MONTGOMERY — Each time Amari Kight saw Byron Young line up across from him in Monday night’s Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game, the future Crimson Tide offensive tackle couldn’t help but think about how often the two 2019 recruits might square off eight months from now.
“It was a whole lot of fun just being able to go against one of my future teammates, and compete with him, it was a blessing,” Kight said Monday night following a 24-20 win for the Magnolia State.
“We talk about (practicing against one another) a lot. We talk a lot, and just being able to come out and compete against him and the other D-linemen (from Mississippi) was just great.”
Kight, a four-star Birmingham-area product from Thompson High in Alabaster, is rated as the nation’s No. 8 offensive tackle, according to 247Sports.com, and among 16 Alabama commits expected to sign national letters of intent with the Crimson Tide on Wednesday, the first day of college football’s three-day Early Signing Period. They would join Alabama’s three early enrollees — four-star offensive lineman Pierce Quick, four-star quarterback Paul Tyson and four-star receiver John Metchie — who are already on campus and participating in practice.
The Tide could also add a handful of previously uncommitted prospects and possibly flip one or two more to secure a near-full signing class before the end of college football’s three-day Early Signing Period, which is in its second-year of existence.
Kight is among two Thompson (Alabaster) High products expected to sign with Alabama on Wednesday, along with four-star quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, the highly-touted little brother of Tide sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who finished second in last week’s Heisman Trophy balloting to Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray. Kight and Taulia Tagovailoa are scheduled to sign NLIs with Alabama at approximately 10:30 a.m. from their high school.
Other early signings for the Crimson Tide include several key defensive standouts, highlighted by five-star defensive end commit Antonio Alfano (6-4, 285) of Colonia, N.J., who’s rated the nation’s No. 3 strong-side edge rusher, as well as No. 5 inside linebacker Shane Lee of Baltimore, Md.; No. 5 strongside defensive end Justin Eboigbe (6-5, 263) of Forest Park, Ga.; and recently-flipped four-star cornerback Jeffery Carter of Mansfield, Texas.
Meanwhile, Young represents a smaller segment of committed players that have decided to bypass the early signing day and continue to make visits with schools throughout the winter and spring. Young, the nation’s No. 6 strong-side defensive end according to 247Sports.com, will be joined by five-star former Ohio State safety commit Daxton Hill, who recently flipped to Alabama, and four-star Daphne defensive back Christian Williams, the nation’s No. 13 corner who like Young is committed but still evaluating his options.
“Just going out and seeing different places and living out a childhood dream of going around to all these colleges,” said Young, of West Jones High in Laurel, Miss. “(But) I’m still committed to (Alabama).”
And he’s not alone.
A year after entering the first early signing period out of reach of a seventh straight No. 1 ranked signing class, according to 247, the Crimson Tide are in line to sign more than 20 players on its 25-person class this week to hold steady with the nation’s top-overall class. And like many of the aforementioned Alabama commits, 19 of the 20 current commits are four-star prospects or better with the 20th a three-star Hoover prospect and No. 1 rated kicker Will Reichard.
“The script’s been kind of flipped this time around, Bama’s at No. 1 and I don’t anticipate them losing that standing and they’ll likely only add to it,” 247Sports.com Alabama recruiting specialist Hank South said last week. “And if they can keep this class together, they’re on pace to potentially sign their best class ever in the recruiting rankings area. That kind of shows you how well Bama’s done this recruiting cycle.”
And while there are several more currently uncommitted prospects that could sign with the Tide on Wednesday — including five-star inside linebacker Nakobe Dean of Horn Lake, Miss., as well as the five-star offensive duo from IMG Academy in top-rated running back Trey Sanders and No. 5 rated offensive tackle Evan Neal — Alabama’s 2019 class already appears to be restocking especially strong defensively.
With Alfano already in the fold, the Tide is expected to sign between eight to 10 players along its defensive front seven, which could take a considerable hit with redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, junior defensive end Raekwon Davis and junior outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings all potential early-round selections in next year’s NFL Draft.
“I think that was a big push, certainly defensive line was really important considering Bama’s probably getting set to lose its entire starting defensive front,” South said. “So I think that’s something they really pushed for from the beginning, especially after how last year ended (when) they only signed three defensive linemen.”
And although he’s not among those signing during the early period, Young believes he could just be the final cherry on top of what is expected to be Alabama’s eighth No. 1 recruiting class in the last decade.
“I think I can come in and play right away, because I know they’re losing a lot of defensive lineman,” Young said. “So I feel like I could come in right away and if I put in all the work in I’ve got to put in, I feel like I can play next year.”