Saturday, July 2, 2022

Alabama recruiting: What four-star QB Eli Holstein’s commitment means for Tide’s pursuit of Arch Manning

Alabama got big recruiting news on Tuesday when Eli Holstein, a four-star prospect and the No. 54 overall player in the Class of 2023, committed to the Crimson Tide over LSU and Florida. Holstein announced his commitment in a video posted on Twitter.

Holstein, a 6-foot-4, 222-pounder from Zachary (Louisiana) High School, is the fifth-ranked player in the state and eighth-ranked quarterback in his class according to the 247Sports Composite. He had previously committed to Texas A&M, but pulled back on that pledge on March 18.

He had 3,228 yards, 30 touchdowns and six interceptions last year; and added 523 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. He led his team to a 15-0 record, the 5A state championship and was named the MaxPreps Louisiana Football Player of the Year after his junior season.

Gabe Brooks, midland region recruiting analyst for 247Sports, provided this scouting report on the newest member of coach Nick Saban’s recruiting class.

“Solidly built with the requisite height/size for the position,” Brooks wrote. “Good tester with proven athleticism in a combine setting. Effective in the short-to-intermediate passing game thanks to plus velocity. Typically accurate and consistent to those levels. Not a true dual-threat QB but a functionally athletic runner when necessary. More of a pocket/pro-style QB by nature who shows occasional improvisational ability when required. Ball placement is a strength and shows in games and 7-on-7 competition.

“Can push the ball downfield but sometimes needs to load up to do so. Field athleticism does not always reflect testing data. Brings the ball a bit low at times. May not have the high-end upside of some other quarterbacks in his class, but seems to be a particularly high-floor QB prospect with the potential for a safer long-term trajectory. High-major QB prospect who will arrive in college ready to compete from a physical standpoint.”

Holstein is Saban’s fourth commitment during the current recruiting cycle. That class is currently ranked No. 25 in the country in the 247Sports Composite. 

What does his commitment mean? Here are a few key takeaways:

Does this impact recruitment of Arch Manning?

Alabama had been squarely in the mix for the top prospect in the current recruiting class, but Holstein’s commitment could indicate that Saban is out of the running to secure Manning’s services. Manning, who hails from Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, has been connected to Georgia and Texas in addition to Alabama, and has official visits set up with all three according to his 247Sports timeline

There are no crystal ball predictions for Manning quite yet, but it’s not like Alabama hands out offers to quarterbacks like candy on Halloween. It’s reasonable to assume that, at least as of now, Manning doesn’t have the Crimson Tide on the top of his list.

If that’s the case, Holstein is a pretty darn solid consolation prize.

Bama is turning into QBU

It wasn’t long ago when Alabama was viewed as an old-school, smash-mouth program that relied heavily on game-changers instead of difference-makers under center. That has drastically changed over the last decade. It has become a position of strength lately, including Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones and 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young

Holstein clearly recognizes what that means and, more importantly, how Saban prepares his quarterbacks for collegiate and professional success in what has become an offensively-driven sport.

Sure, there are other QB factories out there — namely Ohio State and Clemson. But Alabama is on par with them, and could earn that moniker outright if Holstein turns into a superstar.

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