Alabama has apparently become a major player in the recruitment of defensive lineman Jaquaze Sorrells, a one-time Florida commit and one of the top remaining unsigned defensive tackles in the Class of 2019.
At the Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando, Florida, the 6-foot-1 1/2, 292-pound Sorrells said his top three finalists are South Carolina, Alabama and Penn State and added he’ll likely take visits to all three during January.
“Everything Coach Kool tells me (is) obviously what Coach Saban told me before,” said Sorrells, referring to Alabama defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski. “A lot of things Bama can do for me, and I kind of like what they’re telling me.”
Sorrells was committed to Florida from June 2016 to December 2017, but de-committed when former coach Jim McElwain departed. He played his senior season at Winter Park (Fla.) High in Orlando after transferring from Largo (Fla.), just outside Clearwater.
Sorrells, a 4-star prospect, is rated No. 169 nationally and the No. 13 defensive tackle, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Alabama signed 23 players during college football’s early signing period, including six listed as defensive linemen, but Kevin Harris (6-4, 230) and King Mwikuta (6-5, 240) — two players listed as weakside defensive ends by recruiting services — said they expect be stand-up linebackers at Alabama. Both could fit into the hybrid Jack position in Alabama’s defense.
Defensive line is clearly a position of emphasis this season for Alabama, with starting defensive end Isaiah Buggs graduating and underclassmen Raekwon Davis and Outland Trophy winner Quinnen Williams emerging as possible first-round picks and likely NFL early entries.
Sorrells said early playing time is important to him, saying that’s one reason he likes South Carolina, but early departures would bolster the chance for freshmen to play immediately at Alabama, too.
Alabama remains in a recruiting battle with LSU for Ishmael Sopsher, the top-rated unsigned defensive tackle prospect in the country. Defensive tackle Byron Young, from West Jones (Miss.), is committed to Alabama but did not sign earlier this month, and Mississippi State is expected to make a late run at keeping him in the Magnolia State.
Sopsher and Sorrells said they plan to make their commitment public on Feb. 6, the traditional National Signing Day. Both could fill Williams’ role as a disruptive two-gap nose tackle in Alabama’s defense.
Clay-Chalkville’s DJ Dale (6-3, 325) is the most likely candidate from Alabama’s 23 signees to play nose tackle, with Antonio Alfano (6-4, 285), Justin Eboigbe (6-4 1/2, 263) and Bryalen Ingraham (6-4, 260) project as play defensive ends.
As one of the nation’s top unsigned defensive linemen, Sorrells said Tennessee, Florida State, Northwestern, LSU, Texas and Colorado have contacted him since college football’s early signing period ended, but stressed South Carolina, Alabama and Penn State are his top three possible destinations.
A reporter asked him what he specifically likes about Alabama just a few hours before the Crimson Tide’s 45-34 victory over Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff semifinals.
“That’s Alabama. That’s Roll Tide,” he said Saturday, clarifying the Tide’s championship pedigree and record of sending players to the NFL makes Alabama attractive.