Nick Saban and three-star running back Tavion Thomas had a conversation on Thursday that ended with the Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar product receiving an offer from the Crimson Tide, per 247Sports' Bill Kurelic.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder would certainly fit the mold of running backs Alabama has targeted -- five-star back Najee Harris checks in at 6-foot-2, 224 pounds; four-star back Brian Robinson checks in at 6-foot-1, 224 pounds.
Alabama has a commitment from four-star ball carrier Dameon Pierce of Bainbridge (Ga.).
Thomas holds a number of additional offers including Michigan State, Wisconsin, Kentucky and West Virginia, among others. Ohio State is currently showing interest as well.
Thomas is rated the No. 30 running back and the No. 486 overall player in the country, per the industry-generated 247Sports Composite.
The 247Sports Crystal Ball currently reads 67 percent in favor of Wisconsin.
Last season, Thomas rushed for 1,606 yards and 17 touchdowns.
One of the country's top tight ends has gotten a good look at Alabama and Auburn over the last three weeks.
Tyneil Hopper, a four-star recruit from Roswell, Ga., took a visit to Alabama for its Junior Day on Jan. 24 and visited Auburn on Monday to meet with new Tiger tight ends coach Larry Porter and other Auburn coaches.
"(Auburn) really wanted me to come to their Junior Day (Jan. 24), but I went to Alabama instead," Hopper told AL.com earlier this week. "Coach Porter invited me to come down today. I really enjoyed everything."
Porter, who was hired from North Carolina last week, made Hopper feel like a priority. He said previous Auburn tight ends coach Scott Fountain told him he was at the top of their tight ends board.
"Coach Porter's a great coach, I believe," the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Hopper said. "I think he's going to help Auburn as far as improving their tight ends. The tight ends are good, but he can get them better at different things."
Hopper also thought it was neat that offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey was once the head coach at Lassiter High, a region rival of Roswell.
Hopper, who is ranked as the nation's No. 11 tight end, said Auburn can use him in a variety of different ways, including as an H-back. He can block or split out as a receiver.
It was Hopper's third visit to Auburn. He went to a camp before his sophomore year and to Auburn's home game against Vanderbilt last season.
Hopper helped lead Roswell to a Georgia Class 7A runner-up finish. His quarterback, Malik Willis, enrolled at Auburn in January. The two had lunch together on Monday.
Another friend and former teammate, Xavier McKinney, enrolled at Alabama earlier this week.
"They're rivals now," Hopper said, with a laugh. "Malik says it's a good place to be at. He wants me to come there. 'X' is like, 'Hey man, you want to win? This is the place to be.' He's laughing and joking about it."
Hopper had a good experience at Alabama's Junior Day.
"It was pretty cool," he said. "We walked a lot around the campus and looked at a lot of stuff. There were a lot of people there and it was a pretty relaxed day. We talked to (head) coach (Nick) Saban right before I left and (assistant) coach (Derrick) Ansley."
Alabama lost offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to the NFL's Atlanta Falcons after that visit and didn't yet have a tight ends coach, but Hopper said he looks more at what the school as a whole has to offer.
He feels, after talking to Saban, that he would fit in well in Alabama's offense.
"I feel like I'm a pretty good fit," Hopper said. "I believe O.J. (Howard) is going to be (drafted) in the first round. I believe I can fit as far as coaching and blocking. They run a similar offense to what we run in high school, so I think I can fit in."
Hopper said he plans on returning to Auburn for a spring practice, and potentially Alabama for a game. Visits to North Carolina, Louisville and South Carolina are also on the horizon, and he visited Mississippi State last weekend.
Hopper caught 18 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns as a junior. He also played defensive end in some situations and had a sack, but tight end is his future.
Hopper has no leaders, and doesn't have a timetable for a commitment.
Alabama hasn't struggled recruiting high-level linebackers in recent cycles, and that's the type of player UA's latest offer could be should he continue seeing his stock soar.
Tucker (Ga.) inside linebacker Michael Harris reported an offer from the Crimson Tide on Thursday afternoon, just days after Auburn and Georgia threw their hats into the ring.
Other programs in the mix include Colorado State, Indiana, Iowa State and Wake Forest. Expect Harris' list to continue growing in the months to come.
At 6-foot-2, 213 pounds, Harris has yet to receive a 247Sports player rating.
247Sports' Rusty Mansell, however, says Harris could be a top 10-12 player in the Peach State based off of what he's seen.
When SEC Country last spoke with the Tagovailoa family, moving to the state of Alabama from Hawaii was going to be a likely option if Kapolei (Hawaii) High School offensive coordinator June Jones decided to leave his position.
The Tagovailoas wanted their younger son, Taulia, a 2019 quarterback who holds an Alabama offer, to continue to get coached by Jones, who was a former college and NFL coach. Jones decided to leave Kapolei after the season.
According to Hawaii Prep World, the family’s move to Alabama appears to be happening now. Jones told that site that the Tagovailoas will move closer to Tuscaloosa so they can watch Tua play at Alabama and get Taulia accustomed to living in the mainland and playing football in the South.
“I think he’s going to Alabama with his whole family to watch Tua. That’s what I’ve been told,” Jones said. “He’ll do great. It’ll be a great experience for him. A totally different culture, obviously. He’s going to Birmingham. I haven’t talked to (Tua’s and Taulia’s father) Galu and (mother) Diane, but they’re going up this year for sure.”
It’s not known which high school Taulia will attend just yet, but last time SEC Country spoke with the family, they were thinking of moving to the Mobile area because they have some family there.
If they do make the move official, this will help Alabama’s chances at landing Tua’s brother when he makes his college decision. He’s already told SEC Country he’d like to play for the Crimson Tide and wanted to commit to them when he received his offer.
“It would be a dream come true,” Taulia said in November. “I think I’d spend my brother’s last year at Alabama if he was to go to the draft, and we’d play on the same team. I could learn a lot from him. I think I’d have that advantage to step in and come after him.”
The family could not be reached for comment at time of publishing this story.
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 running back position.
TOP RUNNING BACK TARGET
Zamir White, 5-11/195, Laurinburg, NC
White, a five-star, is the nation's No. 3 overall prospect. Nick Saban visited his school near the end of the contact period heading into this year's National Signing Day. Tosh Lupoi is his primary recruiter. White, the nation's top running back, will have his choice of top schools, but Alabama is a player here.
3 MORE TO WATCH
Dameon Pierce, 5-11/205, Bainbridge, GA
Pierce is still a four-star in the 247Sports composite and the nation's No. 6 prospect, but dropped to a three-star in the 247Sports individual rankings. He has been committed to Alabama since last summer. Many prospects who commit before their junior seasons don't stick (see Malcolm Epps in this year's class), so it will be interesting to see if Pierce and Alabama stay committed to each other.
Tavion Thomas, 6-2/225, Dayton, OH
Thomas is underrated as a three-star, but has the size that Alabama coaches look for. He will be one to watch.
Fabian Franklin, 5-11/200, Hattiesburg, MS
After White, Franklin is the top uncommitted running back with an Alabama offer, as five-stars Lorenzo Lingard (Miami) and James Cook (Florida State) are off the board. This isn't a class where Alabama has to load up on running backs, so they could just take one. Franklin is a shifty back with some power.
Alabama has not offered Mountain Brook three-star Harold Joiner or Madison County three-star Tae Provens. Austin four-star Asa Martin, who just got offered by Auburn, said he has not heard from Alabama since Mel Tucker left for Georgia after the 2015 season. Alabama's returning Mr. Football, La'Damian Webb, is a three-star from Beauregard who is piling up offers, but does not have one from Alabama.
RETURNING RUNNING BACKS FOR 2018
In 2018 barring attrition, Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough and Ronnie Clark will be seniors while Joshua Jacobs and B.J. Emmons will be sophomores.
The signees below will be redshirt freshmen or sophomores in 2018.
2017 ALABAMA RUNNING BACK SIGNEES
Brian Robinson (Tuscaloosa, Ala., four-star), Najee Harris (Antioch, Calif., five-star)
Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting, with Chris Kirschner. Today, we discuss the latest with Cottondale WR Seth Williams and Ohio RB Tavion Thomas.
Paul Bryant WR was almost … Florida State bound?
Paul W. Bryant High School in Cottondale, Ala., is less than 10 miles away from Bryant-Denny Stadium. And, yes, Paul W. Bryant High School is named for that Paul Bryant. It’s almost a given that a highly rated recruit from that school would automatically go to Alabama, right? Wrong.
Seth Williams, a 4-star wide receiver from Paul Bryant, announced in January that he was going to announce his commitment that month. He ended up delaying his decision, but if he went through with it, he was going to choose Florida State.
His coach, Eldrick Hill, told SEC Country’s Benjamin Wolk that the pressure to play for the Crimson Tide is what you’d expect it to be.
“I was in the grocery store the other day, didn’t even know a guy. He came up to me. He knew I was the head coach. He said, ‘You better make sure that kid goes to ‘Bama.’ Things like that are regular … Cottondale is basically Tuscaloosa,” Hill said.
Now, it’s understandable that perhaps Williams just wants to get away from home for college. Not every recruit wants to attend a college that is about 10 minutes from home.
The Crimson Tide were the first to offer Williams a scholarship, and the team rarely misses on top priorities from the state — let alone one in Bryant-Denny’s backyard. He also grew up an Alabama fan, but that’s not going to play into his decision.
Auburn has shown him lots of attention and has hosted him on campus multiple times. Williams’ coach believes the Tigers have a very good chance at landing his commitment.
“It wouldn’t be hard at all,” Hill said. “They’ve probably communicated with him most. When you’re talking about a kid, that really weighs in a lot. … Yeah, he grew up an Alabama fan, but he’s still looking out for the best situation for him.”
Williams, along with the state’s No. 1 prospect, Justyn Ross, are two of Alabama’s top targets at wide receiver. Ross happens to play for Central High School, which happens to be in … Auburn’s backyard. With the way things stand now, it’s possible Williams goes elsewhere and Ross goes to Alabama and follows former teammate Markail Benton.
While Williams may be a stone’s throw away from Alabama, the Tide may have to work harder than they thought to land his commitment down the road.
Ohio RB picks up Alabama offer, highly interested in the Tide
Tavion Thomas spoke with Nick Saban for around 20 minutes on Thursday. Before hanging up the phone, Thomas picked up an offer from Alabama.
Thomas, a 3-star running back from Dunbar High School (Dayton, Ohio), told SEC Country that Saban told him that he wants him to be one of the next great running backs to come through Tuscaloosa.
“He was saying that he loves my game, my speed, my size and the way I move,” Thomas said. “Saban said I can run the rock down there.”
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound prospect rushed for 1,606 yards and scored 17 touchdowns last season. What makes those stats even more impressive is that Thomas said he sat out the majority of the second half in several games because of blowout wins.
The Ohio prospect, who is also strongly considering Ohio State, Wisconsin, Kentucky, West Virginia and Cincinnati, is fully aware of Alabama’s depth at running back. That doesn’t scare off Thomas when it comes time to picking a school.
“It doesn’t matter to me because I love to compete,” Thomas said. “Stars really don’t mean anything when those pads are on.”
Thomas will visit Tuscaloosa for the first time next weekend for Alabama’s junior day. He’s looking forward to learning more about Alabama’s sports medicine program first and foremost. As far as where the Tide now stand in his recruitment?
“I’m really interested. Who wouldn’t be?” Thomas rhetorically asked. “I’m just so blessed and excited to have an offer from them.”
Roy Lang III ?@RoyLangIII Follow More Parkway has let go of head football coach David Feaster. #LHSAA