Alabama Football Recruiting: Top 2017 Targets for Nick Saban and the Tide
Alabama enters the spring with its focus on capturing a potential seventh-straight top-rated recruiting class in the 2017 cycle.
Right now, the Crimson Tide sit with six pledges and a group currently slotted behind Ohio State as the nation’s No. 2 class.
However, head coach Nick Saban and his staff are in the mix with a handful of elite prospects in the 2017 class—such as 5-star linebacker Dylan Moses.
Which prospects are Saban and his staff targeting as must-haves in the 2017 cycle?
Let’s take a look at some of Alabama’s most wanted recruits in the current cycle.
*List is in alphabetical order.
Alabama signed five touted offensive lineman in its 2016 class, but Saban and his staff will be mining the nation for touted big men in the trenches in the 2017 class.
One player who is already on the radar of Tide offensive line coaches Mario Cristobal and Brent Key is 5-star offensive tackle Wyatt Davis.
The 6’5”, 310-pounder rates as the nation’s No. 7 offensive tackle and the No. 24 player overall in the 2017 cycle.
Although Davis hails from California, he was on campus for the Tide’s junior day in January—which shows his level of interest in the Tide as a program that could eventually land him when he makes a decision.
Gibbs has been to Tuscaloosa a handful of times, and the Tide coaching staff has made it clear to him he’s a priority for them in the 2017 cycle.
“Keep working hard and stay in touch. We need you here and things like that,” Gibbs told Bleacher Report of the message he continues to hear from Saban and his staff.
The 6’2”, 204-pounder is the top prospect from the state of Georgia and the nation’s No. 2 corner.
With his size and freakish athleticism, he’s exactly the type of prospect that Saban—long noted for his affinity for coaching and developing defensive backs—covets in his secondary.
Having signed just one pure wide receiver in the 2016 cycle, adding a few talented playmakers is among the top priorities for Saban in this current cycle.
Alabama has had success recruiting receivers from South Florida such as Amari Cooper and current rising star Calvin Ridley.
This year, Saban has another South Floridian on his radar in 4-star wideout Jerry Jeudy.
According to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports, Alabama and Miami are the two schools pushing hardest for the 6’1”, 180-pounder—who rates as the nation’s No. 8 receiver and the No. 45 player overall in the 2017 class.
Alabama has been a thorn in LSU’s side in recent years when it comes to plucking elite prospects from the Pelican State.
The Tide will try to do it again by landing 5-star linebacker and former Tigers pledge Dylan Moses—who transferred to Florida prep powerhouse IMG Academy in the offseason.
Even when he was committed to LSU, Alabama has always been in the thick of things with the 6’2”, 220-pounder.
As Shea Dixon of Geaux247 notes, the two SEC West rivals are expected to battle it out until Moses makes a final decision.
Another position Alabama has a history of developing NFL-caliber athletes is at safety.
With rising senior Eddie Jackson set to move on after the 2016 season, the Tide could potentially be in the market for a prospect who could contribute early at that position.
Among the top names currently on Alabama’s board is 5-star Texas safety Jeffrey Okudah.
Schools such as Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas are among his early group of suitors. As Bill Kurelic of Bucknuts notes, the Buckeyes are the team that is currently trending with the nation’s top safety.
Still, if he makes his way to Tuscaloosa in the coming months, the Tide could become a major factor with him before he makes a decision.
One player who has burst onto the national scene in the last few months is 4-star defensive end LaBryan Ray.
The 6’5”, 283-pounder from James Clemens High School in Madison, Alabama has landed offers from powers such as Florida State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Texas A&M since the beginning of February.
With his size and athleticism, Ray is a versatile big man who can create havoc from different spots along the defensive line—which makes him a player that Saban and his staff would love to keep close to home for college.
Alabama has made a major move in the state of Texas on the recruiting trail in recent years.
That push doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon because the Tide are involved with prospects such as Okudah and 5-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson.
At the end of February, Alabama was one of three schools—with Florida State and LSU being the others—to host Wilson on campus for junior days.
As BamaOnline’s Tim Watts reported, the 6’4”, 316-pounder, who is the nation’s top defensive tackle and the No. 4 prospect overall in the 2017 cycle, Wilson seems open to the idea of leaving the Lone Star State for college—with Alabama being among his chief options if he chooses to do so.
Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.