Being the best class of Nick Saban's tenure as head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide is like winning the Miss America pageant—all contestants are beautiful, it's just a matter of standing out in a crowded field.
The 2014 Alabama recruiting class will win the pageant.
The latest piece of good news to hit Tuscaloosa was the commitment of 5-star Hoover (Ala.) High School cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who announced his decision Wednesday 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
Humphrey is 6'1", 175 pounds and rated as the top cornerback in the country. He has great speed, quickness and all of the makings to become a lockdown corner from the moment he steps foot on campus.
That's important, because while Alabama's pass defense looked good on paper last season—it gave up 180.3 yards per game, the second-best mark in the SEC—games aren't played on paper. No. 1 cornerback Deion Belue was picked on at times, there was a revolving door at the No. 2 spot at corner, and consistency in pass defense was more myth than reality.
Enter Humphrey, who has all the skills to be an impact corner right away. Couple him with early enrollee Tony Brown—the nation's No. 2 corner in the class of 2014—and 4-star safety Laurence "Hootie" Jones, and Alabama's secondary questions all of a sudden have answers.
If nothing else and these freshmen are inconsistent, it has depth with potential.
That's what makes this particular class so great. Not only is it loaded with talent, it's filling immediate needs in spots hurt be ineffectiveness or early departures with players who could, and will, enjoy long-term success at the Capstone.
Cam Robinson is a 5-star, 6'7", 335-pound offensive lineman who not only has the talent to step in and be a contributor along the Alabama offensive line, but the opportunity after last year's starting left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio left early for the NFL. Da'Shawn Hand can be an impact defensive end versus the run or the pass and will be able to provide quality depth to a defensive line that will benefit from the ability to stay fresh throughout games.
The biggest move of all may be the recruitment and signing of Florida State transfer quarterback Jacob Coker. The 6'5", 230-pound rising redshirt junior will graduate in May and have two years of eligibility left once he gets to T-Town.
He only played in a handful of games in Tallahassee—mostly in mop-up duty—completing 21-of-41 passes for 295 yards, but he is the most prolific passer in the quarterback race. Saban can't magically create a quarterback with experience, so he got one who has taken plenty of practice reps in a pro-style offense and gives him options.
|Alabama's Full Recruiting Classes Under Nick Saban (Last 7 Years)|
|Year||5-Stars||SEC Rank||National Rank|
Earlier this month, I ranked the top SEC recruiting classes of the BCS era. Not surprisingly, Alabama classes under Saban were mentioned early and often, with the 2009 class that featured AJ McCarron, Trent Richardson and D.J. Fluker ranked as the best.
This one could top it.
Barring an unforeseen disaster, it's going to finish in the top spot in the 247Sports team-recruiting rankings for the fourth straight season and is loaded with stars who can—and should—play right away.
With two starters on the defensive line gone, junior college transfers Jarran Reed and D.J. Pettway—a former member of the Crimson Tide who came back—are in this class to provide immediate help and quality depth. Bo Scarbrough is a 6'2", 225-pound ultra-versatile athlete who new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin can get creative with in the new-look Tide offense.
On top of that, they raided the state of Louisiana for several key prospects, including Robinson and Jones. In one of the most talented years in Louisiana high school football history, two key pieces not only passed on LSU, but signed and enrolled early with one of its primary division rivals.
It's almost impossible to gauge just how good this class will be until all of its members filter through the program.
But based on how it's looking on paper and what Alabama's situation is going in, it looks like it could be Saban's best in Tuscaloosa.