Date: Tuesday, 07 March 2017
Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. Today, we discuss the latest with Texas offensive lineman Rafiti Ghirmai and 4-star defensive end Jarell Cherry.
One of the hottest recruits in the country will make his first trip to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday. It comes at a good time for Alabama because along with the Crimson Tide, Ole Miss, Oregon, Georgia, Arizona State, LSU and Michigan are some of the schools to offer Rafiti Ghirmai a scholarship in the past two weeks.
Ghirmai, a 3-star offensive tackle from Wakeland High School (Frisco, Texas), told SEC Country at the Dallas Opening regional this past weekend that Alabama, LSU, Florida, Texas and TCU are five schools that are standing out to him.
The Crimson Tide could stand out even more after his trip to Tuscaloosa.
“It’s Alabama. They are always No. 1. They breed their players like animals. It’s crazy,” Ghirmai said.
The 6-foot-5, 290-pound prospect said he’s hoping to build a better relationship with offensive line coach Brent Key while on the trip. He also wants to get a feel for the players and how they like being a part of the program.
Ghirmai had a chance to speak with Nick Saban for about 20 minutes on Feb. 27, which is when he got the offer from Alabama. He said he didn’t expect to get the Alabama offer, but he called it a “great honor.”
“I texted my brother immediately, and he was like, ‘Oh, my gosh! That’s sick. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,”’ Ghirmai said. “I wish he was coming with me to Alabama, but he’s got school stuff going on.
“Everyone looks at coach Saban like he’s a celebrity. It’s an honor that they are interested in me.”
The nation’s No. 26 offensive tackle has an interesting connection to one of Alabama’s main rivals.
Ghirmai’s parents are from Eritrea, which is a small country on the East African coast. LSU’s offensive line coach Jeff Grimes’ adopted daughter is from Ethiopia, which borders Eritrea.
With every school looking for the smallest edge over the next program, this connection could be a key one for the Tigers if they push for Ghirmai’s commitment down the road. He’ll visit Baton Rouge on March 18 for LSU’s junior day event.
“Me and coach Grimes have been talking for awhile,” Ghirmai explained. “He knows my African background. He has a little girl that he adopted from Ethiopia. I feel pretty good about that. He’s in with the culture, and I find that very cool.
“I like him and I like that program. I like Death Valley. I hear that it’s huge and I’ve heard that game day is outrageous there.”
Whenever an assistant coach leaves for a different job at a new school, there are usually several recruits who are affected by the change more than others. Jarell Cherry is one of those recruits who has been on the wrong end of the change.
Cherry, a 4-star defensive end/outside linebacker from Carter High School (Dallas), told SEC Country that he hasn’t heard from any Alabama staff member since former wide receivers coach Billy Napier left for Arizona State.
The 6-foot-3, 229-pound prospect said he doesn’t view Alabama any differently despite the lack of communication.
“They still fit in strongly,” Cherry said. “It’s been a little bit of a difference with some coaches leaving. They brought in some new coaches. I just hope that I can keep a strong bond with them as well. I know they have a lot to deal with, so I understand.”
The nation’s No. 7 weakside defensive end visited Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl this past November and said Alabama was one of his top schools at the time.
“I would say the speed that they have on defense stands out,” Cherry said. “They do have their linebackers rushing, and I do like to rush the passer.”
Like Ghirmai above, LSU is one of those schools very interested in Cherry. In fact, LSU coach Ed Orgeron himself is personally recruiting the defensive lineman.
Whenever the head coach gets involved in the day-to-day recruitment of a player, it automatically lets you know how that school views that player.
“He’s the head coach and he’s keeping the biggest eye on me, so it’s a great thing to be noticed by him,” Cherry said. “He’s looking at me to be an outside linebacker, but if not there, then probably a defensive end. I’m comfortable being an outside linebacker as well. Because of my speed, it can probably be accomplished.”
I would expect Alabama outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi to reach out to Cherry in the near future now that the Dallas area is one of his primary recruiting territories.
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All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.