Alabama running second behind familiar foe for one of state’s top prospects

Hope for the Best: Auburn edition - Roll 'Bama Roll

Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. Today, we talk the latest with one of the state of Alabama’s top prospects.

Alabama playing catch-up with Vonta Bentley

BUFORD, Ga. — Alabama saw the state’s No. 1 prospect in the 2018 class, 4-star wide receiver Justyn Ross, sign with Clemson over the Crimson Tide. We could see one of the state’s top-10 prospects choose to do the same if things stay the course.

Vonta Bentley, a 4-star inside linebacker from Jackson-Olin High School (Birmingham, Ala.), told SEC Country last weekend at the Atlanta Opening regional camp that Clemson is currently his top school, with Alabama running second.

Bentley named Alabama his leader earlier this year, but said the Crimson Tide just haven’t been putting in the time with him that Clemson has. Bentley was back at Clemson on Wednesday.

“[Alabama] isn’t showing me as much attention as Clemson is,” Bentley said. “Clemson’s on me every day. They’re showing me a lot of attention. It’s a lot of love, like family.”

Why would Alabama not be showing lots of attention to one of the top players in its own state? Well, the Tide are in good shape with several inside linebackers who may be higher on the board than Bentley. Five-star linebacker Nakobe Dean is very high on Alabama as is junior college linebacker Lakia Henry. Christian Harris, a 4-star prospect from Louisiana, seems likely to choose between Alabama and LSU. The interesting thing to note with Harris is that while the Tide want him at inside linebacker, LSU wants him as an H-Back. Harris hasn’t decided if he wants to play offense or defense.

Bentley could be next on that list of inside linebackers. He has been to Tuscaloosa numerous times, and it’s one of the main reasons why Alabama was his leader earlier this year.

“Well, I’m more familiar with everything down there,” Bentley said of Alabama. “I love their football [program]. They have sent a lot of linebackers to the NFL. A top player, Reuben Foster, was a player I’ve been looking up to football-wise. Mack Wilson is supposed to be projected first round, too.”

If Alabama decides to make a move on Bentley, Clemson isn’t the only school that it will likely have to compete with. Jackson-Olin High School has sent two football players to Auburn in the past two recruiting cycles (T.D. Moultry, a linebacker in the 2017 class, and Coynis Miller, a defensive tackle in the 2018 class). Jackson-Olin also has talented 2020 linebacker Quanderrius Robinson, who could end up at Auburn, too.

That school in the Birmingham area has definitely turned into a little Auburn pipeline, but the Tigers haven’t been showing much attention to Bentley as of late. When asked if Moultry and Miller being at Auburn help the Tigers’ chances, Bentley couldn’t answer.

“I can’t say right now because Auburn’s not showing me as much attention as Clemson,” Bentley said. “Auburn’s not on that level with Clemson.”

Alabama has remained in contact with Bentley via defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi and area recruiter Brent Key. Bentley said he really likes Key because of how he seems to make the game fun.

Bentley will be back in Tuscaloosa on April 13 to meet with the coaching staff.

“I’ll be spending the night at Bama,” Bentley said. “It’s a spring practice. We’ll spend the night and interact with the players more. I went down there about three weeks ago to chop it up with the coach, going over film, looking at little things that matter.”

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound prospect isn’t making a decision anytime soon. The plan right now is to make a commitment late this fall. That’s plenty of time for the Tide to see where they stand with several of their other inside linebacker targets.

So, what can Alabama do to have itself back in the top spot in Bentley’s recruitment?

“Show love like Clemson is,” he said.

In case you missed it

Kayvon Thibodeaux, a 5-star defensive end from Oaks Christian High School (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), is set to make his first visit to Alabama next week. Thibodeaux will be on campus April 7.

Thibodeaux, the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the 2019 class, has expressed a willingness to leave the West Coast to play college football. He has made unofficial visits to Florida and LSU, and told SEC Country’s Zach Abolverdi that he could see himself playing for the Gators.

The 6-5, 235-pound prospect has told SEC Country in the past that he feels like Alabama is the top school in the country.

“They are the best school in college football,” Thibodeaux said. “They are a great school with a great program, but I have equal interest in all of the schools that have offered me.”

If Alabama has any chance at signing Thibodeaux, getting him on campus is the first step, and the Tide will make that happen next week. We’ll see if Alabama does enough to get an official visit from Thibodeaux.

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