It happens every year, sometimes more than others, but the phrase "package deal" is one thrown out all the time in the recruiting world. Most times its more of an idea than a reality, but some programs have been able to pull it off all the way through pen meeting paper.
Alabama is one of them.
It has done so in each of the last four recruiting cycles, inking a pair of teammates, and some notable ones at that. Some remain on the roster, others have departed, but it has all helped to establish pipelines of familiarity both near and far for the reigning Scout.com team recruiting champions.
In 2011, Alabama signed Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips duo HaHa Clinton-Dix and Dee Hart, Dillon Lee and Kurt Freitag both inked Crimson out of Buford (Ga.) High in 2012 and the Tide stayed in the Peach State for its package deal in the 2013 class with Marietta (Ga.) Walton quarterback-running back tandem Parker McLeod and Tyren Jones. Earlier this month, 2014 signees D.J. Pettway and Jarran Reed of East Mississippi Community College, admitted that the destination of the other meant plenty to the destination of him.
Pettway and Reed at EMCC
At Norcross (Ga.) Grater Atlanta Christian school, Darius Slayton and Micah Abernathy, who both scored Crimson Tide offers to play in the secondary this month, often refer to each other as brothers. The two class of 2015 standouts haven't really talked about possibly playing together at the next level, but their families have already explored the possibilities.
"Our families are close and we're best friends, he's like that annoying brother," Abernathy said, laughing.
The competition between the two echoes the brother-like comment made by each.
"It's cool being able to talk and compare and compete side by side. Micah is a great player, but I take the cake every time," Slayton said laughing.
"Of course I'm going to say myself," Abernathy rebuttled as to which "brother" was the better prospect.
Scanning the current commitment list, it's easy to see another Alabama connection at Atlanta (Ga.) Mays High. Four-star guard Dallas Warmack is committed to the Tide, and his junior teammate Natrez Patrick is one of the defensive ends the coaching staff also wants to bring in. Chance Warmack, Dallas' older brother and former Alabama great, started the recent Mays-to-UA pipeline.
The Peach State is the deepest in this trend, with similar cases at Tucker High school (commitments Elisha Shaw and Jonathan Ledbetter) and it had a pair of teammates and close friends on the 2014 commitment list at Camden County High in Kalvaraz Bessent and Chris Williams, though they ended up signing with Auburn and Central Florida, respectively.
Several Georgia offers remain out in the class of 2015 among teammates, none more intriguing than the duo at Lovejoy High. Five-star Preston Williams, an Alabama legacy and the top wideout in America on Scout, holds an offer as does three-star defensive back Montrell Custis. Each prospect is currently committed to another SEC school, with Williams verbally pledged to Tennessee and Custis to Kentucky.
Alabama has also fallen in love with Creekside High, the defending Georgia Class 5A champions. It has class of 2015 offers in to recent Ole Miss decommitment Marquel Harrell and Venzell Boulware along the offensive line. UA has also recently tabbed and offered wide receiver Jayson Stanley from the Seminoles' junior class.
Similar stances can be seen at other schools, as Alabama continues offering tandems all over America.
In the last week or so, it has offered a pair of five-stars from Gardena (Calif.) Serra High in linebacker John Houston and defensive lineman Rasheem Green. It also did the same at Dallas (Tex.) Skyline High, getting in on four-star wide receiver Carlos Strickland and linebacker Anthony Wheeler. Coconut Creek (Fla.) Monarch two-way standouts Shawn Burgess-Becker and Calvin Ridley, who each have Alabama within their top two, are also sporting Tide offers in the junior class. The duo is a true package deal, in that they have confirmed that they will sign with the same school.
The class of 2016 has even become a part of this trend, especially at Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep. Alabama does have an offer in to 2015 linebacker Dominic Sheppard, but it has a pair in to 2016 wide receiver Dionte Mullins and safety Cedrick Wright, who nearly pulled the trigger to Alabama earlier this winter.
Will Kerryon Johnson and Malik Miller follow this trend?
Locally, Hoover (Ala.) High boasts four-star linebacker Darrell Williams, three-star defensive end Christian Bell as well as three-star running back Bradrick Shaw, each holding Crimson Tide extensions. It is the same school as one of the class of 2014 headliners among UA signees, five-star Marlon Humphrey. That would qualify as a multi-year pipeline.
The aforementioned prospects-turned-signees in Alabama's recent classes may have been closer to the actual package deal since they were in the same class, but Alabama also has a history of inking teammates in consecutive classes and will continue to recruit both types of teammates in the 2015 cycle and beyond -- as it is doing at Hoover.
Alabama made a splash in the Washington, D.C. area of late in signing brothers Arie and Cyrus Kouandijo in 2010 and 2011, respectively, and have several targets in the upcoming signing class that fit similar paths, though not technically related.
Reigning back-to-back Class 3A state champion Madison Academy features four-star Kerryon Johnson on the roster in the class of 2015 and Malik Miller in 2016, each with Alabama offers and each with the Crimson Tide high up on the list. If each ended up in Tuscaloosa, it would follow the similar in-state trend at Auburn (Ala.) High of all schools. The top prospect not only at the school, but in the state, over the last two seasons has inked Crimson. Reuben Foster in the class of 2013 and of course Rashaan Evans in 2014, perhaps more notably.
While there is no science to certain pipelines for any school across America, there have been several successful efforts – and some drawbacks – in recruiting. It is a trend that likely won't go away any time soon, and Alabama is one of the top programs embracing it in the early stages. Will it lead to another "tandem" of signees in the class of 2015?
The trend says yes.
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