Posted on: January 6, 2012 1:20 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 1:20 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Talented recruits from across the across the country descended on Tropicana Field for the fifth-annual Under Armour All-American Game and just like past events, there was plenty of drama.
Off the field.
The verbal commitments that take place at the game, televised nationally on ESPN, are one of the draws of the event but the focus is usually on how well the two squads of four- and five-star recruits perform against each other. With a blowout win for Team Blur, 49-16, putting the game in the books well before halftime, attention naturally turned to the biggest announcement of the evening in Blur and Geismar (La.) safety Landon Collins.
Ranked by MaxPreps as the #1 safety in the country and #12 player overall in the class of 2012, the talented Collins was expected to end a tough battle between national title contenders Alabama and LSU.
"I'm going to go Roll Tide Roll," Collins said, putting on an Alabama hat. "I just love the coaches and the coaching staff."
What happened next however, was yet another 'only in recruiting' stories. Collins mother, April, visibly was not happy with the decision and gave an extremely awkward interview following her son's commitment.
"I feel that LSU is a better place for him to be," April Collins said. "LSU Tigers #1. Go Tigers."
The interview overshadowed the 6-foot-1, 205-pound safety's great performance on the field. Collins intercepted BYU commit Tanner Mangum's pass in the middle of the second quarter and racked up four tackles on the night, including a vicious hit that stood up running back and Maryland commit Wes Brown at the goal line to prevent a touchdown.
Collins, on and off Tropicana Field, produced some of the only highlights for Team Highlight. Clad in black uniforms, the squad got off to a bad start by allowing a 75-yard touchdown pass from Florida State-bound quarterback Jameis Winston to speedy Alabama commit Amari Cooper.
"Practice was great and going up against this great competition was just another way to get better before college," Cooper said after the game.
Team Highlight had issues on offense all night, turning the ball over five times and finishing with just 260 yards of offense.
Part of the problem was their lack of quarterback play. Texas commit and top 100 signal-caller Connor Brewer suffered a mild concussion and Miami-bound quarterback Preston Dewey was held out to an injury suffered earlier in the week. As a result, Mangum ended up switching teams at halftime and donning a black #20 jersey with 'Under' on the nameplate.
"That's my new name for the week I guess," Mangum said with a smile. "It was pretty interesting to play for both teams but you just try to go with the flow and do the best that you can."
Mangum finished 5-of-8 for 60 yards and an interception for Team Blur and 2-of-7 with two picks for Team Highlight. Though the final stat line wasn't pretty - he was under siege by the defensive lines most of the night - the opportunity to be the all-star, all-time quarterback was a pretty special experience.
"I guess you could say that," he said. "I didn't expect that when I woke up this morning."
Recent Georgia pledge Keith Marshall led Blur in rushing with 37 yards and added a touchdown while Miami commit Randy Johnson led Highlight with 50 yards on the ground. Winston was named team MVP after completing 8-of-9 for 178 yards and two touchdowns while Mangum was named MVP on the other side.
Oklahoma commit De'Vante Harris was one of four players on Team Blur to have seven tackles, tied with recently committed Ole Miss defensive end Channing Ward who also added two sacks to his total. Playing out of position at defensive tackle, uncommitted recruit Jordan Jenkins led all defenders with eight tackles and had two sacks. Teammate and future Ohio State Buckeye Noah Spence was a terror at the defensive end position and finished with seven tackles and three sacks.
"Both of them are really good," Mangum said, with emphasis, when asked to compare the two defenses. "They have really good players and it didn't really matter what team I was on. It was fun to be here in this environment though."
Cooper added a 93-yard punt return early in the 4th quarter to get the near-record crowd on its feet. The return set the record for the longest punt return for a touchdown in the game's history and tied teammate and Florida-bound cornerback Brian Poole’s 93-yard interception return as the longest touchdown play.
Mangum, who will go on a two-year Morman mission and was playing in his last football game for at least that long, the experience was a once and a lifetime opportunity and one he'll remember for years to come.
"it was a great learning experience that I can take back and learn from," he said. "It was a great test and I'll take a lot from it."
Including, perhaps, to keep your mother happy.
Posted on: January 5, 2012 10:38 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 12:23 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- There's nothing harder to do in recruiting than pull a highly ranked player out of LSU's back yard but it appears that's just what Nick Saban has done. Geismar (La.) safety Landon Collins made things official at the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game and surprisingly committed to Alabama.
"I'm going to go Roll Tide Roll," Collins said. "I just love the coaches and the coaching staff."
"It's a big weight off.
Things were slightly awkward after the top safety put on the crimson Alabama hat on national television however. Collins mother, April, verbally disagreed with the decision and said that the Tigers were the number one team and where he should be committing to.
"My mom is not going to affect my decision," he said. "I made up my mind two years ago."
Collins informed his mother the decision last week but kept it a secret beyond immediate family members. This included coaches from both schools, undoubtedly watching from New Orleans, with Saban and his staff likely much, much happier than his mother.
"It was kind of funny to me since I knew how she felt already when I told her," Collins said. "She felt kind of bad. She wasn't about to come (to the game) because of my decision. She's genuinely upset, it's not a show."
When asked if his mother could talk him out of the decision by Signing Day, the answer was quite blunt from the top safety.
"No," he said. "Maybe (she'll try). Probably."
April Collins isn't likely to be the only person in the home state upset with the decision. The Tigers have typically had top players on lockdown and rarely do they end up someplace other than Baton Rouge - one of the few notable examples was when number one overall player Joe McKnight left for USC. Collins is confident in his decision though and knows that the support will still be there from those that know him best.
"I'm expecting a lot of backlash," Collins said. "But a lot of people said they'd support me wherever I'd go. I'm not really worried about it, it's my life and my decision and I'm going to have to live it and not them."
Collins was one of the top performers at the annual all-star game, picking off a pass and making a big hit near the goal line to prevent a score. Just days away from the national championship, plenty of Alabama fans were able to get a glimpse of someone who they're hoping can get them back to the title game and make a similar impact - as soon as next season.
"I'm getting playing time no matter what," Collins said. "I'm going to play safety and if I do my thing, I'm going to be a starting safety. I'm planning on going to start at nickel."
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound defensive back took in the 'Game of the Century' between the two schools in November on an official visit to Tuscaloosa and went to LSU in early December. It was pretty much a race between just the two programs for most of the year with the Tide ending up with the talented Louisiana safety.
"I love the place, I always felt at home when I went there," he said. "I love the coaching staff, I love the players and I just wanted to get out of Louisiana I guess.
"I wanted to go to LSU at one point but I decided to go to Alabama to get out of town and see something new."
Collins was selected as the state's 'Mr. Football' after a senior campaign which featured 45 tackles and four interceptions (two for touchdowns) on defense and over 1,200 yards and 21 touchdowns as a running back on offense.
“He’s just a special athlete," Dutchtown coach Benny Saia told MaxPreps. “He makes big things happen.”
Ranked as the top safety in the country by MaxPreps, the five-star is 12th overall in the class of 2012. Collins becomes Alabama's 26th commitment with less than a month to go before Signing Day. Athlete Cyrus Jones committed to the Crimson Tide earlier in the evening.
Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:29 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
It's getting down to crunch time on the recruiting trail, with just over a month until National Signing Day. With most of the Holiday season over with and attention turned to the new year, things are about to pick up even more as the decommits, recommits and surprises start happening.
The Eye on Recruiting has already given you some players ticketed for a rise on offense and defense in the recruiting rankings and now it's time to cast a critical eye on the teams that are looking to move up and a few that could be on their way down.
Team rankings movers
Is there a better recruiter than Nick Saban? Currently, it's hard to argue with the man's success on the field and on the recruiting trail. He could be putting together an all-time great class in 2012 and just recently added lineman Alphonse Taylor and highly regarded running back T.J. Yeldon. Though they already have a quarterback in Alec Morris, the Tide are heavily pursuing dual-threat signal-caller Jameis Winston, one of the best players in the state and at his position, and top safety Landon Collins. If they can add Winston and close in on a few other top targets, Saban's team could vault to the top of the team rankings when everybody signs on the dotted line.
In just a short amount of time, Urban Meyer has made his presence felt in Columbus and nationally thanks to his recruiting acumen. The biggest splash has been made along the defensive line, where's he's grabbed commitments from the number three player in the country Noah Spence, tackle Tommy Schutt and end Se'Von Pittman. Though the NCAA handed out a bowl ban to the program, that probably won't deter too many recruits and playing for Meyer will be enough for some of them. They could land top 100 players like offensive tackle Jordan Diamond and athlete Davonte Neal so expect the Buckeyes to close well.
The Irish and Brian Kelly put together a great group of defensive lineman last year and appear to have a balanced group of quality players at every position this year. California commits Deontay Greenberry and Tee Shepard seem solid and can make an impact right away after getting aclimated to South Bend. As is usual for Notre Dame, plenty of top recruits like Nelson Agholor, Arik Armstead and Gunner Kiel have the Irish on their short list and could turn a good class into a great one.
The Trojans' great year in 2011 has proven they're one of the few schools who can shake off harsh NCAA sanctions and still play and recruit well. Lane Kiffin has a plan to deal with scholarship reductions and it will be put to the test in 2012 with 2012 being the first class limited to 15 players. USC has already signed a few top players early, such as linebacker Scott Starr and top JUCO safety Gerald Bowman. They have a chance at some top national guys Agholor and Andrus Peat so it's possible for it to be a small but great recruiting class for the Trojans.
Like their Pac-12 counterparts, the Bears could come on strong late with some top recruits. They're in good position to land Armstead and most consider five-star safety Shaq Thompson a lock to go to Berkeley. Ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi is a tremendous recruiter and with a great year out West for talent, should do pretty well. Cal's current group of commits, with quarterback Zach Kline and wide receiver Bryce Treggs, is a good start.
Team rankings shakers
This is still a very good group of players but there's no doubt that the Seminoles class has taken hit in the past few weeks - thanks in large part to Alabama. Defensive end Chris Casher is a solid building block but future teammate Mario Edwards is looking hard at Oklahoma and Texas. Losing Winston would be a huge blow and there's a slim chance some, like Dante Fowler and Mario Pender, could pull a switch on Signing Day. Jimbo Fisher has done very well with the 2012 class but fans have a reason to be a little nervous at how they'll close.
A 6-6 season and losing offensive coordinator (and noted recruiter) Charlie Weis to Kansas have caused the Gators to slip a little. It still looks like they'll be a lock for a top 10 class come February with so many top 100 recruits but there's no doubt the uncertainty surrounding the program could come back to bite them. The loss of Weis in particular could hurt with possible pledges like Agholor and put a damper on Will Muschamp's first full recruiting class. Expectations are high with Meyer doing what he's doing in Columbus so a class that isn't filled with five-stars will further the perception that the program is slipping a bit.
Will there be a meltdown on the Plains? It seems as though things haven't been going the Tigers' way recently with rival Alabama in the national championship game and stealing top commit in Yeldon. On top of that, defensive coordinator Ted Roof is gone and big time offensive coordinator Guz Malzahn surprisingly moved on to a head coaching job. This is still a very good class but they'll need to hold the current group together as well as snag a few top recruits to help reload an already young team.
Teams sitting pretty
Mack Brown has pulled in some impressive recruiting classes to Austin but this may be his best yet. The country's top running back and second-ranked wide receiver are headed to the 40 Acres and the depth of the group is one of the reasons why the Longhorns are the top ranked team in the latest Maxpreps rankings. There's no doubt that they should finish among the top three but it still remains to be seen if they can keep the top spot. Texas isn't completely done recruiting and could add a few impact players between now and Signing Day.
Brady Hoke put together the bulk of this class before even coaching a game and has occupied the top team spot for most of the year. From top-to-bottom this might be the best class in the country with plenty of players who should come in and make an impact early The Wolverines have seemingly filled all their holes and are still in the running for a few national recruits that could bolster their ranking so Michigan definitely has a shot at being ranked as the best.
Mora turning heads in Westwood
As soon as Jim Mora was hired in Westwood, the first question would be how well could the longtime NFL coach recruit at the college level? As it turns out, pretty well if early indications are to hold up in the future.
Mora's best recruiting job was the hiring of his assistants, notably ace recruiter Adrian Klemm, secondary coach Demetrice Martin and former Arizona State offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. The trio, among others, have plenty of West Coast ties and have allowed the staff to hit the ground running despite being hired so late in the game. Keep an eye on this group poaching a few recruits from the Sun Devils once-promising class as well as a few Los Angeles natives.
December has seen the Bruins' class add several good players. Defensive backs Marcus Rios and Ishamel Adams are two players who could play early on defense and landing linebacker Kenny Orjioke out of Atlanta is a solid get for the staff. For the most part, the commitments prior to the new staff have hung in and seem sold on the direction of the program.
Though they're not anywhere close to getting elite talent, the signs out of UCLA are encouraging for a relatively inexperienced staff. The problem in the past has not been about recruiting however, it's been talent development and in that area things are still TBD. Still, given the progress on the recruiting trail, the coaching change has given plenty of Bruin fans something to smile about in a relatively dour year.
Video of week
I'm headed out to the Rising Seniors Bowl in Atlanta this year, which features some of the top juniors (class of 2013) in the state of Georgia. Among the headliners this week is linebacker Reuben Foster, an Alabama commit and easily one of - if not the - top players at his position next year. Here's some of his highlights:
Tags: Adrian Klemm, Alabama, Alec Morris, Alphonse Taylor, Andrus Peat, Arik Armstead, Arizona State, Auburn, Brady Hoke, Brian Kelly, Bryce Treggs, Cal, California, Charlie Weis, Chris Casher, Dante Fowler, Davonte Neal, Demetrice Martin, Deontay Greenberry, Florida, Florida State, Gerald Bowman, Gunner Kiel, Guz Malzahn, Ishmael Adams, Jameis Winston, Jim Mora, Jimbo Fisher, Jordan Diamond, Kansas, Kenny Orjioke, Landon Collins, Lane Kiffin, Mack Brown, Marcus Rios, Mario Edwards, Mario Pender, Michigan, Nelson Agholor, Nick Saban, Noah Spence, Noel Mazzone, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pac-12, Reuben Foster, Rising Seniors Bowl, Scott Starr, Se'Von Pittman, SEC, Shaq Thompson, T.J. Yeldon, Ted Roof, Tee Shepard, Texas, Tommy Schutt, Tosh Lupoi, UCLA, Urban Meyer, USC, Will Muschamp, Zach Kline
Posted on: November 22, 2011 1:27 am
Edited on: November 22, 2011 2:40 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
We're a little over two months away from Signing Day and with the end of the regular season - both high school and college - approaching, now's a good time to survey recruits in the top 50 and look at who they're considering and where they might end up. The list will see plenty of players verbally commit in January with several all-star games and the pressure to publicly announce so don't be surprised to see this list shrink quickly.
Oregon loses but still wins the weekend
It wasn't a great Saturday for Oregon fans after USC's upset win in Eugene but spirits were brightened as soon as they heard junior Beaverton (Ore.) running back Thomas Tyner committed to the program.
The 6-foot, 210-pound junior was at the game and made his pledge known on Twitter later on. Tyner will be ranked as one of the top backs on the West Coast in 2013 after rushing for 1,821 yards and 19 scores last season.
Running back Byron Marshall also committed to Oregon this week giving the Ducks a combo of speedsters to plug into Chip Kelly's offense. A good weekend despite the loss for the program and it just goes to show that, in cases like Tyner's, atmosphere is just as important as winning a big game. It's one reason why most head coaches don't mind inviting plenty of players in if a top ranked team is in town. In many ways, it's hard to lose if the stadium is rocking.
Rich Rodriguez hires will be important but will do well at Arizona
News broke late Monday night that former Michigan and West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez was hired by Arizona. I'd agree with my colleague Dennis Dodd that the hire is a home run. Mike Stoops wasn't a bad recruiter but his staffs did miss on a few players and never seemed to get a marquee in-state recruit. Southern California and Texas were two areas where the Wildcats did well in and expect much of the same under RichRod.
Though his tenure in Ann Arbor didn't end well, Rodriguez still proved he could evaluate and recruit - landing several top 25 classes despite mounting losses. His background has been on the East Coast but he's got connections to Florida and should do well in attracting players to his spread offense. Two priorities when building his staff need to be addressed first however: a good defensive coordinator and someone with West Coast ties.
There's a lot of flash surrounding the hire and Rodriguez has had success just about everywhere he's been outside of Michigan so expect recruits in 2012 to take notice but with Signing Day so close, this hire will make an impact on the class of 2013. With instability at Arizona State and possibly at UCLA plus USC hampered by scholarship reductions, there's a chance he could make a splash and leave his mark early in Southern California.
Video of the week
Some highlights of Oregon's latest pledge.
Tags: Alabama, Andrus Peat, Arik Armstead, Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, Barry Sanders, Byron Marshall, Cal, Chip Kelly, Darius Hamilton, Davonte Neal, Dorial Green-Beckham, Eddie Goldman, Ellis McCarthy, Florida, Florida State, Gunner Kiel, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Joel Caleb, Jordan Diamond, Josh Garnett, Keith Marshall, Kwon Alexander, Landon Collins, LSU, Mario Edwards, Michigan, Mike Stoops, Nelson Agholor, Noah Spence, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Quay Evans, Rich Rodriguez, Rutgers, Shaq Thompson, Stanford, Stefon Diggs, Texas, Thomas Tyner, UCLA, USC, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Zach Banner
Posted on: November 8, 2011 10:37 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
- #1 overall recruit Dorial Green-Beckham advanced in a close playoff game.
Good overview of the top uncommitted talent in the state of Louisiana, including an LSU/Alabama battle for Landon Collins.
Safety Lucas Thompson, an Under Armour All-American, has East Carolina as a favorite.
Recruits and their families will have plenty of questions for Penn State.
Georgia commit Blake Tibbs is making his case to be the top wide out in the state.
Posted on: November 4, 2011 5:49 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 5:52 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Just a few weeks ago, recruitniks were impressed with the quality and quantity of high level recruits that were in South Bend for the USC-Notre Dame game. Several people termed it Brian Kelly's 'Super Bowl.'
This Saturday is college football's actual Recruiting Super Bowl (well, not actual Super Bowl but as close as one gets in the regular season). On the sidelines, a truly star-studded cast, topping the century mark in terms of number of official and unofficial visitors. Though Nick Saban and his staff will no doubt be occupied with the team in purple and gold, they'll be spending some time hosting the biggest recruiting weekend Tuscaloosa has seen in years.
The biggest visitor coming in is five-star safety Landon Collins. Both LSU and Alabama are battling for his services but it will be tough to lure him out-of-state. A big win over the Tigers and an impressive visit however, might be enough to leave a lasting impression that will pay off on Signing Day. Collins isn't the only five-star or big name headed in for the game though, as illustrated by the partial list below.
DT/OT Arik Armstead
WR Amari Cooper, Alabama commit
DB Landon Collins
LB Noor Davis, Stanford commit
DB Travell Dixon, JUCO
DT Eddie Godlman
DE Jordan Jenkins
OT Avery Young
LB Kwon Alexander
DE Torshiro Davis, LSU commit
DE Denzel Devall
DB Trae Elston
DT Quay Evans
TE Kurt Freitag
DT Issac Gross, Ole Miss commit
OT Brandon Hill
QB Jeremy Liggins
RB Barry Sanders Jr.
DT Justin Shanks, Florida State commit
DB Dwayne Thomas, LSU commit
DT Dalvin Tomlinson
DL Channing Ward
DE Jamichael Winston, Arkansas commit
DB P.J. Williams, Florida State commit
QB Jameis Winston, Florida State commit
RB T.J. Yeldon, Auburn commit
DE Ryan Anderson
DT Dakota Ball
WR Chris Black
RB Kenyan Drake
WR Casey Gladney
OL Brandon Greene
K Adam Griffith
OL Caleb Gulledge
LB Tyler Hayes
DT Darren Lake
LB Dillon Lee
QB Alec Morris
DT Darius Philon
LB Reggie Ragland
DB Geno Smith
ATH Justin Thomas
DB Eddie Williams
OL Bradley Bozeman, Alabama commit
DB Cameron Burrows
LB Reginald Carter
DB Antonio Conner
LB Rueben Foster, Alabama commit
RB Derrick Henry, Georgia commit
TE O.J. Howard, Alabama commit
DL Dee Liner, Auburn commit
QB Johnathon McCrary
DE Robert Nkemdiche
OL Lovell Peterson
WR Earnest Robinson
RB Kelvin Taylor (Alabama-Florida battle)
DB Tramel Terry
RB Altee Tenpenny
RB Sony Michel
WR Bo Scarborough
LB Tre Williams
DE Gerald Willis
Tags: Adam Griffith, Alabama, Alabama-LSU, Alec Morris, Altee Tenpenny, Amari Cooper, Antonio Conner, Arik Armstead, Arkansas, Avery Young, Barry Sanders Jr., Bo Scarborough, Bradley Bozeman, Brandon Greene, Brandon Hill, Brian Kelly, Caleb Gulledge, Cameron Burrows, Casey Gladney, Channing Ward, Chris Black, Dakota Ball, Dalvin Tomlinson, Darius Philon, Darren Lake, Dee Liner, Denzel Devall, Derrick Henry, Dillon Lee, Dwayne Thomas, Earnest Robinson, Eddie Goldman, Eddie Williams, Florida State, Geno Smith, Georgia, Gerald Willis, Issac Gross, Jameis Winston, Jamichael Winston, Jeremy Liggins, Johnathan McCrary, Jordan Jenkins, Justin Shanks, Justin Thomas, Kelvin Taylor, Kenyan Drake, Kurt Freitag, Kwon Alexander, Landon Collins, Lovell Peterson, LSU, LSU-Alabama, Nick Saban, Noor Davis, Notre Dame, O.J. Howard, Ole Miss, Quay Evans, Reggie Ragland, Reginald Carter, Robert Nkemdiche, Rueben Foster, Ryan Anderson, Sony Michel, Stanford, T.J. Yeldon, Torshiro Davis, Trae Elston, Tramel Terry, Travell Dixon, Tre Williams, Tyler Hayes, USC
Posted on: November 3, 2011 6:12 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2011 6:15 pm
Posted on: November 2, 2011 6:33 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
In case you haven't heard there is a, well, epic match up on CBS this week between Alabama and LSU in Tuscaloosa. As part of extensive coverage of both teams on CBSSports.com and CBS Sports Network, the Eye on Recruiting will be breaking down the biggest reason each team is thinking BCS national championship this year: the players they are recruiting.
Today we'll take a look at what Nick Saban is doing on the trail. The Tigers currently have 20 commitments for the class of 2012.
Team Ranking: 4th overall, 2nd in the SEC
Number of recruits: 19
Number of five-stars: One, cornerback Geno Smith.
Best position: Linebacker. Ryan Anderson, Tyler Hayes, Dillon Lee and Reggie Ragland.
Weakest position: Offensive lineman, one commitment.
Top recruit: #19 Geno Smith (left)
Sleeper: Defensive tackle Darren Lake.
Top target: #9 overall recruit Landon Collins.
Ever since Nick Saban signed on in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide have been in the running for the top recruiting class in the country. It's remarkable how consistently good they've recruited, grabbing a mix of five-star talent with solid in-state prospects that turn into high draft picks later. If there's an elite recruit somewhere in the country, chances are they have Alabama somewhere on their shortlist, especially on defense.
This year's class isn't complete by any means but is stacked with athletes that can run and that can hit. Geno Smith is the top ranked player committed to the Tide and should be an excellent fit in Saban's defensive system that has churned out an NFL corner just about every year. Safety Eddie Williams is a big safety who can roam the secondary and provide punishing hits while out-leaping opposing receivers for interceptions. No group is as deep as the linebackers the team is looking to sign in February. Dillon Lee is a big interior 3-4 linebacker who can drop quickly in coverage while Reggie Ragland is another polished linebacker that fits the mold of a Courtney Upshaw or Dont'a Hightower. This class is heavy on defense and, frankly, loaded on that side of the ball.
Offensively, wide outs Chris Black and Amari Cooper are not Julio Jones physically but are super fast and quick - just the type of player you want to get into open space so they can score. There's a few athletes, such as Justin Thomas, who could play multiple positions while Kenyan Drake could be the next in line at the running back position to impress with a great blend of speed and power. They didn't land top quarterback Gunner Kiel the first time but have a solid replacement in Alec Morris, who is a big signal-caller at every bit of 6-foot-3, 240-pounds.
The one glaring need for this class is probably at offensive line. That is normally a position the staff has done a great job with but this year it seems to be lacking, with only Brandon Greene committed at the position. Don't be surprised if the school doesn't sign at least one additional tackle if not more.
Heading into the home stretch of this recruiting cycle, Saban is looking to do what he does best: close. With Pete Carroll and Urban Meyer no longer coaching college football, it's fairly easy to say that he's the best recruiting coach in the country. It remains to be seen how hard they'll go after Kiel now that he's back on the market but there's certainly a chance after the Tide lost another highly ranked quarterback, Jameis Winston, to Florida State. Running back Keith Marshall, Barry Sanders Jr., wide receiver Dwayne Stanford, offensive tackle Avery Young, defensive end Jordan Jenkins, tackle Armond Armstead and cornerback Tracy Howard are some other top targets remaining on the board the program is heavily pursuing. Safety Landon Collins will be in Tuscaloosa this weekend for an official visit and a win could go a long way in him putting on crimson instead of purple and gold.
As big a game as this will be Saturday, it is also one of the biggest recruiting weekends of the season for the Alabama coaches. Nick Saban already has a great group committed in 2012 and certainly will add to it between now and Signing Day.
Tags: Alabama, Alabama-LSU, Alec Morris, Amari Cooper, Armond Armstead, Avery Young, Barry Sanders Jr., BCS, Brandon Greene, Chris Black, Courtney Upshaw, Darren Lake, Dillon Lee, Dont'a Hightower, Dwayne Stanford, Eddie Williams, Florida State, Geno Smith, Gunner Kiel, Jameis Winston, Jordan Jenkins, Julio Jones, Justin Thomas, Keith Marshall, Kenyan Drake, Landon Collins, LSU, LSU-Alabama, Nick Saban, Pete Carroll, Recruiting, Reggie Ragland, Ryan Anderson, Tracy Howard, Tyler Hayes, Urban Meyer