The Alabama Crimson Tide have lost the commitment of 4-star tight end Josh McNeil.
McNeil is 6'6'', 250 pounds, which is excellent size for a tight end, and he's the No. 7 tight end in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
For a program that has not done much losing as of late, this is a very tangible loss for Nick Saban and his staff.
Greg Ostendorf of ESPN.com reports on the Alabama decommitment:
On Thursday, ESPN 150 tight end Josh McNeil (Durham, N.C./Milford) announced that he decommitted from Alabama, ending the possibility of he and fellow four-star tight end O.J. Howard ever playing together for the Crimson Tide.
The reason Alabama and McNeil parted ways comes from an academic issue that stems from his ninth grade year, according to McNeil’s high school coach, Antonio King.
“There’s a question about when he went to a prep school his ninth grade year as a basketball player,” King said. “It’s something we tried to get fixed from way back in his ninth grade year. It’s a question, but I don’t think it should be a major problem.”
What's next for Alabama though?
The good news is, the Crimson Tide still have the commitment of 5-star tight end O.J. Howard, and frankly, that's the one that matters. Howard is 6'5.5'', 221 pounds and he runs a 4.42 40 according to 247Sports.
He has the size of a big-time tight end and the speed of an elite receiver, and he's easily one of the best players in the 2013 recruiting class. Howard projects to be a superstar at the college level. He'll be able to outrun linebackers and safeties in the seams, but he's also fast enough to go out to the sideline and make big plays because of his of his size and talent.
If anything, holding on to his commitment just because much more important.
As far as the recruiting trail is concerned, Howard's presence on the 2013 class allows Alabama to move on from the tight end position all together. As it stands, there are more pressing recruiting issues.
Will Alabama land Robert Foster?
Much of the sting of this recruiting loss would be nullified if 5-star wide receiver Robert Foster chooses Alabama—he's expected to choose between 'Bama and Pittsburgh today (12/21)—but if not, the Crimson Tide still have a ton of talented potential recruits with high interest in the program.
5-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil has Alabama in his top two along with Georgia according to 247Sports (Florida State is third on his list) and 5-star safety Vonn Bell has the Crimson Tide in his top three, along with Ohio State and Tennessee (247Sports).
Other recruits that have Alabama high on their interest lists include 5-star safety Tony Conner (top two) and 5-star defensive tackle Montravius Adams (top five), according to their respective 247Sports interest lists.
Losing the commitment of a talented player like McNeil is certainly not a good thing for Alabama, but then again, it's not going to hurt the Crimson Tide as much as it would other programs. The program's success, coupled with Saban's abilities as a recruiter, has made Alabama one of the premier, if not the premier school in college football.
Elite recruits know Alabama is the program that can offer them the chance to win a ton of games, play in the national spotlight, and compete for National Championships on a yearly basis. The opportunity to be coached by Saban also has to be a pretty big draw for recruits as well.
So where do the Crimson Tide turn next after losing McNeil's commitment? All Alabama has to do is go right back to the recruiting trail.
There are still plenty of talented recruits Saban and his staff have a chance to land.