With Alabama's 2017 recruiting class signed and in the books, it's time to get familiar with a new batch of prospects. AL.com has been providing position-by-position looks at Alabama's top targets in the 2018 recruiting cycle. Today, we're analyzing the linebacker position.
TOP LINEBACKER TARGET
Teradja Mitchell, 6-2/232, Virginia Beach, VA
Alabama has loaded up at linebacker over the last two classes. For now, the top-rated prospect on the board looks like Mitchell, the nation's No. 1 inside linebacker. The four-star says he will be in Tuscaloosa for a Feb. 25 Junior Day.
3 MORE TO WATCH
Quay Walker, 6-3/215, Cordele, GA
The four-star outside linebacker earned an Alabama offer last month. Walker needs to put some pounds on, but is a prospect on the rise.
Dax Hollifield, (6-1/220, Shelby, NC
Hollifield, another four-star prospect, is the nation's No. 3 inside linebacker. He earned an offer earlier this month from Alabama and told 247Sports that he was on 'cloud nine.' Hollifield visited Alabama last fall.
Jarez Parks, 6-4/245, Sebastian, FL
Remember Parks' Signing Day drama? Well, since Alabama didn't have room to sign him, they offered Parks a grayshirt. So, he'll count as part of the 2018 class if he keeps his verbal commitment and enrolls in January. He's a four-star JACK/rush end type.
Maplesville four-star athlete Nathaniel Watson doesn't have an offer from Alabama yet, but is slated to attend an upcoming Junior Day. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, he could be a linebacker at the next level. Three-star Hillcrest linebacker Jacquez Jones is in Alabama's backyard and a teammate of 2017 running back signee Brian Robinson.
RETURNING LINEBACKERS FOR 2018
Jamey Mosley, Keith Holcombe and Christian Miller will be seniors in 2018. Ben Davis will be a redshirt sophomore, Shawn Jennings a redshirt sophomore, Terrell Hall a junior, Mack Wilson a junior, Keaton Anderson a redshirt junior, Anfernee Jennings a redshirt junior, Josh McMillon a redshirt junior, Mekhi Brown a redshirt junior.
The signees below will be sophomores or redshirt freshmen in 2018.
2017 ALABAMA LINEBACKER SIGNEES
Dylan Moses (Baton Rouge. La., 5-star), Christopher Allen (Baton Rouge, La., 4-star), Markail Benton (Phenix City, Ala., 4-star), VanDarius Cowan (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., 4-star)
Florida, Michigan recruiting 4-star DT harder than Alabama
Coynis Miller, a 4-star defensive tackle from Jackson-Olin High School in Birmingham, Ala., grew up wanting to play for the Crimson Tide. Ever since he can remember watching football, his dream was to play for Alabama.
The Crimson Tide have offered Miller the opportunity to play for them, but he is still exploring all of his options. Just because his childhood favorite school has offered doesn’t mean it’s just a guarantee for him to attend the university.
“It’s a great opportunity because they have a great program and they produce their players to be ready for the next level,” Miller told SEC Country. “Growing up and watching them play and knowing I have the opportunity to play there is a great feeling.
Defensive tackle is a big priority for Alabama in the Class of 2018 and Miller is aware of that. Before Mario Cristobal left for Oregon, he was Miller’s primary recruiter. Cristobal made it crystal clear that signing several defensive tackles in this recruiting cycle was going to be a priority. While that does help Alabama’s chances a bit for Miller, it’s not the most important reason for why he’d choose to play for a school.
“Knowing that they need defensive linemen, I feel like I could make a big impact there, but it won’t weigh too much into my decision,” Miller said. “They still have to recruit me. I’m not just going to go there just because I am a fan. I’ll have to fit with them in their system.”
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound prospect said communication with Alabama has dropped off a bit since Cristobal left the Crimson Tide. Miller has been in contact with his new primary recruiter, offensive line coach Brent Key. He said he and Key are starting to build a “great” relationship since he’s taken over his recruitment.
The coaching change has allowed Florida and Michigan to take advantage. Miller said the Gators and Wolverines are recruiting him the hardest.
“Sometimes I hear from Alabama every day and then sometimes once or twice a week and then sometimes I don’t hear from them at all,” Miller said. “Florida keeps in contact just about every day and Michigan is about the same as Florida.”
Miller said the Alabama staff has told him that he is a priority and he’d be welcomed into the class if he wanted to commit. He won’t be making a commitment until after his senior season, he said.
The state of Alabama’s No. 9 overall prospect said he’s been clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.63 seconds, which is outstanding for a player his size. That was when he weighed around 270 pounds; however, so that may fluctuate a bit when he runs it again next month at The Opening regional in Atlanta because he’s gained 20 pounds since then.
Although Florida and Michigan are recruiting Miller the hardest right now, it’s going to be hard for those schools to beat out Alabama if he remains a top priority for the Crimson Tide. The team rarely misses out on elite prospects from the Yellowhammer State if it wants that player in its class.
Just how moronic it is that Alabama is banned from Louisiana HS
I have a ton of respect for high school coaches across the country. For the most part, these coaches dedicate countless hours to the school and really want to better the lives of their players during an important time of their lives.
Then you have coaches like David Feaster from Parkway (La.) High School.
Feaster, who is an LSU fan, appeared on a Baton Rouge, La., radio station on Wednesday morning and said the Alabama staff is banned from Parkway High School because of an event four years ago. Parkway has a 5-star wide receiver in Terrace Marshall, who Alabama has offered a scholarship to, and Justin Rogers, a 4-star QB who doesn’t have an Alabama offer.
The ban doesn’t affect Alabama at all. Let’s be clear about that. The Tide have camps at their schools that they invite players to; they can visit recruits in their homes during the contact period and they can communicate over the phone with the kids themselves.
The ban also doesn’t affect Marshall and Rogers. They are elite recruits and have scholarship offers from loads of schools.
The ban does hurt Marshall’s and Rogers’ teammates who don’t have any scholarships.
SB Nation detailed how recruits receiving interest from Alabama get what’s called the “Bama bump” in recruiting rankings. That is, if Alabama shows interest in a recruit and offers that player, his ranking tends to go up. While I don’t agree with that thinking, I do believe that if Alabama offers an unknown prospect, that gets other schools on that player’s radar.
It happened just this past recruiting cycle.
Nicholas Sims, who was an unranked running back in the Class of 2017 from Alabama, posted on Twitter that he received an offer from the Crimson Tide. He didn’t specify on his Twitter account that it was an offer to be a preferred walk-on defensive back, but schools took notice. Before the Alabama offer, he only had an offer from Kentucky Christian University.
Do you want to know what happened next?
Florida, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt started to show interest after Sims’ tweet about getting an Alabama offer. Sims ultimately signed with Toledo.
Alabama is the only school banned from Parkway, and Feaster was clear that he has no problem if his players choose to play for the Crimson Tide. He’s just not going to help Alabama recruit his players because of some “ethical” issues that bother him. Again, read this to get caught up on the facts of why he’s upset.
The problem with Feaster’s thinking that Alabama broke an ethics code is that every school breaks that “ethical” code, even his Tigers. LSU has offered 158 players thus far in the Class of 2018. Are all of those scholarship offers committable? Well, I’d lean toward no, considering you can only have 85 scholarship players on a roster.
Sims is the perfect example of how banning Alabama over a non-issue can hurt someone’s opportunity to go to college.
High school football coaches are educators first, and yet here we have Feaster potentially hurting the kids he’s supposed to help get to college. It’s laughable that an adult would limit any opportunity for exposure for a player on his team. Feaster should feel ashamed.
Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance is here with another example of how there are no guarantees in recruiting, a look at the latest controversy involving Jim Harbaugh and the five best sets of triplets in the 2017 class.
1. NO GUARANTEES IN RECRUITING FOR COACHES OR PROSPECTS
Our own Rob Cassidy wrote a great article this week that gauged reaction to Jarez Parks' National Signing Day drama. The overwhelming takeaway from the prospects that Cassidy interviewed, and this is understandable, was that recruits need to lock up their spot early because waiting too long can cost you big-time.
To be honest, I don't think it matters.
Yes, recruits should commit if they are sure that the program they are choosing is the best fit for them. But if they think a placeholder commitment will guarantee them a spot, they had better research the school or coach they are choosing. The reason I say that? Recruits can be dropped at any time. That’s life. UConn head coach Randy Edsall got hammered by the media for dropping linebacker Ryan Dickens, who had commitment to the Huskies' previous staff, a few weeks before Signing Day. Michigan's Jim Harbaugh got destroyed in the media for dropping Erik Swenson and others during the 2016 recruiting cycle. Those are just two examples out dozens. Many other programs, including Alabama under Nick Saban, have done it in the past.
Who's to say that Parks wouldn't have been dumped late in the process or eventually encouraged to greyshirt if he had committed early to the Crimson Tide?
This is why I’m excited about the expected addition of an early Signing Period to the NCAA recruiting calendar. Then a player like Parks, who honestly didn’t handle his recruitment that well, would at least have the opportunity to definitively know where he stood with programs before Christmas. In that scenario, Parks would have time to pivot and find a home.
Either way, the Parks drama is the latest example of how there are no guarantees in recruiting for anyone involved.
3. BEST SETS OF 2017 TRIPLETS
While looking at the best one-two punches at each position for the 2017 class, I couldn't help but think about the famous Dallas Cowboys Triplets - quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and wide receiver Michael Irvin. It’s great to have an amazing 1-2 punch at quarterback, running back or wide receiver, but what about the best combination of three? While these groupings certainly won’t be Aikman, Smith and Irvin, they are certainly trios of note at the high school level.
Here's my top five from the 2017 class.
1. Georgia – QB Jake Fromm, RB D’Andre Swift, WR Mark Webb – With a five-star quarterback, the highest-ranked four-star running back in the class and a wide receiver ranked just outside the Rivals100, this is a tremendous trio.
2. Ohio State – QB Tate Martell, RB JK Dobbins, WR Trevon Grimes – Martell is dynamic, Dobbins is electric and Grimes is a big, downfield threat. The only potential concern is that two of them are coming back from injury. Still, this is an impressive group.
3. Alabama – QB Tua Tagovailoa, RB Najee Harris, WR Jerry Jeudy – Tagovailoa is a tremendous dual-threat, Harris could be a special running back even by Alabama's high standards and Jeudy could be the program's next star wide receiver.
4. USC – QB Jack Sears, RB Stephen Carr, WR Joseph Lewis – Sears is a smart and accurate quarterback, Carr is dynamic and was in the five-star discussion and Lewis was a former five-star. This is a terrific trio.
5. Oklahoma – QB Chris Robison, RB Trey Sermon, WR Cedarian Lamb – Robinson has some of the moxie that reminds me of Baker Mayfield, Sermon could be the Sooners' next big back and Lamb could put up pinball numbers.
National Signing Day coverage continues as Rivals.com breaks down each position to see which school did the best. Here is a look at which teams loaded up at tight end in the 2017 recruiting class.
Kedrick James and Major Tennison
The Crimson Tide haven't used the tight end like many think they should but it’s not for a lack of talent (see freakshow tight end O.J. Howard). Four-stars James and Tennison will provide the standard versatility to the Alabama offense that tight ends normally do but the change of pace and tendency-breaking qualities these two bring to Tuscaloosa are extremely important. Many coaches believe that a quarterback’s two best friends are a strong running game and a reliable tight end. Alabama always has a strong running game and now sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts has two more very reliable tight ends.
The class of 2017 is signed and sealed, so as we look back on how programs fared, we thought it would be interesting to rank the best one-two punches at each position.
Today we examine the tight ends.
The skinny: With O.J. Howard moving onto the NFL, there may be an opportunity for James, the No. 10 tight end, and Tennison, the No. 15 tight end, to make an early impact in Tuscaloosa.
Farrell’s take: Neither of these guys is close to Howard in athleticism or speed, but James is long and will be a big target with some downfield ability if he adds speed. Tennison, meanwhile, will be the more physical option who can block and be a check-down, chain mover. Either could grow into an offensive lineman with their frames, although Tennison is more likely.
National Signing Day coverage continues as Rivals.com breaks down each position to see which school did the best. Here is a look at which teams loaded up at wide receiver in the 2017 recruiting class.
Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Devonta Smith and Tyrell Shavers
The Tide continue to recruit some of the best talent in the country at wide receiver and 2017’s haul was quite impressive. The class was headlined by five-star wide receiver Jeudy, a prospect Alabama pulled out of South Florida. Joining him was Louisiana prospect Smith, a Rivals100 wide receiver wanted by schools from coast-to-coast. Add in in-state four-star Ruggs as well as 6-foot-6 Texas product Shavers and it’s easy to see Alabama has such an embarrassment of riches at the position.
So having the #1 player in the country and a 5-star WR along with the Elite 11 MVP isn't enough to overcome Georgia and Ohio State?