If this year’s recruiting class is any indication, the Alabama Crimson Tide aren’t done winning national championships.
Nick Saban parlayed recent success into the best recruiting class in the country in 2013. Alabama has received commitments from 22 total recruits, including four 5-star recruits and 10 more of the 4-star variety.
With a roster that churns out NFL players at an alarming rate, Alabama is the premier landing spot for some of the nation’s best high school players. Several incoming freshman have the potential to keep that trend alive.
It’s rare that a true freshman has a strong impact in his first year with a team, but Saban’s new class is full of players with tremendous potential and the skill sets to fit in immediately at the college level. We’ll take a look at some of those players and project how big an impact they could have going forward.
*All rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
Derrick Henry: 5-star athlete
Henry is 247Sports' No. 12 overall prospect, despite lacking a clear position heading into next season. At 6’3” and 240 pounds, Henry could play at a handful of positions on both sides of the ball.
As a running back in high school, Henry showed the power to run through defenders and plenty of agility to break runs to the outside. He’s an incredibly gifted natural runner, and he’s the perfect fit in Alabama’s backfield should he remain at the position.
The Crimson Tide have several quality running backs on the roster, but with Eddie Lacy leaving for the NFL draft, there isn’t a lot of proven talent behind T.J. Yeldon. Henry has a chance to step in an see immediate action in the backfield for Alabama.
Having a 5-star prospect with so much versatility is both a blessing and a curse. Henry has tons of natural talent, but it will be Saban’s job to find the best fit for the young athlete. He may do some moving around in his first year, but he’ll almost certainly have an impact at any position he plays.
Jonathan Allen: 5-star outside linebacker
There isn’t a program in the country that does a better job than Alabama at filling positional needs with players who are perfect fits for the system. Allen is just another of those players ready-made for Alabama’s defense.
Saban runs a 3-4 defense that produces NFL players year after year. At 6’3” and 260 pounds, Allen is the perfect fit for the outside linebacker position in Saban’s defense, and he could see some action very early in his college career.
Allen is the type of versatile defender college coaches love. He’s big, physical and quick for his size, and he’s capable of being a disruptive force no matter where he lines up. Given his current abilities and his fit for the system, Allen will likely remain at the outside linebacker position and develop into a quality edge defender.
While he is still a bit raw, Allen’s physical tools and athleticism make him a prime candidate to be a premier impact player in the SEC. He’ll need a little coaching and work in the weight room, but there’s no denying his potential.
Robert Foster: 5-star wide receiver
For the second year in a row, Alabama has managed to secure a commitment from one of the nation’s best wide receivers.
Foster is 247Sports' No. 1 overall receiver, and it’s no surprise that he’s so highly rated. At 6’2”, 185 pounds, he has the frame to hold up against some of the best defenders in the SEC.
Foster is smooth, fluid and extremely athletic, and he has experience lining up at several offensive positions. That kind of versatility is what gives incoming freshmen an edge when working to secure a starting role early in their careers. Foster will be competing for playing time, but he stands a good chance of having an impact early on at Alabama.
The Crimson Tide have managed to build depth at nearly every position, and their receiving corps should be even more talented in 2013 than ever. Foster won’t be handed a starting role right away, but with the ability to line up all over the offense and potentially return kicks, his impact should be apparent almost immediately.
Grant Hill: 4-star guard
Alabama is losing a lot from its 2012 offensive line. Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker are all leaving for the NFL draft, opening up spots on the depth chart for the best candidates.
Hill isn’t one of Alabama’s 5-star recruits, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the talent to be a productive player early in his career. At 6’6” and 300 pounds, he has the size and strength to step in immediately at one of the vacated positions on the offensive line.
Given Alabama’s depth at nearly every position, Hill will have to really impress coaches to garner a lot of playing time as a true freshman. Still, Saban will be looking to develop young offensive linemen with the skills to compete with the best defenses in the SEC. Hill has as good a shot as any to win some immediate playing time in 2013.