Alabama Football: Projecting Potential for Nick Saban's Top Recruits

Justin Onslow@@JustinOnslowNFLContributor IIJanuary 6, 2013

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 03:  Coach Nick Saban of Alabama watches from the sidelines as his team plays LSU at Tiger Stadium on November 3, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Nick Saban is the best recruiter in the business, and his 2013 class proves it.

Saban did what he does almost every year, loading up Alabama’s future roster with the best recruiting class in college football. Alabama has received commitments from four 5-star recruits and eight 4-star recruits—21 high school prospects in total.

There are several high-profile prospects yet to commit as well. Whether Saban will be able to land any of those players is yet to be seen, but as it stands, Alabama has landed the best class in the country.

Rankings and hype don’t mean much if the players don’t fit the system, though. Saban’s do, and some of his top recruits have massive potential in his system.


Jonathan Allen: 5-star outside linebacker

Allen is the perfect fit for Saban’s 3-4 defense, which is a less common front than the 4-3 in college football. At 6’3” and 260 pounds, Allen has the prototypical frame to play outside linebacker, but a frame that would likely relegate Allen to a defensive end role in a 4-3.

Allen doesn’t just have the size to be a terrific linebacker at Alabama. He also has the speed, quickness and strength to be absolutely dominant.

While the transition from defensive end (a position he played in high school) to an off-the-line position will take some time, Allen has the physical skills and football ability to be one of the best linebackers Alabama has featured in years.


O.J. Howard: 5-star tight end

It’s no wonder NFL teams try to lure Saban back to the league every year. He recruits pro-style talent for a pro-style system.

Howard already has the size to play the tight end position in the NFL. He’s a 6’5”, 221-pound athlete with tremendous athletic ability, and it should come as no surprise that Howard claims New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham as his favorite player (via ESPN).

Alabama has one of the best running attacks in the country, and the need wasn’t there for an elite pass-catcher this season. Still, no Crimson Tide receiver topped 900 yards this year, and after landing 5-star receiver Robert Foster as well, Saban could be looking to reload for a bolstered passing attack in the coming years.

Howard certainly fits the bill.


Robert Foster: 5-star wide receiver

Alabama lost standout receiver Julio Jones to the draft in 2011, and it didn’t take too long for Saban to find another explosive receiver in the Jones mold.

Foster is considered the No. 2 receiving prospect in the nation (via ESPN), which marks the second year in a row Saban has landed the second-best receiver to come out of high school.

Foster is a 6’2”, 190-pound weapon with sub-4.5 40-yard-dash speed. He’s a fluid athlete with natural receiving skills, and as long as he does well in the classroom, he has the potential to be an elite college receiver at Alabama.