Alabama Football Recruiting: Crimson Tide still pursuing elite defensive targets

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Alabama football currently has the top-ranked recruiting class in the 2023 cycle. The impressive haul is highlighted by five 5-star recruits in defensive backs Caleb Downs, Tony Mitchell, and Jahlil Hurley, along with running backs Justice Haynes and Richard Young. The common opinion is that Alabama is far from done in this class, and is still in pretty good shape with several elite targets, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

5-star edge rusher Keon Keeley is ranked as the seventh best player in the country and the top player at his position. Keeley, a former Notre Dame commit, decommitted from the Irish in August and has since been favored to land in Tuscaloosa. His recruitment has been fairly quiet in recent weeks, and seems like it will come down to Alabama, Ohio State, and Florida. Keon Keeley is an incredible athlete at 6’6” and nearly 250 pounds with loads of positional versatility. According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, he would be the Tide’s highest-graded commit if he pledged to Alabama Football.

5-star defensive tackle James Smith is considered to be the top player in the state of Alabama. The Montgomery product attends Carver High School and is ranked as the 16th best player nationally and the second best defensive lineman in the class. Smith could be the dominant interior defensive linemen that this Alabama class is sorely lacking.

5-star edge rusher Qua Russaw is Smith’s teammate at Carver, and the two have made it clear that they will play their college football together. Russaw is ranked as the 30th best player in the country, and the no. 5 edge rusher. Slightly undersized, Russaw has the build and athletic ceiling to be converted into an elite pass rusher, a la Will Anderson Jr. or Chris Braswell.

Qua Russaw alone would be a huge get for the Tide on the edge. He and Keeley together would form an elite tandem. This pair, in conjunction with already-committed 4-star Yhonzae Pierre, would give Alabama yet another elite class at the edge position. The Crimson Tide has dominated in recruiting the edge over the past four cycles.

Alabama is also heavily in the mix for 4-star linebackers Arion Carter and Suntarine Perkins. Carter is a fast-rising late bloomer that has been linked to the Tide for several weeks now. He recently made his decommitment from Memphis official. Perkins is an Ole Miss commit, but has been on flip watch to Alabama for months. The Rebels have survived several waves of the flip talk heating up, and will try to hold on to their highest-ranked recruit.

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Keon Keeley, James Smith, and Qua Russaw could cement the 2023 recruiting class for Alabama football as one of the greatest hauls of all time. With this trio, a loaded secondary class would suddenly be rivaled by an equally stacked front seven. Carter and Perkins, or even one of the two, would only add to the speed and athleticism of this defensive class.