It is getting down to crunch time. The final chapter of the 2019 recruiting tome is rapt with mixed messages and mystery. If you have ever played the board game Clue and you felt you have solved the case but one of your pieces is off, that is what the time between the Early Signing Period (ESP) and National Signing Day (NSD) has been.
Alabama had four 2019 prospects on Official Visit (OV) over this past weekend.
DT Ishmael Sopsher (Amite, LA) Former 5-star/high 4-stars, uncommitted - This case has been an odd one. At one point in the last 30 days, Sopsher had been as high as the Top 3 in overall rankings and made a bold/dangerous statement that he would only sign to a school that signed his 0-star juco brother Rodney as well - a move that raised more eyebrows than just those of Pepper Brooks.
Fast forward a few weeks and things have changed pretty drastically for the Louisiana native. After underwhelming showings at the Under Armour All American Game and its coinciding practices, Sopsher lost a star and fell to No. 47 in the 247sports Comp rankings. Meanwhile, Rodney Sopsher has been re-classified into the 2020 class which I interpret as him not having enough credits to graduate juco and move on to a four-year school. It is probably best to write this whole episode off as a 17-year old kid getting too full in the head with the accolades, got lazy, got cocky, and was brought back down to earth.
Despite the tumble, Sopsher is still talented and would still rank as the fourth best player in Alabama’s Class of 2019 should be opt to join the Tide. By all appearances, Sopsher’s parents are sold on Alabama after their visit. Coach O will have his Cajun VooDoo hexes all bubbling over Red Stick as Sopsher OVs LSU this coming weekend.
This is a 50-50 between Bama and LSU.
LB Henry To’oto’o (Concord, CA) High 4-stars, uncommitted - This one is another mystery shrouded in secrecy. It is so hard to get a read on this recruit. Reportedly, he and his family had a great visit and the parents have bought in on Alabama despite the distance from the Bay area. Unlike a certain other football player with a Polynesian background, the parents are leaving this choice completely up to the son.
It is still unknown how much the departure of Tosh Lupoi affects his decision. In this case, it might be a bigger factor then most others. However, the changing faces of the Tide has opened the door to more west coast players who are starting to realize they don’t have to go to PAC-12 school.
To’oto’o has also taken OVs to Washington (Sept.), Utah (Dec.), and Tennessee (Jan. 11). Some silly little men with laptops seem to think the Vols are in the running, but I cannot see how that is possible. Henry may or may not be taking his final visit is to Oregon on Feb. 1. (???) That is something to keep an eye on.
Where does he end up? Your guess is as good as mine. Nick Saban will have an-home visit with To’oto’o and his family this week and he is not aiming for the steak knives.
TE Brett Seither (Clearwater, FL) 3-stars, uncommitted - He too had a great visit. Frankly, I am surprised he has not committed yet. My ASSumption is that the Tide staff asked him to hold off until NSD to see how the dominoes fall.
OT Javonne Shepherd (Houston, TX) 4-stars, Texas - Before arriving in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, the Longhorns commit made a side trip to Athens, GA on Friday. This is feeling more and more like a sightseer, but who knows?
4 Huskies visiting @AlabamaFTBL today pic.twitter.com/PxQDhsTk3D— Hewitt-Trussville FB (@HuskyFast) January 26, 2019
2022 prospect Justice Finkley, 2020 commit Malachi Moore, ️2020 prospect with offer Eric Taylor, and 2020 commit Dazalin Worsham.
Along with the OVs was a bevy of underclassmen on invite-only unofficial visits. Although the event is called “Junior Day”, it is not just for members of the Class of 2020. There were plenty of 2021 and 2022 recruits in attendance as well. Since so much can change between now and ESP 2019, we have chosen to hold off on those discussions for now.
THIS WEEKEND OVs
This coming weekend of visitors might be just as big as last weekend. It should be easier to predict where they stand after this weekend closes.
LB Daniel Heimuli (Menlo Park, CA) 4-stars, uncommitted - It began to look like Heimuli was a back-up plan if To’oto’o signs elsewhere. However, the Crimson Tide might just take both of these linebackers. Most pundits favor him to Washington, but never count out Nick Saban. Pete Golding had a visit with him last week as a precursor to his OV this weekend.
RB Jerrion Ealy (Flowood, MS) 5-stars, uncommitted - Ealy decommitted from Ole Miss in early January and visited Clemson a few days later. Suddenly all the “experts” had the Tigers as the favorite. IMHO, this woke Saban up a bit. It is bad enough that Dabo is creeping his way into Alabama but the Tide cannot let them get a foothold into Mississippi. Saban, Pete Golding, and Karl Scott paid Ealy a visit last week. Ealy is also a top prospect in baseball and will likely get drafted in the first round of this June’s MLB Draft. Despite this fact, I truly believe Bama will sign him should he opt to roll with the Tide, numbers be damned.
DE Quashon Fuller (Lehigh Acres, FL) 4-stars, FSU committed - Alabama just recently rekindled this fire but Fuller is not new to the Tide’s Big Board. FSU was one of the first to offer Fuller almost two years ago. He committed soon after receiving the offer. At that time, Jimbo Fisher was coach and the ‘Noles were coming off a 10-3 season capped off with a Orange Bowl win and a No. 8 ranking. That seems like a lifetime ago. Saban had an in-home last week, which confirms the seriousness of his interest.
DT Jaquaze Sorrells (Winter Park, FL) 4-stars, uncommitted - Bama was high on Sorrells for awhile but seemed to fade a little as fall turned to winter. There has been some minor talk that he would have trouble quailfying. You may recall last February a couple of recruits had told the Bama staff the night before/morning of NSD that they would sign with Alabama but went elsewhere. Sorrells’s OV signifies that Saban is not leaving anything to chance.
DT Nathan Pickering (Seminary, MS) 4-stars, Miss. State committed - After several OV cancellations from this guy, I stated that I saw no reason to talk about him until he actually steps on campus in Tuscaloosa as an Official Visitor. I will break that covenant just to state he says he will OV on Saturday (while the others arrive Friday). For the record, new Bama coach Brian Baker was his secondary recruiter at MSU.
Alabama still has four recruits committed but unsigned.
DE Khris Bogle (Fort Lauderdale, FL) High 4-stars - Bogle visited Florida last weekend and is still being pressed by Miami. Bama coaches Joe Pannunzio and Sal Sunseri dropped in on him in south Florida early last week.
DE Byron Young (Laurel, MS) - High 4-stars - Young committed to Alabama back in July but did not sign during the ESP. He has taken other OVs to Fla (Oct), OM (Jan 18), MSU (Jan 25), and heads to LSU this weekend. Despite his wandering eye, I get the feeling Young is just sightseeing these other programs and will stick with the Tide. The addition of Brian Baker certainly helps the chances of reeling him in.
RB Keilan Robinson (Washington DC) 4-stars - Robinson is in a holding pattern circling the airport and waiting for the okay to land.
DB Christian Williams (Daphne, AL) 4-stars - Many “experts” believe he will not be a part of this class. Yet, he recently made some statements that sounded like he fully intends to enroll at the Capstone this summer.
If you have read this far (thank you), you are probably wondering “wait a minute. Alabama has 24 commits! How can they add ALL these guys?”
24 signed + 4 committed unsigned = 28
Word is Alabama will take all three of Byron Young, Ish Sopsher and Nathan Pickering if they commit = 31.
Bama needs a tight end and might just take Ealy to keep him away from Clemson = 33.
They could take both To’oto’o AND Heimuli but will definitely take at least one = 35.
This is one of those moments where you have to trust in the Process®. Saban appears to have everything completely in his control to bring together possibly the greatest Alabama recruiting class ever. Don’t be surprised if this Crimson Tide class hits the big 3-0 or goes over.
Hold onto your Houndstooth hats. It’s about to get crazy up in here.