A recruitment that seemingly favored the Texas Longhorns down the stretch and throughout the recent months came to an unfortunate close on Wednesday afternoon, as elite Longview wide receiver Jalen Hale announced his commitment to the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Four ⭐️ #Rivals100 WR Jalen Hale (@JalenHale8) committed to Alabama today in front of friends & family.— Brandon Howard (@BHoward_11) September 21, 2022
Alabama was apparently in control for the last several months & it was all a matter of making things official.
Hale is the 21st four-star or higher to join the fold. #RTR pic.twitter.com/VJTKnxa8gR
In addition to the Longhorns, Hale left the Georgia Bulldogs on the outside looking in.
To be sure, despite the Texas A&M Aggies hosting Hale for his final official visit over the weekend for their win over the Miami Hurricanes, this recruitment was essentially a head-to-head battle between the Tide and Horns since the late summer. There was some reason for optimism on Alabama’s side early in the month after he officially visited Tuscaloosa for their season-opening blowout win over Utah State, but by in large, this felt like Texas’ recruitment to lose, especially in the final days.
But that’s all Alabama needed to swing things in its favor.
In fact, when all signs seemingly pointed to Austin with a variety of projection picks being placed in favor of Texas, things took a turn the night before his decision, starting with some initial reports and ending with picks being flipped in favor of Nick Saban’s program.
It’s unclear what led to the late change of plans for Hale, but an obvious answer could be early playing time. For an Alabama program that’s become a wide receiver factory over the years, 2022 seems to be an exception, and that was on full display when Hale was on hand for Texas’ 20-19 loss to the No. 1 Tide. Meanwhile, in Austin, Hale would be likely be facing as least a year in a reserve role.
Then, of course, there’s the simple reality that oftentimes when Alabama applies a full-court press, Saban and his staff get who they want. That proved true yet again on Wednesday.
As for Texas, they’ll likely continue to push for Hale until he puts pen to paper, but the priority now becomes making a stronger push for Temple standout Mikal Harrison-Pilot.
As is, receivers coach Brennan Marion’s 2023 haul features five-star Johnny Cook II (DeSoto), four-star Ryan Niblett (Houston Aldine Eisenhower), and four-star Jonah Wilson (Houston Dekaney).