The Alabama Crimson Tide has an advantage that few schools enjoy: many of the top high school talents reside in their home state.
The thought of playing for a top-tier program close to home is a great selling point. That’s why it wasn’t much of a surprise when Kadyn Proctor, the second-best offensive tackle prospect on most major sites, including SI99, decided to stay home and commit to the Iowa Hawkeyes.
However, the Crimson Tide has had more than its fair share of luck with in-state prospects. According to 247Sports, three of the top 10 recruits have committed to Alabama, including the nation’s second-best cornerback (Jahlil Hurley) and safety (Tony Mitchell).
However, there are two rookies who have yet to announce their commitments. Both are from Carver High School in Montgomery.
They are linebacker James Smith and rusher Jaquavious Roussau, ranked No. 20 and No. 22, respectively, in the preseason SI99.
Both players named the same six schools as finalists, making it clear that wherever they play at the next level, there’s a good chance they’ll play together.
BamaCentral’s Christopher Walsh has already addressed (no pun intended) how Alabama is turning into Edge-Rusher U, so the evidence for why it would be a good fit for Russaw is obvious.
As for Smith, who spent a year at IMG Academy in Florida before returning to Carver, the chance to join a defense with Alabama pedigree with a partner in offense is enticing.
Of the six schools on the final list, three are in the state of Alabama — so the 50-50 odds of staying in the state illuminate some allegiance. Auburn’s class is ranked No. 67 by 247Sports, or it could catch the HBCU renaissance bug and choose to attend Alabama State, which has loaded up with three- and four-star transfers.
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Both positions are priorities for the Crimson Tide as well.
Top prospect in the state by year
They all fell short, but since Nick Saban set up his first recruiting class at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has been the top 12 prospect in the state for 15 years. The only three he didn’t sign all went out of state.
Class, Name, Pos., School
2023 James Smith, DT, ???
2022 Jeremiah Alexander, DE, Alabama
2021 Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
2020 Demui Kennedy, IB, Alabama
2019 George Pickens, WR, Georgia
2018 Justin Ross, WR, Clemson
2017 LaBryan Ray, DE, Alabama
2016 Ben Davis, ILB, Alabama
2015 Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
2014 Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
2013 Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
2012 Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
2011 Marvin Shinn, WR, Alabama
2010 Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
2009 Dee Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
2008 Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
- After Keon Keeley’s release from Notre Dame and strong instincts led him to Alabama, the recruiting process got a lot more interesting.
- This weekend is Week 1 for Alabama high school football, giving fans and recruiters alike the opportunity to get their first looks at the state’s top recruits. Dedication Justice Haynes ended the season with a bang with a 96-yard punt return for a touchdown.
- Texas A&M will be a big game for the Crimson Tide, and it will be even bigger with two high-profile recruits, according to ESPN, scheduled to visit this weekend.
- In-state basketball prospect RJ Johnson, who has Alabama in the top five, visited this week after the Crimson Tide returned from Europe. The 6-2 point guard plays for Grissom in Huntsville.
Players to watch
- Keon Keeley, edge rusher, Tampa Berkeley Prep: The fact that Keely didn’t commit right away could be a sign that he’ll take his time deciding where to pledge his allegiance
- Cormany McClain, cornerback. Lakeland High School, Florida: McClain is the top-ranked undeclared prospect and he is also one of two recruits scheduled to visit the weekend of the Texas A&M game. Some say Florida has the inside track, but as we saw from Keeley, it’s not over until he steps on campus (even then, it might not be).
- Duce Robinson, tight end, Pinnacle High School, AZ: Robinson is the other player scheduled to visit. It will be interesting to see if Robinson wants to continue his power in both sports (he’s also a legitimate baseball prospect).
Class of 2023 SI99 Prospect Ranking
Alabama Crimson Tide Recruiting: Commitment Tracking