As good as Nick Saban is at almost everything he does when it comes to college football, I believe the uncertainty surrounding the newly-employed Early Signing Period (ESP) may have thrown him for a loop. However the few times Saban gets beat to a punch on something, he always learns from it and adapts. His ability to evolve along with the game is what has kept him on top. Evidence of that can already be seen in his new hirings of Jeff Banks, Josh Gattis, et al who excel at recruiting. Don’t be surprised if next December’s ESP is a bonanza of 5-stars.
All that said, Alabama should still finish with a Top 5 class which is still remarkable. To think he can pull off the #1 class year in and year out is a bit unrealistic anyway. This is still a very strong class and it will get stronger.
23 is the number Saban eluded to that the Tide could total in the 2018 class.
14 players who signed during the ESP.
1 greyshirt from the last recruiting cycle who is now enrolled and with the team: 4-star DL Jarez Parks. He counts against the 2018 class.
8 assumed number left to sign.
4 unsigned commits: OLB Quay Walker, DT Bobby Brown, ATH/LB/DB Vernon Jackson, TE Michael Parker.
4 Early Enrollees: DE Stephon Wynn, CB Saivion Smith, ATH/APB Slade Bolden, P Skyler DeLong.
1 new grad-transfer kicker will be a walk-on and will not count against the scholarship limit.
WILD BLIND DART-THROWING PREDICTIONS
This past weekend wrapped the second of two big recruiting weekends. It was also Junior Day, plus some sophomores, for the classes of 2019 and 2020. All signs point to it being a pretty good weekend for all involved.
With eight days until National Signing Day (NSD), it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty and put a pretty bow on this class. Remember, Saban always seems to have a trick or two up his sleeve and could haul in someone nobody saw coming.
It appears that the Crimson Tide is down to three candidates:
- Brock Purdy Pro-QB Gilbert, AZ 6’1”/197 *** - who OV’d this past weekend.
- Brevin White Pro-QB Lancaster, CA 6’2”/185 - also OV’d this weekend.
- James Foster Dual QB Lanier-Montgomery, AL 6’1”/197 ***½ - OV’d the week before.
The offer from the Crimson Tide is by far the best one that Purdy has received (Iowa State, UCF, Boise, Colo St, Illinois, Kansas...). Though he has to know that he will be riding the pine for a while if he chooses Alabama, he seems to have a level-head about his direction.
THURSDAY UPDATE: Texas A&M has offered. 2nd THURSDAY UPDATE: He will OV College Station this weekend. Maybe he will run into some of those creepy male cheerleaders.
White has had a whirlwind recruitment landing an offer this past week from Bama followed by a trip to T-town. He previously turned down offers from programs like Tennessee and several Pac-12 schools to commit to Princeton back in July. It would appear a move like that is a “business decision” for his life path. But is Alabama too good an opportunity to pass up? He is eligible to enroll in the Spring II term that begins in February. [SIDE NOTE: Brevin’s older brother Brady was a back-up QB and former 4-star at Arizona State who recently grad-transferred to Memphis with two years to play.]
UPDATE: White’s high school coach told AL.com on Wednesday “I think it’s now pretty 50-50.”
It seems like Foster really wants to sign with the Tide but there may be some trepidation on the side of the new offensive strategy leadership at Alabama. Neither of his other two finalists (LSU, FSU) have picked up a QB as of yet, nor do they have any other real prospects.
The fourth option could come from out of the blue or not taking a signal-caller at all in this class. With the new ESP in place that already secured most of the top signatures, flipping will be a less likely occurrence. 2019 brings the possibilities of Taulia Tagovailoa and/or Paul Tyson.
* Wild blind dart-throwing prediction: None of the above. Purdy to ISU, White to Princeton, Foster to FSU. However, I am not solid on that prediction.
Alabama will surely take at least one more pass-catcher with a strong possibility of taking two. Again, we have three worthy prospects:
- Jaylen Waddle WR Houston, TX 5’10”/165 ****½ - OV for Bama-LSU game.
- Justyn Ross WR Phenix City, AL 6’4’’ / 197 **** - OV Jan 19 for the parade.
- Jacob Copeland WR Pensacola, FL 6’1” 188 **** - OV Jan 26.
Waddle is the best of this trio. He is a fraction away from being a 5-star. It appears to be down to Alabama and Texas A&M. He wrapped all his OVs in 2017 but much has changed since then: Jimbo has replaced Sumlin at TAMU, and Bama has a new OC and WR coach. Fortunately, Saban is on the case sending those two newbies Mike Locksley and Josh Gattis to Texas last week. The question is whether Waddle can stand leaving home (hour and half drive to College Station) for the bright lights of Title-town.
Ross too is a very high 4-star. He has been leaning towards Clemson but his trip to Tuscaloosa for the Championship celebration may have swayed him back to Bama. He took an OV to Auburn last Friday. Saban, Locksley, and Gattis visited him on Thursday! Moves like that is why Saban is the greatest of all time. Ross will make his official announcement on ESPN at noon CT on Feb. 7.
Despite his visit to Alabama this past weekend, Copeland is trending more towards his home state. He has been getting a full-court press by the staffs of both Florida and FSU. But it isn’t over yet.
THURSDAY UPDATE: Bama is not licked yet! Saban, Mike Locksley and Josh Gattis paid him an in-home visit Thursday.
* Wild blind dart-throwing prediction: Waddle and Ross to Bama. Copeland to Fla.
With the losses of so much of the defensive backfield, both cornerbacks and safeties are positions of need. The Tide has several targets:
- Patrick Surtain Jr. DB Plantation, FL 6’1.25”/199 (247’s #6 overall player) ***** - OV Jan 19.
- Tyson Campbell DB Plantation, FL 6’2.5”/180 (#12) ***** - OV Jan 19.
- Olaijah Griffin CB Mission Viejo, CA 6’1”/170 (#28) ***** - OV Jan 26.
- Isaac Taylor-Stuart CB San Diego, CA 6’2”/190 (#32) **** - OV Jan 26.
Julius Irvin S Anaheim, CA 6’2”/182 **** - OV Jan 19.
- Eddie Smith CB Slidell, LA 6’1”/180 *** - OV Jan 26.
If you believe the Twitterverse, Surtain had a great visit to Alabama. Conversely, there was very little buzz around his high school teammate Campbell.
Griffin was a very late add and comes from southern California. Bama may have jumped on his recruitment a little too late.
Taylor-Stuart was all over Twitter about his visit to Tuscaloosa, but I am not buying it.
Irvin is supposed to announce this Wednesday between Alabama, Southern Cal and Washington. Saban is expected to make one last final push on him.
THURSDAY UPDATE: Committed to Washington.
Smith may be an Alabama lean.
Word is that Saban is planning on meeting with 4-star safety Leon O’Neal of Cypress, TX (6’1”/190 ) on Tuesday. Dabo Swinney popped in on him on Monday. O’Neal decommitted from Texas A&M in early December. If Saban can convince him to visit Alabama this coming weekend, there could be a chance.
UPDATE: Saban did visit O’Neal Tuesday and convinced him to OV T-Town this weekend.
Keep your eye on Rachad Wildgoose 3-star CB from Northwestern HS in Miami, FL. He has been offered a greyshirt at Alabama but has full-ride offers to Wisconsin, NC State, and others.
4-star CB Taiyon Palmer out of Lawrenceville, GA got a really tardy offer from the Tide (last week) but he has used up his allotted OVs.
This is pure speculation on my part but it sure looks like outgoing secondary coach Derrick Ansley kinda screwed the Tide in his share of analysis and recruitment of his position.
* Wild blind dart-throwing prediction: This is a toughie. All the scrambling makes me think that Bama does not have good odds on any of these top targets. Surtain is still a strong possibility, Ima say 52-48. Campbell will sign elsewhere. The three California kids will stick with Southern Cal. Smith rolls with the Tide.
COMMITTED, NOT SIGNED
Bama has four commits who have not signed. Three of them still have wandering eyes.
TE Michael Parker is solid to the Tide. I believe he is just waiting to see how the numbers calculate whether he gets an immediate full-ride or is asked to blueshirt or greyshirt. Regardless, he will sign with Alabama.
Vernon Jackson has taken OVs to TCU and TAMU but that is likely due to circumstances that he may be asked to blueshirt or greyshirt. If the Tide does ask that of him, I think he stays home and signs with the Aggies. Otherwise, he should sign with Bama.
DT Bobby Brown was in town on an unofficial visit for the parade (his OV was back in October for TSIO). A&M has been pressing but I think he sticks with his pledge to the Crimson Tide.
OLB Quay Walker is one to be concerned about. Georgia and their fans have borrowed a trick from LSU fans of pressuring players from their state to stay home. Sadly, many of these Peach State recruits are buying into it and will be disappointed when they lose to Alabama again in the coming post-season.
* Wild blind dart-throwing prediction: Parker, Jackson, Brown all stand by their commitments. Walker is 50-50.
If my wild blind dart-throwing predictions are anywhere close to being accurate, that leaves one spot, two if Parker holds off on his enrollment.
SDE Malik Langham recently got a rankings bump to 4-stars by Rivals, 247sports, and the 247 composite rankings. There is an excellent chance he signs with the Tide.
Bama is still in the running for two OTs: 5-star Nicholas Petit-Frere (Tampa, Fla.) and 4-star Penei Sewell (Saint George, Utah). I don’t think they get either. OLB JJ Peterson (Moultrie, GA) seems content with his choice of Tennessee for some reason.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, Alabama offered 3½-star DT Moro Ojomo of Katy, TX. He has offers from Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, TCU, and Texas among many others. This is crazy late in the game to be offering; not sure if Bama can pull this one off. It could just be a “goodwill gesture” offer. By that, I mean sending goodwill to the coach and program for future recruits. Katy is a hotbed of prospects.
UPDATE: Henry Ruggs’ younger brother Kevontae’ Ruggs has committed to Ole Miss. The 3-star OLB was offered by Alabama at some point last year but the number just aren’t going to work out. We wish him well and will see him September 15.
UPDATE: 3-star ILB Jaylen Moody of Conway, SC was offered on Tuesday. He was already scheduled to OV Tuscaloosa this weekend. This development does not instill confidence in the statuses of Quay Walker and Vernon Jackson. However, Burton Burns did pay Jackson a visit on Tuesday. Moody is also looking at Arkansas and Ole Miss.
UPDATE: 3-star WR Collins Woods (6’3”/190) from Blount HS in Eight Mile, AL, has been offered a Preferred Walk-On. He has full offers from Navy, Duke, La-Laf, Chattanooga, USA, Troy, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell and Dartmouth. Yeah... I had offers from all those schools too... right after I married Morgan Fairchild...
Last week we saw Bama commit Vernon Jackson bumped up to 4-stars. This week it is all-purpose back Jerome Ford who has picked up a fourth star from 247sports and their composite rankings. ESPN gives him four as well. Rivals is the lone holdout at three stars.
THURSDAY UPDATED: NSD COMMIT SCHEDULES:
ESPN will feature 8-plus hours of signing day coverage, beginning at 8am CT on ESPNU. Their coverage will move to ESPN2 from 11am-3:30pm before returning to ESPNU from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Nick Saban and other coaches will be guests. Greg McElroy will be anchored in Tuscaloosa for the day.
(All times CT; Subject to change at the whims of 18 year olds)
- Patrick Surtain Jr. and Tyson Campbell during the 9am hour ESPNU
- Nick Petit-Frere during the 9am hour ESPNU
- Tanner McKee during the 10am hour ESPNU
- Justyn Ross during the noon hour ESPN2
- Olaijah Griffin during the noon hour ESPN2
- Jacob Copeland during the 1pm hour ESPN2 or ESPNU
- Jaylen Waddle noon ESPN (unconfirmed)
We will update this post throughout the week as news breaks. You can see those updates signified with the word “UPDATE” in bold and italics.
Does Alabama need to sign a quarterback in this class?
This poll is closed
Yes, a team should sign at least one per year.
Yes, I’d feel more comfy with a fourth scholarshipped QB.
No, Bama can hope for good health and wait til 2019.
No, the three they have is more than enough.
Other (see my dynamic insight in comments below).