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Stephen's Report

Alabama’s 2016 recruiting class, five players to watch for this fall

Alabama DT Kendell Jones (Photo via Twitter- @HULKJONES50)

Needs on both sides of the ball will be addressed this spring, despite Alabama returning many pieces from its 2015 national championship roster.

Head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide brought in its eighth top-3 recruiting class, dating back to 2008. Its signing class for 2016 finished No. 1, per Rivals, Scout and 247 Sports.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts, offensive tackle Jonah Williams and defensive linemen Kendell Jones are all headline names, yet competition will decide who emerges as a starter in the fall.

Yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine has compiled a list of players from Alabama’s 2016 class that are set to make an immediate impact.

5. B.J. Emmons–Running Back

Summary: Emmons possesses a lot of skills in his 5-foot-10, 232-pound frame. A native of Morgantown, N.C., he was the lone running back Alabama signed in this year’s class.

Emmons was productive during his senior year at Freedom High School, recording 2,417 yards and 41 total touchdowns. He is tough running between tackles, but has the quickness to break to the outside.

Northridge High School alum Bo Scarbrough will enter the 2016 season as a sophomore. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Tuscaloosa native is set to carry the load as the Crimson Tide’s featured back.

Damien Harris would serve as the second back in Alabama’s rotation; however, a strong outing in summer workouts and fall camp could push Emmons past Harris. Harris recorded 157 rushing yards and a touchdown on 46 carries last season.

4. Shyheim Carter– Cornerback

Summary: Alabama signed three talented cornerbacks– Nigel Knott, Jared Mayden and Shyheim Carter– yet it was Carter that made the most noise on National Signing Day.

He had once de-committed from the Crimson Tide, before ultimately coming back and signing with it on Feb. 3.

A unanimous four-star prospect, Carter is one of the top cornerback recruits in the nation. He was a threat on offense and defense at Kentwood (La.) High School in 2015.

Carter threw for 2,443 yards, rushed for 1,648 yards and total 30 touchdowns.

On defense, he recorded 57 total tackles and five interceptions. He competed in the 2016 Under Armour All-America and Nike’s “The Opening” in 2015. Cornerback will be a strong suit for Alabama next season as it returns Marlon Humphrey, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Tony Brown.

All three players showcase good coverage skills and mental toughness en route to playing a freshmen. Carter, 6-foot, 190 pounds, has a chance this fall to come in make waves.

3. Jalen Hurts– Quarterback

Summary: The notion is redshirt freshman Blake Barnett will start quarterback, but there is something special about Jalen Hurts. Hurts, like Barnett, enrolled early and was tasked with emulating Clemson’s quarterback Deshaun Watson during Alabama’s national title game prep.

Regardless of whether he wins the starting job, Hurts will see playing time off talent alone.

He is a unanimous four-star prospect that was listed as the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat quarterback, according to 247 Sports. ESPN and Scout recruiting sites both ranked Hurts as the nation’s top-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the state of Texas. He totaled 4,929 passing yards, 2,342 rushing yards and 91 touchdowns in two seasons at Channelview High School.

2. Kendell Jones– Defensive Line

Summary: With A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed and D.J. Pettway all gone, Kendell Jones has a chance to step in and start on Alabama’s defensive line as a freshman. He is a consensus four-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals and 247 Sports, yet Scout ranks him as a five-star defensive tackle.

Jones earned the nickname “Hulk” by being one of the largest athletes in the 2016 recruiting cycle. He has some qualities that similar former Crimson Tide standout Terrence Cody.

A native of Killeen, Texas, Jones accounted for 57 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss and four sacks during his junior and senior seasons (2014-14) at Shoemaker High School. Standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing 350 pounds, Jones was a load to deal with in the Under Amour All-America Game.

1. Charles Baldwin– Offensive Line

Summary: Coach Saban typically signs the best players that junior college have to offer, and Charles Baldwin is no exception. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive lineman is widely regarded as one of the nation’s top offensive tackle prospects. He attended Windsor High School in Connecticut and ASA College in Brooklyn, N.Y. Baldwin is a five-star prospect according to both Rivals and Scout recruiting networks. He earned second team NJCAA All-American honors during his sophomore year in 2015. With Dominick Jackson departing to the National Football League, Baldwin is expected to start at right tackle this spring.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama MagazineYou can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future

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