Alabama currently sits at 21 commitments in the class of 2015,but Nick Saban and company are gearing up for a big finish once again, with supreme targets remaining at most of the priority positions. BamaMag.com provides it readers with a snapshot of the desired adds on offense towards what appears to be a second-straight No. 1 class on Scout.com.
Blake Barnett is arguably the top quarterback prospect in the entire class of 2015, and he’s been on board for more than four months now, helping to add to the other levels of the unit. Each additional position group is still lacking in the eyes of the Crimson Tide coaching staff.
In-state four-star DeSherrius Flowers has been the lone pledge at the position all the way through, while the level of confidence in many others has wavered over the last several months. Five-star JUCO prospect Jovon Robinson is seemingly solid to Auburn despite flat-out saying he’d like to play for ‘Bama last fall, four-star target Jacques Patrick committed to Florida State this week and the nation’s top high school back seems destined to play in the Big Ten or stay home at Kentucky. However, Damien Harris continues to express considerable interest in Alabama, and a late visit is still likely in the works.
Beyond Harris, the only realistic uncommitted option at running back from what we can tell, the position may be capped at one in what is widely considered a down year at the position. Robinson is the sole five-star between high school and JUCO prospects, as opposed to a Scout record eight five-star backs in the 2014 cycle, which included recently cleared Alabama signee Bo Scarbrough. Knowing the five-star will enroll in January could enable the staff some ease with the scenario of Flowers solely representing the position in 2015. Patrick is likely to visit despite his declaration, as is fellow four-star FSU pledge Johnny Frasier later this fall. In-state Auburn pledge Kerryon Johnson has also mentioned taking visits despite his longtime tab to the Plains, to which Tuscaloosa would be one future destination. Recent LSU decommitment Derrius Guice was involved with Alabama at one point in the cycle, but renewed interest from either party is a bit unclear at this stage.
Alabama is comfortable taking its pair of commitments in five-star Miamian Calvin Ridley and four-star Louisianan Daylon Charlot, though each prospect could very well elect to play closer to home. Charlot is the more likely pledge to bolt for another program, though all camps are currently saying the right things.
No matter how it plays out between the two commitments at the position, wide receiver still has a vacancy in Alabama’s class. It is no secret that the top target at the position is current Georgia commitment Terry Godwin (pictured above), but the actual secret may be how realistic Alabama’s chances are for the Peach State standout. Sure, he’s been in Tuscaloosa a half-dozen times or so since giving Jeremy Pruitt his word in January, but he’s been to Athens and even Auburn plenty in the meantime. Still, Godwin maintains that he’s taking the recruiting process through February 4, 100 days from today, so all three schools will keep close tabs on him as any would for a two-way five-star.
Beyond Godwin, it gets interesting, and then tricky. Fellow prospect-committed-elsewere-in-the-SEC-that-UA-likes-as-a-returner-talent-as-well K.J. Hill seems fairly solid with his Arkansas pledge, though he has already seen other campuses and has a penciled in official visit to Tuscaloosa set for the Iron Bowl. The only wideout in America ranked higher than Ridley is Preston Williams, who is in a similar situation with Tennessee, and he would also be surprising many people if he ended up anywhere else despite potential visits. The most tangible talent at the position that the Crimson Tide is in the mix for could be Lawrence Cager, the Baltimore-area standout who exploded late this summer when national analysts and schools saw his legit 6-foot-4 1/2 frame make plays at the ball’s highest point. Ohio State, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, also having offered, are surely to be on the three-star’s short list, but a return trip to Tuscaloosa, where he earned his Tide offer, wouldn’t surprise many.
Cager at Nike’s The Opening
Four-star Hale Hentges remains the sole pledge at the position, in a group of prospects that has mirrored the running backs Alabama has targeted in the cycle. There aren’t many “fits” out there and of the remaining possibilities, there aren’t any scenarios where the Crimson Tide has a chance at a real lead.
Will Gragg is in the same boat as fellow Arkansas native and Hog pledge Hill (see above) while fellow four-star Devonaire Clarington has yet to take an out-of-state visit. The Miami native has been public about his desire to see Tuscaloosa, but will the visit take place? Then there’s priority talent DeAndre McNeal. Scout lists him as an outside linebacker, ‘Bama originally liked him as a tight end or H-back and now the four-star Texan is leaning towards playing more of a traditional wide receiver role in college. Earlier this month, McNeal informed BamaMag that UA was still in consideration, but there is no group of standouts for him just yet. Expect a return visit to Tuscaloosa before things heat up between each party.
So, like the running back position, Saban and company could elect to bring in just one prospect at tight end, though multiple spots were on the table at one point. Should taking a second pledge be deemed a requirement for the class, in-state Auburn pledge Jalen Harris could be an option. The three-star has been to Tuscaloosa this fall and communication between each party is ongoing.
The title says all one would need to know. Alabama has interior offensive line pledges from Richie Petitbon, Dallas Warmack and Brandon Kennedy already in. Fellow Scout guard projection Lester Cotton is also on the commitment list, but dialogue between he and the staff continues to be centered around the possibility that he plays tackle at the next level. It is clear that bringing in at least one tackle prospect is a priority.
A pair of prospects have emerged as the most likely scenarios to fill the void at Alabama in the class, Matt Womack and Isaiah Prince. Each are on different paths, as Womack is currently committed to LSU with a strong possibility that he enrolls early at his school of choice while Prince is waiting until after the season to take visits before a late decision. Each has official visits planned to Tuscaloosa, with Womack looking at mid-December and Prince set to make just his second trip to campus on the weekend of January 16. LSU met with Womack’s family this week and Saban and company have re-iterated how the Mississippian is currently atop the board. Prince has Alabama as one of four finalists for his signature along with Florida, Ohio State and in-state familiarity Maryland.
The next tier of potential tackles has some projected guards within it as well, and visits to Tuscaloosa here are often talked about instead of taken. Four-star Virginian Matthew Burrell is in this camp along with Floridian Jalen Merrick. Each seems like a tough pull out of their respective geographical areas, which can also be said for Ole Miss commitment Drew Richmond, out of Memphis. The nation’s top offensive tackle is Martez Ivey, who has also mentioned taking an official visit to Alabama, though in-state Florida and Auburn are the co-leaders for his commitment. A wildcard name to keep an eye on at offensive tackle, perhaps above all others save for the top tier of Womack and Prince, is Chidi Valentine-Okeke. The Nigerian moved from Florida to Georgia this fall and could end up jumping from the class of 2016 to the 2015 group. That move would put Alabama, where he visited a few weeks back, right in the mix for his services, alongside improving favorite Georgia.