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Recruiting Corner: Teammates in High School to Teammates at Alabama

Some of Alabama's best in recent years dominated the gridiron together back in high school.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Last weekend, Alabama extended offers to a host of different recruits as many big names were in town visiting the Capstone.

The good news was especially sweet for two sets of high school teammates who received the opportunity to play together at the next level. Alabama offered a pair of Tuscaloosa natives from Northridge High School in class of 2023 offensive lineman Wilkin Formby and class of 2024 cornerback Travaris Banks. It also extended offers to Clay-Chalkville High School receivers Jaylen Mbakwe and Mario Craver of the 2024 class.

“We always wanted to play for the same college team, so that was big,” Craver said of the possibility of continuing his career alongside Mbakwe. “We were both very hyped. We know that if we were able to team up again in college, we’d be very elite. We could definitely do some damage in the SEC.”

With Alabama setting up a couple of potential bonds at the next level, it got us thinking. Who are some recent high school teammates who have paired up again for the Crimson Tide? 

D.J. Fluker, Julio Jones and Robert Lester (Foley HS)

Out of Foley High, this trio made a huge impact building the dynasty under Nick Saban. Many people regard the addition of Julio Jones in the 2008 recruiting class as the turning point for Alabama on the recruiting trail as it helped Saban land his first No. 1 class with the Crimson Tide. All three of these players were on the roster for the Crimson Tide's championship in 2009. Robert Lester and D.J. Fluker also helped Alabama to back-to-back national championships in 2011 and 2012.

Julio Jones, WR, 2008-10

179 receptions, 2653 receiving yards, and 15 touchdowns 

D.J. Fluker, OL, 2009-12

36 career starts

Robert Lester, S, 2009-12 

147 tackles, 14 interceptions 

Julio Jones heads downfield against Arkansas
Julio Jones celebrate a touchdown with teammates
Robert Lester, Mississippi State game program, Oct. 27, 2012
Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker against Michigan

Mack Wilson and Shaun Dion Hamilton (Carver HS)

These two linebackers played together at Carver High in Montgomery. Wilson and Hamilton also suited up together at Alabama in 2016 and 2017. The Crimson Tide's 2016 defense scored 10 touchdowns off of turnovers and is remembered as one of the best in program history, while the 2017 unit helped Alabama to a national title. Both went on to be drafted into the NFL, with Hamilton going to Washington and Wilson going to the Browns. 

Shaun Dion Hamilton, LB, 2014-2017

134 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions 

Mack Wilson, LB, 2016-2018 

113 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions (1 for a touchdown) 

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Former Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson
Wilson and Dion-Hamilton

Rashaan Evans and Reuben Foster (Auburn HS)

Another in-state linebacker duo, this pair of physical defenders suited up together at Auburn High School. Foster and Evans played a big role in Alabama's national championship victory over Clemson in the 2015 season as Foster tallied nine tackles including a sack against the Tigers while Evans chipped in two sacks as part of three stops. The two were also a key part of the 2016 defense that willed the Crimson Tide to an SEC championship win and a shot at the national title. In addition to his national title during the 2015 season, Evans was also a part of Alabama's 2017 national champion team. Both players ended their college careers as permanent team captains and went on to become first-round picks in the NFL Draft.

Reuben Foster, LB, 2013-2016

223 tackles, 24 TFL, 7 sacks 

Rashaan Evans, LB, 2014-2017 

150 tackles, 23.5 TFL, 15 sacks, 2 forced fumbles 

Reuben Foster
Reuben Foster
Rashaan Evans

T.J. Yeldon and Ryan Anderson (Daphne HS)

The 2012 class featured running back T.J. Yeldon and linebacker Ryan Anderson, who both played for Daphne High. Yeldon was an immediate contributor to the Crimson Tide offense, serving as an important weapon on the 2012 national championship team his freshman year. Perhaps the most memorable moment of his career came during that season as he recorded the game-winning touchdown reception during Alabama's comeback victory at LSU. Anderson waited his turn at Alabama before serving as a key figure in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He is perhaps best remembered for his game-winning strip-sack against Tennessee in 2015. 

T.J. Yeldon, RB, 2012-2014 

576 rushes for 3322 yards, 37 touchdowns, 46 receptions for 494 yards, 2 touchdowns

Ryan Anderson, LB, 2013-2016

128 tackles, 19 sacks, 1 interception, 6 forced fumbles 

Ryan Anderson
Ryan Anderson
T.J. Yeldon, Sports Illustrated cover, August 19, 2013
T.J. Yeldon at Missouri

Trey Sanders and Evan Neal (IMG Academy)

Teammates at IMG Academy, Sanders and Neal were set to be a lethal tackle-running back combo for Alabama. Sanders experienced back-to-back season-ending injuries in 2019 and 2020, limiting the duo's time together at the college level. Neal was awarded Freshman All-SEC honors in 2019 and is coming off a junior season in which he was named as a consensus first-team All-American. During Sanders' first full season at Alabama last year, he finished as the Crimson Tide's second-leading rusher with 314 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 72 carries.

Evan Neal, OL, 2019-21

39 career starts

Trey Sanders, RB, 2019-current

102 rushes for 448 yards and 2 touchdowns 

Trey Sanders vs Cincinnati, Cotton Bowl
Trey Sanders vs. Mercer
Evan Neal
Evan Neal against Ole Miss

Current high school connections 

Alabama's upcoming roster has multiple pairs of former high school teammates. Quarterback Bryce Young and LSU transfer cornerback Eli Ricks competed together at Mater Dei High, and now they will be playing together in college for the first time. Running back Jase McClellan and receiver JoJo Earle starred at Aledo High in Texas, while JC Latham and Ja'Corey Brooks were another pair of IMG Academy products. 

In the 2022 signing class, the Crimson Tide signed Thompson High teammates Jeremiah Alexander and Trequon Fegans, who led the Warriors to a third straight Alabama state title. Receiver Isaiah Bond and safety Jake Pope led Buford High to a state title in Georgia, and Tyler Booker helped to recruit his fellow IMG Academy teammate Jihaad Campbell to Alabama. 

Bryce Young
Eli Ricks
JoJo Earle vs. LSU
Jase McClellan scores at Florida
JC Latham
Ja'Corey Brooks in the Cotton Bowl against Cincinnati in Arlington, Texas on Dec. 31, 2021.
Tre'Quon Fagans, 2022 DB Thompson High (AL)
Jeremiah Alexander
Pope and Bond
booker
Class of 2022 linebacker Jihaad Campbell.