Nick Saban is ready to get his hands on another talented crop of incoming freshmen when the Crimson Tide begins fall camp on Friday.
The fruits of Nick Saban’s labor on the recruiting trail are one of the biggest reasons Alabama is a favorite to repeat as national champions—despite heavy personnel losses from a year ago.
While several players from the 2011 recruiting class will be major contributors this fall, the early returns from 2012’s top-rated class seem positive—with eight early enrollees taking part in spring drills.
Tide supporters have already been subjected to the talents of players like running back T.J. Yeldon and receivers Amari Cooper and Chris Black.
However, the rest of their classmates have arrived and taken part in offseason workouts, but the real fun begins in less than 24 hours when they hit the practice fields with their teammates for the first time as college athletes for the beginning of fall camp.
Which newcomers are Tide fans dying to catch a glimpse of?
Here are five true freshman Alabama fans are eager to see.
Jones is a 4-star athlete capable of contributing as a receiver on offense, or as a corner on defense.
Figuring out the landing spot for the Under Armour All-American will be the first order of business, but his biggest value could come from his ability to make an impact as a return man.
The explosive athlete was the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011 after accounting for more than 1,500 yards of total offense and 19 touchdowns, with five interceptions and four touchdowns on special teams helping showcase his versatility.
Being that Jones can impact a game in a myriad of ways, there will surely be some added intrigue surrounding his debut season with the Crimson Tide.
Smith is the lone pure corner brought in from the 2012 class, but he was one of the top players nationally at that position.
With a cornerback unit loaded with upperclassmen, Smith will likely find the going tough to get a substantial amount of playing time.
However, he is talented enough to fight his way onto the field as a backup—perhaps in the Tide’s nickel and dime looks.
Smith has the size and coverage skills that Saban is famous for molding into lock-down corners—which makes his first action on the college level worth following.
One of the top inside linebacker prospects for the class of 2012, Ragland—who stands at 6’3”, 245 pounds and runs 4.6 in the 40-yard dash—is physically capable of stepping in and playing as a true freshman.
The Under-Armour All-American led his high school to a state title in basketball as a junior—which serves as another example of his freakish athleticism.
Ironically, that trait could lead Saban and the Tide’s defensive staff to move Ragland around in an effort to gauge where his talents would be best utilized.
Now that the hoopla surrounding his recruitment has subsided, Tide fans can finally focus on the abilities a presence like Collins brings to the field.
The top safety in the county according to 247 Sports, Collins also rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 21 touchdowns during his senior season.
With an opportunity to make a move up the depth chart and possibly find the field as a backup to senior Robert Lester, the upcoming practices will be crucial to his development.
Williams was rated as a 5-star athlete, with safety and wide receiver being his two most likely landing spots on the college level.
It appears that he will start his Crimson Tide career on offense—with his 6’3”, 204-pound frame representing a big and physical target capable of adding a different dimension to Alabama’s passing attack.
On a team searching for new offensive playmakers to emerge, plugging in a talent of Williams’ caliber should provide a much-needed jolt to the wide receiver unit.