Nick Saban has Alabama poised to land another top-rated recruiting class.
With Alabama’s 2013 season in his rearview mirror, Nick Saban has turned his focus into securing another top-rated recruiting class for the Crimson Tide.
Considering there are 24 current commitments in Alabama’s 2014 class, the majority of his work has already been done. However, the Tide are heavily involved in the recruitment of a handful of top prospects who will reveal their college destination in the next two weeks leading up to national signing day.
Which recruits represent the top remaining priorities for Alabama on national signing day?
*All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
Alabama has done a great job in recent years of closing out its classes by flipping key targets who were committed elsewhere.
However, making sure to keep the players who are already committed is just as big of a priority for Saban.
Scarbrough has visited schools such as Notre Dame, Florida State, Florida and Ole Miss, while Miller is mainly entertaining the possibility of visiting Georgia.
Both players are talented prospects who could potentially become difference-makers on the college level, and securing their commitments are vital for the Tide’s 2014 class.
Ever since Courtney Upshaw graduated and moved on to the NFL following the 2011 season, Alabama has struggled to find a dominant pass-rusher who consistently wreaks havoc in an opponent’s backfield.
Securing a pledge from 5-star Virginia native Da’Shawn Hand is a huge step in the right direction. The thought of adding 5-star Georgia product Lorenzo Carter as a bookend with Hand would go a long way toward re-establishing a pass-rushing presence along the Tide’s defensive line.
Carter is considering Alabama along with Georgia, Florida, Florida State and LSU and will make his choice on signing day. Given Alabama’s recent success at landing players from Carter’s school (Norcross High School), the Tide will remain a threat to land another potential difference-maker from the Peach State.
Alabama’s linebacker class took a hit with the decommitment of Zach Whitley, who flipped to UCLA earlier this month.
The Tide are hoping to fill that void by jumping into the race for 5-star linebacker Rashaan Evans.
Evans, who has Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss and UCLA among his finalists, is considered a lean to the Tigers since he plays at Auburn (Ala.) High School.
However, as Charles Power of BamaOnline reports (subscription required), Evans will visit Tuscaloosa on Jan. 17.
Even though Alabama already has four other linebackers committed, Evans is a special talent who could become an elite player under the tutelage of Saban and Kirby Smart.
Last year, just days prior to signing day, Alabama landed 5-star defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson, who went on to become a freshman All-American after a strong debut season with the Tide.
Saban is hoping to duplicate that trick this season with 5-star Kentucky native Matt Elam.
Elam, who postponed making his announcement at the U.S. Army All-American game, will decide between Alabama and Kentucky on national signing day.
If the Tide can land the 6’5”, 370-pounder from the Commonwealth State, he could prove to be a force in the middle that gives Saban and Smart a big, physical presence to plug into the Tide’s 3-4 scheme.
The Tide’s season-ending, back-to-back losses against Auburn and Oklahoma revealed their weakness on the back end of their defense, with the specific problem area being at the corner positions.
By landing 5-star and early enrollee Tony Brown, Alabama has taken a big step forward in filling one of its primary needs in this cycle. However, securing 5-star corner and Tide legacy Marlon Humphrey remains at the top of the staff’s agenda heading into national signing day.
The Tide’s main competition will come from Florida State. Jeremy Pruitt, who is a former Tide assistant and current defensive coordinator for the Seminoles, will keep the ‘Noles in the race for Humphrey until the end.
However, considering that his father Bobby was an All-American running back for the Tide in the 1980s and his proximity to Tuscaloosa, it’s hard to envision a scenario that has the younger Humphrey playing his college football anywhere other than the Capstone.