Can 'Bama break through in Mississippi?

Alabama signed Mississippi offensive lineman Matt Womack in the class of 2015, but it has missed on several elite prospects from the state in recent cycles. UA has hit the ground running in 2016, with a commitment in Raekwon Davis and several early offers out, including to four-star defensive back Nigel Knott.

It was Malcolm Faciane in the 2011 cycle and Matt Womack just two weeks ago as part of the 2015 class. A pair of three-stars from Mississippi, and the entire body of work Alabama has signed from the neighboring state over the last five years.

It's not for a lack of effort, with UA having four-star Mississippi State signee Leo Lewis on the commitment list last year, while seemingly being major players for five-stars Chris Jones, Antonio Conner, four-star C.J. Hampton and many others.

Each name would ultimately sign with an in-state program.

No matter the reason, UA has struggled in the Magnolia State, as many other national programs have when dealing with the Egg Bowl participants on the recruiting trail. But as it has done in the past, many Mississippi scholarship offers are out in the class of 2016. Alabama also has Meridian (Miss.) two-way lineman Raekwon Davis on the early commitment list despite continued efforts from both Ole Miss and State to flip his pledge. It will be something to monitor all the way through the process for each fan base. Even after a recent trip to Tuscaloosa, the three-star called his commitment 'open' despite being solid to the Crimson Tide.

Other 2016 Mississippians have early Tide extensions, including uncommitted Scout300 prospects A.J. Brown, Jeffrey Simmons and Nigel Knott (pictured, above).

A 6-foot, 170-pound prospect with additional verbal extensions from both in-state schools, Florida State, Tennessee, Louisville and North Carolina among others, Knott visited Tuscaloosa on January 31 for junior day. But he didn't find out about his UA offer until this month.


Knott with Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin (provided).

"I was calling to get the dates of the spring practices and (defensive line) coach Bo Davis told me," he said Monday. "He said they watched my film several times and really like it, and that they would love to further evaluate me at a camp also! So I'm going.

"I went there for a junior day. Had lots of fun, seemed as if everyone knew who my dad (David Knott, former Rebel player) was. Loved the dorms especially, and all the football aspects."

The Madison (Miss.) Germantown cornerback projection, who added a Michigan offer on Wednesday, says he's willing to leave the state's borders despite pressure to follow the trend of staying home.

"I feel that pressure everyday, I'm not going to give in though. I'm going to make sure it's the right school for me if it's in or out of state," Knott said. "The state itself puts a lot of pressure on you to stay. They say it's hard to get us to leave our home state.

"Rebel fans are a little more intense than Bulldog fans, though. And you have several LSU fans here too, so it's intense."

Les Miles' Tigers haven't inked a blue chip (four or five-star) Mississippian in the last five cycles save for 2014 defensive tackle Devin Voorhies. In-fact, there has only been one additional blue chipper in the state that has inked with another program and remained on that roster, Auburn's Jermain Whitehead, a 2011 signee. Anthony Alford signed and played at Southern Mississippi, but is now at Ole Miss after playing just one season at USM.

Miles did it once, Gene Chizik before him. Nick Saban hasn't joined that list, but will 2016 be the breakthrough campaign?


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