I know I haven’t blogged in a while, because frankly, who cares what I think? Nonetheless, I like to look back on these blogs from time to time and see what I was thinking at the time. As you probably know, last Wednesday, February 5, was National Signing Day. NSD is a lot more fun than it used to be. Shula and Francione couldn’t recruit a drowning man into a life boat, but Coach Saban recruits with a passion, and after the way our season ended, it was clear that he and his staff were determined to replenish our talent pool with the most elite talent available. When all was said and done, we had the consensus Number 1 recruiting class, including 8 players that were listed as 5-star caliber on various services, with 6 of them being consensus 5-star picks from the prep ranks.
In keeping with my format from previous seasons, I’m going to rank what I consider to be our top ten signees. Also note that I’m only including prep signees, no JUCO transfers. That is particularly important this season, because we have three JUCO signees plus one transfer from FSU that should be extremely important to the team both this year and next year. Those players, Dominick Jackson (offensive lineman), Jarren Reed (nose tackle), DJ Pettway (DE), and Jacob Coker (QB), might all be starters next year; that’s how good they should be.
But rules are rules, so let’s get to my Top Ten.
10) Josh Frazier (DT) – Josh is considered the best prospect from the state of Arkansas, which makes two years in a row that we’ve signed the top prospect from that state. I struggled with this selection simply because it forced me to leave out others that really deserve to be here, but you know my penchant for DTs, so I had to include one of this caliber in my list. I don’t think he’ll contribute right away, but I think in 2015 or 2016 we’ll see him manning our nose tackle position. We really need someone to clog up the middle and stop the dive play, and Josh has the potential to be that person.
9) Ross Pierschbacher (OL) – Ross was the top prospect out of Iowa (yes, Iowa!), and a ferocious drive blocker. It’s really hard to compare the play of OLs to each other, but he reminds me of George Wilson from the early 90s. He is such a tenacious competitor that his attitude will hopefully rub off on the rest of the unit. I expect him to man one of the guard positions soon, maybe even replacing Steen this year.
8) Christian Miller (OLB) – Christian Miller is an outstanding outside linebacker prospect out of South Carolina. He’s more in the vein of a Sam than a Jack, but he has the versatility to play either. It’s also possible that he could move to the inside if he were to bulk up a little, but as a Sam, he’s the best prospect that we’ve had here in recent memory. 247 Sports lists him as a 5-star prospect, and ESPN lists him as the nation’s Number 2 OLB prospect (look farther down the list to see Number 1!).
7) Laurence “Hootie” Jones (S) – Hootie was one of the elite prospects out of Louisiana. We actually whiffed on some of our safely targets this year, which makes Hootie such an important member of this class. He has the ability to play either safety spot, but I think his size makes him more likely to play strong safety, and he might even trend down toward to line to play a hybrid linebacker position in certain sets. He played a lot of cornerback in high school, so he does have some cover ability. ESPN lists Hootie as a Top 25 overall national prospect.
6) Bo Scarbrough (RB/ATH) – Bo was an early commitment to our class, and despite rumor after rumor after rumor that he would flip to another SEC school he never actually waivered from his commitment, and was actually an important recruiter for several of our prospects as it got closer to signing day. This guy is a freak of an athlete. He’s listed as a RB, but he could be an All American at linebacker, and actually has the athleticism to play WR (and play it very well). I expect him to stay at RB, and after TJ and Kenyon leave for the NFL after this year, I think he and Derek Henry will be our 1-2 punch. ESPN lists him as a 5-star recruit, and the Number 12 player nationally. The fact that he is Number 6 on my list speaks volumes about the quality of this class.
5) Cameron Robinson (OL) – It might seem odd to have ESPN’s Number 3 overall prospect at Number 5 on my list, but when you see 1 through 4, you might understand. Big Cam is considered to be far and away the nation’s top offensive line prospect; some say the best in the last 10 years. Honestly, I don’t see any weaknesses in his game, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him starting Day 1 at one of the tackle positions. I think it will be a two man battle between him and JUCO transfer Dominick Jackson (the nation’s top JUCO prospect) for the coveted left tackle spot. Based on what I’ve seen, it’s a toss-up.
4) Tony Brown (CB) – Tony Brown is a consensus 5-star CB prospect with great size and track speed (so much so that he’s actually running track for our track team). He is the top prospect out of the state of Texas, and since he enrolled early, he will have all of spring practice to learn the defense. We’re losing our only good CB to the NFL, so I expect Tony to play, and probably start, immediately.
3) Marlon Humphrey (CB) – Marlon is the son of former Bama RB Bobby Humphrey. For the longest time, it looked like Marlon would be attending FSU, but when their defensive coordinator left, that seemed to seal the deal, and Marlon soon after committed to Bama. Like Tony Brown, Marlon is a consensus 5-star prospect, and he too will be running for the Bama track team. I also expect him to see the field as a freshman, perhaps starting Day One.
2) Rashaan Evans (OLB) – It’s not often that I’m surprised by a commitment, but Rashaan’s recruitment truly did come down to the wire, and I really thought he was going to pick Auburn. Luckily for us, he donned the Bama cap at his press conference, and we will have the privilege of watching him wreak havoc on opposing QBs for the next 3 years. Rashaan is perhaps the most athletic LB I’ve ever seen. He truly could play either safety position, and he even has the speed to play CB. He was the top Jack LB on our coach’s board, so they recognize what a difference maker he can and should be. He will also be instrumental in stopping the spread offenses that we’re seeing more and more. Rashaan was an indescribably huge signing day get.
1) Da’Shawn Hand (DE) – Da’Shawn is the nation’s Number 1 overall prospect according to Rivals, and really amped up the momentum of this recruiting class when he picked us over the perceived favorite Michigan in mid-November. Da’Shawn both could and should be the true edge rusher that we’ve been missing for so long. With him and Rashaan on the field, we should be terrorizing QBs and disrupting plays in the backfield on a consistent basis. We’ve had players develop into great pass rushers (Eric Curry, John Copeland), but I don’t think we’ve ever had anyone of this caliber coming out of high school. If he were on our team last year, we would have won our third consecutive national championship. I truly believe he can make that much of a difference.
I usually struggle to populate 10 truly outstanding prospects, but this year, the struggle was really narrowing it down to 10 from the 13 that I had in mind. I should at least mention the 3 that I left out; QB David Cornwell, the nation’s top center prospect J.C. Hassenauer, and OLB/S prospect Ronnie Clark. Really, these three would have probably made any of my previous lists, but I had to pare it down to 10. Anyway, keep your eye on these three also.
Overall, I have to give this class an A+. The talent is astounding across the board. The funny thing is that we actually missed on three guys that we were expecting, Zach Whitley (early commitment that surprised everyone by flipping to UCLA), C.J. Hampton (safety prospect that went to Ole Miss), and Jalon Tabor (5 star CB that went to Florida). All three of these guys visited on the same day, and rumor has it that somebody really screwed up on their visits, and heads have since rolled. With these three, the class would have been unspeakably great, but as it stands, we aren’t as strong at safety and middle linebacker as we were hoping. Somehow, I think we’ll manage!
So that’s it for now. I know I’m not blogging much anymore, so I don’t when or if I’ll post anything new. Nonetheless, feel free to send me any questions or comments.