Alabama head coach Nick Saban has a handful of commitments in the Tide's 2013 class that are capable of seeing the field early and often next season.
Fresh off a third national championship in the last four seasons, Nick Saban’s 24-hour celebration rule has given way to offseason workouts, and the process of securing the next batch of future Tide stars before National Signing Day next month.
Receiver Amari Cooper and running back T.J. Yeldon were just a pair of the many true freshmen that played a significant role in propelling the Tide to another title, despite losing a boatload of talent from the 2011 title team.
Saban and his staff are in position to land another banner crop of prep stars. But which current commits have the potential to make an impact similar to the aforementioned duo of skill players that landed on the SEC’s 2012 All-Freshmen team?
A big part of the success for players like Yeldon and Cooper was a product of their ability to fill a need combined with enrolling in January to get a head start on their college careers.
With that in mind, identifying the major threats to see the field early from the 2013 class will consist of finding areas of need and plugging in a mature talent that can take advantage of a small window of opportunity.
Here are four 2013 recruits most likely to start as freshmen.
With All-American corner Dee Milliner likely to turn pro and the evolution of spread offenses make a third corner a necessity, Maurice Smith (or fellow corner commit Jonathan Cook) has a chance to find the field in his first season.
Similar to Geno Smith’s freshman season, Maurice Smith (no relation) will get every chance to challenge the likes of Deion Belue, John Fulton and the elder Smith for playing time.
With good size (5’11”, 178 pounds) and the fact that he was one of the top corners coveted by Saban, expect him to step in and compete for playing time when he arrives at the Capstone.
Jonathan Allen is one of the nation’s top pass-rushers available in the class of 2013. That fact is best evidenced by his eye-popping total of 43 sacks in the last three years at Stone Bridge high school in Ashburn, Va.
With the recent decommitment of defensive end DeMarcus Walker, and the potential for 2012 sack leader Adrian Hubbard to turn pro, Allen could be in line for the opportunity to contribute at defensive end or outside linebacker (h/t, Matt Miller, B/R).
The 5-star prospect is one the crown jewels of the 2013 class. Considering the needs at two positions he can play and his pass-rushing ability, he qualifies as a kid with a golden opportunity to make an immediate splash next season.
Cole Mazza may be the only recruit in Alabama’s class to be rated less than a 3-star by at least one major recruiting site. However, with long snapper Carson Tinker graduating (as well as backup Kelly Johnson), Mazza is primed to step in and take over as soon as he steps foot on campus.
While long snappers are not the sexiest recruits for class rankings, the fact that Mazza warranted a scholarship offer should let you know what Saban and his staff feel about his ability to become a contributor for the Tide.
Mazza is rated as the nation’s top long snapper by 247 Sports.
With Michael Williams and Kelly Johnson exhausting their eligibility, one the main battles in the spring will be to see who steps up to fill the vacancies at tight end and H-back.
The 6’6”, 220-pound Howard has the potential to become the most dynamic pass-catching option Saban has had at either position during his tenure in Tuscaloosa.
If Howard can pick up the playbook and adjust his game to the college level, he has a great chance to earn one of those two prized spots. He has a chance to fill a major void in the Tide’s offense next season.