Alabama National Signing Day Preview: Targets, Predictions and Rumor Roundup
With national signing day rapidly approaching, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide are on pace to land another class lauded as the nation’s best.
The Tide sit comfortably atop the 247Sports class rankings, and Saban has the Tide in position to land a few more blue chippers on Feb. 5.
Who are the main targets Tide fans should be closely monitoring, and where will they eventually land?
Get inside this preview for all the things Tide fans need to know about what to expect from Alabama on national signing day.
*All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
Looking at the Commits
Here’s a list of Alabama’s commitments, courtesy of BamaOnline. Nine members of the class have already enrolled, including a pair of 5-star prospects in offensive tackle Cameron Robinson and corner Tony Brown. Alabama’s class is currently ranked No. 1 nationally, according to 247Sports.
Cameron Robinson, OT, West Monroe, La. (West Monroe)
Tony Brown, CB, Beaumont, Texas (Ozen)
Laurence Jones, S, Monroe, La. (Neville)
David Cornwell, QB, Norman, Okla. (Norman North)
Cameron Sims, WR, Monroe, La. (Ouachita Parish)
Shaun Hamilton, ILB, Montgomery, Ala. (Carver)
Jarran Reed, DT, Scooba, Miss. (East Mississippi C.C.)
D.J. Pettway, DE, Scooba, Miss. (East Mississippi C.C.)
Da'Shawn Hand, DE, Woodbridge, Va. (Woodbridge)
Bo Scarbrough, ATH, Bradenton, Fla. (IMG Academy)
Christian Miller, OLB, Columbia, S.C. (Spring Valley)
Ronnie Clark, OLB/S, Calera, Ala. (Calera)
Ross Pierschbacher, OT, Cedar Falls, Iowa (Cedar Falls)
Josh Frazier, DT, Springdale, Ark. (Har-Ber)
Dominick Jackson, OT, San Mateo, Calif. (College of San Mateo)
JC Hassenauer, C, St. Paul, Minn. (East Ridge)
Derek Kief, WR, Cincinnati, Ohio (LaSalle)
Joshua Casher, C, Mobile, Ala. (St. Paul’s)
Keith Holcombe, ATH, Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Hillcrest)
Chris Williams, S, Kingsland, Ga. (Camden County)
O.J. Smith, DT, Bossier City, La. (Airline)
Montel McBride, OG, Plant City, Fla. (Plant City)
Johnny Dwight, DT, Rochelle, Ga. (Wilcox County)
JK Scott, K/P, Denver, Colo. (J.K. Mullen)
Five 5-star prospects and a late sleeper headline Alabama’s top targets heading into national signing day. Here’s a breakdown on each target and where things stand with their respective recruitments.
Marlon Humphrey: Alabama fans have known about the son of former Tide All-American running back Bobby Humphrey for quite some time. The younger Humphrey checks in as the nation’s top corner, which doubles his importance to the Tide’s class considering their need for top-flight cover men. Florida State, whom Humphrey visited on the weekend of Jan. 17, is thought to be the main competition. However, watch out for UCLA, who gets the last crack at Humphrey before signing day.
Matt Elam: The Tide have six defensive linemen already committed in the 2014 class, but Saban remains in heavy pursuit of Kentucky’s top prospect. The mammoth Elam, who's listed at 6'5", 372 pounds, is an ideal fit as a nose guard in the Tide’s 3-4 scheme. Elam is down to Kentucky and Alabama, with both sides believed to have held the advantage at various points during his recruitment. The decision will come down to whether the 5-star big man wants to play for one of the nation’s premier programs or would rather stay home and building his own legacy in Lexington.
Rashaan Evans: Auburn, Ala. 5-star linebacker Rashaan Evans has long been considered a lean to the hometown Auburn Tigers. However, Evans has Alabama and UCLA at the top of his list along with his hometown school. Evans visited Tuscaloosa on Jan. 17 and gave the visit high praise, according to Andrew Bone of Rivals via Twitter. All three finalists are recruiting Evans at different positions, but this is another case of where it’s tough to picture the 6'3", 220-pounder leaving the city limits to play college football.
Malachi Dupre: Similar to Evans, Louisiana 5-star receiver Malachi Dupre is a player most experts are predicting to stay close to home for college, with LSU being the odds-on favorite, according to Dupre’s 247Sports Crystal Ball page. However, Dupre took a midweek visit to Tuscaloosa last week, which was sandwiched in between trips to LSU and Florida State. Similar to Humphrey and Evans, UCLA will get the last crack at Dupre when he takes his last official there this weekend. While the Tide still have a chance, the Bruins and the Seminoles may have better chances to steal Dupre away from his home state.
Chad Thomas: A long-time commitment to hometown power Miami, 5-star defensive end Chad Thomas has left the door open, albeit slightly, for teams such as Florida State and Alabama to lure him out of South Florida. Thomas visited Tallahassee last weekend and will make his last visit to Tuscaloosa this weekend. Thomas was on Alabama's campus for Saban's summer camp, so he is somewhat familiar with what the program has to offer. It will take a monumental effort to get him to ditch his longtime favorite school, but Saban is a master recruiter who has scored some late surprises in recent years and will try to do so again with Thomas.
Markell Boston: With junior defensive back Vinnie Sunseri’s surprising decision to enter the NFL draft, the depth at safety took a bit of a hit. Last weekend, Boston took a last-minute official visit to Tuscaloosa after popping up on the Tide’s radar recently. The 6'1", 200-pound Boston is committed to East Carolina. However, if Saban pulls the trigger and offers the 3-star Georgia native, it’s possible that he could find his way into the 2014 class.
Alabama’s class is already loaded, but as they have in recent years, the Tide still stand to make some notable big-time additions on national signing day.
With Jeremy Pruitt leaving his defensive coordinator post at Florida State for the same position at Georgia, the 'Noles' chances of pulling Humphrey away from his home state took a hit. Expect the Tide legacy to follow in his father’s footsteps and play his college ball at the Capstone.
Elam was scheduled to make his announcement on Jan. 4 at the U.S. Army All-American game, but he cancelled because he needed more time to make up his mind. This is a battle that could go either way, but Saban's history as an elite closer should help him snatch the top player from the Commonwealth State.
The other players left on the board are all far from sure things, but recent history suggests that the Tide will land at least one player who is currently projected to go elsewhere. Two years ago, defensive linemen Korren Kirven and Dalvin Tomlinson were surprising late additions to the Tide’s 2012 class, and ditto for A'Shawn Robinson and Eddie Jackson last year.
Whether it’s a big-time player such as Evans or Dupre, a late bloomer such as Boston or someone who isn't on the radar yet, expect Saban and his staff to net another such addition on national signing day.
Charles Power of BamaOnline (subscription required) has the skinny on a surprise official visitor who made his way to Alabama last weekend.
Matt Scalici of AL.com goes in depth on an in-home visit Nick Saban and Kirby Smart made to 5-star linebacker recruit Rashaan Evans.
BamaOnline (subscription required) details the five 5-star recruits that Alabama remains in the hunt for until national signing day.
Trevor Hewett of BamaOnline (subscription required) offers insight into Matt Elam’s Jan. 17 official visit to Tuscaloosa.
Jeremy Fowler of CBS Sports reports that former Florida State quarterback Jacob Coker, who was granted his release from the Seminoles program last week, visited Alabama last weekend. While Coker technically isn’t considered a recruit in the 2014 class, there may not have been a more important visitor on campus last weekend than the 6'5", 230-pound Coker, who could ultimately be the Tide's starting quarterback this fall.
Expectations for 2014 Class
The 2014 class has already filled some major needs that the Tide had entering this cycle. Chief among those needs were along both lines of scrimmage.
The offensive line group has quality and quantity, which is headlined by the nation’s top left tackle in Robinson. The defensive line has six commitments who each bring something unique to the table for new line coach Bo Davis to work with. That group is headlined by the nation’s top defensive end in Virginia native Da'Shawn Hand.
The linebacker segment will see an influx of talent with as many as five commitments pegged to lineup in the middle level of the Tide’s defense. Christian Miller is a devastating edge-rusher slated to start on the outside, while Shaun Hamilton leads the charge in the middle.
The secondary is boosted by the early arrivals of Brown and safety Laurence "Hootie" Jones, but getting Humphrey into the fold is a necessity after losing a pair of previous cornerback commits.
Not to be forgotten is the skill position talent headed to Tuscaloosa. David Cornwell could be the Tide’s quarterback of the future, and Bo Scarbrough is the next freakish running back to join a crowded stable of elite rushers. Derek Kief and Cameron Sims will be welcomed additions to a receiver unit that lost a pair of standouts to graduation.
Assuming the Tide finishes up strong on signing day, this class will go a long way toward helping Saban reestablish the Tide’s supremacy in the SEC and nationally.