There are a handful of players that Nick Saban pulled in the 2012 recruiting class capable of bursting onto the national scene this fall.
Reloading is a term that aptly describes what Nick Saban has been able to do consistently since he has been in charge of the Alabama program.
Saban’s ability to stockpile the nation’s best talent and develop them quickly is primarily the reason that Alabama will enter the 2012 season as a national title favorite despite losing five players selected in the first 35 picks of the 2012 NFL draft.
Despite a stacked roster, Saban was able to assemble a top-notch collection of the best high school talent available—with several stars capable and hoping to follow in the footsteps of recently departed and NFL-bound Tide legends.
Which incoming freshmen appear to be bound for stardom?
Here are five freshmen who will soon be household names.
Anderson and fellow Tide signee and freshman phenom T.J. Yeldon (more on him later) helped lead Daphne (Ala.) high school to a 15-0 record en route to a state title as juniors in 2010.
The pair of former prep teammates were two of eight members of the 2012 class to get a head start on their college careers by enrolling in January—with the 6’2”, 244-pound Anderson vying for time at one of the Tide’s vacant two outside linebacker positions.
Considering how green Alabama’s group of outside linebackers are as a unit, Anderson—who had 12 sacks as a senior—stands as good of a chance as anyone to back up likely starters Adrian Hubbard and Xzavier Dickson.
With Saban bringing in four linebacker signees in the 2012 class, at least one of them have a great opportunity to make a name for themselves by season’s end, with Anderson getting the early nod in the beginning stages of fall camp.
Williams—rated as a 5-star athlete with the ability to be an impact player at safety or wide receiver on the college level—will begin his career at the Capstone as one of quarterback A.J. McCarron’s newest targets at wideout.
The 6’3”, 204-pound Panama City (Fla.) native may be raw as a receiver, but he possesses the freakish type of athleticism the Tide have not seen at that position since Julio Jones left Tuscaloosa.
With wide receiver being one of the main areas that Nick Saban sought to add some explosive talents in the 2012 class, Williams has the potential to add a missing element in the Tide’s passing attack.
Collins is already a known quantity, with his recruitment tug-of-war between Alabama and LSU generating numerous headlines until he signed his letter of intent with the Tide.
With fall practice beginning, Collins can finally begin to show why he was such a coveted prospect.
The nation’s top rated safety, according to 247 Sports, and a consensus 5-star prospect, Collins hits like a linebacker yet has the ability to cover like a lockdown corner.
Those traits are what can help him crack the rotation at safety this year, and put himself into position to succeed Robert Lester in 2013.
Cooper was one of the nation’s top prep wide receivers, and another talented recruit that took part in spring drills after enrolling at Alabama in January.
The Miami native wasted little time making an impression, with Saban highlighting him as one of the newcomers expected to contribute this season.
The 6’1”, 190-pounder announced himself to the nation with a standout performance in the Under Armour All-American game, and brought the same type of playmaking ability to Tuscaloosa in the spring.
With the Tide searching for a more explosive presence at the receiver spot, Cooper has put himself in a good position to have a significant role in the receiver rotation this season.
Yeldon—arguably the crown jewel of the 2012 class—put on a show at Alabama’s spring game by claiming MVP honors after rushing for 89 yards and racking up 91 yards receiving and a touchdown in his first performance in front of the Tide faithful in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
In doing so, he staked his claim to the backup spot at running back behind junior Eddie Lacy.
With the Crimson Tide’s recent history of success in their backfield, the backup tailback job has turned into somewhat of an apprenticeship before eventually achieving stardom.
Like Lacy, Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram before him, look for Yeldon to leave a lasting impression in his first season at the Capstone.