In the Crimson Tide’s quest to close with the nation’s top class for the third consecutive season, there are several big fish remaining on the board that Saban will try to sign by Feb. 6.
Some of the nation’s top uncommitted prospects—like defensive tackles Dee Liner and Montravius Adams, offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and safety Vonn Bell—are elite talents that the Tide are still hoping to land.
But with limited spots available and some of the nation’s top prospects still interested in the Tide, which player should be the most important target for Saban and his staff over the next week?
The truth of the matter is that Alabama’s class will be loaded regardless of what happens in the next week. However, if there is one target that would be the biggest coup on signing day, Tunsil fits the bill by filling a need with the nation’s premier talent at his position.
On a roster loaded with freakish talent across the board, Alabama’s main needs in the 2013 cycle are at quarterback (two commits), running back (three commits), defensive end (one commit) and offensive line (four commits, including JUCO transfer Leon Brown and fellow early enrollee Brandon Hill being projected as tackles).
Alabama’s foundation on offense has relied on employing a deep and talented stable of running backs and combining that unit with the most powerful offensive line in the country to pave the way for them.
Fortifying their offensive front—specifically the left tackle position that could open up following next season if Cyrus Kouandjio turns pro—makes securing the pledge of Tunsil the biggest priority.
Alabama has loaded up on safeties—with 5-stars Landon Collins and Eddie Williams anchoring the Tide’s 2012 class—which makes adding Bell a luxury more than a necessity.
Additionally, Saban brought in four players in last year’s class (Darren Lake, Dakota Ball, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Korren Kirven) that could contribute at defensive tackle—with all but Lake taking a redshirt last season.
With depth prevalent at defensive tackle, the additions of Liner or Adams (or both) are simply a bonus to an already stacked defensive line group. Of the two, the Tide appear to be in great shape for Liner, per B/R’s Barrett Sallee.
Offensive linemen are easily the toughest position to evaluate, and it is harder to find difference makers that are capable of becoming dominant players early in their careers.
That is what makes Tunsil—who is widely regarded as the nation’s top left tackle (h/t, 247Sports.com)—such a valued commodity. Luckily for Alabama supporters, the Tide have an ace in the hole—with fellow 5-star Sunshine State product and recent running back enrollee Derrick Henry urging his good friend to join him at the Capstone.
As hard fought as last month’s 32-28 victory over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game was, the battle for Tunsil’s signature will serve as round two between the two powers--with this battle likely to be every bit as much of a nail-biter as their last meeting on the field.
If Saban and the Tide can get the better of the Bulldogs (and the other presumed finalist in Tunsil’s top three, Ole Miss), their offensive line will have everything it needs to remain amongst the nation’s elite units in the future.