Recruiting Ripple: Hentges to UA

Alabama landed a major verbal commitment from four-star tight end Hale Hentges on Sunday evening, pushing the current class to 16 for the 2015 cycle. BamaMag.com takes a look at what his pledge means for the group an what it could mean for Nick Saban's staff in recruiting the position going forward and much more, inside.

Recruiting fans know that as the weather gets warmer, rising-senior quarterbacks make headlines in rattling off commitments seemingly one right after the other.

While that is still the case, other positions have joined the trend of late. With Garrett Williams popping for Clemson last week, the next big domino came off the board on Sunday evening, as Alabama snagged the pledge of fellow four-star tight end Hale Hentges.

The Jefferson City (Mo.) Helias standout, ranked No. 4 in the country by Scout.com, chose the Crimson Tide over Ohio State, Missouri and others. He is the first tight end in the class of 2015 for Alabama, which only took a junior college prospect at the position in the 2014 cycle, but he won't be the last.

BamaMag sources indicate that Alabama will take multiple tight ends in the current cycle, perhaps as many as three, given the proper scenario. Hentges is being recruited as an H-Back, because of his versatility, which could present him with playing time in the backfield down the road. With that said, let's take a look at potential remaining tight end targets for the Tide now that Hentges is on board.

Top Targets 

This list cannot start with anyone but Scout's No. 10 tight end, Jackson Harris. The four-star out of Columbia (Tenn.) Central High School is one of the more balanced tight ends in the class of 2015, and the Tide has been surging for his commitment of late. The staff has made it no secret that multiple tight ends for 2015 is the plan as of right now, so Hentges' commitment shouldn't affect Harris' top group. Georgia and Tennessee are believed to be Alabama's main competition, but it is ‘Bama that has surged of late. He will visit Tuscaloosa on June 5 and stay overnight and a decision is expected soon after.

Will Gragg isn't as close to making a decision as Harris, but he's as familiar with the top schools on his list as many prospects could hope to be at the end of their recruitment. The younger brother of multiple SEC and NFL players, this four-star from Pine Bluff (Ark.) has most schools in the South clamoring for his services as a gifted route-runner and pass-catcher at 6-foot-4, 247 pounds. Alabama has made its mark with him several times on campus, including the last in which a pitch from current tight end standout O.J. Howard was used.

"It's good because they use a lot of two tight end sets, that means I'd get an earlier chance to get on the field and make plays, so that's always good. I got the chance to speak with O.J. himself, and he was telling me we could be the dynamic duo of the SEC," Gragg said in late April.

In The Mix 

Another four-star right end, in what is a deep class, is Miami (Fla.) Westminster Christian's Davonaire Clarington. While in-state offers will be tough to pass up if staying near home is truly a priority, Alabama's Mario Cristobal has made an impression on the pass-first prospect. UA is often mentioned among his top group of schools, which will only increase if leaving the state becomes more apparent.

The same can be said for three-star Bry'Keithton Mouton of Louisiana. Alabama made a big jump up his list when it offered just after national signing day 2014, and it remains in his small top group along with Miami and LSU, which hasn't yet offered. He's another big body at the position (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) closer to the mold of new-age receiving options as opposed to an extension of the offensive line.

While not listed as a tight end, Chandler Cox should be on this list. He's an H-Back type, similar to Hentges, and the SEC has been all over him of late. An Apopka (Fla.) four-star and the No. 1 fullback on Scout, the Crimson Tide has been within his top three for some time. However, in-state Florida and Auburn have seemingly separated themselves as the top two schools on his list at this point.

Long Shots 

* Five-star Chris Clark (Avon, Conn./Old Farms) has all but moved on from Alabama, even before being briefly committed to North Carolina. He's likely Big Ten bound at this point and will commit in July at Nike's The Opening.

* Jalen Wilkerson (Douglas, Ga./Coffee County) has been linked to the ACC, and Florida State, for several months now.

* Bowman Archibald (Dade City, Fla./Pasco) said he would visit Alabama in the spring despite his commitment to Miami, but never followed through.


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