Even amid Nick Saban’s complaining, Alabama is still expected to bring in signatures from more than half of its potential 2018 signing class during the new three-day early signing period that began today.

Among the Tide’s current commitments, only three aren’t expected to sign this week.

The Tide already have a head start on the class with two players — four-star linebacker Jarez Parks and four-star junior college cornerback Saivion Smith — already on campus and practicing with the team. Both are expected to begin working in full pads beginning today following the completion of a three-day NCAA-mandated acclamation period, though neither is eligible to participate in anything other than practice in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama kicked off the early signing period bright and early today, announcing the signings of five players all before 9 a.m., including longtime commitments in punter Skyler DeLong and cornerback Jayln Armour-Davis, as well as its newest commitment in three-star tailback Jerome Ford, who pledged over the weekend. Not long after 9, the team also announced receiving its sixth national letter of intent from four-star receiver Xavier Williams.

Alabama also landed a pre-dawn commitment from coveted four-star defensive tackle Christian Barmore of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who is expected to have a formal signing ceremony at 1 p.m. CT, according to 47Sports.com


Saivion Smith, CB (6-1, 175), Mississippi Gulf Coast — 4 stars

The top-rated JUCO cornerback from Mississippi Gulf Coast is already on Alabama’s campus and should begin working in pads beginning this week after going through the necessary three acclimation days. As both a JUCO product and a former LSU signee, Smith will be someone Tide coaches hope can step in immediately. Alabama will likely have to replace most, and maybe all, of its starting secondary.

Jarez Parks, DE/LB (6-3, 253), Sebastian, Fla. — 4 stars

Another early arrival already taking hits in an Alabama practice jersey, Parks actually signed with Alabama in February and originally intended to be part of the 2017 recruiting class. But due to a bit of oversigning, Parks was forced to take a grayshirt opportunity and had to wait until after the fall semester to enroll in Tuscaloosa, effectively making him a member of the 2018 25-man limit. Like Smith, Parks is able to practice but isn’t eligible to contribute until spring.


Christian Barmore, DT (6-5, 290), Philadelphia, Pa. — 4 stars

A consensus Top 200 prospect, the big-bodied Barmore is the nation’s 17th ranked defensive tackle prospect. With Alabama expected to lose its top two defensive tackles to the NFL, including junior Da’Ron Payne, Barmore is the only tackle among the Tide targets expected to sign early. That made him a must-get for Alabama.

Eyabi Anoma, DE/OLB (6-5, 230), Baltimore, Md. — 5 stars

The No. 1 player in Maryland and No. 7 overall prospect in 247Sports’ composite rankings, Anoma is a prototypical edge rusher that Alabama desperately needs. Anoma also considered his homestate Maryland and Michigan before announcing on ESPN2 that he’d sign with Alabama.

Josh Jobe, CB (6-1, 180), Cheshire, Conn. — 4 stars

A late addition to Alabama’s commitment list, Jobe is was a longtime Miami commit who flipped to the Tide after an official visit to Tuscaloosa last week. Jobe is a Top 100 national player and the 13th-ranked corner in this year’s class, per 247Sports’ composite rating. With Alabama expected to lose nearly every member of its starting secondary, including senior starting corners Anthony Averett and Levi Wallace, reloading at the position was particularly important in this year’s class. Jobe is talented enough to come in and start immediately, which may be needed given the expected turnover.

Emil Ekiyoe, OL (6-2, 322), Indianapolis, Ind. — 4 stars

As the nation’s No. 2 center prospect in 247Sports’ rankings, Ekiyoe was a must-get for Alabama given the roster will lose both two-year starting senior center Bradley Bozeman and his backup, senior JC Hassenauer. The Tide coaches will likely try to work in a veteran at the position in the spring, with junior guard Ross Pierschbacher the most qualified, but if he or other veterans struggle, the 322-pound U.S. Army All-American Ekiyoe could be an option to work himself into the picture with sound play once he steps on campus.

Slade Bolden, ATH (5-11, 198), West Monroe, La. — 4 stars

Another in a long time of “Boot Boys” from Monroe, Louisiana, who come to Alabama, Bolden is an athletic and versatile playmaker who was named as Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year this past season. While a high school quarterback this past season, Bolden seems destined for another position at Alabama, likely either at running back or receiver. Last season, Bolden combined for 3,082 total yards and 39 touchdowns passing and running and is expected to provide the Tide a dynamic athlete at whatever position he ultimately lands in Tuscaloosa.

Cameron Latu, DE/LB (6-5, 236), Salt Lake City, Utah — 4 stars

A commitment since August, Latu committed to the Tide over offers from homestate schools Utah and Brigham Young. Another Top 150 player, the four-star Latu has the physical frame to contribute early, especially as a pass-rushing specialist at outside linebacker. Given the large number of injuries to affect the position this season at Alabama, Latu’s natural ability makes him a candidate to contribute right away once he arrives in Tuscaloosa.

Stephon Wynn, DE (6-4, 285), IMG Academy — 4 stars

Wynn is the nation’s No. 3 strong-side defensive end, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings. He is among the keys to this year’s class and could play at any spot along Alabama’s defensive line. A commitment since July 1, the South Carolina native has the ability to come in and make an early impact, especially with the Tide expected to lose two-thirds of its starting defensive front and several backups.

Jordan Davis, DE/LB (6-5, 238), Memphis, Tenn. — 4 stars

Another defensive product with a large frame, Davis could play at either defensive end or outside linebacker, depending on how much weight he puts on once he’s in Alabama’s lifting program. A commitment since December 2016, Davis remains another of the Tide’s must-haves in this year’s class. Replenishing its defensive front was important for Alabama this year, and Davis gives Alabama reason to be confident about the future at the position.

Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB (6-1, 180), Mobile, Ala. — 4 stars

One of just two current in-state recruits for Alabama, the 6-foot-1 Armour-Davis is from Mobile-area hotbed St. Paul’s Episcopal. A U.S. Army All-American, Armour-Davis is the nation’s 15th-ranked corner prospect and another candidate to help fill expected holes within Alabama’s secondary next season. Armour-Davis will have to put on needed weight if he’s going step in right away at safety.

Xavier Williams, WR (6-1, 190), Hollywood, Fla. — 4 stars

Another in a long line of gifted Florida receiver prospects, Williams has the physical makeup and natural athleticism that is required to contribute early at Alabama. The Under Armour All-American is rated as the nation’s No. 26 receiver on 247Sports’ composite list and is a consensus Top 150 player. Williams is a candidate to contribute early, especially with the Tide likely losing junior Calvin Ridley and seniors Robert Foster and Cam Sims to the NFL this offseason.

Tommy Brown, OT (6-7, 313), Santa Ana, Cal. — 4 stars

Brown has the frame to come in and contribute early. Whether he’ll have the opportunity depends on how many linemen return this offseason. Alabama is expected to only lose senior center Bradley Bozeman to the NFL, and with several former four- and five-star products already in place as backups this season, Brown’s road to becoming a starter is crowded at best. Still, the Tide coaches aren’t against playing young linemen, especially if they prove they’re up to the task at practice.

Jerome Ford, RB (5-11, 195), Seffner, Fla. — 3 stars

Ford is an undervalued playmaker who has drawn comparisons to former under-recruited running back Josh Jacobs, who has more than proven his worth in his first two seasons in Tuscaloosa. Rated the nation’s No. 14 all-purpose back, Ford appears to be one of the only true running backs the Tide are expected to bring in this class.

Skyler DeLong, P (6-4, 180), Fort Mill, S.C. — 3 stars

The name says it all for a punter. DeLong is the nation’s second-rated punter in 247Sports.com’s composite rankings and could very well come in and be the next JK Scott. DeLong is expected to be an early enrollee.

alex.byington@decaturdaily.com. Twitter @abyingtonTD.


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