Strange days have found us
Strange days have tracked us down
They’re going to destroy
Our casual joys
“Strange Days” The Doors
Three years ago, the NCAA threw a wrench in the previously well-oiled engine that was college football National Signing Day by introducing an Early Signing Period (ESP). It was an odd move since nobody was really clamoring for such a thing. Chaos was the result of this unexpected decision followed by some hard lessons of this new process.
With the stay-home orders being enforced and the Dead Period ridiculously extended through July 31, football coaching staffs are once again forced to wade into the waters of the unknown. Virtual visits are a better alternative to nothing but it just doesn’t beat face-to-face recruiting that Nick Saban has such a command of.
Under normal circumstances, Alabama would be in the midst of on-campus summer camps that aid Saban and staff so much in evaluating talent. The coaches would be out on the road and prospects would be taking official visits to campus.
For the prospects of this last recruiting class, many recruits took their official visits during the summer which began to look like the new normal. Several current prospects for 2021 had originally scheduled OVs for March through June that were canceled. Saban prefers these visits out-of-season, but now everything is thrown into an erratic realm of confusion (#bandname). One solution might be to cancel the ESP this season for non-early enrollees to allow for more time with recruits, but that would be too logical an answer for Mark Emmert and his bumbling cohorts. More likely, recruits will probably get stuck visiting during the fall, if at all.
After a slow start, Alabama has picked up momentum with six 2021 commitments including three in May.
- Jacorey Brooks WR Miami, FL 6’3”/180 #38 247sports comp.
- Agiye Hall WR Valricio, FL 6’2”/183 #74
- Deontae Lawson LB Mobile, AL 6’3”/215 #114
- Kaine Williams S Marrero, LA 6’2”/190 #156
- Ian Jackson LB Prattville, AL 6’1”/210 #235
- Anquin Barnes DT Montgomery, AL 6’5”/310 #477
Although, the Crimson Tide lags in quantity, the quality is strong. The potential additions are even better.
- Tommy and James Brockermeyer OL (Fort Worth, TX) are fraternal twins who play offensive line. This duo is believed to be a package deal with Bama and Texas looking like they are neck-and-neck. Left tackle Tommy is the fifth overall ranked player in the class of 2021 and highly coveted by every college team. The big tackle looks like Jonah Williams 2.0. Brother James is a 4-star interior lineman and top-ranked center. He is definitely a take for the Tide even without his 5-star brother. Alabama has made great strides in their recruitment but the family has a long history of playing at Texas. Both their grandfather and All-American father, Blake, were Longhorns. Their older brother, Luke, is currently a redshirt sophomore linebacker at Texas who originally walked-on but has earned a scholarship. Word is the family is putting no pressure on them to follow the family tree but you have to wonder. Right now, Bama is in for a tough fight. The real key will be getting them back on campus.
- JC Latham OT (IMG Academy) - This 5-star lineman sent out a cryptic Tweet over the weekend stating “It’s time...I need a commitment edit!!!” that put everyone in a titter. It seems rash to speculate what it means but all the crootin “experts” out there seem to think it means he is ready to commit. Additionally, several of those aforementioned “experts” - including some from up north - are feeling that Alabama has taken the lead over Ohio State. The No. 17 overall player plays at IMG in Bradenton, FL but came from Wisconsin. One anOSU site reported that Latham “..was born in Mississippi, moved to Waukesha, Wisconsin, around his third-grade year, and has family in Akron.” His Twitter account has Chicago as his hometown. Whether any of that matters is yet to be seen. The third finalist appears to be LSU. Latham is listed at 6’6”/305 and could make an impact as a true freshman.
- OTHERS: Word has it that Alabama and UGA are neck-and-neck for 5-star OT Amarius Mims (Cochran, GA) but the Dawgs likely keep him in-state. The same goes for high 4-star guard Terrence Ferguson (Fort Valley, GA).
- OL Coach Kyle Flood has been killing it on the recruiting trail.
- Ga’Quincy McKinstry CB (Pinson, AL) not only excels at football but basketball as well. Tide hoops coach Nate Oats is totally on board and has offered him a chance to play on the hardcourts at the Capstone as well. The guy they call “Koolaid” is a 5-star cornerback and the #22 ranked overall player. He looks like a slight lean to Bama over UGA, LSU, Clemson and Auburn, but get comfortable. This one might taken awhile.
QUARTERBACK, RUNNING BACK AND TIGHT END - OH MY!
Alabama is having a tough go at it at recruiting quarterback, running back, and tight end. Although Bryce Young is but a true freshman, past experiences have proved it necessary to add at least one QB in every class. Bama is super-stacked at running back, but here again is a position that should be filled every year with at least one.
- Drake Maye’s decommitment in March really screwed things up for the Crimson Tide. His abrupt departure for home state UNC left Alabama searching for a replacement when pretty much every other 4-star or higher signal caller has already committed to another program. Saban and Sark have no option than to flip someone.
- Jalen Milroe is a top priority. The high 4-star had strong interest in Bama but committed to Texas last July, only a few days after Maye pledged to sign with the Crimson Tide. Despite hailing from the Houston, TX suburb of Katy, he is listening. The Tide staff would like to get him in town for an OV.
- 4-star Luke Altmyer (Starkville, MS) committed to Florida State back in February but may be having second thoughts. Alabama made him a formal offer on June 1 after Miller Moss pledged to Southern Cal. Although, he has yet to visit the campus, he has said he hopes to make an OV to T-town this fall. Being only 80-some miles away, that should not be a problem. Ole Miss, a campus that he has visited several times, is also on his radar. Hometown MSU already has two QB commitments and are not in play.
- Alabama will have a difficult time drawing a RB to Tuscaloosa with the current depth chart as it is. The Tide has set their sights on 5-star Camar Wheaton but have a good deal of work to do before they can begin to hope for his signature. The Garland, TX resident has a long list of interested teams including Oklahoma, LSU, and Texas.
- The No. 2 running back Donovan Edwards is another target for the Tide. He also has a long list of admirers. Neither of these two RBs appear to have Bama in their top 5. No other back seems to be on the Tide’s radar.
- Alabama put all their tight end chips on Tennessee native Hudson Wolfe and are coming up snake eyes. Ohio State was looking like the leader but the Vols and Ole Miss are making it tough. The Crimson Tide still has a chance but it doesn’t look good.
- Bama came in way too late on 4-star Thomas Fidone, offering in February. The Iowa star tight end has many favorites ahead of the Tide.
- Robbie Ouzts, 3-star from Rock Hill, SC, might be Alabama’s best option at TE, but he has yet to step on the Alabama campus.
DOWN IN THE DMV
The Tide’s newly found foothold in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) has somewhat faded with the departure of Mike Locksley. Only one prospect from the area has much interest in Alabama. Fortunately for the Tide, he’s a good one. Monkell Goodwine is a 4-star DE from Fort Washington, MD. He is either 16 or recently turned 17 and is already 6’4”/260. He has a long list of suitors but is nowhere near a decision. Bama wants/needs to get him back on campus.
BRING DA PAYNE
The five-star (#18 overall) DL Damon Payne was set to return to Tuscaloosa in late March but the C19 shutdown ended that plan. It is going to be tough to get him to visit from his Belleville, Michigan hometown until thing calm down. Alabama still has an excellent shot at adding him to the roster.
With Thomas Fletcher entering his final year of college eligibility, Alabama will be auditioning replacements. Rocco Underwood of Lake Mary, FL is one who has popped up on the radars. The Crimson Tide has had some good luck with signing long-snappers, getting four stalwart years out of Carson Tinker (six season with Jacksonville) Cole Mazza (currently with the Chargers), and now Fletcher. Don’t be surprised if Saban saves one scholarship for this purpose.
OTHERS TO WATCH
- DE Dallas Turner (Fort Lauderdale, FL) 6-4 / 235, #46 - Bama may be a slight favorite over UGA.
- WR Brian Thomas Jr. (Walker, LA) 6-4 / 185, #63 - The belief is Bama will take four WRs. Thomas is a top target.
- WR Christian Leary (Orlando, FL) 5-9 / 180, #130 - Would like to run track as well and has had Zoom talks with the Alabama track coaches this spring.
- LB Kendrick Blackshire (Duncanville, TX) 6-2 / 250, #154
- S Terrion Arnold (Tallahassee, FL) 6-2 / 187, #191
- DE Shambre Jackson (Orlando, FL) 6-4 / 243, #218