Alabama National Signing Day: 5 Takeaways from Tide's Class
With the dust settling on national signing day, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide once again emerged as the day’s biggest winner by bringing in another stellar recruiting class.
A bumper crop of the nation’s top prospects, including six players who earned a coveted 5-star rating, are headed to Tuscaloosa.
The 2014 class is loaded with talent and depth and helped fill the Tide’s most pressing needs heading into this cycle. But what are the biggest takeaways from Alabama’s 2014 recruiting class?
*All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.
5. Landing Rashaan Evans Is Icing on the Cake
Heading into signing day, Alabama’s class largely appeared to be set, with little room for surprises.
However, in stealing 5-star linebacker Rashaan Evans away from archrival Auburn, the Tide struck a huge blow to their rivals while adding one of the nation’s top outside linebackers.
The 6’3”, 220-pounder racked up 43 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks as a senior at Auburn (Ala.) High School.
Evans adds to a standout haul of linebackers brought in by Saban and Kirby Smart, and his explosiveness off the edge is an element that will provide a strong boost to the Tide’s pass rush.
As astonishing as Alabama’s recent string of success on the field has been, it all began with victories on the recruiting trail.
The 2014 class gives Saban his fourth consecutive top-rated class, and this one could be the best collection of talent he’s ever assembled in one class.
While that is high praise, it’s worth noting that the 2014 class has at least one player ranked in the Top 100 committed at every position except tight end (factoring Bo Scarbrough at running back).
Considering all of the recent transition within the Tide’s program, netting a star-studded class is the first step toward getting back to college football’s peak.
3. Tide Excelling Nationally
Alabama is a program that has been a powerhouse on the recruiting trail in talent-rich states throughout the southeast.
However, with the 2014 class, Saban and his staff cast a wider net in search of the top talent available.
The results are eye-opening. The Tide’s 26-man class features players hailing from 15 different states.
With Saban establishing a presence in all parts of the country, Alabama has separated its program as the premier destination for the nation’s top recruits.
2. Class Hit a Home Run at Positions of Need
Heading into the 2014 cycle, Alabama’s main focus was on adding talent and depth at both the offensive and defensive lines, linebacker and in the secondary.
The offensive line class features six members of what may be the best haul at that position in school history, led by the nation’s top offensive tackle Cameron Robinson.
Another six players will line up for new defensive line coach Bo Davis. JUCO imports and early enrollees Jarran Reed and D.J. Pettway will provide immediate help to a unit losing two of its three starters from last season.
The Tide’s four-man linebacker class features a great mix of versatile defenders who can play inside or outside in the Tide’s 3-4 scheme. In particular, outside linebacker Christian Miller, who racked up an astonishing 188 tackles and 24 sacks as a senior, has the skill set to excel in the middle level of Kirby Smart’s defense.
As an added bonus, Saban may have found the Tide’s quarterback of the future in 4-star passer David Cornwell.
Overall, this group met all of the team’s needs with quality and quantity.
1. Several Players Could See Field This Fall
With the first-year success of recent Tide players such as A’Shawn Robinson, T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper as reference, the 2014 class features a number of prospects who could be in line to have major roles this fall.
Considering the Tide’s issues at corner last season and the fact that there appear to be no clear-cut starters at any of the corner positions heading into 2014, Brown and Humphrey have a chance to make an immediate impact.
Three JUCO imports—including defensive linemen Reed and Pettway, along with offensive tackle Dominick Jackson—are the type of plug-and-play prospects Saban has typically found success with in recent years.
Da’Shawn Hand, billed as the nation’s top defensive end, is another player who could provide a pass-rushing presence to a unit that struggled to create big plays off the edge last season. Adding a pair of edge-rushing linebackers in Christian Miller and Rashaan Evans is another step in the right direction to crank up the Tide’s pass rush.
Additionally, kicker JK Scott is in line to replace punter Cody Mandell.
Overall, this assembly of talent should pay immediate dividends for a team expected to be in the thick of the national title race in 2014.