Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban is a solid recruiter. He and his staff are known for snatching the best players out of the grasp of LSU, Auburn and other schools around the nation. Florida has been Saban’s latest hotspot in the last couple of seasons. Alabama brought in safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Orlando, Fla.) in its 2011 recruiting class, wide receiver Amari Cooper (Miami, Fla.) in its 2012 class and wide receiver Chris Black (Jacksonville, Fla.) in its 2012 recruiting cycle. Incoming freshmen Calvin Ridley and Shawn Burgess-Becker represent a new wave of talent for Alabama from the sunshine state. Both players hail from Pompano Beach, Fla., and were recruited by Alabama’s offensive line coach Mario Cristobal.
Ridley, who stands at 6-feet, 170 pounds, was listed as a five-star prospect by 247 Sports. The site rated him as the nation’s No.1 receiver and No.11 overall recruit. He earned the nickname “Showtime” in his junior year, totaling 40 catches for 1,100 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2013. His age (19 years, 9 months) limited him to three games as a senior, but Ridley made the most out of a tough situation. He recorded 41 catches for 1,131 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014. Ridley competed in Nike’s “The Opening” competition in the summer of 2014. He met Alabama’s quarterback commit Blake Barnett and formed a friendship with him. Ridley earned most valuable player honors from the event, and recorded a 28-yard reception in the 2015 Under Armour High School All-America Game.
Burgess-Becker, standing at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, was rated as a four-star recruit by 247 Sports. He is listed as a safety/athlete, but his skill set could come in handy for Alabama at safety. He accounted for 63 tackles with five interceptions as a sophomore in 2012. Burgess-Becker saw action at running back and defensive back in 2013. He tallied 600 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Burgess-Becker put in 107 tackles and two interceptions at safety in his junior year. He played for Team Highlight in the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game. Burgess-Becker totaled four tackles with two solo stops, helping his team defeat Team Armour 46-6.
Shawn Burgess-Becker’s characteristics
- Hard hitter
- Solid ball skills
- Exceptional tackler
- Versatility (running back and safety)
- Comparison- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Summary: Ronnie Harrison and Deionte Thompson (now at wide receiver) were early enrollees, but Burgess-Becker will be a future stud under Saban and defensive backs coach Mel Tucker. He is a sound, technique player that will be an asset in Alabama’s secondary. With Landon Collins, Nick Perry and Jarrick Williams all pursuing NFL careers, Burgess-Becker has a chance to see action on the field in the fall. He may start on special teams, but he has the mindset to work his way into a role on defense.
Calvin Ridley characteristics
- Speed (4.5 seconds, 40-time)
- Solid hands
- Crisp route runner
- Balance, body control
- Comparison- Amari Cooper
Summary: Former Alabama receiver Amari Cooper has passed the torch to Calvin Ridley. Cooper gave Ridley his blessing to wear his No.9 jersey in the 2015 football season. Cooper had a stellar season in 2014, totaling 124 catches for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns. His career ends with 3,463 yards and 31 touchdowns on 228 catches.
Chris Black is the lone veteran returning in the fall at receiver, but Robert Foster and ArDarius Stewart are emerging. Ridley has an opportunity to come in this summer and contend for a spot. He has big play receiver written on him, and now it’s time for him to produce.
Calvin Ridley and Shawn Burgess-Becker were teammates at Monarch High school. Both players excelled on the field and make huge plays together. Alabama has provided them a chance to join forces again, but this time on the biggest stage in college football, Bryant-Denny Stadium. The phrase veni, vidi, vici is simple. It means I came, I saw, I conquered. Amari Cooper and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix both achieved success at Alabama. Chris Black looks for 2015 to be his breakout year. Will Calvin Ridley and Shawn Burgess-Becker find their niche in crimson and white?