One month from now, the Early Signing Period (ESP) begins. It opens Dec. 19 and lasts through the 21st. Expect a large chunk of the Class of 2019 to sign with Alabama and across the country during those three days. Alabama could get around 20 signatures in that time.
This week is one of the bigger recruiting weekends for the Crimson Tide with several recruits on official visits (OV) and many unofficial (UV) from 2019, 2020 and beyond. It is thought as many as 50 or 60 recruits will descend on the Capstone this weekend.
Before we get to the Iron Bowl visitors, the Tide had one recruit on OV last weekend. The Tide was hot on Keon Zipperer for awhile and then things cooled, but now it is back on. At a casual glance you may think that Alabama doesn’t need two tight ends in this class with 4-star Jahleel Billingsley all set to sign in December. However with the emergence of Irv Smith Jr. to superstardom and possibilities on an early departure for the NFL, it is becoming more of a position of need. In addition, these two prospects are different kinds of tight ends. Zipperer is in the mold of Smith and O.J. Howard, and he could be split out as a receiver in certain packages should he sign with Alabama. Billingsley is more of the traditional Hale Hentges block-first tight end.
Usually when a guy visits for a game of the magnitude of Citadel, it sends a sign that maybe the interest is casual. By all reports, it was an excellent visit but I’m not totally convinced that he signs with Bama. The Lakeland, FL native probably stays closer to home at Florida or Miami. That is not to say the Tide doesn’t have a chance.
All that said if the Tide misses on Zipperer, they aren’t likely to fish for another tight end.
Although Texas A&M and Mississippi State have better teams and appeared to be better games to attend, it’s still the Iron Bowl that the prospects want to come see. Oddly enough, the Tide and Tigers have not been battling for the same recruits in recent years. Aubie WR commits George Pickens and DE Jaren Handy are the only ones Alabama covets. Bama is 50-50 on Pickens right now. I get the feeling Handy will flip but not to Alabama.
The high priority goes to a pair of 5-star IMG Academy teammates RB Trey Sanders (Port St. Joe, FL) and OT Evan Neal (Okeechobee, FL) on official visits. They are both uncommitted and appear to be Bama leans as well as Early Enrollees (EE). Despite this, Alabama has recently been evaluating other running backs which could be interpreted as a bad omen towards the possibility of signing Sanders. Or maybe it is just precautionary. Neal was once upon a time committed to Alabama. Some reports say that certain family members have been coaxing him to stay closer to home.
Also visiting from IMG is 247sports #1 overall prospect Nolan Smith who is currently committed to UGA. The DE appears to be looking at many schools but it feels like he is just in T-town for the fun.
Not Sure What To Think
Christian Harris, 4-star ILB from Baton Rouge, is expected. He made a UV for one of this summer’s Cookouts and by all accounts had a great time. Then a few days later, he shocked everyone by committing to Texas A&M. He is on his way back to Alabama this weekend.
The Crimson Tide is also hosting a pair from Gilbert, Arizona who go to rival high schools. DB Noa Pola-Gates has long had the Tide as his favorite but has not pulled the trigger as of yet. If anyone commits this weekend, it may be this 4-star. Ty Robinson caught the Tide’s interest later in the game than most but he is a legitimate prospect to sign. Unlike Pola-Gates, this will be this 4-star DE’s first trip to Tuscaloosa.
Two Georgia commits 4-star LB Trezmen Marshall (Homerville, GA) and 4-star RB Kenny McIntosh (Fort Lauderdale, FL) are not names that have been resonating in Bama circles. There is not much reason to think they will flip to Alabama. Someone keep them away from Nolan Smith.
Other Tentative UVs of Note
Possible but unconfirmed UVs include Darnell Wright, 5-star DT (Huntington, WV), Ishmael Sopsher, 5-star DT (Amite, LA), Nakobe Dean, 5-star ILB (Horn Lake, MS) EE, Clay Webb, 5-star OL (Oxford, AL) ESP signee, Marcus Banks, 4-star CB (Houston, TX), George Pickens, 4-star WR (Hoover, AL) - Auburn commit.
CB Jeffery Carter (Mansfield, TX) committed to Texas A&M in July but has not closed the door on Alabama. He was in Tuscaloosa on an UV for the Mississippi State game just two weeks ago and will be back with his family on Friday. He is an EE.
Newly crowned 5-star Alabama commit Antonio Alfano (my favorite from this class), will be back for his OV. You can also expect the posses from Hewitt-Trussville (Pierce Quick, Paul Tyson, Malachi Moore, Dazalin Worsham) and Thompson (Taulia Tagovailoa, Amari Kight) as well as most of the other commits from this class.
Seven of the eight 2020 Bama commits are expected on UVs (Jacksonville, FL quarterback Carson Beck has a playoff game). Uncommitted DE Chris Braswell will be back for an UV as well. With current teammates from St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, MD) Shane Lee and Darrian Dalcourt already committed for 2019 and Tide freshman Eyabi Anoma already on the roster, you have to like the Tide’s chances with this 2020 5-star.
Fellow 2020 5-star DL McKinnley Jackson (Lucedale, MS) is thought to be heading to the campus as well.
4-star DT Siaki Ika moved his visit from this weekend to December, which is a good thing. It gives the coaching staff more freedom to woo.