It came as no surprise when the Alabama Crimson Tide came away with the nation's top recruiting class on national signing day. After all, Nick Saban's SEC powerhouse has won three of the last four BCS national championships.
But while 5-star gems like Derrick Henry, Reuben Foster and Robert Foster dominate the Alabama recruiting conversation, some other elite incoming freshmen are falling by the wayside.
With spring practices right around the corner, it's time we highlight a group of incoming freshmen that is flying under the radar.
Cooper Bateman, QB
Nick Saban has found the formula for winning championships in Tuscaloosa, and possessing a talented pro-style pocket passer is an important part of that formula.
Salt Lake City's Cooper Bateman looks to be the next field general in line after A.J. McCarron moves on after next season. A 6'3", 195-pound signal caller out of Cottonwood High School in Utah, Bateman enrolled at Alabama last month according to 247Sports.com.
Bateman's skills are highlighted by his incredible arm strength and his ability to utilize his legs when faced with trouble. The 4-star recruit obviously won't make an impact next season, but he will certainly be a key player to watch when the McCarron era comes to an end in Tuscaloosa.
He's only going to become a more lethal passer as he continues to develop his accuracy and consistency.
O.J. Howard, TE
As if the two-time reigning BCS national champions could get any better, they now have the nation's top tight end coming to campus in O.J. Howard. The Prattville, Ala. native is a 5-star prospect, and he enrolled at the university in January according to 247Sports.com.
Physically, Howard is primed to become a star. At 6'5", 225 pounds, the Autauga Academy product is sure to develop into a matchup nightmare considering he already possesses the necessary athleticism and a great pair of hands.
Crimson Tide fans should keep an eye out to see where Howard winds up on the Tide's depth chart, as he can play a handful of different positions across the board.
Right now, tight end looks like the best spot for him to make the biggest impact.
Darius Paige, DT
A 6'4", 295-pound defensive tackle out of Foley, Ala., Darius Paige agreed to attend Alabama on national signing day according to 247Sports.com.
Although his size is enough to intimidate, Paige brings a lot of talent to the table as well. He can move his feet very quickly and change directions well for a player with so much bulk. Like the rest of Alabama's incoming freshmen, Paige is poised to improve with time spent in the weight room and on the practice field.
It's no secret that Saban loves him some defense, and Paige represents the next class of elite Crimson Tide defenders set to run wild on the SEC.
He may not get his chance to shine in 2013, but sometime down the road he'll have his name called.
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