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Recruiting Update: The 5-Star Parade Rolls On

The Crimson Tide recruiting machine forges ahead with more top players on Official Visits this weekend.

Arkansas v Alabama
Lights! Camera! Action!
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Crimson Tide just completed perhaps the biggest recruiting weekend of the off-season, but the mad rush to the June 27 Dead Period soldiers on.

5-stars QB Arch Manning, OT Francis Mauigoa, OT Kadyn Proctor, ILB Anthony Hill, and RB Richard Young, and four 4-stars were all in Tuscaloosa on Official Visits this past weekend. No commitments resulted but such a thing rarely does it happen the weekend of the OV. However, there could be some in the coming weeks after some of these recruits round out their OV lists.

To the surprise of everyone outside the Alabama Universe, there was no real hype around the appearance of the Mannings. Don’t take that as a bad sign. Bama does their thing and the Mannings do theirs. It is not about social media clicks with either party. It’s all business. This courtship is not over yet.

The real crazy thing about this past weekend was the amount of 2024 prospects who were being wooed. Most of them were camping but had time to meet with coaches - and for some, have the privilege of entering the hallowed halls of Mal Moore Athletic Facility and into the office of Nick Saban himself. It is pretty impressive the energy and organization Saban has for all this activity.

OFFICIAL VISITORS

It has been a parade of 5-stars through the Capstone and it continues on this weekend with ten prospects on Official Visits June 17-19 as of post.

  • CB Cormani McClain, 5-stars, #3 (Lakeland, FL) 6-1.5 / 165 - This is a big one. Excellent foot speed, ball skills, instincts, he has it all. He recorded nine interceptions as a sophomore and ten more as a junior. He has been laser-timed 4.5 in the 40. Some of the crootin’ experts peg Florida as his leader. But that sort of thing can change in a hurry once a guy steps on the campus of the University of Alabama. Tuscaloosa is his first OV. The dream team of Holmon Wiggins and Travaris Robinson are heading this one up.
  • S Caleb Downs, 5-stars, #11 (Hoschton, GA) 6-0 / 185 - This dude is so good. He possesses great instincts and has a nose for the ball. He can go sideline to sideline and stuff a runner at the line as well. He plays a perfect centerfield. Downs could probably start for Alabama Game 1 in 2023 as a freshman.
  • OT Samson Okunlola, 5-stars, #20 (Brockton, MA) 6-5 / 305 - This rising star has over 40 offers but only five get OVs. After a conversation with Saban in May, the Crimson Tide is one of those privileged few. At just 15 years old, Okunlola stood 6-foot-5 and weighed 300 pounds. As a rising senior, he has maintained those numbers - not an easy thing for a growing teenager. Not only a two-way player on his football team, he is also a wrestling champ. If you are familiar with the sport (not the WWF/top rope/folding chair rasslin’), you know that wrestling takes a good deal of strength, balance, and dexterity. Okunlola’s brother, Samuel, signed with Pitt in December but they are not a threat. He OV’d Michigan State last weekend and has no other trips lined up as of yet. The other seven of his top nine include Oregon, Oklahoma, Miami, Georgia, Florida, Penn State, and Ohio State.
  • WR Shelton Sampson, 5-stars, #30 (Baton Rouge, LA) 6-4 / 181 - He is by far the tallest receiving prospect in the Top 250. Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Oregon and Texas A&M are all getting OVs. His former HS head coach has some connection to FSU, but that guy left for another job. The new coach went to LSU. I’m not feeling it but it’s a long way to December.
  • EDGE Damon Wilson, 4-stars, #48 (Venice, FL) 6-4 / 230 - Just added this week, there is not much known about his interest in Bama. He also has an OV for Ohio State and took a Thursday to Sunday trip to Georgia last week in an unofficial capacity. Florida State, Miami, South Carolina, and LSU are his other schools of interest.
  • RB Justice Haynes, 4-stars, #53 (Buford, GA) 5-10 / 200 - Alabama has finally made some nice inroads with the Georgia superpower program of Buford HS. The Tide signed Seth McLaughlin in 2020 and have high 4-star WR Isaiah Bond newly enrolled. It is unclear how many running backs Bama might sign for 2023 but this one is certainly a take regardless of what others do. Rueben Owens and Richard Young are the other two top RB targets of Alabama. Haynes has already been to UGA and Florida. Ohio State comes next weekend. It may come down to the Tide and the Dawgs.
  • S Makari Vickers, 4-stars, #85 (Tallahassee, FL) 6-1 / 180 - This recruit is said to be good friends with Bama DB Terrion Arnold who played in the same secondary at John Paul II Catholic School. Vickers can play WR, DB, and KR but will likely be used on defense should he choose the Tide. He has been to UA in the past, including Junior Day earlier this year. Tide coach Travaris Robinson has a previous relationship with Vickers going back to the coach’s 2021 position at Miami. The other OVs include Oklahoma, Michigan and Texas. A decision is not expected until at least after summer visits.
  • TE Jelani Thurman, 4-stars, #133 (Fairburn, GA) 6-5 / 230 - Another high-profile tight end will be coming through T-town. According to MaxPreps, he caught 31 passes for 479 yards and 7 TDs. He also has played defensive end and recorded 61 tackles, 5 quarterback hurries, and a sack. His father is former UGA and troubled NFL linebacker Odell Thurman. His mother, Kara Braxton, played in the WNBA. The younger Thurman appears to be down to Bama, Auburn, Ohio State, and Michigan State. Despite having two UGA parents, the Bulldogs show no interest.
  • CB Damari Brown, 4-stars, #224 (Fort Lauderdale, FL) 6-1 / 180 - Another American Heritage player will be in town. This time will be a secondary player. Pat Surtain Sr. is no longer head coach there (Saints assistant), but his imprint still exists. Brown’s father, Selwyn Brown, played DB for Jimmy Johnson during the Miami Hurricanes’ run through college football back in the 80s. Dad claims he will not try to sway his son, though the ‘Canes are probably the favorite over the Crimson Tide and Clemson.
  • DB/LB/WR/KR Ronan Hanafin, 3-stars, #431 (Cambridge, MA) 6-3 / 206 – The embodiment of an “Athlete”, this kid does it all. He has great size and speed. He is probably ranked so low because he plays in a snooty privileged New England private school league against a bunch of undersized whiteys. Even still, you can see the talent and his smarts on the field. His OV list so far includes Bama, Clemson and Notre Dame. The Irish and Tigers want him as a receiver, while Bama sees him as a safety/rover type player. He is originally from nearby Burlington, Mass.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15 OV

  • WR Malik Benson 6-1 / 185, Hutchinson C.C. (Lansing, KS) - This croot is undertaking a whirlwind two weeks of OVs with a June 3 trip to LSU, followed by a stop at Tennessee on June 10. Then he’ll be in Tuscaloosa on June 15 and June 17 at Georgia. Due to the weekday visit and the quick turnaround, it would seem Bama is not a serious contender for him. (No juco rankings have been calculated at this time.)

KICKERS

As mentioned last week, Alabama held a kicking camp/tryout last Saturday. Word had it that the best of the bunch would earn an offer from the Crimson Tide. And the winner is...

Peyton Woodring (5-10/165) did not even have a profile on 247sports or Rivals as of last weekend. Kohl’s Kicking ranks him the #4 placekicker. MaxPreps named him first Team Junior All-American for his performance last year. He is also his team’s longsnapper on the punt team. According to Hudl, he benches 225 and squats 305. The Lafayette, LA resident reportedly has a 4.0 GPA and scored a 26 on his ACT. Woodring also has offers from Air Force and UL-Laffy with more to surely come.

TEAM RANKINGS

Are you freaking out because Alabama’s 2023 class is ranked #46 in team rankings??!?!?1!

Well, fear not. The 247 team rankings are weighted measurements. Texas Tech is currently ranked second but that is because they have 20 commits. 15 of those are 3-stars and two have no stars at all. So... grain of salt...

Even though the Crimson Tide has a measly FOUR commits (pearls grasped!!), they have the highest average individual rankings by a wide margin.

  1. #46 Alabama, 4 Commits, 96.09
  2. #15 Southern Cal, 8 Commits, 94.41
  3. #6 Ohio State, 10 Commits, 92.80
  4. #1 Notre Dame, 15 Commits, 92.72
  5. #9 Georgia, 9 Commits, 92.39
  6. #26 Oregon, 6 Commits, 92.14
  7. #38 LSU, 5 Commits, 92.12
  8. #28 Texas, 5 Commits, 91.55
  9. #40 Texas A&M, 5 Commits, 91.55
  10. #13 Tennessee, 9 Commits, 91.07

[SIDE NOTE: If Alabama does sign a kicker - and one with few to no stars at that - it will knock their ranking down a bit. Another grain of salt...]

COMING UP

Set yourself an alert for July 8 at 6:45pm CT. That is when 5-Star DL Peter Woods says he will announce his decision. The finalists are Alabama, Clemson, Florida, and charitably Jackson State. I absolutely 100% expect him to pick the Tide. The Thompson HS (Alabaster, AL) student is the #23 ranked player in the nation. Enjoy his highlight video: