While most of the Alabama faithful were asleep on Monday evening, one of the football program's top verbal commitments had a change of heart.
The No. 8 offensive guard prospect in Scout.com's class of 2014 rankings had versatility and an improved game as a senior, thriving is an anchor of Corona (Calif.) Centennial's high-paced and high-scoring offense. He had been pledged to Nick Saban and company since late May.
But as is the case in today's recruiting, the next step is always the most discussed one, and Alabama has several options on the offensive line among the nation's senior class, at both the guard and tackle positions with less than three months until national singing day.
In terms of timeliness, perhaps it is ironic that BamaMag.com learned just yesterday (Monday) that a committed offensive lineman the Tide staff has been fairly high on bumped up his official visit to this coming weekend.
Along with four-star defensive back teammates Erick Smith and Marshon Lattimore, Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville three-star prospect Marcelys Jones will be in town for 48 hours in mere days. In addition to taking in the UT-Chattanooga game, the trio will get a real look at Tuscaloosa, after each earning offers throughout the recruiting process.
Jones, a projected guard prospect at 6-foot-5, 325 pounds, has long been considering Alabama as the only threat to his current commitment to in-state school and fellow top-five undefeated program Ohio State. The senior has been pledged to Urban Meyer for nearly a calendar year, but has taken at least two trips to Tuscaloosa since, including for a camp this summer. Jones has been public about his interest in 'Bama, the school that produced his current football idol in Chance Warmack.
The consensus is that Jones will likely remain committed to Ohio State, where he is set to enroll in January, but the staff may approach him more aggressively with an offensive line spot seemingly open and he and his talented teammates in town. However, the catch with bringing in Jones may be the need to accept the commitments of his close friends and teammates as well. While Alabama is in on each, Ohio State is in the driver's seat in that scenario as well and with the numbers, which suggest that bringing in all three could be a stretch in the cycle for Alabama.
Another ironic scenario in terms of timing and available prospects went down Monday evening, as Ballflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco five-star prospect Damien Mama trimmed his list to a final four. The top guard prospect in America announced that he will attend either Alabama, USC, UCLA or BYU.
Is Mama the Tide's top OL target?.
Mama was also in Tuscaloosa for the LSU weekend, and is close friends with Talamaivao, who he spent considerable time with on the official visit. The 6-foot-5, 340-pounder said it was among the top trips he's taken as a recruit.
"It was amazing," Mama said after returning home. "Everything about the trip was incredible. The game atmosphere was like nothing I've ever seen before. The passion the fans have out there for football is incredible and I was blown away. My dad and younger brother went out there with me and they were in shock of what it was like, they couldn't believe it either.
"Alabama has an incredible team and I like the way they play. They run a pro-style offense that fits me very well. They just wear teams down with how tough and physical they are up front. They're so disciplined and look like a machine out there, they don't make mistakes."
One advantage Alabama has over other finalists for Mama is that Mario Cristobal, whom he spent considerable time with on his trip, and the staff feel that Mama can play tackle at the next level. All other programs, and Scout.com, project him as a top guard. Mama has said that Alabama's belief in him on the outside has stood out in the process, but will he be more inclined to join his close friend Talamaivao at USC? It will be a tough pull for Alabama, but each of that core group of friends (along with five-star Juju Smith and Tyler Luatua) has different obligations in the process despite all expressing a desire to play together at the next level.
The third possibility for the Crimson Tide also has the ability to play tackle, but much less is known of the recruitment of Brian Wallace. The St. Louis (Mo.) Christian Brothers College High four-star prospect has kept things much closer to the vest, though he has a working top group that includes Alabama. Interestingly enough, again with the timing, is that Scout learned of his very recently scheduled official visit with Alabama, set for the weekend of December 13.
Wallace may be the likeliest late add.
Wallace plans on making a decision soon after that point, though he'll also have taken trips to Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas once it is expected to go down. With the Crimson Tide last up on his visits, it could have some ground to make up, especially on perceived favorite Iowa. Still, Alabama has been in to see the four-star tackle projection in person of late and continues to recruit him as well as anybody over the last several months.
At 6-foot-6, 295 pounds, Wallace has been one of the steady rising talents both on college boards and on Scout.com. Many have pegged him as Alabama's most likely target to cap a stellar offensive line class that already includes two five-stars (top overall lineman Cameron Robinson and JUCO tackle Dominick Jackson) and the No. 1 center in high school football (J.C. Hassenauer), so the staff should know its fate with him before the holidays.
The second, and perhaps even more microscopic to explore, layer of the ripple of Talamaivao's flipped commitment is just how many offensive linemen can be added to the group?
The top three targets, based on BM.com sources and the staff's pursuit of each, are listed above, but what if the plan is not only to get back to seven offensive line pledges, but to get to No. 8? That would make things that much more fun as Saban and Cristobal piece together what is still considered one of the best offensive line hauls of all time. The feeling is that one of the aforementioned three will likely ink Crimson, but just in case, there are at least four others to keep in mind late in the game, each showing current or once considerable interest in Alabama with the staff reciprocating the notion.
Other Names to Know
* Homewood (Ala.) three-star prospect Jordan Sims, who earned his verbal offer early and solidified it at camp, though currently uncommitable. Scout has long maintained that Sims would accept an offer to dream school Alabama if given the green light.
* Forestville (Md.) Bishop McNamara four-star prospect Damian Prince, who has always been high on Alabama though a visit hasn't been setup late in the process.
* Garden City (N.Y.) Nassau Community College four-star prospect Chad Mavety, who took an official to Alabama over the summer. Ohio State seems to be in the driver's seat for his pledge, however.
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