Alabama Football Recruiting: Looking Ahead to 2018 Targets

Christopher Walsh@@WritingWalshCollege Football National ColumnistFebruary 8, 2017

Alabama Football Recruiting: Looking Ahead to 2018 Targets

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    Nick Saban might have a tougher time signing another No. 1 recruiting class in 2018 as it's considered a down year for in-state talent.
    Nick Saban might have a tougher time signing another No. 1 recruiting class in 2018 as it's considered a down year for in-state talent.Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The proverbial smoke hasn't cleared yet from the University of Alabama football program's latest recruiting national championship, and already the focus has turned to next year.

    Head coach Nick Saban actually spent a good part of national signing day calling prospects for the 2018 class.

    The one area of need that the Crimson Tide didn't fill as well as hoped in 2017 was cornerback. That probably won't be an issue with the next class, as this is expected to be a very good year at that position and playmakers in general—but not so much for offensive linemen.

    Overall, Alabama has three early commitments, wide receiver Xavier Williams, defensive end Jordan Davis and running back Dameon Pierce. Plus, defensive tackle Akial Byers is a holdover from the previous class who is heading to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in hopes of qualifying academically.

    It's also considered a down year in terms of in-state talent.

    Here's a quick look at the Crimson Tide's top targets for 2018, with geography being the primary factor in the order (local, state, regional and then national). 

Seth Williams

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    Seth Williams has developed into one of the best wide receivers in the nation.
    Seth Williams has developed into one of the best wide receivers in the

    Height/Weight: 6'2.5", 202 lbs

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star WR, No. 169 Overall (No. 28 WR)

    High School: Paul W. Bryant High School (Cottondale, Ala.)

    Biggest competition: Auburn

    Alabama offered the backyard prospect nearly a year ago and it would be a surprise to see him land anywhere else. Big, fast wide receivers are very much in vogue in the Southeastern Conference, and Seth Williams fits the bill. 

    The other Tuscaloosa-area athlete to watch is Jacquez Jones, a 3-star prospect from Hillcrest High School. At 6'1", 225 pounds, he's sort of a 'tweener between outside linebacker and safety. He's also the nephew of former Crimson Tide linebacker Juwan Simpson.

Myles Mason

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    Height/Weight: 6'2", 185 lbs

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star S, No. 236 Overall (No. 21 S)

    High School: Pleasant Grove High School (Pleasant Grove, Ala.)

    Biggest competition: Auburn

    Myles Mason is an aggressive, physical safety who could possibly play linebacker at the next level depending on his development and the defensive scheme. He'd probably project as a strong safety at Alabama as he has good range.

    Tennessee recently offered, but Alabama appears to be a solid front-runner. Pleasant Grove is located less than an hour east of Tuscaloosa.

Coynis Miller

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    Height/Weight: 6'4", 270 lbs

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star DT, No. 234 Overall (No. 21 DT)

    High School: Jackson-Olin High School (Birmingham, Ala.)

    Biggest competition: Auburn

    Opinions vary on the rising prospect, but there's no doubt he's extremely athletic, and thus Coynis Miller has numerous offers from big-time schools. Michigan is among the latest to try to wedge its way in, but otherwise this is looking like a typical Alabama-Auburn in-state recruiting battle.

    Another front-seven defensive player to watch is outside linebacker Kevontae' Ruggs from Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery. He's the younger brother of 2017 signee Henry Ruggs III, a wide receiver.

Marcus 'Tank' Jenkins

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    Height/Weight: 6'4", 330 lbs

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star OG, No. 230 Overall (No. 11 OG)

    High School: Park Crossing (Montgomery, Ala.)

    Biggest competition: Auburn

    "Tank" might be the perfect nickname as the 330 pounds may be on the conservative side. Marcus Jenkins is massive and will need to redistribute some of his weight eventually, but has good feet. 

    Georgia and Auburn, which is about a 45-minute drive from his house, are considered the primary competition. Jenkins previously attended Robert E. Lee High School, where Alabama has recently signed wide receiver Henry Ruggs III.

Justyn Ross

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    Height/Weight: 6'4.5", 195 lbs

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star WR, No. 65 Overall (No. 10 WR)

    High School: Central High School (Phenix City, Ala.)

    Biggest competition: Auburn

    The thing that jumps out about Justyn Ross isn't so much his height, but his wingspan. Granted, he's is tall and fast, but combined with his reach it's easy to see why he's considered the top in-state prospect. He can make catches that a lot of other receivers can't.

    Alabama and nearby Auburn appear to have the inside lanes, but Ross doesn't appear to be in any kind of rush to make a decision.

Jalyn Armour-Davis

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    Height/Weight: 6'0", 165 lbs

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star CB, No. 151 Overall (No. 17 CB)

    High School: St. Paul's Episcopal School (Mobile, Ala.)

    Biggest competition: Auburn

    He's still a little on the lean side, but Jalyn Armour-Davis is otherwise a prototypical top-end cornerback. He has offers from Florida, USC and Oklahoma, while Auburn has made an initial push.

    However, John Garcia Jr. of reported on Monday that Armour-Davis was one of the 2018 prospects who Saban called on national signing day, and he may be considering an early commitment to Alabama.

Xavier Thomas

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    Height/Weight: 6'2.5", 249 lbs

    Position/Ranking: 5-Star DE, No. 7 Overall (No. 2 DE)

    High School: IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)

    Biggest competition: Clemson

    About the only knock on him is his height, as Xavier Thomas has the power and speed to be an elite defensive end. He's originally from South Carolina, so the Gamecocks and Tigers are the ones to beat, and Thomas has already announced that they're the front-runners. But he's visited Tuscaloosa as well, and you know that Saban's staff won't be outworked.

    More of a mix of size and strength is 4-star defensive end Dorian Hardy out of St. Joseph Regional in Montvale, New Jersey. list him at just 246 pounds, but he's also 6'4.5". Another defensive lineman to keep an eye on is Thomas' IMG Academy teammate Taron Vincent, a powerful run-stuffer who has drawn strong interest from Ohio State and Florida State.

Patrick Surtain Jr.

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    Height/Weight: 6'2", 192 lbs

    Position/Ranking: 5-Star CB, No. 3 Overall (No. 1 CB)

    High School: American Heritage School (Plantation, Fla.)

    Biggest competition: LSU

    If the name looks familiar, yes, he's the son of the former NFL cornerback who played 11 seasons for the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. So Patrick Surtain Jr. will certainly have an eye on getting to the next level, without having to do so through Southern Miss (where his father was recruited out of New Orleans). 

    A little closer is Kelvin Joseph (6'0", 182 lbs) out of Baton Rouge. He's an early LSU commitment, but Alabama's had a lot of recent success pulling top players out of Louisiana. The safety recently told Scout's Chad Simmons that he's not totally sold on LSU, and Alabama is a solid second on his list.

    Incidentally, the top player in Louisiana this year is wide receiver Terrace Marshall (6'4", 190 lbs) out of Parkway High School in Bossier City. He's thought to be an LSU lean, but not surprisingly Alabama is in the mix.

Jack Carman

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    Jack Carman, from Fairfield High School in Ohio, is considered an elite offensive line prospect.
    Jack Carman, from Fairfield High School in Ohio, is considered an elite offensive line

    Height/Weight: 6'6", 290 lbs

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star OT, No. 31 Overall (No. 3 OT)

    High School: Fairfield High School (Fairfield, Ohio)

    Biggest competition: Ohio State

    Jack Carman is long and tall, with a frame that can add some bulk. The top left tackle in the nation, he's already made an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa, but would be a tough get away from Ohio State.

    Two other offensive linemen to watch are tackle Tommy Brown and guard Jamaree Salyer. Brown (6'6.5", 320 lbs), from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, doesn't have an offer from Alabama, but Salyer does. The 5-star prospect from Pace Academy in Atlanta is listed as 6'3.5", 327 pounds. Georgia will be the primary competition for him.

Isaac Taylor-Stuart

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    Height/Weight: 6'2", 180 lbs

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star CB, No. 25 Overall (No. 4 CB)

    High School: St. Augustine High School (San Diego, Calif.)

    Biggest competition: UCLA/USC

    He's fast and has a knack for being around the ball, which, combined with his height has made Isaac Taylor-Stuart a prize prospect. Despite being on the West Coast, Alabama appears to have a strong shot at landing him.

    Another cornerback to watch closely is Tyreke Johnson, a 6'2", 185-pound 5-star prospect out of Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida. He plays more like a safety, aggressive and a hard hitter, but with cornerback speed and ability. Georgia, Notre Dame and UCLA are among the early front-runners, but the program to beat might be Florida.

    All recruiting rankings courtesy of

    Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

    Christopher Walsh is a national college football columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.