Alabama Recruiting 2015
-By Coach Rick Bouch
The inaugural 2014 College Football Playoff field is set and, as expected, the Crimson Tide are the top seed. Scattered among head coach Nick Saban’s roster are numerous four- and five-star recruits from around the nation. To continue the kind of success that the program expects, Saban and his staff must continue to bring in the nation’s best high school football players. That is the plan as the recruiting season heats up. Here is a look at the top 10 high school football players that Alabama must sign this offseason to continue its success.
The Top 5
#1) Daron Payne, DT (6-4, 325) Talent Rating: 90
Shades Valley HS (AL) Fit Rating: 97
Scout’s Take: Payne is a mammoth defensive tackle that would be a perfect fit at nose tackle in Saban’s 3-4 scheme. With more teams in the SEC spreading the field to run the football, Payne could become a force on a defense that is historically among the country’s best. The Tide’s rush defense is fourth in the nation this season and has not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season. Payne could help continue that streak.
#2) Byron Cowart, DE (6-4, 258) Talent Rating: 95
Armwood HS (FL) Fit Rating: 97
Scout’s Take: When you see Byron Cowart with his shirt off, you’ll wonder if he isn’t already on the ‘Bama roster. Cowart is a stud who can easily add another 20 to 25 pounds and not lose any of his 4.6-second 40-yard dash speed. He is an athletic defensive end in the mold of guys like Jadaveon Clowney, though not as big. Blessed with great strength and quickness, Cowart could be another key cog in continuing the success of Alabama defense.
#3) Martez Ivey, OT (6-6, 271) Talent Rating: 94
Apopka HS (FL) Fit Rating: 97
Scout’s Take: If there is one area where ‘Bama can improve this offseason, it is in the trenches on the offensive side of the ball. Ivey is hands-down the best offensive lineman in the country. At 6-6, he will easily put on another 30 pounds and can challenge to start as a freshman. He has a rare blend of size and quickness to go along with a mean streak. He is very athletic for a big man. The question is can the Tide staff lure him away from his home state of Florida.
#4) Calvin Ridley, WR (6-1, 179) Talent Rating: 90
Monarch HS (FL) Fit Rating: 94
Scout’s Take:Amari Cooper will be in the NFL a year from now. Ridley might make Tide fans forget about Cooper. Possessing absolutely ridiculous body control, Ridley makes play after play and makes it look easy. He can start and accelerate like no other and will be a great addition to the ‘Bama return game. Ridley will need to add some weight to his slight frame, but he is definitely the next great Alabama wide receiver. Ridley committed to the Tide back in April and Saban needs to make sure that commitment sticks.
#5) Soso Jamabo, RB (6-3, 210) Talent Rating: 90
Plano West HS (TX) Fit Rating: 94
Scout’s Take: This long-legged back is smooth, bringing back memories of another Texas great – Eric Dickerson. With 4.55 speed in the 40 and a stat sheet a mile long, Jamabo has an offer from the Tide, but he remains uncommitted. Leading rusher T.J. Yeldon is a junior who will likely be gone after this season and Derrick Henry will be a junior next season. Jamabo could be the next big, power Alabama running back.
The Next 5
#6)Roquan Smith, LB (6-2, 204) Talent Rating: 87
Macon County HS (GA) Fit Rating: 90
Smith is a quality hybrid that projects as a small WILL linebacker or possibly the next big strong or free safety at Alabama. Free safety Nick Perry is a senior and strong safety Landon Collins in a junior.
#7)Blake Barnett, QB (6-5, 200) Talent Rating: 90
Santiago HS (CA) Fit Rating: 97
Barnett committed to the Tide over the summer. It is hard to find quality pro-style QBs anymore with the advent of the spread offense. Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin need to make sure Barnett stays committed.
#8)Damien Harris, RB (5-10, 208) Talent Rating: 88
Madison Southern HS (KY) Fit Rating: 90
Harris is a low-to-the-ground power back in the mold of Mark Ingram. He visited Tuscaloosa over the Thanksgiving weekend. It never hurts to have a slew of quality running backs, especially with the type of offense that Saban prefers.
#9)Malik Jefferson, LB (6-3, 220) Talent Rating: 90
Poteet HS (TX) Fit Rating: 95
An amazing talent, Jefferson is big and has reportedly run under 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. The rest of the SEC as well as the Big 12 are after the talents of this linebacker.
#10) CeCe Jefferson, DE (6-3, 248) Talent Rating: 90
Baker County HS (FL) Fit Rating: 93
Jefferson is a pass-rushing defensive end extraordinaire. He has tremendous balance and strong hands. He may need to add weight to play as an every-down DE or could convert to an OLB in the Crimson Tide’s 3-4 scheme.
Da’Vante Phillips, WR (6-2, 202) Talent Rating: 87
Miami Central HS (FL) Fit Rating: 90
While Ridley is high on everybody’s list, Phillips is actually built more like Cooper and fits the profile of the big, tough receiver. He also has amazing leaping ability and is an above-average blocker, something very important at Alabama.
“The Coach” has served as an assistant coach at the high school and college levels and as a head coach at the high school level over the past 25 years. Coach is one of the most respected high school quarterback trainers in the Midwest and has worked with several Division I athletes. He is a freelance sports writer with a focus on high school, college, and professional football.