TUSCALOOSA — It all comes down to Wednesday.
After signing 22 players during the early signing period in December, including 13 that are already on campus, Alabama’s quest for a second-straight No. 1 recruiting class appears to rest squarely on the decision of one highly coveted player: four-star defensive tackle McKinnley Jackson.
Beside the expected signatures of two to three of its four current commits that didn’t sign in December, the Crimson Tide apparently has the space to add just one or two new targets Wednesday, according to 247Sports.com Alabama recruiting writer Hank South.
And by all accounts, one of those spots is earmarked for Jackson, the 6-foot-2 and 327-pound defensive tackle from Lucedale, Mississippi, near Mobile.
“It’s clear McKinnley Jackson’s the guy they want,” South said Sunday. “The late signing period is about McKinnley Jackson and adding him.”
Jackson, who is scheduled to sign at 9:30 a.m. at George County High School, is the top-rated player in Mississippi, the No. 9 defensive tackle prospect in the class and a Top-75 prospect according to 247Sports.com’s latest composite rankings.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban, defensive coordinator Pete Golding and new defensive line coach Freddie Roach had an in-home visit with Jackson last week to make one final impression before he took a final official visit to Texas A&M. The Aggies are considered another serious contender, along with LSU and Ole Miss.
The addition of Jackson, who’d instantly be the ninth highest-rated player in Alabama’s class, would propel the Crimson Tide into the No. 1 spot in the national team rankings according to the 247Sports.com class calculator, giving it the No. 1 class for the ninth time in the last 10 years, as long as neither Georgia nor third-place Clemson have any significant additions Wednesday.
Alabama is also expected to sign at least a couple of its current commits, with McEachern (Ga.) High teammates in four-star receiver Javon Baker and four-star nose tackle Jamil Burroughs as the most likely, along with three-star offensive tackle Damieon George of Houston.
Four-star defensive tackle Jayson Jones of nearby Calera, a self-professed Alabama fan and longtime commit, doesn’t appear to be in team’s recruiting picture any longer. The expectation is he will flip to Oregon, which had a recent in-home visit and has been hot on the trail of the 6-7 and 340-pound interior lineman over the past month.
“I’ll always be a Bama fan, I’ve lived in Alabama all my life, I’ve always been a Bama fan, so my love for Alabama will never change,” Jones said after the Under Armour All-American game in early January. “We stand pretty great, I mean, I love them — I love ‘em.”
The Tide is also expected to add North Carolina graduate transfer tight end Carl Tucker. The former three-star Carolina product committed following an official visit to Tuscaloosa a week ago. Alabama also remains in the running for three-star cornerback Ennis Rakestraw of Duncanville, Texas.
“I know (Alabama’s coaching staff) really liked him on tape and he had a great senior season,” South said of Rakestraw. “It was one of those situations where his senior evaluation and being one of the best (still) available really kind of caught their eye.”
Tucker is a need addition that provides Alabama something it didn’t have last season — a big, physical blocking tight end that can also make plays in the passing game. Without that physical presence on the outside, the Tide was forced to utilize reserve offensive linemen like Kendall Randolph and Chris Owens as off-set tight ends.
Depending on what happens Wednesday, Alabama — which is currently ranked No. 2 according to the 247Sports.com national composite, just 1.25 points behind top-ranked Georgia — is expected to finish with a 26- or 27-member 2020 signing class this year.