5-Star Raekwon McMillan Commits to Ohio State: Where Does Alabama Turn Now?

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2013

Credit: 247Sports

Five-Star prospect Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga.), the top-rated linebacker in the class of 2014, announced on Monday afternoon that he will play for Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

McMillan made the decision via live telecast from the library at Liberty County High School, trolling Alabama by pretending to reach for the white Crimson Tide hat before eventually putting on the Scarlet hat of OSU:

McMillan is an old-school archetype of everything a middle linebacker should be. He is big and strong enough for the position (6'2'', 242 lbs.) but also quick enough to make plays outside the tackles.

He has incredible football instincts, which explains his massive production at the high school level. That smooth feel for the game led B/R's Michael Felder to compare him to Brandon Spikes of the New England Patriots (via the Florida Gators):

Nick Saban isn't used to losing out on prospects this gifted—especially ones from the Southeast who defect to the Midwest. When he sees a shiny toy that he wants, he's used to going home with it. But it's not like there isn't a contingency in place.

The 247Sports "Crystal Ball" listed OSU as a 76-percent favorite to land McMillan before the day, so Saban and Co. knew this was a possibility (if not a downright likelihood). Good as McMillan might have been in Tuscaloosa, it's not like Alabama mortgaged its entire future on landing him.

Yes, the Tide also lost out on No. 2 inside linebacker Tre' Williams, an in-state product who opted to stay in the Heart of Dixie...but at Auburn. That stings, but Alabama did land the No. 5 and No. 8 inside linebackers in the Class of 2014, 4-star recruits Zach Whitley and Shaun Hamilton.

Alabama's Class of 2014—which is still ranked No. 1 by 247Sports, even after losing out on McMillan—also includes a couple of talented 4-star outside linebackers in Christian Miller and Ronnie Clark. Miller was rated a 5-star on 247Sports' subjective rankings, so he might become a truly special player on the outside.

More importantly than anything, though, Alabama also has rising sophomore Rueben Foster, who didn't play much in 2013 but learned behind one of the all-time greats in C.J. Mosley. Foster was the top inside linebacker and No. 7 overall player in the Class of 2013, scoring a higher composite score than even McMillan did this year.

Is Reuben Foster the future at ILB for Alabama?
Is Reuben Foster the future at ILB for Alabama?Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama is set at this (and every other) position and simply wanted McMillan because he's one of the most talented names on the board. Unless something goes horribly awry with their development, either Foster, Whitley or Hamilton should develop into an All-Conference-caliber inside linebacker.

With Whitley and Hamilton already signed up this year, don't expect the Tide to start looking for a third player at the position to bring in. They will allocate this scholarship to the most talented player they can find elsewhere.

Four-star receiver Travis Rudolph (6'1'', 185 lbs.) visited Alabama on Friday, and he would fill a role the Tide desperately lack in 2014. The only receivers they have committed this recruiting cycle, Cameron Sims and Derek Keif, are 6'4'' or taller and true possession players with limited speed.

Alabama might now shift attention onto luring Rudolph away from Florida State and Florida, which are strongly favored to land his services, while also working to secure 5-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter over Georgia.

All rankings, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of the 247Sports composite.