news world

Alabama recruiting targets: Where do Tide stand with Arch Manning, Eli Holstein and more?

In a sped-up recruiting cycle, Alabama is off to a relatively slow start. That’s no cause for concern because a couple of years ago, it was the same story and it turned out just fine when the Crimson Tide ended up signing the nation’s No. 1 class anyway in the 2021.

But … with a wrap on spring practice not yielding a bevy of additions, Alabama’s 2023 class sits with three verbal commitments and ranks 35th nationally and eighth in the SEC in the 247Sports Composite. Again, this is not saying to sound the alarm. It just means that Alabama is being discerning this cycle.

There are reasons for that, not the least of which is the quarterback domino that is bound to fall at one point or another. And the one to start the motion is five-star Arch Manning, the nation’s top-ranked recruit, who has had Alabama listed in his group of favorites from the beginning. That list also includes Texas, which is reported to be the favorite, at least on social media, plus Georgia and Florida. Conspicuously absent from that group is his home-state program LSU. But the Tigers have never really been in it.

There were rumors, since shot down, that Alabama had been dropped from Manning’s consideration. As it stands today, it’s presumed that Texas has the lead, but Manning raised some eyebrows this week when he said that Athens was his favorite college town. Make of that what you will, but it’s always difficult trying to read the mind of a 17- or 18-year-old.

Alabama would obviously be thrilled to land Manning, and Nick Saban has previously said he’s been trying to get a Manning on his team for a long time now. With him would come top-shelf offensive talent that wants to play with him. The visibility a pledge from Manning would create would heighten the prospects for the Crimson Tide’s 2023 class.

However, all wouldn’t be lost if Manning opts to play elsewhere. Eli Holstein, another Louisiana prep quarterback, has had an excellent spring and is creating a buzz that could result into him becoming a five-star prospect before the final evaluations are released. He’s rated as the No. 54 overall player and No. 8 quarterback in the 247Sports Composite.

Alabama has been in constant contact with the 6-foot-3, 226-pounder, and he created a tidal wave of attention when he recently scored off the charts at an Elite 11 event.

Needless to say, once either quarterback decides to commit, the dominoes will start to fall.

Another reason recruiting is slow involves college football’s latest ground shift in NIL. No one seems to know exactly how other schools are using it in recruiting or if they are at all. This is not specific to Alabama. It’s across the board. It’s why SEC commissioner Greg Sankey visited Congress recently to encourage federal legislation to help guide collegiate sports through this minefield. Federal oversight doesn’t seem to have long-term legs to govern this particular issue, and there would likely be a line of lawsuits waiting if it did.

How this pertains to Alabama’s 2023 recruiting efforts is that some of these reported NIL deals with particular programs and prospective student-athletes have caused other recruits to want deals themselves. Alabama has said that its collective, High Tide Traditions, will not use NIL deals as an inducement for recruits. An organizing member of the collective again said so himself recently.

All of this has caused the recruiting process to slow a little bit for Alabama, but at some point the dam will break and the commitments will come fast and furious. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top players on the Crimson Tide’s board beyond Holstein and Manning. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and players are not listed in order of importance.

Richard Young, RB

  • 5-foot-11, 200 pounds
  • Five-star, No. 19 overall, No. 2 running back
  • Lehigh Acres, Fla.

Young took an unofficial visit to Alabama in April. He put up 1,755 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns as a junior.

Peter Woods, DL

  • 6-foot-4, 265 pounds
  • Five-star, No. 26 overall, No. 3 defensive lineman
  • Alabaster, Ala.

In my opinion, Woods is the best player in the state of Alabama. He comes from a program at Thompson High School that has become a pipeline to Tuscaloosa. He’ll go for his fourth consecutive Class 7A championship this fall.

Rueben Bain, DL

  • 6-foot-2, 250 pounds
  • Four-star, No. 148 overall, No. 21 defensive lineman
  • Miami, Fla.

If you want to see one of the more incredible stat lines of all time, take a look at this: As a junior at Miami Central, Bain is reported to have made 48.5 tackles for loss and 29.5 sacks. He took an unofficial visit to Alabama in April

James Smith, DL

  • 6-foot-4, 310 pounds
  • Five-star, No. 15 overall, No. 2 defensive lineman
  • Montgomery, Ala.

He’s ranked as the No. 1 player in the state and took an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa in January. He’s back in Montgomery at Carver High School after a year at IMG Academy.

Jaquavious Russaw, Edge

  • 6-foot-2, 230 pounds
  • Four-star, No. 37 overall, No. 5 edge
  • Montgomery, Ala.

No program has recruited edge players like Alabama the past few seasons, and Russaw is sure to like what he’ll see this season from Will Anderson and Dallas Turner. He took an unofficial visit to Alabama in April.

Caleb Downs, S

  • 6-foot, 185 pounds
  • Five-star, No. 11 overall, No. 1 safety
  • Hoschton, Ga.

Alabama needs safeties with both its starters this season — Jordan Battle and DeMarcco Hellams — seniors. He’ll be a tough pull from Georgia, but he’s scheduled for an official visit to UA in June.

Cormani McClain, CB

  • 6-foot-1, 165 pounds
  • Five-star, No. 3 overall, No. 1 cornerback
  • Lakeland, Fla.

Having Travaris Robinson on his recruitment is a plus for Alabama, which will battle the Florida in-state schools for this one. He attended the Crimson Tide’s junior day in March.

Hykeem Williams, WR

  • 6-foot-3, 195 pounds
  • Four-star, No. 39 overall, No. 6 wide receiver
  • Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

South Florida has been good to Alabama in the past with a host of Floridians going on to success with the Crimson Tide. Wide receiver is a position of need, and how Alabama has featured receivers the past few years should make for a good pitch to prospective recruits.

Kadyn Proctor, OT

  • 6-foot-7, 330 pounds
  • Five-star, No. 7 overall, No. 1 offensive tackle
  • Des Moines, Iowa

Alabama has recruited tackles well for several recruiting cycles, but there’s an opportunity for a high-end tackle to come in and play right away, as we’ve seen with other highly rated offensive tackles in the past.

RyQueze McElderry, OL

  • 6-foot-3, 340 pounds
  • Three-star, No. 497 overall, No. 32 interior offensive lineman
  • Anniston, Ala.

McElderry committed to Georgia in November 2021, and he’s flown under the radar to this point in his recruitment. But expect his stock to take off this fall. He visited for Alabama’s junior day in March.

(Photo of Nick Saban: Rich von Biberstein / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button