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Alabama Crimson Tide Recruiting: National Signing Day Primer

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Nick Saban wraps up the Bama Class of 2020.

McKinnley Jackson looking chummy with Nick Saban and Freddie Roach.

Love him or hate him, you have to admire Nick Saban. The NCAA keeps coming up with new rules to slow down the Alabama coach on the recruiting trail and he keeps finding ways to turn them to his advantage. The latest is the Early Signing Period. After the inaugural ESP found the Tide with (gasp! pearl-clutching!) the fifth best class, he came back last year with the No. 1 class. Now, he has just about perfected the process: Fill the class and have everyone sign in December with half of them enrolling early. Then he has the rest of the time to concentrate on a select few while concentrating on the future. While so many other coaching staffs are out there scrambling to fill their classes with the leftovers, Saban is getting a head start on 2021, 2022, and beyond. Even if the Tide does not sign another prospect for this 2020 class, it will still be one fans will talk about for years to come.

So, sit back and relax and let the next 38 hours or so sail by you as we watch the cherries being placed on the top of this sundae.

WHAT’S LEFT?

The general belief from the ‘experts’ is that the Crimson Tide will take two more pledges from among four uncommitted recruits. However, it is ridiculous to think the Bama would not find a way to accept all four if they all wanted to roll with the Tide. That said, it looks like only two will pick Alabama.

  • McKinnley Jackson DT (Lucedale, MS) - First and foremost is this high 4-star (No. 61 overall) who is the center of Saban’s attention. The Tide head coach had an in-home visit with him last Thursday (see photos above) - the day before his final official visit which was to Texas A&M. New Tide DL coach Freddie Roach and DC Pete Golding went to his high school awards banquet earlier in the week. Jackson has been tight-lipped about his feelings, but it is known he is down to Alabama, TAMU, LSU and maybe Auburn or Ole Miss. However, news broke late last week that TAMU DL coach Elijah Robinson is in the mix to replace Sean Spencer as Penn State’s DL coach. He is a PSU grad and a is McKinnley’s primary recruiter for the Aggies. Jackson will announce during a ceremony that begins at 8:30am CT.
    MY PICK: ALABAMA
  • Ennis Rakestraw (Duncanville, TX) - Even with an official visit (OV) to Texas this past weekend, this 3-star cornerback appears to be trending towards Alabama. His final three are Alabama, Texas and Mizzou.
    MY PICK: ALABAMA
  • Sedrick Van Pran OC (New Orleans, LA) - I get the feeling this UGA commit just wanted the Bulldogs to reconfirm their love. Nothing to see here. Move along...
    MY PICK: STICKS WITH GEORGIA
  • Alfred Collins SDE (Bastrop, TX) - Nick Saban has refused to give up on this elite defensive end. He had an in-home with the high 4-star (No. 62 overall) two weeks ago. Freddie Roach and Jeff Banks followed up last Wednesday attending Collins’ basketball practice. But the competition is tough. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was at his basketball game last Tuesday and Texas head man Tom Herman saw him on Thursday. Collins’ one and only visit to Tuscaloosa was an OV back in September. His announcement ceremony starts at 2:50pm CT.
    MY PICK: TEXAS
  • Mystery recruit? In past years, Saban often seems to have a recruit pop up at the end that nobody saw coming (A’Shawn Robinson, Josh Jacobs, Eddie Jackson). I guess Rakestraw could be that guy this year. Beyond him, don’t expect any surprise commits (it ain’t happening, Zach Evans).

COMMITTED UNSIGNED

Four prospects committed to Alabama did not sign during the ESP. Two of them were due to issues with academic progress. One was a numbers game. Despite National Signing Day being February 5, recruits actually have until April 1 to sign.

  • After talk of being “95%” committed and possibly taking OVs to other schools, WR Javon Baker ended up taking only one other OV outside of Alabama. The 4-star Atlanta-area receiver went to Arkansas on Jan. 24 but stayed home last weekend. As theorized in the previous crootin’ post, Arky might be a fallback school if he cannot qualify for acceptance into the Capstone. Baker is in some danger of not qualifying.
  • DT Jamil Burroughs also had some academic issues but by most accounts he has handled his business. He should sign with the Tide.
  • OL Damieon George should also sign.
  • 4-star DT Jayson Jones has a blueshirt offer from the Tide but it might be tough to turn down Oregon. Mario Cristobal, Bobby Williams, and two other Ducks assistants traveled all the way to Calera, AL to have an in-home visit with Jones and his parents.

PREFERRED WALK-ON

It appears that Saban may be going back to the tried and true method of depending on walk-ons to handle punting duties, at least for one candidate. Sam Johnson of Oak Mountain High School is ranked 2-stars and the No. 5 punter by the 247 Composite for 2020. He is 6’3” and 225 lbs and also played tight end for the Eagles.