California native and five-star QB Josh Rosen will be announcing his college choice on Thursday, and he has all but blurted out already that he’s going to UCLA. Cal is probably a distant second, and Michigan and Stanford are being mentioned just for fun.
So what does this have to do with Alabama and/or the SEC? Um … a lot.
When Alabama lost its prized 2015 quarterback commitment, Ricky Town–back in January–its staff began looking at all the top options around the country. Rosen even received a visit from Nick Saban in late January, but by that time Rosen was likely long gone from the list of “available”. Saban’s new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin–who of course was the former Southern Cal head coach–seemed to favor Rosen over Town, and they made a quick run at Rosen.
The other guy the Crimson Tide jumped on in late January was Texas’ super slick dual-threat stud QB Jarrett Stidham. But since they checked him out, he has committed to his long-time favorite–Texas Tech. He is very close to Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury and told Saturday Down South that while he was flattered by ‘Bama’s interest, he pretty much already had his mind made up several weeks ago before ‘Bama’s QB turnover. The nation’s top dual-threat quarterback, Torrance Gibson, said this week that he will visit Alabama and six other schools during spring break–but Ohio State, Tennessee and Miami lead the way for his commitment.
So with Town, Rosen, Stidham and most likely Gibson out of the picture, Bama is forced to move on in the domino-effect game that is recruiting quarterbacks. Whereas all of 2014 the ‘Tide were set in stone with a fantastic QB recruit and kid in Town, now they have no solid answers at a position they certainly need to fill. Jacob Coker only has two years to play after transferring from Florida State, and it is customary to bring in one QB every class for depth reasons. Luke Del Rio just transferred, Cooper Bateman has had issues throwing the ball and incoming freshman David Cornwell is coming off a knee injury.
In other words, this is a critical situation and most of the quarterbacks worthy of starting in the SEC will be off the shelf by summer. So something will have to give, and very soon. And programs want their QBs in place to help be lead recruiters, too.
So where does it go from here? My guess is, they’re either going to try to poach somebody else’s guy or pull a rabbit out of the hat that nobody expected. When it comes to poaching another program’s QB, kids that jump out to me are Arkansas’ in-state stud QB Ty Storey or maybe Notre Dame’s current guy, Blake Barnett out of California. I think Storey may be the most obvious choice if they can somehow wrestle him away from his home-state school.
Good luck with that. Storey is currently the highest-rated SEC commitment at QB for 2015. Storey recently talked to SDS about the Alabama connection. One thing to keep in mind is that Alabama and Auburn have raided the state of Arkansas for years for talent, and this is an incredibly talented in-state class this year. Storey is the No. 1 prospect in the state, while the No. 2 prospect–TE Will Gragg–is also seriously considering the Crimson Tide (along with the Razorbacks, of course).
“There has been a little bit of communication between us and Alabama and coach (Billy) Napier,” Storey told Saturday Down South recently. “But at the end of the day I have to do the best for me, and right now that’s playing for Arkansas. I do think you’ve always got to be prepared.”
Recent reports have it that California native Jake Browning–who has put up video-game like numbers during his high school career–is the most recent target. Browning has looked like he’d end up with Washington and new coach Chris Petersen, but Alabama certainly could grab his attention. The Crimson Tide offered Browning last week. Also, shortly after Stidham picked Texas Tech, Alabama offered 6-foot-6 New Mexico native Zach Gentry–who Tennessee would love to have if the Vols can’t get Gibson for themselves. Gentry is becoming a hotter commodity by the day.
Bottom line? When it comes to Alabama recruiting a quarterback, expect some serious fireworks in the coming weeks. It’s going to get very interesting, and this is a critical QB year for the Crimson Tide. They don’t have the luxury of just recruiting another clipboard-holding third stringer, they’re going to need a guy who can compete for the starting job in 2016 after Coker leaves.