Heading into the early signing period on December 19th, Alabama football has a chance to further solidify its No. 1 ranking in recruiting with four current 5-star recruits looking to ink their signature by next Wednesday. Here, we predict which of these athletes will be heading to Tuscaloosa.
Current Oxford, Alabama resident and high school senior Clay Webb shocked many Alabama football fans by committing to the Georgia Bulldogs Monday morning. The five-star interior offensive lineman (he’s listed as a center, but wants to play guard) was heavily recruited by Kirby Smart and his staff despite all signs leading to him signing with the Tide.
At the end of the day, Athens is where he felt most comfortable and we, here, at Bama Hammer wish him nothing but the best. With that being said, there are still a slew of five-star recruits for whom Alabama is heavily in the mix and we’re going to try our best and forecast which ones may land in Tuscaloosa.
Kayvon Thibodeaux (Weakside Defensive End)
Decision Day: Saturday, December 15, 2:45 PM CST/12:45 PM local
Summary: While Thibodeaux has four finalists for his decision on Saturday, according to Alabama football recruiting insiders, this particular race will be decided between the Crimson Tide and Oregon. Ducks head coach and former Saban assistant Mario Cristobal has done an absolutely incredible job in the 2019 class. The 247Sports Composite rankings have four players from the top 100 currently committed.
You don’t hear a lot out of Thibodeaux in terms of where he’s leaning, but sources say his in-home visit with Saban and his primary recruiters, Tosh Lupoi and Jeff Banks, went very well and while Cristobal had the more recent in-home, several recruiting experts have him committing to the Tide tomorrow afternoon during halftime of the New Mexico Bowl.
If this indeed happens, Alabama will be getting one of the top pass rushers in the 2019 class.
Evan Neal (Offensive Tackle)
Decision Day: Wednesday, December 19th, 11:00 AM CST/local
Summary: We’ll get to Neal’s IMG Academy teammate Trey Sanders in a second, but Neal’s one of those guys who’s been an almost certainty for the 2019 Alabama football class until a recent trip to Athens. While the Miami Hurricanes were the odds-on favorite to land the former Tide commitment, things began to cool off for him, seemingly for the reason that Alabama recruits the state of Florida very well and the Mark Richt’s bunch did not have a very good season in 2018, especially on offense.
According to Tide insiders, Neal’s de-commitment from the Tide after his sophomore year stemmed from the fact that he was a little bit bigger than ‘Bama coaches wanted him to be and so their interest in him cooled off. Whether that’s actually true, only Neal and Alabama can say. What we do know is that he dropped a bunch of weight between his junior and senior seasons and, because of this and his play, he vaulted up many coaches’ recruiting boards including Nick Saban’s. UGA coach Kirby Smart is making a major push, but it could be too little too late for the Dawgs.
Trey Sanders (Running Back)
Decision Day: Wednesday, December 19th, 12:20 PM CST
Summary: Trey Sanders went with his two IMG teammates, Evan Neal and UGA commit Nolan Smith to see what the deal was in Athens. He has apparently come away very impressed with what he saw. In fact he responded to Smith’s tweet about coming home to UGA by asking Smith if he had any room for him. Given that Sanders was once a Tide commitment, de-committed and then became as sure a bet to rejoin the 2019 class over the last few months, one can surmise that he may be open to changing his mind.
The tweet itself could be a smokescreen, but it doesn’t seem to be too cryptic and, not to be an ageist, I’m not sure if many 17-18 year olds know how to be cryptic on social media. Saban and his assistants had an in-home with Sanders this week, but Kirby Smart gets the last one. Where just two weeks ago this was pretty much a one-team race, Georgia now appears to be in the lead for Sanders’ signature and, based on the Dawgs 2018 recruiting success, they’ll probably get it.
Nakobe Dean (Inside Linebacker)
Decision Day: Wednesday, December 19th, 6:00 PM CST
Summary: Here’s a player that even the most inside of inside recruiting sources have no idea which way he’s leaning. They can make an assumption about a little piece of information that they hear from someone who’s seven degrees removed from the guy, but at the end of the Nakobe Dean seems to be keeping things very close to the vest. As a rare Mississippi five-star it seems the only schools that don’t have a shot for Dean’s signature is the two major Mississippi schools.
Of course, this could all change in the blink of an eye. This appears to be another Alabama football/UGA battle, but LSU and Ole Miss have been mentioned as well. This may come down to the very last minute and, even though I have no reason to be confident in a race against Kirby Smart and his staff right now, I believe proximity to home will win out.
Closing with a pair of these 5-Stars would be great. Three would be awesome. Get them all and the CFB world might explode.