Nick Saban and Alabama's 2013 recruiting class suffered a major blow with the switch of 5-star LB Reuben Foster to in-state rival Auburn.
Alabama lost its top commitment for its 2013 recruiting class when 5-star linebacker Reuben Foster switched his commitment in favor of in-state rival Auburn earlier this afternoon, according to Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Foster, who is rated as the nation’s top inside linebacker and No. 2 overall prospect by Rivals, had been committed to the Crimson Tide for nearly a year before his change of heart earlier this afternoon.
With an offseason transfer (from Lagrange, GA to Auburn, AL) that has him set to play his senior season in Auburn’s backyard. Foster has been a prospect that has kept Crimson Tide fans on edge with numerous visits to Auburn and Georgia over the last few months.
Foster’s decommitment leaves a hole at inside linebacker—and although the Crimson Tide signed a pair of talented middle linebackers in the 2012 class (Reggie Ragland and Denzel Devall), they could be left in a gloomy predicament should CJ Mosley leave for the NFL draft next season.
The loss is a major blow—especially taking into account that there do not appear to be any of the nation’s top middle linebacker prospects that are strongly considering Alabama at this point (which could obviously change going forward), the prospect of replacing him with another recruit of similar talent appears grim.
So where will Nick Saban and his staff turn to after Foster’s switch?
Find out in this breakdown of the Crimson Tide middle linebacker targets.
The 6’2”, 218-pound Georgia native committed to Auburn last August and has held firm to that pledge since.
That hasn’t stopped the in-state Bulldogs from making a push, and he will take a visit to Athens this weekend, according to Keith Niebuhr of 247 Sports.
It may be worth the effort for Saban and his staff to try and get into the picture with one of the top inside linebackers in the country.
Jones is a 6’3”, 240-pounder from Louisiana that committed to LSU two weeks ago.
However, the 4-star prospect did attend a camp at Alabama last month, which could leave the door somewhat open for the Crimson Tide to make another run at him.
But considering LSU’s need at linebacker, and his subsequent commitment to his home state school, it’s highly unlikely that Alabama can get Jones to switch.
Toney is another in-state product from Huntsville that has pledged to Auburn, but considering that he visited Alabama for three games last season, there is a possibility that he could be receptive to overtures from Saban and his staff.
With Auburn possessing three commitments from inside linebackers, the depth chart appears be more favorable in Tuscaloosa—which could help the Tide if they were to put the full-court press on Toney.
Of this group of middle linebackers with Alabama offers, the younger brother of Crimson Tide offensive lineman Barrett Jones and tight end Harrison Jones appears to be the safest pick to end up in Tuscaloosa.
The 6’3”, 230-pound Jones is a 3-star prospect who has SEC powers Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Arkansas and Mississippi State joining the Crimson Tide among the five schools he’s considering at this time.
Foster is the latest heated recruiting battle between the Crimson Tide and the Tigers, with the SEC West powerhouses dueling over 5-star recruits such as Cyrus Kouandijo, Brent Calloway and T.J. Yeldon over last couple of years.
For now, it appears that the Tigers may finally come out on winning side of these wars—while the trio of prospects mentioned above all ended up signing with Saban and the Crimson Tide.
Even though Foster appears solid to Auburn, the recruiting wars between these two rivals have repeatedly taught us that it is never over until a recruit signs on the dotted line.