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Led by Safety Caleb Downs, Seven Crimson Tide Commitments Named Preseason SI99

Sports Illustrated reveals preseason SI99 ranking of the nation’s top high school football prospects.

The Alabama Crimson Tide had seven commitments listed when Sports Illustrated announced its preseason SI99 ranking of the nation’s top high school football prospects on Tuesday morning. 

Safety Caleb Downs led the group in the Class of 2023 SI99 prospect rankings at No. 6. He was second among defensive players, trailing only defensive end Keon Keeley at No. 3. 

Keeley is committed to Notre Dame, but recently visited Alabama, and is believed to be strongly considering both school. 

Alabama led the initial team rankings for the Class of 2023, released last week, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Texas and Georgia rounded out the top five. Notre Dame had the most players in the SI99, with eight, one more than Alabama and Ohio State. 

The team rankings will be updated every month between now and National Signing Day in February. Overall, 21 players in the SI99 are still undeclared. 

The early signing day this year begins on December 21. 

The Crimson Tide commitments in the SI99:

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6. Caleb Downs, safety
25. Richard Young, running back
31. Jahlil Hurley, defensive back
53. Dylan Lonergan, quarterback
64. Tony Mitchell, safety
73. Justice Haynes, running back
92. Wilkin Formby, offensive tackle

The SI99 will also be updated. Sports Illustrated ranks recruits based on their collegiate potential, exclusively. Focal points include premium position prospects (quarterback, offensive tackle, pass rusher, defensive back), high-floor evaluations and overall body of work with an emphasis most critically on varsity game video. 

Two of the SI99's top four spots and five of the top 10, are quarterbacks. On Monday, SI announced that Oregon Duck verbal commitment Dante Moore was the No. 1 overall recruit

Director of Football Recruiting John Garcia, Jr. has Alabama with the top group of quarterbacks in the nation. Lonergan is at No. 53, while Eli Holstein didn't make the initial list. 

Garica wrote about Jahlil Hurley, whom he has listed as a nickel defender: "Jahlil Hurley could make a case for being a top-ranked cornerback or safety, making our thoughts shift to nickel based on the versatility. The Alabama commitment already has experience at corner, safety as well as a hybrid blend of the two against strong competition – with success in every spot. Throw in his great length at 6'1" and he could be the next great sub defender in Tuscaloosa, so here he gets the nod as the No. 1 nickel in the class."

As for state prospects, the SI99 has Montgomery Carver linebacker Qua Russaw listed first at No. 22. 

"Qua Russaw is another we went back and forth on, between edge and off-ball linebacker," Garcia wrote. "In seeing him at the end of July in person, rocked up at 6'3", 235 pounds, there's little doubt he could rush the passer exclusively at the next level, but there is so much versatile potential in his game. The Montgomery (Ala.) Carver standout could be a jack-of-all-trades type 'backer in college, rushing the passer on occasion ala an athletic and physical comp in former NFL first-rounder Rashaan Evans. Russaw opens up as the No. 1 LB in the class as a result."

Russaw has yet to announce a commitment.