With less than three weeks until the start of the football early signing period, we have reached the final stretch for the 2023 class of recruits.
There’s really only one question as to which team could complete the mythical claim to national champions, and that’s whether the Alabama can hold the Crimson Tide and give Nick Saban another recruiting title.
That and which program could possibly step in first.
Ok, so there are two questions, but they keep John Garcia Jr., the national recruiting director for sports illustrated busy this December.
Alabama stayed at No. 1 in its latest monthly team leaderboard update:
“While other programs are closing the gap on Alabama’s long lead in this ranking, the Crimson Tide hit another position of distress in late November with the landing of Florida-based wide receiver Jaren Hamilton. The balanced wide receiver balances a wide receiver haul with longtime SI99 downfield talent Jalen Hale as well as junior collegiate star Malik Benson.
Hamilton announced his decision Monday, picking Alabama over Florida, Tennessee and Michigan. Aspiring to be the next great Alabama to come from the state of Florida, he joins the likes of Amari Cooper, Clavin Ridley and Jerry Jeudy.
With its addition, Alabama has 24 oral commitments, including eight in SI99.
Notre Dame and Texas also both have eight, which is a big reason they sit second and third in Sports Illustrated’s team rankings.
Marcus Freeman’s team had a great November and were the hottest team on the recruit path, moving up from #5 last month. But the Fighting Irish may have peaked after already receiving pledges from 25 players.
Similarly, the Longhorns have filled 21 spots, but Steve Sarkisian’s staff are working to flip some top prospects from other programs, including cornerback No. 2 Malik Muhammad, who will join the Crimson Tide.
Other teams competing for the team title, if not the top 5, are Georgia, Ohio State and LSU.
As usual, there’s likely to be an insane scramble for the last few top players who are still available, and of course there will be surprises when the early signing phase kicks off on December 21st.
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See also: Recruiting Class of 2023: Alabama Early-Signing Period Tracker
Coaches can hit the road with goals starting today, and Alabama will host visits this weekend, but the three players to watch are all on the defensive side.
Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep defensive end/linebacker Keon Keeley, who resigned from Notre Dame on Aug. 17, is the nation’s top remaining undeclared player. #3 in SI99. He was back in Tuscaloosa last weekend to watch Alabama beat Auburn.
The race goes to Alabama, Florida and Ohio State, but most believe the Crimson Tide are the team to beat.
Teammates James Smith and Qua Russaw are expected to make their long-awaited official visits to Alabama next weekend. Smith is #20 in the SI99 and Russaw is #22.
Hugh Freeze makes it clear he’d like to keep Montgomery Carver’s standouts close to home, but they made their official visits to Auburn over the summer.
The transfer portal will be officially opened on Monday and could have a direct impact on recruiting
Caleb Downs, the nation’s top rated safety man and a Crimson Tide conscript, visited Ohio State for the Michigan game. His team is still playing in the Georgia state playoffs and is looking for Alabama and numerous other schools to play in. He is #6 in SI99.
Running back Justice Haynes, who was also in Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl, took offense at rumors and reports on social media that he was moving from Alabama to Georgia or resigning. “You know what I’m saying is, if it doesn’t come out of my mouth, it’s not true,” Haynes told BamaOnLine. “I’ll stick with all hundred. I’m locked up with Bama. I can’t wait to be down there in a month. All that flip stuff everyone says… just let them talk. Bama knows where I stand. i know where i stand And we’ll leave it at that. All the other talk is just talk.”
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