If there is a silver lining to not making the SEC Championship Game or the College Football Playoff, it is that for the first time Nick Saban and staff can concentrate on the Early Signing Period (ESP) that runs December 18 through December 20. Saban got right back to work hitting the road Monday morning.
The first visit for Saban was to Central High School in Phenix City to see 4-star OL Javion Cohen. Charles Kelly and Kyle Flood are expected to follow up later this week followed by an official visit for Cohen to Alabama this weekend. Cohen committed to Auburn back in June but the Tide has not stopped their pursuit. Bama is believed to be taking only three offensive linemen in this class and already have two. Cohen will play in the Class 7A state championship on Wednesday night against Thompson High School.
The Crimson Tide will be hosting five other recruits as well, all of whom are committed to Bama and expected to sign during the ESP.
- S Malachi Moore (Trussville, AL)
- DT Timothy Smith (Sebastian, FL) - Smith’s situation is a precarious one. Despite his pledge to Alabama, the 4-star has taken several unofficial visits to Gainesville since committing to the Tide in July. Keeping him in the fold is a top priority. Smith is a scheduled to take an OV to Florida Dec 13. We’ll see if Bama can talk him out of it this weekend.
- QB/S Kristian Story (Lanett, AL)
- DT Jah-Marien Latham (Reform, AL)
- DT Jamil Burroughs (Powder Springs, GA) - Arriving Saturday.
WHAT TO EXPECT ESP
Alabama currently has 23 commits. It is believed that the Tide could take as many as 27 or 28 players for the Class of 2020, and may include some blueshirts. The following recruits are expected to sign during the ESP:
- QB Bryce Young (Santa Ana, CA) 6’0”/180 - Rivals lists Young as the No. 3 overall player. 247sports has him at 6. Young had a phenomenal senior season and will contend for the starting role at Alabama this spring. Saban and Steve Sarkisian had an in-home with him and his parents Tuesday. He is an early enrollee (EE).
- Jack-LB/DE Chris Braswell (Baltimore, MD) 6’3”/225 - 5-star, No. 17 overall by 247 composite. EE
- Jack/LB/TE/WR Drew Sanders (Denton, TX) 6’5”/212 - 5-star, No. 21 overall. As you can see, Sanders is a well-rounded player who can play multiple positions. He has even played QB in high school. EE
- ILB Demouy Kennedy (Theodore, AL) 6’2”/215 - Rivals has just awarded him a fifth star. 247 still has him at a high 4-stars, No. 35 overall. He is an excellent athlete. EE
- LB Quandarrius Robinson (Birmingham, AL) 6’5”/217, 4-stars
- WR Thaiu Jones-Bell (Carol City, FL) 5’11”/190, 4-stars - EE
- RB Roydell Williams (Hueytown, AL) 5’10”/210, 4-stars - EE
- DE William Anderson (Hampton, GA) 6’4”/235, 4-stars - EE
- DB Brian Branch (Tyrone, GA) 6’1”/178, 4-stars
- DB Malachi Moore (Trussville, AL) 6’0”/175, 4-stars - EE
- DT Timothy Smith (Sebastian, FL) 6’4”/315, 4-stars
- ILB Jackson Bratton (Muscle Shoals, AL) 6’3”/226, 4-stars - Saban was in to see Bratton Monday. He might be one of the more undervalued recruits of the class. EE
- WR Traeshon Holden (Harbor City, CA) 6’3” /185, 4-stars - Also got a Saban/Sark visit on Tuesday. EE
- S/QB Kristian Story (Lanett, AL) 6’2”/198 - Recruited as a safety but had an outstanding senior season as a quarterback. He will have a chance to show his ability as a signal caller for the Tide.
- DT Jah-Marien Latham (Pickens County, AL) 6’3”/290, 4-stars
- DB Jahquez Robinson (Jacksonville, FL) 6’2”/180, 4-stars - EE
- DT Jamil Burroughs (Powder Springs, GA) 6’3”/320, 4-stars
- RB Kyle Edwards (Destrehan, LA ) 6’0”/210, 3/4-stars - This underrated every down back runs North-South and is a good receiver.
- OL Damieon George (Houston, TX) 6’7”/345, 3-stars
- OL Seth McLaughlin (Buford, GA) 6’4”/275, 3-stars - Recruited mainly as a center. EE
- TE Caden Clark (Akron, OH) 6’4”/230, 3-stars - Bama needs tight ends.
The following two commits are not believed to be signing during the ESP for reasons that are unknown as of now.
- DT Jayson Jones (Calera, AL) 6’5”/322 - He committed this summer but there is some feeling that this 4-star might end up elsewhere. He OV’d Oregon on Nov 29.
- WR Javon Baker (Powder Springs , GA) 6’1”/183 - It is unclear what’s going on with this 4-star who committed over a year ago. His player rating has not changed too much over the last year (currently No. 133 according to 247sports), so it doesn’t seem to be an on-field issue. It’s pure speculation but perhaps the Tide asked him to wait (in case they land a bigger fish?). Or maybe it is a matter of qualifying. Dunno... He is a high school teammate of fellow commit Jamil Burroughs.
- Forget you ever heard the name Zach Evans. Word is that Alabama backed off the 5-star RB awhile ago and didn’t even extend him an invitation for an official visit. The likely reason is believed to be character issues.
- Alabama is still recruiting high 4-star RB Jase McClellan and there could be some interest on his end. He committed to Oklahoma some two and a half years ago and took an OV to Norman in April and to Texas in June. The interesting thing is his third OV was to Alabama just last month. There is no assurance the Aledo, TX native will flip but the Crimson Tide will continue their efforts.
- Crootin fan favorite and Georgia Tech commit Jahmyr Gibbs (Dalton, GA) will OV Bama on Dec. 13. He has been zooming up the charts this fall from a middling 3-star to a solid 4-star.
- Saban visited 4-star tight end Jeremiah Pegues in Oxford, MS on Monday and 5-star TE/DE Darnell Washington in Las Vegas on Tuesday. If anyone thinks Saban has lost heart or is slowing down, just watch this man recruit. Sarkisian and Jeff Banks were on hand as well to see Washington. The Crimson Tide likely want him as a tight end, though he is good enough to play either position. He may be an UGA lean... for now.
- With Scooby Carter in the transfer portal, it makes sense that Bama signs at least one more DB to go with the four currently committed. 4-star juco cornerback Ronald Williams had an OV to Tuscaloosa on Nov 22 and Saban is thought to be popping in on him at Hutchinson C.C. (Kansas) sometime this week.
- The Tide is also thought to be seeking one more wide receiver. LSU commits 5-star Rakim Jarrett (Washington, DC) and 4-star Kayshon Boutte (New Iberia, LA) are still in play. Neither are signing early so this might take awhile. What happens with LSU passing coordinator Joe Brady will be a major factor. Uncommitted Floridian 4-star Arian Smith is also a possibility. He too plans to sign in February. Saban is expected to have an in-home with him this week.
- Outside linebacker Phillip Webb (Buford, GA) will take an OV to Auburn this weekend followed by a trip T-town next weekend before he announces a decision. LSU is currently the favorite but getting him to visit the last weekend before ESP is tough to beat. Saban should be seeing him today, Wednesday. He is too good not to be a take but if he signs elsewhere, the Tide will not be looking for a replacement at his position. UPDATE: Webb is in Tuscaloosa this weekend for an OV.
- The Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Classic will be played in Hattiesburg, MS on Saturday, December 14 at 12 Noon. The Alabama commitments participating are RoyDell Williams, Jackson Bratton, Kristian Story, Malachi Moore, Jayson Jones, and Demouy Kennedy. Also competing for Alabama will be the aforementioned OL Javian Cohen. Of interest on the Mississippi side is uncommitted 4-star DL McKinnely Jackson. He will not announce until Feb.
- Bama has cooled on DB/WR Joel Williams (Baton Rouge, LA). It is looking like he ends up at Kentucky.
- Obtaining grad transfers is a strong possibility for the Tide. However, the staff will wait until after the February Signing Day to assess their remaining needs and who is available.