What 4-Star Rico McGraw's Flip from Georgia to Alabama Means for Dawgs, Tide

Tyler DonohueNational Recruiting AnalystJuly 31, 2014

Credit: 247Sports

Alabama added its second 4-star defensive back commitment this week Thursday, while swiping a key prospect away from an SEC rival. Cornerback Rico McGraw decided to flip his pledge from Georgia to the Crimson Tide, he confirmed to Barton Simmons of 247Sports.

The 6'0", 190-pound Tennessee prospect initially committed to the Bulldogs in January. However, recent visits to Tuscaloosa and Knoxville suggested he may be open to joining another program within the conference.

His declaration Thursday ended speculation and provides Nick Saban with yet another blue-chip defender. Alabama landed former North Carolina commit Ronnie Harrison, a 4-star safety, on Tuesday.

McGraw made up his mind after substantial internal deliberations with family members.

"My mom and my parents have always thought Alabama was the best decision for me," he told 247Sports. "I finally decided to hear them out."

McGraw, a rising senior who intercepted three passes for state powerhouse Ensworth last season, adds to a 2015 class that continues to strengthen its stronghold atop 247Sports' composite class rankings. Alabama is well on its way to a fifth consecutive No. 1 recruiting class, stockpiling abundant talent in the secondary.

Harrison and McGraw join a group of defensive backs that already featured 5-star cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick and No. 2 overall safety prospect Deionte Thompson. Alabama signed a pair of 5-star cornerbacks during the 2014 recruiting cycle (Marlon Humphrey and Tony Brown).

McGraw isn't the first cornerback to switch allegiances to Alabama from another SEC competitor. Montrell Custis flipped from Kentucky to the Tide in April.

Alabama's latest gain is Georgia's loss.

The Bulldogs netted a commitment from McGraw shortly after first-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt arrived from Florida State. Now the former Saban assistant must search elsewhere for a solution in the secondary.

Throw in the fact that 5-star athlete Terry Godwin could also jump ship and there's a definite need for defensive secondary talent.

Godwin, who could excel at wide receiver or cornerback in college, could also end up in Tuscaloosa.

"There's been a lot of guys talking to me about my commitment and my recruitment," Godwin told Bleacher Report at The Opening. "They're saying 'Come to Auburn', or 'Come down to Alabama' or 'We need you at Tennessee.' A lot of stuff like that. It'll come down to Feb. 2 (signing day)."

Georgia holds just two 2015 commitments from prospects definitively destined to compete in the defensive backfield. Florida products Deontai Williams and Deandre Baker—both 3-star recruits—pledged earlier this summer.

Pruitt and head coach Mark Rich must attempt to make inroads with other secondary targets in the class. In-state prospects Rashad Roundtree and Micah Abernathy present 4-star options on home turf.

Florida cornerback Tarvarus McFadden remains a prized uncommitted player but Georgia appears to be chasing at least LSU and Florida State in that pursuit. Don't be surprised if the Bulldogs adopt Alabama's approach and attempt to reel in a player currently committed elsewhere.

Georgia's 2015 class now rates 14th nationally in 247Sports' composite team rankings. The Bulldogs are listed eighth among SEC squads.


Recruit information and statistics courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

Quotes obtained firsthand by B/R national recruiting writer Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.