With just over two weeks to National Signing Day, Alabama has over twenty verbal commitments to date and for all intents and purposes this recruiting class is all but signed, sealed, and delivered. Remaining space is extremely limited, and in all likelihood 'Bama only has three or four spots remaining in this class. With all that in mind, a few comments on the handful of remaining targets and how the class looks to play out in the final two and a half weeks before National Signing Day:
Jadeveon Clowney is in Tuscaloosa this weekend on an official visit, and by all accounts, while he is considering some other schools, he is effectively down to South Carolina and Alabama. Unanimously considered the top player in the nation, Clowney may be the best prep prospect years, and Alabama has recruited him accordingly. Having said that, though, staying close to him is expected to play a key role in his decision -- a notion that was only further confirmed by the fact that he did not attend a single 'Bama home game this season -- and that clearly favors South Carolina. 'Bama is never entirely out of any recruiting battle with Nick Saban at the helm, and anything could happen, but admittedly it would be a surprise for Clowney to end up anywhere other than Columbia. Expect Clowney to pick the Gamecocks in a close decision on National Signing Day.
Cyrus Kouandjio remains notoriously tight-lipped regarding his recruitment, and there is virtually no news to report. The brother of 2010 'Bama signee Arie Kouandjio, the younger Kouandjio is widely expected by everyone to sign with Alabama come National Signing Day, and in all honesty no one can really even identify a legitimate player for his services other than the Tide. He has taken an official visit to Alabama, but to the best of my knowledge currently does not have any scheduled for any other schools. The only real "news" regarding Kouandjio was his impressive showing at the Under Armour game where he solidified his status as one of the best in the country. Expect him to sign with Alabama on National Signing Day.
Isiah Crowell remains the target of a fierce head-to-head battle between Alabama and Georgia, and he will be in Tuscaloosa this weekend on an official visit. Considered by many to be the top tailback prospect in the country, he is considered by many to be the prime target of Mark Richt in the 2011 recruiting class, and the fact that Richt recently extended an offer to Crowell's close friend Quintavious Harrow -- a kid who, quite frankly, shows no other indication of being a legitimate SEC caliber prospect -- speaks volumes for how desperate UGA is to get his signature. Crowell grew up a Georgia fan, and he is clearly intrigued by the promises of early playing time in Athens, but Saban has made the race highly competitive and most figure it's a toss-up at this point. With the offer to Harrow now being thrown in the mix, I'd give a slight edge to Georgia, but either way I'm not overly concerned about Crowell. He's a very good prospect, but I don't see him on the level of a Mark Ingram or a Trent Richardson, and as I mentioned a couple of weeks back I frankly don't expect Crowell to beat out either the aforementioned Richardson or Eddie Lacy at Alabama next season, or Washaun Ealey or Caleb King at UGA. In other words, if we pull Crowell, great, if not, back off the ledge. One way or another, he'll announce on National Signing Day.
Malcolm Mitchell is the top defensive back recruit left on the board for Alabama, and this is yet another Alabama v. UGA toss-up for a Georgia product. Most have thought Alabama held the lead here for some time, and 'Bama likely remains the slight favorite for his signature, but Georgia has pursued him very hard. Alabama gets the last crack at Mitchell with his official visit to Tuscaloosa this weekend, but expect this one to go right down to the very end just like it did with Xzavier Dickson. He will announce his decision on January 20th, with his teammate Jay Rome, from a hibachi grill in Valdosta. Just think of all of the announcement possibilities inherent with that one.
Jay Rome, arguably the top tight end prospect in the country, has long since been recruited by Alabama, and he is in Tuscaloosa this weekend for an official visit. Given our stature as a program and how hard we have recruited him, it wouldn't be a shocker if he signed with 'Bama, but it would constitute a major surprise, and he has been expected to end up signing with Georgia for quite some time now. Mitchell will announce on January 20th alongside Malcolm Mitchell, and I'd expect him to commit to the Dawgs then.
Nickolas Brassell was scheduled to be in Tuscaloosa this weekend on an official visit as Alabama had emerged as a serious contender late in the process for his services. However, Brassell stayed at home this weekend, and will visit Ole Miss next weekend as scheduled. Given that, I'd expect that he will ultimately sign with Colonel Reb, especially considering that he has eliminated Mississippi State and that as a South Panola product he's only a few minutes down the road from Oxford.
Erique Florence is still technically open and considering Alabama, and he will take an official visit next weekend, but it would be a complete shock if he ultimately signed with Alabama. Everyone expects him to end up at Auburn, and frankly I think he has been a silent commitment for some time now.
Daryl Collins, the long-time Alabama commitment, has official visits scheduled to Kentucky and Tennessee in the coming weeks, and may be looking to make a late switch. If it comes to fruition you can compare this one to the Gerald West switch to Southern Miss a couple of years back, but nothing is a given at this point. Playing time and the potential of a greyshirt are apparent concerns, so don't be surprised to see him end up somewhere else on National Signing Day.