The Alabama Crimson Tide is on top of the college football world having won three national championships the past four years. So what does the Tide need to do to stay on top?
After losing All-Americans like Eddie Lacy, Dee Milliner and Barrett Jones to the NFL draft this past year, it all comes down to the type of players head coach Nick Saban looks for in his recruits. For a program that has gone 63-13 in six seasons, the pressure is on to bring in the best talent around the country. The 2014 class for Alabama already has a handful of commitments, but these prospects could sustain the success Alabama fans are used to.
1. Da’Shawn Hand
WoodBridge High School (Virginia)
Strongside Defensive End
Saban composes his team of guys built early for the NFL, which is why it is easy to see De’Shawn Hand is a priority for the Alabama staff. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 247 pounds, Hand is exactly the size Saban looks for in his defensive ends. Hand has the ability to come onto any college campus and bring early contributions to the defensive end position. His understanding on how to evaluate situations on the defensive front and distinguish them quickly on the field is one of the main advantages he brings.
2. Leonard Fournette St.
Augustine High School (Louisiana)
Leonard Fournette has everything you want in a running back. Most prognosticators rate him as the No.1 ball carrier in the 2014 class and at 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, he is a running machine. He can set up defenders, has a good vision while running and can finish plays after contact. Often compared to Minnesota Viking running back Adrian Peterson, Fournette brings intensity and a knack for shedding arm tackles making it all look very easy to others. One can only imagine what kind of damage this player can do at the collegiate level.
3. Lorenzo Carter
Norcross High School (Georgia)
Weakside Defensive End
Coming out of Georgia in 2014, Carter is rated by most as the state’s No. 1 recruit. This 6-foot-5, 228-pounder runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds and is a top-notch athlete who has the size to play more than just one position. His length is one of his biggest strengths and uses it to keep the offensive linemen off his body. Carter has been known for having good footwork throughout his high school career. Bleacher Report says, “He would fit in best as a 3-4 outside linebacker and projects perfectly as an edge rush player in a two-point stance either on the line or over-hanged.”
4. Andrew Brown
Oscar Smith High School (Virginia)
Andrew Brown reigns out of Oscar Smith High School, which is known for breeding athletes like former backup quarterback Phillip Sims. Brown is known for his dominance in tackling and is quite the intimidator on the defensive line. He fires off the ball quickly, has great hands and his biggest asset is putting pressure on the offensive line. Look for Brown to get even faster as he continues to mature to the next level.
5. Cameron Robinson
West Monroe High School (Louisiana)
Robinson, a five-star prospect who is considered the top offensive line prospect in the country by both Rivals.com and 247 Sports, is currently on the fence about two major schools, Alabama and LSU. Not only is he large in stature, but he can move like the guys half his size which makes Robinson’s size easily his greatest credit. His 6-foot-6 body is never a disadvantage because he is strong, fast and surprisingly more flexible than the majority of the players he faces. Robinson is equipped with many attributes that any coach would want in an offensive tackle. The speed this player uses to get down the field and his athleticism is all quite extraordinary. At this year’s A-Day game, coach Saban spoke on having some weak spots with the offensive line proving that this recruit would be a great benefit for the Crimson Tide.
6. Marlon Humphrey
Hoover High School (Alabama)
Marlon, son of former Alabama running back and Denver Bronco Bobby Humphrey, has competitiveness written in his DNA. With his dad being a first-round draft pick and mom setting a 400-meter record in track at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Marlon has quite the ancestry to live up to and so far he hasn’t let anyone down. Humphrey’s size for his position is his biggest resource. His long arms, legs and length for coverage are most impressive. When looking at his film, his quickness at the snap and overall instincts are enough to have him at the top of multiple recruiting lists and the No.1 prospect in the state of Alabama
7. Bo Scarbrough
Northridge High School (Alabama)
Considered as one of the best athletes in the state of Alabama, Scarbrough missed much of his sophomore season due to injury, but was back in full force for his junior year while verbally committing to play for the Tide. He fulfills a great wish for many ‘Bama fans, standing at 6-foot-2, 221 pounds, and has been clocked in the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds. Scarbrough has played most of his high school career as a running back, but could play on the defensive side of the ball as well. While he is already impressive in size, he looks to gain another inch or two in the next year leaving the decision of his ultimate position up in the air, but no doubt he would be a tremendous competitor anywhere on the field.
8. Laurence Jones
Neville High School (Louisiana)
This five-star safety is considered a must for college coaches when it comes to defensive recruits in the 2014 class and his scholarship offers back that claim. Jones is a very intuitive defender who has the speed, stature and agility to make plenty of plays. He plays with great quickness and fierceness that translates to both run and pass defense. Jones proves his ability in opening his hips and runs with any wide receiver. He uses his length to cover any part of the field and breaks up any passes thrown his way. He is also a threat to run it back for a touchdown any time he gets his hands on the ball. While this recruit has yet to commit to a school, Jones would fit right in, following in the footsteps of former Alabama safety Robert Lester.
9. Ermon Lane
Homestead High School (Florida)
Five-star wide receiver Ermon Lane stands at 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, and is considered by many as the best receivers in the country. Not surprisingly, Lane has received a ton of offers from around the country including Florida State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Southern Cal. He flashes great speed and is known for being a quicker-than-fast type of athlete. Lane’s route-running ability and precision in his cuts creates separation from defenders and causes headaches for defensive coordinators. The Crimson Tide offense would benefit from the way he reaches his top acceleration with no struggle and his natural ability to catch the ball.
10. Shaun Dion Hamilton
Carver High School (Alabama)
Shaun Dion Hamilton has committed to the Crimson Tide and brings a great amount of ability to the program as a linebacker. He has good size at 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds and is often compared to 2013 Alabama linebacker recruit Reuben Foster. Hamilton has a quick first step off the snap and great instincts. His speed allows him to get down the field to the line of scrimmage at an accelerated pace and fills the hole quickly. He’s a tough, fundamental hitter who isn’t afraid to be physical at the exact moment of attack. Hamilton is good against the run and that is where he is looking to stand out and succeed on ‘Bama’s defense.