On the heels of landing four-star running back Altee Tenpenny from North Little Rock in the 2013 cycle, Alabama has returned to the state of Arkansas this cycle to swipe another top talent.
Defensive tackle Josh Frazier (Springdale, Ark./Har-Ber) committed to the Crimson Tide on Saturday over Texas A&M and in-state Arkansas. Frazier is a 6-foot-3, 330-pound athletic interior defensive tackle and is an excellent fit in Alabama's defensive scheme. He's the type of prospect that with the right development can clog the middle and make plays similar to the "zero technique" interior players they have had in the past. From a football scheme-fit standpoint, Frazier made an excellent decision.
I saw Frazier, the No. 8 defensive tackle prospect in 2014 according to 247Sports Composite rankings, during a trip to northwest Arkansas last March and while he's definitely all of 330 pounds, he's not carrying a whole lot of bad weight and is an excellent athlete for his size as he also is a standout basketball player. It was commit No. 22 for the Tide, which has pledges from 14 different states and the current No. 1 class for 2014.
Alabama receivers coach Billy Napier was Frazier's recruiter of record. By snagging the big defensive tackle, the 34-year old former Furman quarterback moved to No. 2 in the 247Sports Recruiter Rankings for the 2014 cycle. During a stint at Clemson from 2006-08, Napier was regarded as one of the top recruiters in the country under Tommy Bowden and current head coach Dabo Swinney. He has continued to show that ability in Tuscaloosa, particularly this cycle, landing offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, the No. 1 overall prospect, from West Monroe (La.), four-star receiver Cameron Sims from Ouachita Parish (La.), four-star quarterback David Cornwell from Norman (Okla.) North and three-star defensive tackle O.J. Smith from Bossier City (La.) Airline.
Napier may not be finished. He's also the lead recruiter for five-star safety Laurence "Hootie" Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) and has the Tide positioned well in a battle with in-state LSU. Jones honestly could be the prospect that decides the No. 1 class this cycle.
As good of a pick-up as Frazier was for the Crimson Tide, it's a tough pill to swallow for Arkansas, which has had a rough first season under Bret Bielema. It's always paramount to sign the lion's share of the talent within your state if you hope to compete at the highest level in the Southeastern Conference. The Razorbacks already have another four-star in-state defensive tackle, Bijhon Jackson of El Dorado committed and landing Frazier would have given them quite a stellar pair at the all-important position. It stings even more that Frazier was in such close proximity to the Fayetteville campus.
That being said, Arkansas has recruited well all things considered. The Razorbacks have the No. 31 overall class in this cycle and already have four verbal commitments for 2015- three of which are four-star rated in-state prospects. So losing Frazier, while it stings, is not the end of the world. This staff also was resourceful recruiting at Wisconsin and has proven to be the same during their short time in Fayetteville thus far. Simply put, they will go find players and get the roster where it needs to be.
One more interesting note on Alabama's 2014 class- the Tide now has three commits- Frazier, Cornwell and linebacker Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) from extremely close proximity to other major programs. Cornwell (Oklahoma) and Miller (South Carolina) were both lightly-recruited by the hometown teams, but it's still an interesting side note that Alabama has been so successful in the shadows of other major programs given that proximity in college football recruiting means so much. It's a testament to the recruiting reach that Nick Saban and company have established during their recent run of dominance. Up next could be swiping five-star cornerback Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate) from Maryland or linebacker Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala.) from Auburn.