Linebacker: A Deeper Look

Alabama lost a commitment over the weekend when Leo Lewis backed off of his verbal pledge to Nick Saban and company, but it doesn’t change the recruiting plan at the position very much. Key targets remain, with some close to making a decision, so analyzes the position group going forward.

The weekend was an eventful one for Alabama, beginning on Friday with a classic “plus one, minus one” scenario of bitter sweetness on the same day. Brandon Kennedy kicked off the festivities with his commitment to the Crimson Tide and Nick Saban, only a mere few hours before Leo Lewis backed off of his fairly recent pledge while taking a trip to Mississippi State.

After the dust settled on each big decision, Alabama remained at 19 commitments over the weekend, but how big is the hole left at linebacker with Lewis not as likely to sign with ‘Bama? examines the biggest names to monitor at the position going forward, as the program looks to pair remaining linebacker commitment Keaton Anderson soon.

Ricky DeBerry | OLB | 6-foot-2, 240 lbs | Richmond (Va.) St. Christopher’s

DeBerry visited Alabama for the first and only time last month for the offensive line and defensive line camp, and reported that he “loved every minute of it” to Scout soon afterwards. The five-star spent plenty of time with Saban while on the trip, and his versatility as a true linebacker and/or pass-rusher was a common topic during the conversations. DeBerry will release a top 10 in August, and Alabama is expected to make the cut. However, he is not expected to make a final decision any time soon.

Richard McBryde | MLB | 6-foot-2, 215 lbs | Troy (Ala.) Charles Henderson

Though the big-hitter grew up an Alabama fan, it is Auburn that continues to lead for his commitment. Kentucky and Florida State are in the mix as well, but his one-time plan to make a decision before the start of his senior season now is out the window. McBryde will now likely take official visits, something that can both give him a true look at out of state schools while possibly costing him a spot at one he is more familiar with. The timing of his decision is the biggest storyline to watch here.

Joshua McMillon | MLB | 6-foot-2, 230 lbs | Memphis (Tenn.) Whitehaven

Arguably Alabama’s top target to play inside, McMillon (pictured above) has become very familiar with the program and its staff. Billy Napier and potential position coach Kevin Steele have kept up with him more than any other staff in the country, although Michigan is trending up on his list. The Crimson Tide likes where its at, though, especially after he and his family visited last weekend. After the trip, McMillon told BamaMag that UA was “standing high, in the top three.” The classic middle ‘backer will soon visit Michigan and possibly some other programs, with a commitment date of August 22 set.

DeAndre McNeal | OLB | 6-foot-2, 210 lbs | Mesquite (Tex.) Poteet

McNeal is perhaps the most versatile prospect on this list, a Scout linebacker projection, though he’s more likely to play tight end should he select Alabama. His first impression of Tuscaloosa was just last week, and it lasted four days alongside his family. Don’t expect a decision from McNeal any time soon, though Saban and company did tell him he could play either side of the ball once at the next level. The preference for him right now, though, is as a pass catcher.

Adonis Thomas | OLB | 6-foot-4, 210 lbs | Lawrenceville (Ga.) Central Gwinnett

Don’t blink or you may miss Thomas’ commitment. He’s locked in for an August 1 declaration, between the Tide and perceived favorite Florida. The thought here is that the Gators had a big lead at this time last week, but a trip to Tuscaloosa by Thomas and his mother was deemed his “best visit yet.” There is a sense that UA closed the gap and the upcoming decision is a true battle much closer to 50/50 than most realize.

Other linebackers to keep an eye on:

Five-star linebacker Malik Jefferson, four-star outside linebacker Jeff Holland, four-star outside linebacker Darrell Williams (Auburn commitment), four-star middle linebacker Leo Lewis (former Alabama commitment) and three-star middle linebacker Amonte Caban.

Video highlights of Thomas from The Opening can be seen below.

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