They still have the BCS National Championship game to worry about, but the unstoppable force that is the Alabama Crimson Tide football program is always looking forward. That becomes readily apparent in recruiting, where Alabama's coaching staff is out busting their humps to assemble yet another juggernaut team for Nick Saban.
Though the Class of 2013 still has plenty of time to vacillate over their decisions, it's looking once again like Alabama will be at or near the top of most publications' rankings. The Tide has top-notch players already verbally committed to the program and is sure to add more in the coming months.
Who are the best players already headed to Tuscaloosa? Here is a breakdown of a few commits that stand out above the rest for 2013's class.
Derrick Henry (RB/ATH)
How could we not start with the all-time leading rusher in high school history? Henry, who broke the 59-year-old record back in November, is considered by most everyone as one of the biggest triumphs of the recruiting process for the Tide.
The Yulee High School star finished his career with 12,212 rushing yards and ran for an astounding 4,261 yards and 55 touchdowns as a senior. Considered a 5-star recruit by 247 Sports, Henry is also the fifth-best player in the state of Florida, No. 22 overall prospect and ranks behind just one other player with the "athlete" distinction.
Yes, athlete, not running back.
See, the biggest problem evaluators have with Henry is that no one knows where he'll play on Saturdays. While it would seem rather obvious that such a prolific running back would play his natural position, there are many out there who believe he's best served elsewhere.
Listed at 6'3" and 240 pounds, Henry is a hulking downhill runner whose most obvious comparison is former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs. Henry runs with a ferocity rarely seen at at the high school level and has more than adequate speed that his size isn't a massive detriment.
However, Alabama has what seems to be a never ending supply of top-tier running backs. If the coaching staff feels Henry can be more productive elsewhere, don't expect them to hesitate in making the move.
For now, we'll consider him a top-shelf running back prospect. But it's definitely a situation worth monitoring going forward.
Jonathan Allen (DE/OLB)
When Allen is the second player mentioned in a recruiting class, it becomes readily apparent that this is a special group of players. A 5-star recruit, Allen is listed as the ninth overall prospect in the Class of 2013, according to 247 Sports.
Allen is the pride of Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, VA and may be the single most impressive physical specimen in his class. Listed at 6'3" and 260 pounds, Allen is already a high school senior trapped in the body of an NFL All-Pro.
His production backs up that distinction. While he's not a guy who plays with a high-end motor just yet, Allen's otherworldly quickness and first step leap off the game film. He does a great job using that quickness to rush the passer and is no slouch in the wrap-up tackling department, either.
Like Henry, Alabama simply has to answer the question of where Allen lines up. Unlike Henry, we already know that it will either be as a defensive end or outside linebacker. The folks at 247 Sports currently rank him as an outside linebacker, where he comes in second in the nation at the position.
It's hard to tell which position he'll ultimately wind up at, but Allen's versatility could even get him some playing time as a freshman.
Robert Foster (WR)
Tide fans who have spent the past couple of years longing for the return of Julio Jones may see his second coming this fall.
A 5-star recruit out of Central Valley High School in Monaca (Penn.), Foster emerged as arguably the best wide receiver in the Class of 2013. Though he ultimately loses out to Laquon Treadwell on most rankings, the folks at 247 Sports still have Foster as the No. 23 overall recruit in the nation and second-best receiver in his class.
Foster's main calling card is his athleticism. The youngster played all over the field at Central Valley, mixing in time at running back and safety to go along with his wide receiver duties. He's also a stud return man and could actually make an impact as a freshman on special teams for Alabama.
His future is exceedingly bright at wide receiver, though. Gifted with good top-end speed and separation skills, Foster is excellent at catching balls down the field and has the athleticism to leap over opposing corners.
To put it bluntly, Foster just has very few weaknesses. He definitely needs to add some bulk to his 6'3", 190-pound frame, but that can be done gradually.
For now, Foster should be an instant special teams warrior with the possibility of emerging into something more if he impresses.
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