Was Alabama’s recruiting run over?
Was Nick Saban no longer atop the recruiting world?
Were prospects “over” the Alabama fad?
No was the common answer from the site’s staff, as patience was recommended while the selective process inched closer to the always critical month of June.
It is when the school year wraps up, many camps begin and loose ends are largely tied up in the evaluation process. Couple it with prospects able to spend more time in Tuscaloosa, checking out the facilities, sitting down with Saban, etc., and it seemingly always results in tangible adds. In the 2015 cycle, the middle of June brought Alabama Blake Barnett, the five-star quarterback that helped UA close with one of its best recruiting classes of all-time. It is often a good 30-day span for perception.
This year, it was no different, and perhaps could end up being one of the best months of recruiting any program had. UA landed eight rising-senior prospects and another trio in the 2017 class during the month of June.
Jalen Hurts kicked off Alabama’s run, ending the process on June 4 with a Crimson TIde pledge. It was important in several ways, with UA landing a quarterback, and a dual-threat at that, while continuing to flex muscle in the state of Texas two weeks after it shocked the recruiting world with the commitment of fellow Lone Star State elite and five-star Kendell Jones. Hurts impressed on tape and in the spring evaluation period when Alabama saw him in person, and Hurts admitted he’d been leaning toward Saban’s program for some time.
The day after Hurts popped, JUCO four-star offensive tackle Charles Baldwin did the same for UA. He was on an overnight trip to Tuscaloosa, where he was already leaning prior to the visit. His coaches at ASA College advised him to take the trip despite notions that he’d commit before even seeing campus, though the result was the same just days later. UA has targeted offensive tackles over the last two cycles, and Baldwin could be ready to play upon arriving in January.
One of the not-so-talked-about pledges on board with ‘Bama in the month was four-star linebacker Jaquan Yulee, who also happens to be the No. 2 inside linebacker prospect in the entire country. The Virginia native long had UA atop his list, but the numbers breakdown with several elite linebackers high on the Crimson Tide created a bit of a blur before the commitment went down. In-state prospects like Ben Davis and Lyndell Wilson will likely have a spot until the end, so how many linebackers does the Tide take beforehand?
June 11 was the day Alabama found its kicker of the future. In one of the more unique stories of the 2016 cycle, relative football rookie Eddy Pineiro exploded at UA’s kicking camp the week before with reported kicks north of 60 yards. With a few names established before his, there was some movement with other programs, but the result was one that surprised few in the end with Pineiro popping for ‘Bama. He has since gone viral, again, with a 73-yard field goal connection. Seriously.
Hours after Pineiro committed, the surprise pledge of the month occurred within state lines in Riley Cole. The versatile athlete, who projects at inside linebacker to Saban and company, had just earned his first Power-5 offer in Wake Forest during the week. After another trip to Tuscaloosa, shortly after impressing at camp, it resulted in a scholarship offer and immediate commitment.
Two days later, on June 13, UA hosted many elite prospects during a visit Saturday combined with its O-line/D-line and 7-on-7 team camp. Among the prospects receiving the red carpet treatment was emerging tight end prospect Miller Forristall, who picked up his ‘Bama scholarship offer among many others earlier in the month during an impressive camp run. He aimed to do the same at Georgia on June 12, but didn’t hear the good news as he then scheduled an impromptu visit to Tuscaloosa where he would inform the staff of his intent to play for the reigning SEC champions.
During that June 13 event, one of the other talents to have planned intimate time with the staff, with family in-tow, was Khalid Kareem. The Michigan native, who had already planned a June 24 announcement date, was worked out as a JACK linebacker prospect and fell in love with the position. Michgian was still the team to beat after the trip, but the final night’s rest tipped the scales towards UA’s favor for good and he surprised some with the Alabama announcement.
On the month’s last day, Alabama landed another in-state standout, one formerly committed to rival Auburn, in Quinnen Williams. The versatile defensive lineman, who could be a tackle or end on the next level, spent four days in Tuscaloosa to kick off the month before backing off of the AU pledge and taking the rest of the month to evaluate towards the end of the process. There may not be an in-state prospect who rises as much as Williams over his senior season.
During said camp in Tuscaloosa to kick off June, it resulted in many new underclassmen scholarship offers. Among them was Alex Leatherwood, the Pensacola offensive lineman who has since added offers from Florida State and many others. The Seminoles are already a legit threat, but the camp standout remains on UA’s commitment list in 2017.
D.D. Bowie is a Mississippi wide receiver prospect UA has liked for some time, offering in the spring, and he confirmed the evaluation at camp to kick off the month. With a 4.4-second 40-yard dash in addition to holding his own during one-on-one competition, Alabama was only more intrigued with the junior in person and he returned the favor with his pledge.
Another offensive lineman who has seen his star shine since committing to Alabama is Netori Johnson. The Peach State prospect, who has since added Auburn, Georgia, USC and others to his list, could not pass up Alabama’s offer after his powerful camp performance on the interior.
July is now upon us, can Alabama duplicate the effort? The numbers may be lower as the class of 2016 fills up, but priority prospects like Trevon Diggs, Jawon Pass, Nigel Knott, Jared Mayden and others are planning on ending their respective recruitments in the coming weeks.Junior Highlights: Khalid Kareem