At midnight after the Tiger Bowl on Monday, the recruiting Dead Period comes to an end and it’s back to the road for the college coaching staffs across the country for a final push towards National Signing Day on February 5.
The Crimson Tide has signed 22 for the class of 2020, twelve of whom have enrolled in classes this past week. Four other recruits have committed to Bama but did not sign during the Early Signing Period.
You might have better luck acquiring the launch codes for U.S. nuclear weapons then gathering info on the true scholarship numbers. It’s believed the Crimson Tide could sign as many as 27 or 28 to this class. They signed 27 last season and 21 the season before. The SEC mandates a 25 count limit but allow for back-counting if a program comes up short in the previous recruiting cycle. It could be that four or so of the last class back-counted to 2018. This year we may see back-counting of back-counting. Confused yet? And then there is the issue of Antonio Alfano peacing out in mid-semester. Does that scholly count?
COMMITTED BUT UNSIGNED:
- Javon Baker WR (Powder Springs, GA) 6’1”/183 - This 4-star told a reporter at the All-American Bowl that Alabama has been recruiting him hard “since tenth grade”. He also stated that he was “95%” committed to the Tide. There has been talk of him taking official visits (OV) to a few other schools, but as of now he only has Alabama scheduled January 17. He is working to get his academics in order. By all accounts, he is on a path to a summer enrollment at Alabama.
- Jamil Burroughs DT (Powder Springs, GA) 6’3”/320 - Burroughs was a teammate of Baker at McEachern High School and again at the All-American Bowl. The former UGA commit has shut down his recruitment, reiterating to reporters that he is solid to the Crimson Tide.
- Damieon George OL (Houston, TX) 6’7”/345 - George confirmed his “100%” pledge to the Tide while participating at the Under Armour All-America Game. Former UGA offensive line coach and current Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman has tried to flip him. Pre-Joe Moorhead firing Missy State was after him as well, but who know now? He has taken no OVs to date. Karl Scott had an in-home visit with him which takes blueshirt off the table. His future can likely be read by which campus(es) he travels to in January. Despite his comments at the UA Game and reports from the press, I am still not totally convince he’ll join the team. It likely depends on other dominoes. Greyshirt is also a possibility.
- Jayson Jones DT (Calera, AL) 6’5”/322 - Alabama has not actively recruited Jones for some time. It is believed by some that he has a blueshirt offer. In order to qualify for such a status, he cannot OV and cannot entertain in-home visit from coaches. However, it is possible the Tide backed off on him because they are going a different direction. There has been talk that should Bama sign him, they would move him to the offensive line. If Jones wants to stay on the defensive side, he might be best served looking elsewhere. He had planned an OV to Baylor, but then coach Matt Rhule moved to the Carolina Panthers leaving everything in flux. He has another OV planned for Oregon. Ole Miss and Georgia Tech have shown interest as well. It would be surprising if he ends up at the Capstone.
TARGETS FOR NSD:
The speculated reports of positions of need for Alabama are all over the place. One position for sure is tight end but Bama will not desperately sign someone just to add depth. It will have to be the right person and it appears to be down to one prospect. Defensive line is in the same boat but may have a few more candidates.
It’s also thought by some crootin’ experts the Tide is looking to add one more wide receiver, and perhaps a defensive back despite widespread beliefs that the signing of Ronald Williams filled that need.
McKinnley Jackson DT (Lucedale, MS) 6’2”/327 - Perhaps the top target of Alabama, Jackson has been playing his cards very close to his chest. He OV’d Alabama way back in September and plans successive OVs to LSU, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M for the last three weekends in January. The Bama staff will have their hands full scrubbing those late visits out of his head, reminding him of the advantages of joining the Crimson Tide. The hype around the hirings of Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach in his home state could make the task of signing this 4-star that much harder. Jackson told reporters at the All-American Bowl that he may take an unofficial visit back to Tuscaloosa. That would be huge for the Tide’s chances. Jackson’s hometown is roughly a three hour drive to either Baton Rouge or Tuscaloosa but four and a half to Oxford, and a loooong way to College Station. It’s hard to get a grasp on what Jackson is thinking but proximity to home could be an asset.
STILL NOT FEELING IT
Alfred Collins DE (Bastrop, TX) 6’6’’/284 - Despite my skepticism, this name is still making the Bama rounds in the crootin-sphere. The 4-star OV’d Tuscaloosa way back on September 21. He looks like a Texas or Oklahoma lean to me. Alabama would have to get him on an unofficial visit if there is any hope here.
One of the unexpected side-effects of the Early Signing Period is that some of the lower-rated prospects who did not sign early can suddenly become hot commodities. We saw it last year when 3-star Brett Seither was the highest rated tight end still available and had several programs fighting over him. He eventually signed with Georgia (TBH, I think Bama dodged a bullet. Seither only got a few snaps in two cupcake games this past season and redshirted - even with a dearth at the position for the Bulldogs).
Former Arkansas commitment Brandon Frazier (McKinney, TX) 6’7”/247 fills that role this year. However, his highlight reel (see above) is a little more impressive than his predecessor. Despite being rated 3-stars, he has offers from over two dozen Power-5 schools.
Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, and Texas Tech are the finalists for the one-time Razorbacks commit. He has already been to Lubbock on OV. Trips are planned for Auburn on January 17 and the following weekend in Arkansas. However, new Razorbacks OC Kendal Briles is having 3-star tight end Allen Horace come in as well. Perhaps the Hogs are feeling like they are losing a grip on Frazier? Look for Nick Saban to have an in home with Frazier and his family very soon. If he can get an OV to Tuscaloosa out of Frazier, things will be looking up.
For the record, Alabama offered Frazier back in May. The Tide is not looking at any other freshmen tight ends. If they do not sign him, they will look to the Transfer Portal or convert someone.
Marcus Henderson OG (Memphis) 6’5”/300 is another beneficiary of the ESP “leftover” effect. The 4-star offensive guard is being wooed by the entire SEC, Oregon, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, FSU, and many others. He OV’d to Mizzou and Arky last fall and has trips to Alabama (Jan. 24) and UGA (Jan. 31) on the docket. The Under Armour All-America Game participant is likely the only remaining OL that the Tide would take. His decision could effect the futures of Damieon George and Jayson Jones. Otherwise, it’s another trip to the Transfer Portal. Alabama offered him way back in April of 2018.
NEW KID IN TOWN
Ennis Rakestraw (Duncanville, TX) 6’0”/170 is an enigma. The 3-star cornerback has been invisible for much of his career and now has suddenly become the new hot thing. Some want to compare his meteoric rise to the emergence of Josh Jacobs a few years ago, but it is quite different. Jacobs was an undersized quarterback at an inner city Tulsa high school that was never on anyone’s radar and rarely sent players on to play at college. Rakeshaw goes to Texas powerhouse Duncanville who plays on TV and went to the state finals the last two years. He had teammates this season who signed with Texas, Auburn, and Oregon State. In addition, his team has a 5-star and a 4-star prospect for 2021. It is odd how he had not been noticed sooner.
Heading into his senior season, Rakestraw only had offers from FCS teams and a few non-Power 5’s. Mizzou offered in October but that was it. Then came the Texas High School playoffs.
According to the Dallas Morning News who named him their Defensive Player of the Year, Rakestraw began dominating much higher rated receivers.
Facing the No. 2-ranked receiver in the nation, Rakestraw held five-star Maryland signee Rakim Jarrett of Washington, D.C. St. John’s to five catches for 36 yards in a 35-14 victory. In the state semifinals, Rakestraw limited the nation’s No. 5-ranked receiver — four-star Ohio State signee Jaxon Smith-Njigba of Rockwall — to five catches for 37 yards in Duncanville’s 56-14 rout.
Suddenly, the dam broke and offers came rushing in. Between December 26 and January 10, offers came in from Alabama, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, Miami, Baylor, Michigan State and others. Ohio State and Michigan have also been in contact but may be too late.
Rakestraw appears to be zeroed in on the Tide, Georgia and Missouri. He will take OVs to each of those schools this month before deciding. Some peg Alabama as the favorite.
Word has it that UGA 4-star OT commitment Sedrick Van Pran has been in communication with Alabama. He has also been taking calls from other programs such as Florida. There is something bad going on with the Bulldogs after Matt Luke replaced Sam Pittman as OL coach. Despite the talk, I’d be mildly surprised to see a flip.
This is who Alabama is: 3-star DT Kyle Mann (5’11.5”/260) has accepted a preferred walk-on offer to the Capstone despite scholarship offers from the likes of NC State, Kansas, SMU, and USF. Note that Mann is a McEachern (Powder Springs, GA) teammate of Tide commits Baker and Burroughs.
Also accepting a PWO offer is Mountain Brook ILB Clark Griffin.
TO INFINITY AND BEYOND
One positive aspect of the ESP is that Alabama can turn their attention to future classes. The Crimson Tide will hold their first Junior Day on February 1. Despite the name, this will likely include prospects from 2021 on down to 2023. For many recruits, this event is the first opportunity to see the campus and get a feel for what it would be like to attend the university. Junior Day is by invitation only but it is considered and unofficial visit and recruits must pay their own way. Athletes and families can tour the stadium, facilities and other parts of campus. It is also a chance to meet with coaches, academic advisers, and potential future teammates. Alabama has three commits to date. They are all expected to be in attendance. They are 4-star quarterback Drake Maye, 4-star cornerback Latrell McCutchin, and 4-star linebacker Deontae Lawson.