The 2014 recruiting cycle has been a tour de force for the Alabama Crimson Tide, so it should come as no surprise Nick Saban has again stolen the show one week shy of national signing day.
The four-time national champion landed one of the top players on his board Wednesday, when 5-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey announced his intentions on Twitter.
Thanks for everyone that has supported me this far I'm happy to say I am committed to the University of Alabama!! #RollTide— Fruit PUNCH (@marlon_humphrey) January 29, 2014
The Birmingham, Ala., product also considered offers from Florida State, Auburn, UCLA and Mississippi State during a whirlwind recruitment process.
He is rated third nationally among cornerbacks and is considered the nation's 12th-best overall recruit, according to 247Sports composite rankings. Humphrey, who helped lead Hoover High School to a national public school championship during his senior season, provides immediate help at a position of need in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama finished the 2013 campaign ranked first among FBS programs in yards allowed per game, but there were times when the Tide appeared pedestrian against the pass. The team ranked 28th nationally and seventh in the SEC in yards surrendered per pass completion.
The team allowed Oklahoma redshirt freshman Trevor Knight to throw for 348 yards and four touchdowns in a stunning Sugar Bowl defeat. Alabama managed just 11 interceptions in 13 games last season.
What are your expectations for Marlon Humphrey at Alabama?
The Tide must deal with several key departures from the defensive backfield, including free safety and projected first-round NFL draft selection Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Veteran cornerbacks Deion Belue and John Fulton are also finished at Alabama.
The Crimson Tide's depth chart is perennially stockpiled with upper-echelon talent from throughout the country, but players of Humphrey's prowess don't sit around and wait very long for an opportunity to hit the field.
He tallied 35 tackles and three interceptions in 2013 despite facing rare targets. Humphrey, the son of former Alabama player and Denver Broncos draft pick Bobby Humphrey, secured 10 total interceptions as a sophomore and junior, per 247Sports.
He has length to impact passes that seem out of reach and presents receivers with a physical matchup from the snap. His long strides disrupt passing routes and make it extremely difficult for quarterbacks to lock into space targets beyond the interception danger zone.
He is also a tremendous kick returner, which correlates with an illustrious track career.
Humphrey claimed two individual titles last summer at the World Youth Track and Field Trials (110- and 400-meter hurdles). He is considered an international contender in hurdles competition and could compete for an Olympic appearance someday if he chooses.
SEC passers can't be happy about Humphrey's addition to a 2014 backfield that already includes early enrollee Tony Brown. The Texan is listed as the nation's second-best cornerback prospect in 247Sports composite rankings, just ahead of Humphrey.
The duo provides instant impact quality and bolsters an Alabama secondary that sagged slightly last season. Brown is also a hurdles star and competes on the Tide's track and field squad.
Humphrey expressed immediate excitement about the tandem joining forces in Tuscaloosa.
Future lockdown dbs and track stars at Bama?? 😎✊👌 http://t.co/SxXjEesn1J— Fruit PUNCH (@marlon_humphrey) January 29, 2014
Saban took care of a rare roster need Wednesday. Humphrey is the latest high-profile addition to the nation's top-ranked class and appears ready to reshape Alabama's backfield as a freshman.