Nick Saban has the Crimson Tide poised to contend for another top-rated recruiting class in the 2014 cycle.
While the football season is still a little more than three months away, recruiting is an activity with no offseason.
The most recent evaluation period is winding down and the camp circuit is sure to heat up in the summer.
Nick Saban will have 15 scholarship seniors on the roster in 2013, and a handful of juniors—such as left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, linebacker Adrian Hubbard and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix—who are already being mentioned as potential first-round draft choices should they leave school early (h/t walterfootball.com).
With the normal roster attrition that occurs every season, the 2014 recruiting class could come close to approaching the 25-man limit.
With seven commitments, how does the rest of Alabama's board look entering the summer camp circuit?
Alabama brought in three quarterbacks in the 2013 class—although Luke Del Rio is a preferred walk-on and will not count against the scholarship limit.
With AJ McCarron entering his final season, the Tide would have five scholarship quarterbacks on the roster next season without any attrition.
With a logjam including four underclassmen vying for the right to replace McCarron, one would think that the depth chart would scare away top-flight passers in this class. But that’s far from the case.
Oklahoma native and 5-star David Cornwell appears to be at the head of the board. He is slated to throw at Saban’s camp next week—which will play a big role in his evaluation, according to Mike Herndon of AL.com.
Bossier City, La. (Parkway HS) dual-threat Brandon Harris is another name to watch. He skipped Saban’s camp to attend the Elite 11 camp, but he’s good friends with recent commit O.J. Smith and even hinted at the possibility of joining his hometown buddy in Tuscaloosa for college.
Other names to keep an eye on include Scottsdale, Ariz. (Desert Mountain HS) 4-star Kyle Allen and Goose Creek, S.C. (Stratford HS) 4-star Jacob Park.
Top Target: David Cornwell
Name to Watch: Brandon Harris
Best Bets to End up in Alabama’s Class: Cornwell
After signing four running backs in the 2013 class, and having only one upperclassman out of eight scholarship backs (senior Jalston Fowler), it would seem that Alabama can cherry-pick and take one back at the most.
Considering its first commitment for this cycle was from Tuscaloosa 5-star athlete Bo Scarbrough, Saban could theoretically pump the brakes on this position if he’s content with putting the 6’2”, 225-pound Scarbrough in the backfield.
Fournette appears to be a two-team race with the Crimson Tide chasing home-standing LSU. Cook may opt to stick with the Gators, but the Tide are making a strong push for Cook’s services, according to Luke Stampini of GatorBait (subscription required).
Another back worth keeping tabs on is in-state 4-star Racean “Roc” Thomas, who appears to be favoring Auburn and Alabama at this stage of his recruitment.
With a wealth of talent already on hand at running back, Alabama has the luxury of being selective with the backs it pursues in this cycle.
Needs: 0-1 (Bo Scarbrough already committed)
Top Target: Leonard Fournette
Name to Watch: Dalvin Cook
Best Bets to End up in Alabama’s Class: Thomas
Alabama will lose two receivers this season, as both Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood enter their final seasons at the Capstone.
Additionally, Christion Jones and DeAndrew White are juniors and rising sophomore Amari Cooper appears to be on track to be another candidate to leave school early for the draft after the 2014 season.
The Tide have a solid nucleus of young receivers in Chris Black, Raheem Falkins and Robert Foster. But expect Saban and his staff to continue to pursue explosive players who can stretch defenses vertically or make things happen after the catch.
After plucking Cooper from talent-rich South Florida, the Tide are hoping to strike gold again with 4-star Ermon Lane. Another potential top target is recent LSU decommit and 5-star JUCO product D’haquille Williams.
Louisiana product Cameron Sims is another pass-catcher who is high on the Tide.
Top Target: Ermon Lane
Name to Watch: Cameron Sims
Best Bets to End up in Alabama’s Class: Lane, Sims
After snaring 5-star tight end O.J. Howard and getting him to enroll in January, Alabama will have five scholarshipped underclassmen at the position.
However, Brian Vogler and Harrison Jones are entering their junior seasons, and that could lead the Tide to try to snag at least one tight end for the 2014 cycle.
Tyler Luatua, a 4-star California-native and the younger brother of Tide offensive lineman Isaac Luatua, has the Tide among his top choices. He is rated as the nation’s best tight end by 247Sports.
Alabama doesn’t appear to be active with many other tight ends, but that could change if someone emerges either in camps or during the season.
Top Target: Tyler Luatua
Name to Watch: N/A
Best Bet to End up in Alabama’s Class: Luatua
Offensive line is always a position that Alabama seems to load up on every year. At the tackle positions, the Tide are heavy on upperclassmen. All four players on the two-deep roster are set to move on by the end of the 2014 season.
If Cyrus Kouandjio declares for the draft, potentially landing a JUCO transfer—as Saban routinely targeted in the past—could be a realistic possibility.
The top prep option is West Monroe, La. 5-star Cameron Robinson—who will likely go down to the wire as a tug of war between LSU and Alabama.
Jacksonville 5-star David Sharpe is another player who Mario Cristobal figures to heavily pursue at tackle, with Sunshine State powers Florida and Florida State being the main challengers for the 6’6”, 288-pounder.
From the JUCO ranks, the top target appears to be Scranton, Pa. (Lackawanna CC) 4-star Jermaine Eluemunor. The 6’6”, 300-pounder could be a candidate to fill an immediate hole at whatever school he chooses. Other potential JUCO targets include Garden City, N.Y. (Sparta JC) 4-star Chad Mavety and San Mateo, Calif. (College of San Mateo) 4-star Dominick Jackson.
Top Target: Cameron Robinson
Name to Watch: Jermaine Eluemunor
Best Bets to End up in Alabama’s Class: Robinson, Eluemunor
Of the interior spots on the offensive line, only senior guard Anthony Steen is set to depart after this season.
However, the Tide will still be active in trying to build depth at the guard and center positions.
Birmingham (Homewood HS) 4-star Jordan Sims is a priority considering his proximity to campus and the size and physicality he brings to the table.
There are no top priorities at center, but expect the Tide to continue to recruit Mobile 4-star and current Auburn commitment Joshua Casher.
Top Target: Jordan Sims
Name to Watch: Roderick Taylor
Best Bets to End up in Alabama’s Class: Sims, Talamaivao
With senior Ed Stinson entering his final season of eligibility and junior Jeoffrey Pagan projected to be the other starting defensive end, Alabama could be looking to add at least a pair of talented pass-rushers to the 2014 class.
Saban has mentioned wanting to add more athleticism on the edges, and there are several of the nation’s top defensive ends showing interest in the Tide (h/t Alex Scarborough, TideNation).
The Tide appear to be in great shape for Norcross, Ga. 5-star pass-rusher Lorenzo Carter. The 6’5”, 236-pound Carter racked up 18 sacks as a junior.
Other targets on the radar include Woodbridge, Va. 5-star Da’Shawn Hand, Suwanee, Ga. (North Gwinnett HS) 4-star Dante Sawyer, New Orleans (Karr HS) 4-star Gerald Willis and Olney, Md. (Good Counsel HS) 4-star Jesse Aniebonam.
Top Target: Lorenzo Carter
Name to Watch: Jesse Aniebonam
Best Bet to End up in Alabama’s Class: Carter
With the recent commitment of 6’2”, 320-pound Bossier City, La. (Airline HS) defensive tackle O.J. Smith, Alabama could theoretically be done at this position considering that it already has a number of talented underclassmen nose tackles already on the roster.
Additionally, projected starter Brandon Ivory is only a junior who isn’t a major threat to forgo his senior season at this point.
However, there are still a few 2014 interested targets twho could be too tempting to pass up for Saban and his staff.
Players such as Springdale, Ark. (Har-Ber HS) 4-star Josh Frazier, Tucker, Ga. 4-star Elisha Shaw, Brighton, Tenn. 4-star Charles Mosley and Elizabethtown, Ky. (Hardin HS) 4-star Matt Elam all remain active with the Tide.
With so many talented options in play, there's a strong possibility at least one of those defensive tackles finds his way into the Tide’s class.
Needs: 1-2 (O.J. Smith already committed)
Top Target: Josh Frazier
Name to Watch: Matt Elam
Best Bets to End up Alabama’s Class – Charles Mosley
Alabama will lose seniors C.J. Mosley and Tana Patrick at linebacker, and Adrian Hubbard is an option to depart for the NFL after this season.
The Tide already have commitments from a pair of linebackers in Montgomery (Carver HS) 4-star Shaun Hamilton and Houston (North Shore HS) 4-star Zach Whitley. But they don’t appear to be done adding talent to the middle level of their defense.
In particular, Miller—who recently decommitted from Florida—is a player who the Tide have targeted, according to JC Shurburtt of 247 Sports.
Needs: 3-4 (Shaun Hamilton and Zach Whitley already committed)
Top Target: Christian Miller
Name to Watch: Ronnie Clark
Best Bets to End up in Alabama’s Class: Miller, Clark
Considering that Alabama’s top two projected corners are seniors, reloading with top-flight cover men is a task that Saban and his staff are focusing on in the early stages of this class.
In nabbing early pledges from a pair of corners—Kingsland, Ga. (Camden County HS) 4-star Kalvaraz Bessent and Opelika, Ala. 4-star Stephen Roberts—the Tide have already taken a big step in filling one of their top needs for this cycle.
With that said, they are far from being done at corner.
The biggest fish on the board is Birmingham (Hoover HS) 5-star Marlon Humphrey, who is the son of former Tide legendary running back Bobby Humphrey and the nation’s top corner prospect in this class.
Another 5-star prospect who visited Tuscaloosa for last month’s spring game is Beaumont, Texas (Ozen HS) standout Tony Brown. Brown is yet another target that is high on LSU and Alabama.
Needs: 3-4 (Kalvaraz Bessent and Stephen Roberts already committed)
Top Target: Marlon Humphrey
Name to Watch: Tony Brown
Best Bets to End up in Alabama’s Class: Humphrey
Of the six safeties on the Tide roster, four are upperclassmen, which makes this spot another important area for the Tide in this cycle.
Saban has already received a pledge from 3-star Chris Williams, who is a prep teammate of fellow Tide commitment Bessent. Given the possible loss of Clinton-Dix to the draft, adding at least one more safety seems like a logical assumption.
The top names associated with Alabama include Monroe, La. (Neville HS) 4-star Laurence Jones, Texarkana, Texas (Liberty-Eylau HS) 4-star and current Baylor commitment Davion Hall, Meridian, Miss. 4-star and current Ole Miss commitment C.J. Hampton and Lakeland, Fla. (Lake Gibson HS) 3-star Kendall Gant.
Needs: 2-3 (Chris Williams already committed)
Top Target: Laurence Jones
Name to Watch: Davion Hall
Best Bets to End up in Alabama’s Class: Hall