Jackson Harris shocked few when he pledged to the Georgia Bulldogs over the Alabama Crimson Tide and others on Thursday evening at his high school. Scout.com's No. 10 tight end prospect had visited Alabama just last week, staying overnight, but UGA's lead was clearly big enough to withstand the trip.
It has been clear from the beginning of the 2015 recruiting plan for Alabama to take multiple tight ends in the cycle, so the news has a big effect on several other targets still on the board for the Crimson Tide and others as the summer camp circuit progresses.
Harris hails from The Volunteer State, where the Crimson Tide has been heavily involved with several class of 2015 prospects, but he was the only tight end within the group. Perhaps ironically, one of the top prospects from Tennessee is expected on campus this weekend in four-star defensive end Kyle Phillips out of Nashville. The area also boasts another top target in fellow four-star and current Georgia commitment (again, the irony) Rico McGraw. The cornerback projection out of Ensworth has been to Tuscaloosa at least twice since committing the the Bulldogs.
Others in the state that Alabama has verbally offered and continues to pursue include Memphis-area four-stars Drew Richmond and Joshua McMillon. Richmond is one of only a few offensive tackles left on the board for UA and McMillon also finds himself on a dwindling linebacker list with several commitments at the position for Alabama already.
While Harris' decision doesn't hurt UA's chances with other top Tennessee targets, perhaps his potential pledge to the Tide could have helped with either of them going forward – especially considering most of the aforementioned group plans on taking their time when it comes to making a public declaration.
The lack of a regional impact mirrors the depth of the positional impact of Harris' decision. As we've mentioned, the plan is to take multiple tight ends and now Hale Hentges remains as the only one on board at the moment. The No. 4 tight end in the country is more of a hybrid type, so conventional wisdom says that the one to be paired with him would be a more conventional, balanced, tight end type like Harris. Four-star Will Gragg, out of Arkansas, is the biggest of the remaining targets at 6-foot-4, 247 pounds, though he may be the most natural receiver of the bunch as well considering his family has reached the NFL as such.
Perhaps on the flip-side, three-stars Jalen Harris and Bry'Kiethon Mouton have seen their stock rise of late. Harris, the only in-state prospect on the list, picked up his Crimson Tide offer last week while participating in Nick Saban's camp. Since, he has also added LSU and Vanderbilt at similar events, though the Tide is the school he grew up rooting for. He is not expected to decide any time soon, though he is in Tuscaloosa for an overnight visit on Thursday. Mouton picked up his offers in reverse order, with ‘Bama getting in before LSU, which did of late – making many peg the Louisiana native to end up a Tiger. Maybe each pass-first prospect will remain in-state and become SEC West rivals.
Then there is the potential X-factor in the tight end scenario for Alabama, Devonaire Clarington, out of Miami (Fla.) Westminster Christian. He's another closer to the O.J. Howard mold of the new-age tight end at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds. Long and lean, he also has an offer from the Tide. However, he has never been to Tuscaloosa. The South Florida four-star has talked often about leaving the state, and one source recently told BamaMag that LSU and Alabama could be the beneficiaries of the notion, should he follow suit.
While the targets on the board seem crystal clear, the timing of the next move is not. Gragg is slated to commit in mid-November, while Mouton and Clarington are in no rush to do so. The next one of the bunch to commit will likely be Harris, who has maintained that he wants to be through with his recruitment by the start of his senior season at St. James in Montgomery.
Could the loss of one Harris lead to the gain of another? Some say the second visit to campus within a 10-day window, in order to get his parents to Tuscaloosa, is telling for the in-state talent.
Time will tell, but it seems as if Alabama is in solid shape at tight end for 2015 despite missing on one of the country's best on Thursday.
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