Alabama Football: How the Tide Are Upgrading Their Offensive Firepower
Alabama is known as a college football program that has more of a serious and business-minded approach to everything. That is mainly due to what is the perceived personality of its head coach, Nick Saban.
In sports, it is said that teams take on the personality of their head coach or manager. Rex Ryan is a brash and outspoken personality so it's only fitting that his New York Jets are a brash and outspoken football team.
Jim Leyland is a tough and no-nonsense manager, which is a silhouette of the Detroit Tigers' team personality.
So with Saban being serious and business-minded, part of that likely stems from his defensive background. In football, sans the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, whichever side of the ball the head coach's expertise is usually is where the team's strength will be.
In Alabama's case, that naturally is defense, and its recruiting of terrific defensive talent since Saban arrived has been great. From players like Marcell Dareus, Dre Kirkpatrick, Courtney Upshaw to Mark Barron, Alabama is no stranger to netting great recruiting classes chock full of defensive cornerstones.
That has been fine and has won the Crimson Tide two national titles under Saban, but their offense has not light-it-up per se.
Sure, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Trent Richardson are three offensive standouts under the Saban era, but haven't you ever wondered why the Tide don't have more offensive firepower?
Based on how they've recruited over the past several recruiting cycles, the Tide seemed to ask themselves the same question.
Auburn is building a great defense, and Alabama's defense won't drop off anytime soon, but the Tide appears to have realized more weapons are needed on offense at the skill positions.
It started with the 2011 class when Alabama got all-purpose RB Dee Hart to flip to it from Michigan. Hart has the ability to factor as a runner, receiver and returner for the Crimson Tide.
That same class brought them three 4-star WRs, shows Scout.com, in Marvin Shinn, Danny Woodson and Bradlye Sylve. QB Philip Ely is gone, but he was one of the better QBs in that year's class.
In 2012, Alabama really revved up its efforts to upgrade its offensive skill position talent and depth. The class is led by RB T.J. Yeldon, who has a chance to start this year as a true freshman.
RB Kenyan Drake is another speedster, but the WR class really opens your eyes. The Tide signed Chris Black, Cyrus Jones and Amari Cooper who all are 4-star pass-catchers, according to Scout.com.
Alec Morris is a 3-star QB that was also signed in this class. He stands 6'4", 235-pounds and has a powerful arm so don't sleep on him Tuscaloosa.
This 2013 cycle is not over, but if it ended today, it could be the most complete offensive skill position class 'Bama has had under Saban.
The class is led by TE O.J. Howard and QB Cooper Bateman, who are among the very best nationally at their respective positions. RBs Altee Tenpenny and Tyren Jones are among the top RB prospects and three more WRs will be added in Ardarius Stewart, Deon Johnson and Raheem Falkins.
Oh and add another top-flight TE prospect by the name of Josh McNeil in there too, plus another QB in Parker McLeod for good measure.
So in all, that is four QBs (three will be on the roster in 2013), five potentially great RBs all rated 4-stars or higher, nine WRs with seven being 4-star recruits and two TEs that I think have a chance to impact the passing game as receiving tight ends all brought in within the past three recruiting cycles.
The depth and talent for Alabama's offensive skill positions have been methodically and thoroughly upgraded by Nick Saban and his staff.
If you think Alabama is going to be known as just a defensive team in a few years, think again.
NOTE: Eddie Williams, a prized 2012 DB signee has worked with the WRs in camp and Sylve has been moved to DB.
Edwin Weathersby has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects & writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (now ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.
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