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Alabama recruiting even when Saban isn’t pulling in new commits

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Orange Bowl-Alabama vs Oklahoma Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Pierschbacher takes a stab at predicting Alabama’s 2019 O-line

So, the Crimson Tide will have some big holes to replace up front during the offseason. But as a four-year starter at left guard and center, Pierschbacher is confident in the players returning. His predictions for next year’s starters, however, he says take them with “a grain of salt.”

“Oh gosh, all those guys are going to see this and text me saying, ‘What the heck?’” Pierschbacher said Tuesday in Mobile. “OK, Leatherwood at left tackle. Are we talking like Cornbread is suspended? Man -- Emil at left guard, CO at center, Womack at right guard and Jedrick at right tackle.”

Talk about a road grading line up... Now just imagine Ekiyor sliding to center and Deonte Brown into guard once his suspension was over. Without doing any research, that would just about have to be the biggest offensive line in the entire country.

Leatherwood already has experience at left tackle, as he stepped in for Jonah Williams in the championship game last year. He’s most likely the heir apparent there, though the trio of talented freshmen in Amari Kight, Pierce Quick, and Evan Neal, will all be doing their best to win the spot and keep Leatherwood at his current spot at right guard.

Alabama signee ranked No. 1 recruit in nation

The latest 247Sports ranking of 2019 prospects has an Alabama player at the top.

Defensive end Antonio Alfano, who signed in December, is now the No. 1 recruit in the nation, according to 247Sports evaluations. He’s No. 5 in the composite that combines all the different recruiting rankings into one.

Alfano jumped eight spots in the 247Sports ranking, which will serve as the final one of the 2019 cycle. His big performance in the All-American Bowl earlier this month in San Antonio pushed him to the top of the ranking.

As a senior at Colonia (N.J.) High School, Alfano made 76 tackles. Of those, 28 were for a loss including 10 sacks.

Last summer when Alfano committed to Alabama, I saw his SPARQ scores and marveled at his sheer athleticism. He posted the kind of numbers at his size that would have the NFL crowd drooling at the Combine. Not long after, CB texted me, saying he had watched some of his play as a junior and predicted he’d be a 5-star recruit by the time his senior season was over.

Well, he made it to five stars. Then he went out and looked like a man among boys at the Army All-American game and practices. Now he’s the number one overall recruit by 247.

Two new 5-stars for Alabama in final 247Sports Rankings

Coming in at No. 32, making his 5-star debut by 247Sports, is Evan Neal. The Crimson Tide offensive tackle enrollee makes the jump up to 5-star status after residing in the No. 34 slot.

The Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy product had a strong showing at the Under Armour All-America Game earlier this month, and was named the No. 3 overall performer at the event.

“He’s just so hard to get around because of of size and how well he can move,” 247Sports’ Greg Biggins wrote. “Neal worked out at both guard and tackle but we think he’s a natural tackle at the next level and could end up on either side depending on the need and where his body is at in a few years. As good as he is now, he can still lean out some and improve his overall athleticism, which would make the Alabama signee even scarier.”

At No. 30 is Jeffery Carter who, like Neal, is also making his 5-star debut according to 247Sports. He was already within the top 32 of the rankings, however, he didn’t hold the numeric grade of a 5-star recruit yet.

Evan Neal was already a 5 star in the composite, but has been bumped up by 247. He’s been a big name (figuratively and literally) for most of the recruiting cycle and was a much anticipated recruit for Alabama fans all over.

But Jeffery Carter was another story. He was a quiet addition in the middle of signing day when everyone was waiting on the announcements of Trey Sanders and Neal. Almost an afterthought.

Well, turns out he’s now yet another 5-star in the army of Tide recruits.

Report: Holmon Wiggins leaves the Hokies, to join Alabama

He was a key component of Justin Fuente’s staff once he accepted the head coaching job at Virginia Tech. Wiggins once again with tasked with working with the wide receivers, which moved the incumbent wide receivers coach Zohn Burden to running backs coach. Wiggins inherited a strong core of Isaiah Ford, Bucky Hodges and Cam Phillips in his first season in Blacksburg. That group coached by Wiggins created an offense that broke 10 single-season records in 2016, including points (490), passing first downs (172), TD passes (31), total offense (6,223), completion pct. (62.1%), passing yards (3,660) and pass completions (279). Ford, broke his own Tech single-season record with 79 receptions in 2016, registering 1,094 yards and seven TDs in the process. Phillips, broke out as a senior and earned Belk Bowl MVP honors in 2016 and concluded his junior campaign by setting personal bests in receptions (76) and receiving yards (983). Damon Hazelton, a 2-star recruit of out high school, transferred from Ball State and was a big contributor for Virginia Tech in 2018 with 45 receptions for 745 yards and 8 touchdowns,

Wiggins was also one of the better recruiters on the staff of Virginia Tech, signing four-stars Tre Turner (2018) and Tayvion Robinson (2019), while also bringing in Jacoby Pinckney (2019), Armani Chatman (2018), Darryle Simmons (2018), Elijah Bowick (2019), Christian Darrisaw (2018), Sean Savoy (2017), and Phil Patterson (2016).

This one definitely is not official yet, but ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg seems pretty certain that Wiggins will be Alabama’s next wide receiver coach. He’s been with Justin Fuente for seven years, a coach who, just a couple of years ago, was the hottest name on the market with his offensive explosions at Memphis. He has a lot of experience in a receivers coach role already, and could bring a fresh perspective to the room from his time with Fuente. If it goes through like is being reported, I really like this hire.