State of Alabama Football Recruiting Notes
John Garcia, Jr.
Less than one month separates us from the traditional National Signing Day, February 5, meaning plenty of movement in the college football recruiting game remains.
In the state of Alabama, much of the top talent has long settled on their collegiate destinations within the state's senior class -- but some of the most notable Yellowhammer State prep stars remain unsigned with the NCAA dead period just days away from lifting. It means official visits and a potential change of heart, in some cases.
SI All-American notes on some of the big fish remaining in Alabama:
Florence Athlete Damarcus Beckwith - The two-sport star, who plans on playing basketball at his program of choice, has been viewed as a Florida Gators lean for some time. However, proximity to home has helped keep Tennessee in the race for the projected tight end. Kentucky and Florida State, especially from a basketball perspective, are still in the mix as well. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Beckwith will take official visits to the SEC programs involved.
Calera Lineman Jayson Jones - A longtime verbal commitment to Nick Saban and Alabama, programs like Georgia Tech and Oregon have long been in the mix trying to change his mind. The massive lineman, who can play on either side of the ball at the next level, recently added an offer from Baylor and he is planning a trip to Waco after the new coaching staff is in place. The Crimson Tide will likely have the ball in their court in the end but Jones is keeping his options open just in case.
St. Paul's Offensive Lineman Brady Ward - The decision of the 6-foot-7, 310-pound prospect to sign in February looks to be paying off. Florida and Miami are among those competing for official visits while programs like Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Texas A&M are also keeping tabs on him down the stretch. Ward held his own during All-American Bowl week and the remaining tackle market is limited.
Spanish Fort Athlete Kris Abrams-Draine - The do-it-all prospect, who moved to quarterback as a senior and used his dynamic rushing ability to get the Toros to the Class 6A title game, says he remains committed to Ole Miss through its coaching transition. However, several programs are lining up to get visits out of the four-year varsity starter who projects as a wide receiver in college. Nebraska will get the first visit (January 17) and Florida State (January 31) will get the final trip. Oregon and Missouri, each campaigning for the weekend of January 24, could also host Abrams-Draine before National Signing Day.
Daleville Running Back Jalen White - The nation's leading rusher in 2019, putting up 3,517 yards in just 11 games, began picking up scholarship offers as the season came to a close. Toledo, Tulane, Georgia Southern, Arkansas State and Mercer have offered while Florida, Florida State and others are tracking him. White will check out the Sunshine State programs mentioned the final two weekends of the cycle.
Thompson Wide Receiver Michael Pettway - The state champion, probably the most consistent producer in the state over the last few seasons, won't soon shed his red and black Thompson High School colors. Pettway, who was offered by Cincinnati this week, says his recruitment is likely to come down to the Arkansas State Red Wolves and the Bearcats. ASU gets an official visit next weekend while Cincinnati "most likely" will the following weekend before a decision.
Vigor Defensive Back Sidney Williams - One of the hotter names in the state following his junior campaign and a state title game run, Williams was banged up as a senior and missed more than half of the 2019 campaign. A source in the Mobile area says he's now healthy and looking to find an FBS home with programs like Ole Miss and local South Alabama in touch of late.
Hillcrest-Evergreen Edge Rusher Eddie Watkins - Arizona offered the one-time Georgia Tech commitment on Wednesday and the Wildcats could soon get an official visit. The Pac-12 program would be battling with Purdue, West Virginia, Missouri and FAU for the edge talent. WVU may have been in the best position at the end of the year.
Paul Bryant Linebacker Xavier Morrow - The long and rangy linebacker prospect is all but verbally committed to Southern Miss at the moment but has some work to do in the classroom before he can finalize his recruitment. It means the junior college powers in neighboring Mississippi are going to keep a close eye on this one.
St. Paul's Athlete Jordon Ingram - The two-sport standout, another good basketball player, is in between a couple of positions when it comes to a football projection. For the latter part of his prep career, despite strong numbers as a running back, some consider the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder as a better linebacker at the next level. Early offers from LSU, Kentucky and others aren't as on the table as they once were.
Jacksonville Running Back Rontarius Wiggins - Another runner coming off of a gaudy season, leading his team to the state title game thanks to 47 touchdowns in 2019, Wiggins is still looking for the right fit. The fluid and fleeting back, who has three-down ability, was considering SMU before coaching changes in Dallas. Wiggins could be a nice late grab for a program searching for a modern-age back at the eleventh hour.
A pair of prospects to have signed with Mississippi State, Ladamian Webb in 2016 and Rodney Groce just last month, could each end up elsewhere.
Webb, the state's only junior to win Mr. Football in 2016, just wrapped up his time in junior college and went out as as All-American thanks to 940 yards and 10 touchdowns this fall. His re-recruitment has been steady, with offers in from Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Missouri and others. But a new tender from the new staff at Florida State, coupled with an official visit set for the weekend of January 17, may have the Seminoles as the team to beat.
As for Groce, he is among the Early Signing Period prospects looking for options as Mississippi State only today replaced the fired coach Joe Moorhead with Mike Leach. The athletic linebacker was committed to Nebraska earlier in the process and considered other options in the SEC and beyond, including local program UAB, before signing with MSU. Baylor and Washington State are the only other Power 5 programs without a head coach in place, at least publicly. More than 30 prospects signed with the pair of programs in December before changers were made.