Fool me once, shame on me.
Fool me twice, ain’t gonna happen
~Probably Nick Saban in the deep dark night one year ago.
What a difference a year makes. This time 12 months ago, we were all caught off guard by how the inaugural Early Signing Period (ESP) would unfold - and that included Nick Saban. Looking back to reactions from last December, some observers were somewhat satisfied to have 15 commits, because that is what Alabama teams tended to get in December. However, things did not quite finish as Saban had hoped. As Crimson Tide head coach is apt to do, he has learned from his rare mistakes and is back with a fiery vengeance, kicking butt and not even bothering to take names.
But first, let’s get this Webb talk out of the way.
WEBB OF DECEIT
The silence was broken and Clay Webb from Oxford, AL made his commitment to Georgia this past weekend. He has a great future in the CIA if he wants to take that route. Somehow the press never put two and two together and figured out that this 5-star offensive lineman had deep roots in Athens, GA.
From Friday’s JP:
Clay’s mother Dana, a phys ed teacher at Oxford High where Clay attends, is from the metro Atlanta area and the bulk of her family still lives there. Her sister lives in Athens and both she and her husband graduated from Georgia.
I am not sure how or why this all became a state secret but we at RBR have been speculating that it was more Kirby shenanigans. Our theory goes that Webb wanted to commit to UGA but their staff asked him to keep it quiet so Kirby could build his recuitment up and make it looked like he snatched Webb away from Saban’s clutches at the last second and that they were building some kind of momentum. So, that is the last we will ever hear from young Mr. Webb. We wish him safety from injury and that he gets a college degree that he can use some day in his field of choice.
The Sooners got the Heisman, but Alabama got Oklahoma’s top in-state recruit when 5-star safety Daxton Hill changed his commitment from Michigan to Alabama over the weekend. Hill is rated the No. 8 overall player by 247sport Comp rankings. He is the first consensus 5-star from the state of Oklahoma since Gerald McCoy in 2006. The Tulsa native stands 6-0.5 and weighs 186 lbs. This guy. Holy cow. He reportedly runs a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash and has a 43-inch vertical leap. Hill is a smart athletic player. He won’t make you forget HaHa Clinton Dix (who could?) but he sure will remind you of him. Dax will participate in the Army All-American Bowl.
Later on Saturday, the Tide got their second flip in 4-star cornerback Jeffrey “Scooby” Carter who was in Tuscaloosa for an official visit. This time the flip came from Texas A&M. Carter is from Mansfield, TX in the DFW area. At 6-0 186 lbs, he is a pure cornerback with long arms and a knack for getting hands on passes. He too will compete at the Army All-American Bowl. Carter is an Early Enrollee and plans to sign during the ESP.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Just because there is a long break between the SEC Championship Game and the Orange Bowl does not mean vacation time for the Crimson Tide staff. It was back on the recruiting road for a last push before the ESP.
Saban and Josh Gattis were up in the DMV on Monday. They dropped in on Bama commits Shane Lee, Darrian Dalcourt, Keilan Robinson, and DeMarcco Hellams. (I have a feeling they may have run into 2020 5-star commit Chris Braswell as well but don’t tell anyone.)
On Tuesday, Saban jetted to Northern Misssissippi to have an in-home with 5-star LB Nakobe Dean with Pete Golding. Then, he was off to Houston to meet with 4-star CB Marcus Banks and 4-star RB Deondrick Glass.
Other staff members were fanned out across the country visiting, among others, commit Justin Eboigbe from the Atlanta area, commit Tanner Bowles from Kentucky, 5-star Louisianan Ishmael Sopsher, and an Arizona pair, Ty Robinson and Noa Pola-Gates.
Wednesday Saban, Gattis and Kuligowski head back up to the Mid-Atlantic to visit 5-star commit Antonio Alfano, and 4-star commit John Metchie who is currently the only wide receiver in this class. And then the tireless one heads to IMG Academy.
Bama commits DJ Dale, Amari Kight, Will Reichard, Pierce Quick, Keilan Robinson, Paul Tyson, Byron Young, and of course Jeffery Carter were all on campus last week for their official visits.
This weekend it is Taulia Tagovailoa’s and Justin Eboigbe’s turns to be hosted in T-town.
Three Tide commits - Tyson, Quick and Metchie - are set to arrive on campus this week and begin practicing with the team. Because of this, they will not be participating in any high school All-Star games.
Kayvon Thibodeaux is expected to make known his commitment choice at his announcement/birthday party on Saturday. The experts around the crootin world seem to think the race comes to be down to Oregon and Alabama for this Los Angeles area 5-star. Don’t be surprised if he tries to “shock the world”. Southern Cal and FSU could still be in play, and maybe a mystery school? (No, not Liberty, Hugh...)
UPDATE: Picked Oregon.
Below are the prospects that Alabama appears to still be recruiting. (EE = Early Enrollee. ESP = signing during the ESP but not enrolling early. NSD = signing Feb 6.)
- Kayvon Thibodeaux DE EE Committing Dec 15.
- Trey Sanders RB EE Committing Dec 19.
- Evan Neal OT EE Committing Dec 19.
- Nakobe Dean ILB EE Committing Dec 19.
- Ishmael Sopsher DT NSD Committing Feb 6.
- Darnell Wright OT NSD
- Henry To’oto’o OLB NSD Not much buzz around him. Maybe things will pick up in January?
- Khris Bogle DE NSD Committing Jan 5 at the Army All-American game.
- Deondrick Glass RB NSD Committing Jan 14. May hinge on Sanders’ decision.
- Jordan Battle S ESP Ohio State commit, probably sticks with them.
- Noa Pola-Gates CB NSD Not sure what he is waiting for. COuld he be Plan B if Battle does not sign with UA?
- Marcus Banks CB ESP - Supposedly he will sign early but wait until the Army All-American game Jan 5 to announce. He may be Plan C if Battle and NPG do not sign with UA.
- Ty Robinson DE NSD With ties to Lincoln, looks like he signs with Nebraska. Poor guy.
- Keon Zipperer TE ESP Alabama would take him but he is looking like he signs with Fla or Miami.
- Jaquaze Sorrells DT NSD Longshot if other plans fall thru.
- Recruit X Saban always seems to have a few tricks up his sleeve.
- Nathan Pickering, DT - There is no reason to think he signs anywhere other than Missy State.
- Siaki Ika, DT - Alabama does not appear to be interested.
- DJ Williams, RB - This might be Plan C if Sanders does something ill-advised like sign with UGA. Also if Plan B Glass signs elsewhere
ALL YOUR CROOTS ARE BELONG TO US
You are probably wondering about the math. Some believe the Tide will take around 28. My feeling is it could be higher. Even so, Alabama has 24 commitments and are seemingly recruiting about 17-20 others. What gives? It’s all about last year’s ESP/NSD. Saban underestimated the influx of early commitments last time around and had too much faith in some of these kids and their families to stick by their word. Thus, Bama ended up missing on some recruits and did not have back-up plans. This year, Saban has back-up plans for his back-up plans.
They cannot take them all. There will be some misses. But Saban will not be caught flat-footed.
Alabama has basically clinched the No. 1 class for 2019 and it’s still early December. If you are not feeling the proper level of Gump just yet, know that many of the top recruiting analysts believe Alabama is about to finish with their best class of the Saban era.