line haul for the Crimson Tide on signing day.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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