4-Star Safety Hootie Jones Decommits from Alabama, What's Next for Jones, Tide?

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystDecember 18, 2013

247Sports

Laurence Jones' commitment to Alabama lasted less than three weeks. The 4-star safety known as "Hootie" backed off his pledge to the two-time defending national champions Wednesday on Twitter, citing a need to further explore the recruiting process.

Alabama seemingly landed the coveted defensive back during a Dec. 2 commitment ceremony at Neville High School (Monroe, La.). He pledged his allegiances to Nick Saban's squad with high-profile Crimson Tide commits Cameron Robinson and Cameron Sims in attendance.

Jones, a 6'2", 220-pound playmaker, initially elected to play for Alabama after a lengthy recruitment process that ultimately came down to a two-team race between the Tide and LSU. His offer list also includes Arkansas, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.

The highly-lauded Louisiana recruit is rated the nation's No. 3 safety and No. 33 overall player in 247Sports composite rankings. Suddenly, he is back on the open market and Alabama is left to wonder what went wrong.

The Crimson Tide, currently on pace to secure the country's top-ranked recruiting class for a fourth consecutive year, lost grip on a top commit for the second time in a nine-day span.

Alabama saw 4-star cornerback Kalvaraz Bessent switch his allegiance to SEC rival Auburn on Dec. 9, and the program now faces an unexpected predicament in the secondary. The exodus of two top-flight defensive backs is cause for concern in Tuscaloosa.

The Tide must turn its attention to other options, which include 5-star cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey (Birmingham, Ala.), Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C.) and Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas). Alabama is also targeting 5-star athlete John Smith (Long Beach, Calif.), who could provide a solution at safety.

Saban won't lack for candidates to fill the void at defensive back. Meanwhile, Jones is assuredly already hearing from coaching staffs across the country.

Considering his previous flirtation with LSU—a Tigers hat sat on the table during the commitment ceremony—Les Miles is likely the favorite to land Jones. He spent an official visit in Baton Rouge last month.

LSU has intentions of signing several uncommitted in-state prospects, including 5-star New Orleans standouts Leonard Fournette (running back), Gerald Willis (defensive tackle), Malachi Dupre (wide receiver) and Speedy Noil (wide receiver). A slew of Louisiana pledges could place the Tigers atop national recruiting rankings.

Flipping Jones would represent a significant step forward in an evolving recruiting battle against Alabama.

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