October cannot get here soon enough. Through the four games of September, Alabama has yet to play a major opponent inside the realm of Bryant-Denny Stadium. On October 2, the Ole Miss Rebels will visit in what should be a Top 10 blockbuster. As Alabama fans saw last weekend, such a game is huge for recruiting purposes. Despite losing to the Tide, the Gators’ home stadium was rocking and undoubtedly made big impressions on their visiting recruits - some of whom are also considering Alabama as their college destination.
A similar occurrence happened in Tallahassee earlier this month when the Seminoles had a loud raucous crowd and almost came back to defeat Notre Dame. However, the FSU bandwagon wheels have fallen off and the carburetor is two blocks back. Even still, Florida State and Alabama are battling for a few recruits. But losing to an FCS school can change that.
Last year’s recruiting circuit was one of the most difficult and challenging ones ever. Many programs struggled with the NCAA-imposed visitation restrictions. The residual difficulties continue as so much concentration last year was spent on the Class of 2021, that later classes had to be somewhat set aside for the time being. Coaching staffs as well as the recruiting services are just now catching up. Thus we see a good deal of lower rankings for unknown and lesser known prospects.
Of Alabama’s 14 committed players, three of them are judged as 3-star. WR Kobe Prentice is ranked as the #561 player but he has been tearing it up for Calera (AL) this season. Safety Jake Pope is also a 3-star and #375. Yet, he was wanted by Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Florida, LSU, Southern Cal, and 30-some other P5 schools. There will be some ranking adjustments coming henceforth.
Another overlooked recruit ranked 3-stars is DT Isaiah Hastings (6’4”/290) playing out of Clearwater, FL. Originally out of Toronto, Canada, he has seemingly come out of nowhere with no recruiting profile up to #633. Despite that number, Alabama wants him and extended a “committable” offer to Hastings on Sunday. Georgia and Florida are heavy on him as well.
5-star CB Denver Harris of North Shore, TX has flirted with the possibility of announcing today, Wednesday, but may be backing off that. If he does announce, it will most likely come through social media. The #9 overall player appears to be favoring Alabama over Texas, LSU, and TAMU.
4-star OT Elijah Pritchett (Columbus, GA) is expected to announce on Tuesday, September 28. He is one of those recruits that I mentioned is believed to be down to Alabama or Florida State. However with FSU’s season already in turmoil and their coach on the hot seat, this choice might seem like a slam dunk. However, you never know with 17-year olds.
TE/WR hybrid Jaleel Skinner is scheduled to commit on October 9th. Originally from Greer, SC, the 6’5”/210 prospect transferred to IMG for his senior season. Alabama already has commitments from similarly built TE/WR Amari Niblack (6’4”/220) and pure tight end Elijah Brown (6’5”/230). However, there is a good deal of buzz around Skinner picking the Tide. Current Bama tight ends Jahleel Billingsley and Cameron Latu are juniors. The other tight ends on the Tide roster do not seem to have the same skill sets at those two or Skinner and Niblack. It may just depend on whether Saban wants three tight ends in this class at the expense of another position. But there may be a fix for that dilemma. Read on...
Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated reported last month the NCAA will likely pass a one-year waiver to expand the football signing class limit. SI reported last week that the waiver is set to pass next month with schools allowed to replace up to seven players who leave for the portal. The max signing number moving to 32. This is a one-year waiver until a new policy is created.
Alabama had nine scholarship players transfer after the 2020 season... The move will allow Alabama to sign additional players to its class, but must remain at 85 players on scholarship. Rivals.com
Saban warned of the dangers of the free agent transfer portal. But since the NCAA went forward with it anyway, he has taken great advantage of the new rules by picking up two top-shelf athletes in Jameson Williams and Henry To’o To’o and inserting them right into the starting lineup. Expect to see much more of that from Alabama in the coming years... until they come up with yet another Saban Rule.
2023 VISITING THIS WEEKEND
Normally, having visitors for a cupcake game is not a good sign. And for a 2023 recruit, even more so. In the case of Jayden Wayne, it might be a good one. The 5-star DL is visiting with his parents from Tacoma, WA because this was the best date for their schedule. Wayne camped at the Capstone earlier this summer and fell head over heels in love with the place (do ya blame him?). Tacoma is about as far as one can get from T-town in the continental U.S., making this unofficial visit vital to securing his commitment.
Phenix City 5-star 2023 cornerback AJ Harris is also expected in town this weekend. (Alabama seems to do well with guys named “Harris”: Najee, Damien, Christian) He has already announced January 11 as his commitment date which seems mighty early for a guy who cannot sign until the following December.
Both of these visits are of the unofficial variety as juniors cannot take officials until the new year. Alabama has no 2023 commits as of yet, which is perfectly fine and probably preferred.
Many southern Louisiana recruits have put their processes on hold while they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. With things getting back to normal, we should see more actions from these prospects. Among them are high 4-star WR Shazz Preston, the #5 ranked WR for 2022.
Remember all the hype surrounding 2021 5-star DE J.T. Tuimoloau? He finally picked Ohio State and all the coaches went to the airport to bow down to him. He has played in two of the Buckeyes three games, collecting one solo tackle (vs Tulsa) and two assists. Maybe he’ll work out but had Alabama signed him, they probably could not have taken punter James Burnip.
Do yourself a favor and ignore all the chatter about the Manning kid (2023) until the end of the season.