Recruiting has reached a fevered pitch with coaches criss-crossing the country and Twitter tittering with anticipation.
It is no exaggeration to say that the events in Tuscaloosa this weekend might be the biggest in the nation and the most important to the Crimson Tide. Several of the highest rated student-athletes and their families will be seeing the campus, touring the facilities, and meeting with coaches, administrators, faculty, and students to decide whether they want to enroll at the Capstone.
The official date is January 22 but it is basically the whole weekend with some recruits rolling in as early as Thursday and leaving on Sunday.
An "official visit" (OV) is any visit to a college campus by prospect and his parents paid for by the college. The university may pay all or some of the expenses for a 48-hour period that begins once the prospect arrives on campus (for more details, click on this here linky dink).
Below is the list of what is believed to be the official visitors for this weekend though there will be plenty of unofficial visitors (paying their own way) for both 2016, 2017, and even a few 2018.
Ben Davis (Gordo, AL) LB 6-4/230, 5-star - Everything points to this top 10 player to follow his dad to the Crimson Tide. But it is not a slam dunk just yet. UGA, Auburn, LSU, and Notre Dame are still working him.
Mecole Hardman Jr. (Elbert County, Elberton, GA) ATH 5-10/169, 5-star - This playmaking receiver/cornerback named Alabama his favorite a few weeks ago but don't consider that a lock. He OV'd to Ohio State last weekend but I don't think they have a shot. This is going to come down to Alabama and home state UGA.
Lyndell Wilson (Carver, Montgomery, AL) OLB 6-2/220, 5-star - It's anyone's guess where "Mack" lands but wherever he signs, it will be in the SEC. Bama is battling Georgia and Florida for this signature.
Demetris Robertson (Savannah Christian Prep, Savannah, GA) ATH 5-11.5/175, 5-star - I hope you are sitting down because this Bama decommit appears to trending towards... Notre Dame (why, Demetris?). Alabama and Georgia are battling to keep him in the south. UPDATE (see below)
Mique Juarez (North High School, Torrance, CA) OLB 6-1.5/231, 5-star - Top 10 player has reportedly cancelled his Jan. 29 trip to UCLA and is going to BYU instead. He is high on Ole Miss. Bama needs to blow him away.
Jeffery Simmons (Noxubee County, Macon, MS) SDE 6-3.5/277, 4/5-star - He probably stays in state but it won't stop Alabama from wooing him. Did I mention he is from Mississippi?
Nigel Warrior (Peachtree Ridge, Suwanee, GA) S 6-0/186, 4/5-star - Top 4 safety is best suited for free safety. He may be a Tennessee lean but is also giving Bama, UGA, and LSU long looks.
B.J. Emmons (Freedom, Morganton, NC) RB 5-11/220, 4-stars - One of the top running backs in the nation, solidly committed to the Tide. 2,417 yards and 36 TDs as a senior.
Landon Dickerson (South Caldwell, Hudson, NC) OT 6-5/300, 4-star - FSU looks like the leader ahead of Bama, Aub, Tenn, and Fla for this top 5 guard.
Shyheim Carter (Kentwood, LA) CB 6-0/190, 4-star - A battle between Bama and Ole Miss may come down to his visits to T-town this weekend and Oxford the next.
Terrell Hall (St. John's College HS, Washington, DC) WkDE 6-5 250, 4-star - Alabama is trying to convince Hall to leave his backyard school Maryland in his rear view mirror. FSU and Ole Miss are also in the running.
Donavaughn Campbell (Ponchatoula, LA) OG 6-4/347, 4-star - LSU commit, likely just a sight-seer but ya never know...
Dontavious Jackson (Alief Elsik, Houston, TX) ILB 6-2/239, 4-star - Potentially the next great middle linebacker at Alabama should he choose to ink with the Tide. Runs a 4.68. Looking at Bama, Fla, FSU, Mich, Tejas.
Jamar King (Mendocino College, Ukiah, CA) SDE 6-5/285, 3-star - Originally from Detroit, MI, this under-the-radar juco also visited Ohio State but has no offer from them. His only other offers are from Northern Arizona who wants him to play offensive line and UCF. Is King an overlooked diamond-in-the-rough or is this a real head scratcher?
Tramonda Moore ( HS, Oklahoma City, OK) OT 6-6/330, 4-star - Another big earthmover who could play on either side of the line. He is considering Alabama, but likely stays in-state. "Where's the buffet, yo?!"
Ahmmon Richards (Wellington, West Palm Beach, FL) WR 6-1.5/171, 4-star - Great size from an elite athlete who could excel at WR or DB. Alabama is likely fighting the charms of Mark Richt in South Beach for this signature. Tenn and Aub are in there somewhere as well.
Scott Lashley (West Point, MS) OT 6-6/300, 4-star - What is the point in writing about Mississippi guys any more?
Jaleel Laguins (Oconee County, Watkinsville, GA) ILB 6-2/209, 4-star - UGA commit was originally recruited to the Dawgs by Jeremy Pruitt. He is sightseeing Bama and Fla this month.
Irvin Smith (Brother Martin, New Orleans, LA) TE 6-4/230 3-star - Soft verbal commit to Texas A&M is looking at Bama, Texas, and maybe Memphis. The Tide already have Brendan Scales and Miller Forristall in the barn. Do they really need to lasso a third 3-star tight end?
Kobe Jones (Starkville, MS) DT 6-4/265, 4-star - Blah blah blah Mississippi State, blah blah blah Ole Miss. Blah blah sightseer.
D'Vaughn Pennamon (Manvel, TX) APB 5-11/220, 3/4-star - A soft verbal to Ole Miss who is also looking at Bama, Ark, TAMU, Cal, Houston. 13.3 yards per carry as a senior.
(McEachern, Powder Springs, GA) WR 5-11/194, 3-star - Alabama commit.
Korey Banks (Sandy Creek, Tyrone, GA) ATH 6-0/170, 3-star - Longtime UNC commit visiting Alabama and South Carolina. Good speed, can play wide receiver or cornerback, but not highly rated. Could he be a Plan B?
Jonathan Kongbo (Arizona Western College, Yuma, AZ) SDE 6-5.5/264, 4/5-star - Top juco player has rescheduled his Bama trip for Jan. 29. FSU this weekend. Decommitted from Tennessee. Originally from Canada. Two years of eligibility remaining.
Nigel Knott (Germantown HS, Madison, MS) CB 5-11/ 175, 4-stars – He has shown the interest in Alabama and Oregon. He has not taken his OV to T-town but has taken a couple of unofficials this past fall. His father David Knott played safety at Ole Miss and sister runs track at Mississippi State. You know where this is going, right?
Jawon Pass (Carver HS, Columbus, GA) QB 6-4/209, 4-star – Louisville commit. There has been a lot of chatter that this dual threat will visit Tuscaloosa this weekend but nothing official yet. Could the emergence of Cardinals freshman starting QB Lamar Jackson be scaring him away from northern Kentucky?
A.J. Brown - I know I am just stepping into a trap for typing out this combination of letters but this 4-star Starkville WR might just be favoring the Tide. Ah, dangit. I just jinxed it. Sorry, y'all.
Tyler Vaughns - Despite some reports, the 4-star WR Southern Cal commit is not visiting.
PARADE & CELEBRATION WEEKEND
If you have not heard, Saturday's parade and Championship ceremony has been pushed to 11am CT but you may want to get there early to take in all the events including the CFP Championship Giant Beer Tap Trophy on display beginning at 8:30am. Parking will be available on the north side of campus. Best parking is in the Ten Hoor area behind Publix. Get all the details here.
Also this weekend, the gymnastics team has a meet in Coleman Coliseum against Arkansas Friday night at 6pm CT. Wide receiver Richard Mullaney will pass out awards at the meet. You may get an autograph if your lucky (he is out of eligibility so it's okay to slide him a few bucks if you wanna).
Saturday afternoon is likely the first, last, and only appearance of future NBA star Ben Simmons to make an appearance at Coleman as the LSU Tigers take on our Crimson Tide hoopsters. It's going to be a fun weekend.
Many recruits for this year and years to come will be in attendance. It was this time three years ago that a young, rather larger fella from Fort Worth, TX was in Tuscaloosa for the 2012 Championship parade weekend. He had been leaning towards signing with Texas for a long time but a late push by Saban and staff, coupled with the celebration festivities convinced him that the University of Alabama was the place for him. That young man? A'Shawn Robinson.
FRIDAY UPDATE: 3/4-star running back Brandon Stephens (Plano, Texas) has decommitted from Stanford. Alabama was his second choice before he committed to Stanford early this fall. Tide WR coach Billy Napier paid him an in-home visit on Monday. Stephens is still interested in the Cardinal as well as Oklahoma.
FRIDAY UPDATE: Nick Saban had a visit with 3/4-star TE Nick Eubanks on Thursday in Plantation, FL. I guess Saban is intent on signing three tight ends (or more?) to this class.
FRIDAY UPDATE: Somebody recently asked about the Bryant scholarship which to my understanding is awarded to any student (athlete or non-athlete, male or female) whose father played or coached for Coach Bear Bryant. Former Indianapolis Colts DT Jon Hand was a freshman on Bryant's last team in 1982. As one of the youngest fathers of a candidate, he is 52 years old. The pool of potential recipients out there must be dwindling. Does anyone know if the scholarship eligibility has been changed to include offspring of ANY former Bama player regardless of who the coach was? (ANSWERED: See comments below)
FRIDAY UPDATE: Demetris Robertson will not visit Alabama this weekend as he is taking the SAT. He plans to reschedule. Some observers think he may wait until after NSD (Feb. 3) to decide on a school.
FRIDAY UPDATE: Biggest surprise of the day centers around the reports that 4-star ILB Jaquan Yulee has committed to ... wait for it ... Marshall! (?!?!)
FRIDAY UPDATE: Reports that Jawon Pass has been spotted in Tuscaloosa.
FRIDAY UPDATE: I hate to admit it but LSU is killing it! They just picked up 5-star DT Rashard Lawrence. Imagine if they had fired Les Miles.
FRIDAY UPDATE: I get the feeling that Alabama's Signing Day will not end on February 3. Don't be surprised if Saban signs multiple players after that date.
FRIDAY UPDATE: There was some fear that Terrell Hall would not be able to fly out of the DC area today, but he has arrived in Tuscaloosa safe and sound. Jaleel Laguins, however, may not make it which is just as well as he was just a "sight seer" anyway.
FRIDAY UPDATE: Mique Juarez, Jeffery Simmons, Landon Dickerson, and B.J. Emmons among others have arrived as well.
FRIDAY UPDATE: Some excellent news that 4-star DT Raekwon Davis will make an OV next weekend!
FRIDAY UPDATE: Lyndell Wilson has arrived!
SATURDAY UPDATE: Apparently, 4-star WR Trevon Diggs was thinking of making a second trip this weekend, one week after a visit last weekend but could not get out of Maryland. He is a firm Alabama commit at this point.
SATURDAY UPDATE: The Cotton Bowl, SEC, and Big Beer Tap CFP Champions trophies are all on display if you want to come by the Walk of Champions and get a picture. They also have the much cooler Crystal Football on site as well.
SATURDAY UPDATE: Today's parade and ceremony will be aired live on the SEC Network Alternative channel and ESPN3.com at 11am CT. Replays can be seen Saturday evening at 10pm CT, and again on Sunday at noon CT.
SATURDAY UPDATE: The parade has begun led by an Alabama-themed 18-wheeler. They are followed by the Crimsonettes, cheerleaders, and the Million Dollar Band. A great crowd is out here braving the cold in good spirits.
SATURDAY UPDATE: The sun has come out just as the team hits the Walk (cue the heavenly choir). Lane Kiffin and the other coaches arrive on golf carts. Miss Terry and Nick round out the parade in the back of black Mercedes.
SATURDAY UPDATE: In case anyone was wondering, DB Tony Brown was present and part of the celebration. He and teammates posed for selfies with the trophies.
SATURDAY UPDATE: Marlon Humphrey was on crutches. Jonathan Allen's right arm is in a sling. I'm not sure what either of these revelations are about. I am sure nothing serious.
SATURDAY UPDATE: Many former player were at the event including Marlon's dad Bobby Humphrey, Barrett Jones, and Leon Brown. I assume Ben Davis' father, Wayne Davis, was there somewhere.
SATURDAY UPDATE: Ugh. Mecole Hardman tweeted that he was not able to make the trip to Alabama due to weather. There is no word regarding a reschedule. I am not sure what the issue was seeing how Georgia and Alabama highways were clear. I have a bad feeling about this one.
SATURDAY UPDATE: Texas just had some 3-star cornerback decommit. According to an ESPN recruiting analyst, there have been close to 70 FBS decommitments (including flips) since January 1. Didn't I tell you it has been a weird recruiting year?
SUNDAY UPDATE: Raekwon Davis made a surprise return to Tuscaloosa on an unofficial visit Saturday. This likely quells any talk of him flipping to Mississippi State. As I previously speculated, he probably got put on the spot last weekend in Starkville.
SUNDAY UPDATE: I know I sound like a broken record but this has been a very weird recruiting season. As of yet, no new commits for Alabama. But they are not alone. Only one SEC team received a verbal pledge yesterday (3-star RB to Mizzou). It's almost as if all the recruits got together and decided to wait until NSD to announce. This is going to be a crazy finish.
SUNDAY UPDATE: Due to bad weather in Washington DC, Terrell Hall will remain at Alabama until Monday.
SUNDAY UPDATE: There is a report that the nation's #1 overall player Rashan Gary may take his final visit next weekend to Tuscaloosa instead of Clemson. I am 98.8% certain he signs with Michigan but at least this gives Saban a fighting chance.
SUNDAY UPDATE: 4-star CB Jared Mayden (Sachse, TX) has narrowed it down to Alabama and Oklahoma. He will announce on NSD.