We are just under three weeks away from National Signing Day and things are really starting to reach peak intensity, so let's have a quick round-up as to where 'Bama stands at the moment:
As of right now, we effectively have two spots left, and adding more signees beyond that is going to require some serious re-shuffling. I think in an ideal world we would like to retain all of our current commitments, and then close out the class by adding another wide receiver and another offensive tackle. Of course, the final weeks in recruiting are rarely that straightforward, so there is ample room for play between now and Signing Day.
In terms of wide receiver, there are a lot of possibilities. Daylon Charlot is an Alabama v. LSU battle at this point, and 'Bama remains firmly in the mix here (which has come as a surprise to many, myself included). Charlot will take an official visit to Alabama this weekend. Lawrence Cager also remains a possibility, and my instinct is that we are his preferred destination if we can find room for him (he will also be in Tuscaloosa on an official visit this weekend). Contact has also been kept with K.J. Hill (Arkansas commit) and Terry Godwin (Georgia), though both are longshots. In terms of a pecking order, I believe Charlot is the preference here, and then Cager.
Offensive tackle is much trickier and has a far more limited field at the moment. Isiah Prince will be in Tuscaloosa this weekend on an official visit, but in-state Maryland has emerged as his heavy favorite, with Ohio State likely being the alternate choice. Memphis OT Drew Richmond (Ole Miss) is thought to be the preferred choice of the staff for the OT spot and he was slated to take an official visit to Alabama this weekend after going soft on his commitment to Ole Miss, but there are a lot of rumblings today that the Ole Miss staff has a renewed confidence in their chances of keeping him in the fold and it's possible he may not even make the trip to Tuscaloosa this weekend. All of the above likely clears the way for Chidi Valentine-Okeke to land in the class for Alabama; he's likely the most viable OT target at the moment.
X-factor in the stretch run is Prince Tega Wanogho, Jr.. He re-shuffled everything by re-classifying to the 2015 class, and that has everything in absolute disarray. At his gargantuan size, he could play just about anywhere on both lines of scrimmage, and possibly at tight end, but the early evaluation we have on him is as a defensive end. He would have been a definite offer in the 2016 class, but at this late of juncture there may simply not be room in the 2015 class, and as of today he doesn't have an offer from Alabama. There is a general thought, however, that Auburn is the heavy favorite here, given the ties of several of those around him, not to mention his sudden decision to re-classify. Making matters more complicated, he is not qualified academically at the moment. He's generally thought to be a pretty bright kid, but he hasn't taken the ACT yet and no one knows what that will bring. In any event, we're working on this one and seeing what we can do. Kerry Stephenson, our director of player development (and former Vigor HS HC) visited him earlier today, and Smart is expected to be along shortly, with an in-home visit from Saban all but guaranteed before NSD. We will see, but I really haven't the the slightest idea here, and, given his unique background, my instinct is that trying to guess how this one plays out is about like trying to guess the winning lottery numbers for tonight.
Now, as you would expect with the class being all but full, the bigger concern at the moment is keeping the current commits on board and getting their names on the dotted line come NSD. Several possible defects out there from within the current ranks, two of which should be noted above the others:
T.D. Moton is not a member of the class at this juncture, even if he is still being listed as such by several recruiting services. He's taking an official visit to Starkville this weekend, and at this point it's just a matter of where he ends up. Academics just didn't shape up for him like we had hoped. Likewise, Montrell Custis is also taking official visits to some other schools, namely Kentucky and Florida, and it looks like he may be looking around. With Fitzpatrick and Sheffield on board -- provided they actually stick, more on that below -- I think Custis has real questions about how he fits in at Alabama, and I think the staff has been very honest with him as to how long it may take him to get on the field, if he ever gets there at all.
Turning to other current members of the class who have a strong chance / are probably likely to stick but who have at least caused some concern:
Minkah Fitzpatrick has been flirting quite a bit with both Florida State and Georgia, with the belief being that FSU poses the greater threat to Alabama. Saban and Cristobal have an in-home visit scheduled with him next week, but figure there will be a lot of nervousness on this one come NSD and as everyone starts watching the fax machines.
Kendall Sheffield will have his in-home visit with both Saban and Bo Davis tomorrow evening. Texas A&M is the big threat here and having John Chavis on board probably isn't going to hurt their efforts, not to mention their proximity and near guarantee of immediate playing time. Caught some by surprise that Sheffield committed to 'Bama, and a lot of fellow 'Bama commits played a big role in that, but the battle isn't over just yet. It does help a lot that he has a very strong relationship with both Saban and Davis. The other good news here is that he has already used his official visit to A&M.
Rico McGraw has had nothing if not a winding recruitment, and down the stretch both Tennessee and Georgia feel like they can flip him. For those of you with a betting streak, you could probably find a lot of action on this one.
Calvin Ridley is, unfortunately, on the market after apparently not scoring high enough on his ACT to become academically qualified for the spring semester. Saban and Cristobal have an in-home visit lined up with him next week, and by most accounts his commitment to Alabama is solid, but he's a very talented kid and you can rest assured that opposing schools will use his inability to enroll early at Alabama as an opportunity to get him to change his mind. The good news is that he has previously taken his official visit to FSU and does not have any plans for other OVs at the moment.
In other news, it looks like both Damien Harris and Adonis Thomas remain solid from Alabama, despite late and continued surges from Kentucky and Auburn, respectively, especially in light of recent coaching changes. At the moment, nothing really to worry about with either one of these two. As always with recruiting, though, that is subject to change.
For now, I think that's a good primer. Any specific questions, ask below.