If one were to take said snapshot, and compare it to the final tally of letters of intent in less than two weeks, a portion of the names will read quite differently. It happens every single cycle, and seems to be happening more in the new age of college football recruiting complete with social media, silent commitments and more.
While Nick Saban and company represent the No. 1 program within Scout’s rankings, by a near 1,000-point margin over No. 2 Georgia at that, expect the names to again be reshuffled late in the game. Those Bulldogs may be heavily involved, on both sides of the equation.
Should Mark Richt poach a current UA pledge, it may be from a former UGA commitment in Rico McGraw. The four-star defensive back out of Nashville (Tenn.) Ensworth took his Alabama official visit this past weekend, and was recruiting for Saban’s program, but a late trip to Athens looms just days before national signing day. Jeremy Pruitt, who began developing his relationship with the versatile defensive back as an assistant under Saban two-plus years ago, now controls his recruitment for the Bulldogs and the relationship between the two remains strong.
“(Coach) Pruitt is a big part, but it’s just Georgia,” McGraw said during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl week. “They have a big need for DBs down there, so a kid would want to go down there and play off the bat for an SEC school, let alone Coach Pruitt. He’s won four of the last five national championships (before Ohio State's win 10 days ago). In my opinion, he’s one of the best defensive coordinators out there.”
On the flip-side, Alabama is set to host one of Georgia’s class headliners this coming weekend in Terry Godwin. The five-star wide receiver has been to Tuscaloosa on countless occasions, and Alabama has a need for a pair of wide receivers to close out the class. Scout likes Godwin as a cornerback with his size and athleticism, but Godwin has expressed a desire to catch passes at the next level, something Lane Kiffin and company suggest could be possible as a true freshman after the departure of Amari Cooper to the NFL Draft along with the No. 2 and No. 3 pass-catchers on the roster in graduates DeAndrew White and Christion Jones.
Godwin has always maintained that he’s 100 percent to the Bulldogs, while frequenting both Tuscaloosa and Auburn multiple times during the season. There is even some talk building of a defacto “final decision” brewing for the elite two-way Hogansville (Ga.) Callaway star.Godwin would surprise many if he ended up in the SEC West
Georgia isn’t the only SEC school that could be linked to Alabama in the flip game late in the process. Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Florida, Kentucky and Texas A&M are all candidates to add a prospect currently on Alabama’s commitment list. Much like McGraw, both Montrell Custis and T.D. Moton (pictured, top of story) were once committed to another school before picking the Crimson Tide.
Moton, after a banner sophomore season, became one of the hottest young prospects in talent-rich Louisiana before picking Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs in late 2013. Backing off a short time after, he was on the market for a few months before a summer pledge to the Tide. After a long, quiet senior season on the visit front, Moton began publicly endorsing schools like TAMU and once again Mississippi State. He took an official visit to Starkville last weekend and Mullen was at Shreveport (La.) Woodlawn High School Thursday for a follow up on the nose guard candidate. Kevin Sumlin and company could host him for a late official visit, too, where he will reconnect with John Chavis, A&M’s new defensive coordinator that held the same position under Les Miles throughout Moton’s recruitment.
UPDATE: Moton announced his decommitment from Alabama on Thursday.
A one-time Kentucky commitment, Custis officially visited the Wildcats this past weekend though he continues to say all the right things regarding Alabama and his status on the commitment list. Pledged to the Crimson Tide since April, the four-star Lovejoy (Ga.) defensive back is also hearing more and more from both Ole Miss and Florida, which could be competing against UA not only for his signature, but for official visits with just two weekends remaining before signing day. The original plan pegged Custis to be in Tuscaloosa this coming weekend, but few would be surprised if those plans soon changed.
Hugh Freeze’s Rebels were the talk of recruiting circles a few cycles ago, and the staff could be gearing up for another big finish, though holding onto current verbals is just as critical. This is especially true when Saban and company covet one, and that continues to be the case with four-star Memphis (Tenn.) University School offensive tackle Drew Richmond. Having Alabama in the mix throughout his recruitment before committing to Ole Miss, he was set to visit Tuscaloosa officially last weekend but a death in the family understandably altered his plans. He’ll be in Oxford this weekend, but can Alabama get him to take an official visit the weekend of January 30? Saban was in Memphis on Wednesday for a personal visit to reiterate how much of a priority the 6-foot-6, 320-pounder still is.”Alabama is Alabama,” Richmond said just before the new year. “It is a great school and it knows how to win. It is one of those schools that speaks for itself when you say the name of it. I love the fans there, the offense is a great fit for me, and I am giving them a look.” Richmond would complete Alabama’s O-line haul
As one could tell, two priority positions remain for the Crimson Tide late in the cycle, offensive tackle and wide receiver. With the staff looking to take two more wide receivers late to pair with five-star Floridian Calvin Ridley, many names remain. In addition to Godwin among those currently committed elsewhere, lies Lawrence Cager. The 6-foot-4 Baltimore (Md.) Calvert Hall product picked Miami over Alabama at the Army All-American event earlier this month, though he planned a Tuscaloosa official visit for the weekend soon after. Meeting with Kiffin extensively on the trip, the rangy three-star was shown tape of former Kiffin All-Americans Mike Williams and Cooper, and how his talents could be used similarly if he were to ink crimson next month.
While important to continue to build a bond with the staff and many players, Cager stressed the visit’s importance to his parents over his time on campus. It was their first trip to Tuscaloosa, in which they approved the school as a finalist for the senior. Miami will get its chance to do the same this coming weekend while Auburn, Ole Miss and Georgia continue to push for a late unofficial visit before the ink dries.
'Tis the season!