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Alabama Crimson Tide Football 2017 Recruiting Update: Best Class Ever?

Or as we like to call it in these parts: “crootin”

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the conclusion of the regular season, recruiting amps up another gear. The Crimson Tide has a full slate of committed players... and dang it all if we don’t seem to say this every year but this might just be one of the best classes ever! Heismans for everyone!

The Crimson Tide is ranked as the top recruiting class for 2017 by the big four recruiting services. What makes this class even more amazing is that it includes a 3-star kicker and a 2-star longsnapper (both of whom are No. 2 in the nation at their positions) and the Tide is still No. 1.

Alabama currently has 25 commits which may sound like this class is full. However due to attrition this past year, there is belief that the Tide may be able to sign 27. In addition, we may see a few moves at the bottom of the list.

RBR Composite Rankings

To try to get a real feel for this class, I am reintroducing the RBR Composite Rankings which takes player rankings of the four major recruiting services and adds 247sports' composite rankings. The inclusion of 247sports' composite as an even factor is because the formula they use is an undisclosed nebulous one that factors in unknown entities. So, grain of salt and all that...

Name Pos Location Ht Wt 247 Comp 247 Scout ESPN Rivals Average
Najee Harris* RB Antioch, CA 6'2" 222 5 5 5 5 5 5
Alex Leatherwood* OL Pensacola, FL 6'5" 298 5 5 5 5 5 5
Dylan Moses*+ LB Baton Rouge, LA 6'2" 225 5 5 5 5 4 4.8
Jerry Jeudy* WR Deerfield Beach, FL 6'2" 175 5 4 4 4 5 4.4
Elliot Baker** *+
OL San Francisco, CA 6'7" 295 4 4 4 4 5 4.2
Jedrick Wills OL Lexington, KY 6'4" 316 4 4 4 4 5 4.2
Vandarius Cowan* LB Palm Beach Gardens, FL 6'4" 218 4 4 5 4 4 4.2
Isaiah Buggs** *+
DE Rushton, LA 6'5" 290 4 4 4 4 5 4.2
Tua Tagovailoa* QB Honolulu, HI 6'1" 185 4 4 4 4 4 4
Markail Benton LB Phenix City, AL 6'2" 227 4 4 4 4 4 4
Tyrell Shavers* WR Lewisville, TX 6'6" 200 4 4 4 4 4 4
Daniel Wright* DB Fort Lauderdale, FL 6'1" 167 4 4 4 4 4 4
Chadarius Townsend*+ ATH Tanner, AL 6'0" 180 4 4 4 4 4 4
Kendall Randolph OL Madison, AL 6'5" 285 4 4 4 4 4 4
Chris Allen LB Baton Rouge, LA 6'4" 233 4 4 4 4 4 4
Brian Robinson* RB Tuscaloosa, AL 6'1" 218 4 3 4 4 4 3.8
Mac Jones QB Jacksonville, FL 6'3" 181 4 3 4 4 4 3.8
Akial Byers DT Fayetteville, AR 6'4" 260 4 3 4 4 4 3.8
Major Tennison*+ TE Bullard, TX 6'6" 240 4 3 4 4 4 3.8
Kedrick James TE Waco, TX 6'5" 245 3 3 4 4 4 3.6
Jhavonte Dean**
DB Brenham, TX 6'2" 180 3 3 3 4 4 3.4
Kyriq McDonald*+ DB Madison, AL 5'11" 185 3 3 3 3 4 3.2
Brandon Ruiz K Gilbert, AZ 5'10" 165 3 3 3 3 3 3
Hunter Brannon* OL Cullman, AL 6'4" 290 3 3 3 3 3 3
Thomas Fletcher*+ LS Bradenton, FL 6'1" 215 2 2 2 2 2 2

* Early Enrollee
** Juco transfer
+ Signed NLI or Financial Aid papers


Did you notice all the asterisks and plus signs above? The names with a single asterisk (*) and the jucos with three (** *) are all planning to enroll at the University of Alabama in early January 2017. The ones who have signed papers (+) are basically locked in.

The reported number of EEs now stands at a whopping 16 but that could change. The real number to notice is that nine of the top 11 Bama recruits will be on campus inside of four weeks. That means they can all practice in the spring and participate in A-Day. That plan seemed to work out pretty well for Jonah Williams Jonah Williams and Jalen Hurts this past January, and for Calvin Ridley and Ronnie Harrison the year before.


Some Bama fans have been wringing their hands over the announcement that Tide OC Lane Kiffin had taken the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic. Despite this news, it is unlikely that we see any defections from the top of the board. For one, NOBODY is going to flip from Bama to the Owls just to be with Kiffin. Secondly, most recruits choose a school by many more factors other than who the OC is. Thirdly, it is hard to imagine that Saban will be changing the offensive philosophy for next season, regardless of who takes the OC job.


First off, let's get his name right: TOO-uh Tongo-VIE-uh-LOW-uh. Even though there is no "N" in his name, that is how it is pronounced.

Now that we got that straightened out, Tua Tagovailoa, the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat quarterback, has not given any indication of signing anywhere other than Alabama. He made his official visit to Tuscaloosa on December 4 and has no plans on visiting any other schools. New Oregon coach Willie Taggart flew to Hawaii last week hoping to flip Alabama’s quarterback commit but came back empty-handed. Tua's family has stated that they have built a strong relationship with Nick Saban and outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi since the commitment in May. So, the departure of Kiffin will not sway his pledge. [Update: 247 is reporting that Tagovailoa signed Financial Aid papers based on a Tweet but there is no confirmation as of yet.]

Tua plans to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7 before heading to Tuscaloosa to enroll early at Alabama. Tagovaioloa ended his high school career with 84 touchdowns and more than 8,000 yards through the air. He also rushed for nearly 2,000 in his four years and put up 111 all-purpose touchdowns.

On a side note, Alabama offered Tua's younger brother Taulia (tao-uh-LEE-uh) who is a Class of 2019 QB, back in July. Also, former Falcons, Hawaii, and SMU coach June Jones is the school's athletics director and the team's OC.


The nation's no. 1 overall recruit, Najee Harris, has been very busy. Last week, he had an in-home visit from Saban and Lupoi, followed by OVs to Cal and Michigan. Our West Coast Correspondent PiperTJ reports that his Mom "accompanied him on the visit to Cal and tweeted out 'No place like home' with a pic of the Bay." Antioch is about 40 miles east of Berkeley. "One of his good friends/teammate signed with Cal. If it's not Bama or Meechigan (he was there recently with temps in the 20's and snow -heheheheh) I could really see him staying close to home. Not sure how his grades are in that regard."

If Harris wanted to join the World Poker Tour he would rake it in because he is playing everything very close to his chest. Nobody seems to know what is going on inside his head right now.

Harris is not very fond of the whole circus that goes on around the recruiting process. I don't think he even has a Twitter account. He may have already signed his financial aid papers for all we know. One thing we do know is that this young man is that he is a workout fiend and is totally driven to be the best he can be. Although he has been recruited by Lupoi and Burton Burns, Alabama strength coach Scott Cochran might be the real not-so-secret weapon here.


Miami made one last wine & dine push for Jerry Jeudy but to no avail. The nation's No. 1 wide receiver tweeted out a thanks, but no thanks and shut down the recruitment process. It is going to be a thrill to see Jeudy and Calvin Ridley on the field together.


The NCAA dead period dropped on Dec. 11. During a this period a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, and may not watch student-athletes compete or visit their high schools. Coaches may write and telephone student-athletes or their parents during the dead period.Contact periods will open up right after the National Championship Game has concluded.


it's complicated

Just because a person is verbally committed to a school, it does not mean that is where he will sign. We are all well aware of recruits who "flip" their commitment to another program. It also works on the other end. There are a few members of this commitment list who will not be around come Feb. 1. It is a numbers game. At this point, many coaches need to look to positions of need. And then there are instances where a coaching staff just sours on a guy. A lot can happen between the time some recruits commit and the actual day they sign their letters-of-intent on Feb. 1.

Which brings us to the bottom of the Bama commit list. It is highly probable that kicker Brandon Ruiz and longsnapper  Thomas Fletcher will be a part of this class. Ruiz had his Tuscaloosa OV this past weekend and things seem solid with him. Fletcher has signed his Financial Aid papers. They will both play in the Army All-American Bowl, Jan. 7.

The story around Hunter Brannon is an odd one. He has been lightly recruited and is rated three stars but was offered a scholarship after having a dominant showing at a summer Alabama camp. He is listed as an early enrollee but there is talk that the staff may want him to greyshirt. That would mean holding off enrollment until a year from January. This is pure speculation on my part, but it is possible that he could walk-on and earn a scholly later. Being an EE, I guess we will find out pretty soon what may lay in his future. He is projected as a center.

Jhavonte Dean is another under-recruited player who impressed the Tide staff at a summer camp. However, the juco transfer may not be a part of this class. Despite cornerback being a position of need, Bama might be looking elsewhere. Miami is looking like his final landing spot.

There is some chatter going on that Akial Byers will not be a part of this class either, but it is unclear what the basis of those claims are.

Kyriq McDonald and Major Tennison have reportedly signed financial aid papers as well.

And finally, I am still confused about what is going on with Mac Jones. I suppose Saban just wants some depth/insurance at the quarterback spot since Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell have decide to transfer.

All that said, there is not much room left in this class.


Might this year be the first that Alabama does not sign anyone from Georgia? The short answer is, maybe. The Peach State always puts out a bumper crop of blue-chippers but this year's class is not as strong as recent years. The Tide has pledges from recruits from as far as Hawaii, Arizona, and California but none from the neighbors to the east. Nonetheless, there are some possibilities.

Of the top 20 players in Georgia, ten are committed to UGA. Six have yet to commit but are considering Bama:

  • Aubrey Solomon, Lee County (Leesburg, GA) DT 6-3/305  - Five-star had an OV to Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl. He may be an UGA lean but Derrick Ansley and Jeremy Pruitt are on the case.
  • Deangelo Gibbs, Grayson (Loganville, GA) S 6-2/204 - UGA was long a favorite for this 4-star, but he has been warming to the idea of patrolling Alabama's secondary. You may have heard about Saban landing a helicopter on a high school practice field last week. It was to see Gibbs.
  • Xavier McKinney, Roswell (Roswell, GA) S 6-1/192 - Nick Saban and Derrick Ansley had an in-home with this 4-star last week. He OV'd T-town for the Chattanooga game, which is not encouraging. He may be a Clemson lean.
  • Nate McBride, Vidalia Comprehensive (Vidalia, GA) ILB 6-2/220 - This 4-star is a top 5 at his position. He probably ends up at UGA.
  • Markaviest Bryant, Crisp County (Cordele, GA) WkDE 6-4/226 - Another 4-star, Bryant was in Tuscaloosa this past weekend for an OV. He is an UGA lean.
  • William Poole Hapeville Charter (Atlanta, GA) CB 5-11.5/180 - Poole is committed to UGA but I am not totally convinced that Alabama is out of the running just yet.


WR - Saban may want one more wide recevier. Some possible candidates include:

  • Devonta Smith, (Amite, LA) WR 6-1/160 - 4-star may be a Tide lean, but LSU is pushing him for an OV. He is the No. 2 overall player in the boot-shaped state.
  • Nico Collins, Clay-Chalkville (Pinson, AL) WR 6-5-195 - OVing Jan. 21. Will there still be room?
  • Henry Ruggs, a 4-star wide receiver from Lee High School (Montgomery, AL) will likely wait until National Signing Day. Saban probably will not wait.

DB - The Tide loses a lot of secondary over the next two years.  A few more targets:

  • Tariq Castro-Fields 4-star ATH from Upper Marlboro, MD had an official visit to Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl. His only other OV was to Maryland Dec. 10.
  • Todd Harris (Plaquemine, LA) S 6-0 180 - 4-star might be hard to wrest away from LSU.
  • Christopher Henderson (Miami, FL) CB 6-1/175 - 4-star will OV on Jan. 13.

DT - Maybe most disturbing of all is that the Tide has only two committed defensive linemen and one of them (Byers) is questionable.

  • Marvin Wilson (Bellaire, TX) DT 6-4/329 - Bama would love to land this 5-star but it is not looking good.
  • Joshua Kaindoh (Baltimore, MD) DE 6-6 235 -  IMG 5-star OV'd Alabama this past weekend but looks like an FSU lean. As an EE, he will be announcing his final decision January 1st at the UA game.
  • LaBryan Ray (Madison, AL) SDE 6-4/255 - It is unclear what is going on with the state's top player.
  • Elijah Conliffe (Hampton, VA)   DT 6-4 305 - 4 star.

OL - It also appears Saban is angling for one more offensive lineman, but only if it is the right one. After 5-star Isaiah Wilson made the devastatingly errant decision to commit to Georgia on Friday, it is unclear who the Tide might target, if anyone.


Under Armour All-America Game Friday, January 1, 2016 11am/noon on ESPN Orlando, Fla.

Alex Leatherwood OL
Dylan Moses LB
Jerry Jeudy WR
Jedrick Wills OL
Markail Benton LB
Daniel Wright DB
Chris Allen LB
Akial Byers DT

U.S. Army All-American Bowl Thursday, January 7, 2016 11am/noon on NBC San Antonio, Texas

Najee Harris RB
Tua Tagovailoa QB
Kendall Randolph OL
Brandon Ruiz K
Thomas Fletcher LS


The UAB Blazers football program will resume play in 2017, which will make both of their hardcore fans happy.