Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide are looking to close on another No. 1-rated recruiting class in the 2017 cycle and this weekend will loom large in that chase, as nearly a dozen blue-chip recruits are on official visits to Tuscaloosa. The group includes a handful of verbally committed prospects as well as top targets like five-star wide receiver Devonta Smith and the top two prospects in the state, LaBryan Ray and Henry Ruggs, among others.
But in addition to the prospects and their families, which often includes future prospects, at least one important unofficial visitor in the senior class made it back to Tuscaloosa for more facetime with Saban and other coaches as his recruitment hits an apex. Cullman (Ala.) three-star offensive lineman Hunter Brannon, who has been committed to UA since his offer-earning camp performance on July 23, says he received more clarity on the program's position with him just over a week before things become official on National Signing Day.
"I was at Alabama today," he said Saturday evening. "It was awesome, talked to Saban one-on-one and he said that we are on the same track with the offer and me going to school there and all that stuff."
Expecting to sign a letter of intent for Alabama February 1, the current expectation for Brannon's enrollment is on track with the rest of the 2017 prospects who will ink with the Crimson Tide on that day.
"Day after Memorial Day, I think it's a Monday or Tuesday," he said. "It's around the first week of June, that's what Saban said."
With scholarship numbers tight for Alabama, down to 24 verbal pledges as of Sunday morning after junior college cornerback Jhavonte Dean and UA parted ways Saturday, there has been considerable speculation surrounding Brannon's spot in the class, scholarship or otherwise. That, in part, was the reason for the return trip.
In the meantime, former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and other coaches have offered the Alabama All-Star selection (video below). Saban and company discussed that part of the process with him as well.
"I talked to them about that offer, but I probably won't visit," Brannon said of Florida Atlantic. "We ate breakfast and lunch, viewed the campus and talked to all the coaches.
"I talk to every coach down there."
Brannon added that offensive line coach Brent Key, who he had been plenty familiar with, will now head up his recruitment with Mario Cristobal's departure to Oregon. Despite said departure, and after sitting down with the Crimson Tide coaches, one of its top in-state pledges remains on board with his longstanding commitment.
"Perfect," he said the opportunity at 'Bama. "It's a perfect fit for me, I'm going to ball out."
Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game Clips: Hunter Brannon