The 2013-14 season turned out to be rough for the Crimson Tide. One of the most dominant teams in college football, Alabama took a dramatic fall from grace at the end of the season. After starting 11-0, the Crimson Tide dropped their last two games—including a 45-31 loss to Oklahoma in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Now, the Tide will look to rebound in 2014. They have certainly began to regroup in a big way after dominating national signing day with the nation's best recruiting class. After losing multiple key players to the NFL draft, Alabama bolstered its roster in a big way on Wednesday.
The team was able to nab six 5-star recruits and many 4-star recruits, assuring that they will once again be among the NCAA's elite. Let's take a look at the recruiting class and highlight a few players who are sure to make an immediate impact.
Alabama Crimson Tide's 2014 Complete Recruiting Class
Da'Shawn Hand, DE
Hand stands at 6'4", weighs 265 pounds and runs a 4.60 40-yard dash. He is the top-ranked defensive end, rated as a 5-star recruit and given a perfect 100 overall rating by 247Sports. He is a physically gifted athlete who plays well against the run and pass.
His explosiveness at the snap, ability to shed blocks and reputation as a sure-tackler makes him a do-it-all defensive lineman. Hand has a perfect frame and skill set to flourish at either defensive end or defensive tackle while at Alabama.
He needs to improve a bit on his technique to fight off some of the better offensive tackles at the college level; however, he is so naturally talented that he can get by on his raw ability alone.
During an interview with The Washington Post's Joey Lomonaco and Brandon Parker, Hand stressed what he must focus on now that the recruiting process is over. Hand said, "It feels amazing [being done with recruiting]. It feels great. I'm so happy that it's over. Now, it's time to just focus on school, training, work and being a kid. That's it."
Here's a good look at what Hand brings to the table:
Cameron Robinson, OT
After losing Cyrus Kouandjio to the NFL draft, it was an absolute necessity to bring in another top-tier offensive tackle. The Crimson Tide did exactly that once Robinson—the top prospect at his position—signed with the team. At 6'7" and 335 pounds, Robinson is an extremely dominant offensive lineman in pass protection and blocking for the run.
UA commitment Cam Robinson got a little lost in all the drama of this class. The nation's top OL. Already on campus. http://t.co/9uIbaT09BF— Tim Watts (@TimWatts_BOL) February 5, 2014
Despite Robinson's size, he is agile and has quick feet. He is extremely athletic, which allows him to pull on running plays and get down the field to block for screens. Robinson maintains good pad level and uses his size to his advantage by forcing defensive linemen back from the line of scrimmage.
Once he improves his hand techniques, he has the ability to be one of the most dominant offensive tackles in the NCAA. Robinson will surely be the cornerstone of Alabama's offensive line for years to come.
TuscaloosaNews.com's Aaron Suttles delivered a statement from Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell regarding Alabama's revamped offensive line:
When you look at this class, to me, the contrast in size is kind of interesting. You've got a couple of dudes that are pure tackles and then you've got some shorter scrapers in the middle. So, I think it's a good mix of interior talent with guys who can play center and then guys that can play guard or tackle. I think it's a really good balance of talent.
This video shows perfect examples of Robinson's prowess:
Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey, CBs
Alabama didn't just grab one elite cornerback—they got two. Brown and Humphrey have very similar size and skill sets and will be a formidable duo in Alabama's secondary in the very near future.
Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey would give Alabama a pair of five-star CB in the class. Saban/Smart could have used them last season.— Alex Scarborough (@AlexS_ESPN) January 29, 2014
Brown stands at 6'0" and weighs 188 pounds, while Humphrey is 6'1" and weighs 175 pounds. Brown's bigger frame made him a very effective safety in high school; however, he will probably be slated to play corner for the Crimson Tide. Humphrey has always played corner and has a natural ability at the position.
What makes Brown stand out is his incredible speed. He is a talented track star and posted a blazing 4.34 40-yard dash time. Humphrey has solid fundamentals. He is a very versatile corner who can play up in press coverage in off-man coverage. He is also quick enough to cover ground quickly.
During an interview with TideSports.com's Suttles, Humphrey stated that playing alongside Brown was a big reason for his choice to play for the Tide:
I just really wanted to play with somebody that was similar to me in that we play corner and run hurdles and track. Having somebody there to go through the same with you, that's something I think can be really special.
Brown shows his speed here:
Humphrey is explosive and versatile:
All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise stated.