With six recruits in Alabama’s top-rated 2014 recruiting class earning a coveted 5-star ranking, identifying one player as the headliner of this group is a challenge.
However, the addition of 5-star corner Marlon Humphrey a week before signing day put the Tide’s class over the top.
Getting one of the nation’s top players at a position of need, especially a college-ready talent such as the 6’1”, 175-pound Humphrey, gives the Tide a potential impact performer who can contribute this fall.
Humphrey, who was one of the catalysts of Hoover (Ala.) High School’s run to back-to-back 6A state titles in his final two prep seasons, is a two-sport star who will also bring his world-class speed to the Tide’s track team.
The Need at Corner
Despite Nick Saban’s reputation as a coach who molds standout defensive backs, Alabama’s secondary endured its share of rough moments in 2013.
That’s why one of the most pressing needs in the 2014 class was to find multiple prospects who are capable of developing into lockdown corners in the mold of former Tide stars such as Dee Milliner, Dre Kirkpatrick and Kareem Jackson.
Between Humphrey and Tony Brown, who were billed as the nation’s top two corners in the 2014 class (according to 247Sports), Saban hit a home run with two players who have all the necessary physical tools to step in and contribute immediately.
With the graduation of Deion Belue and the absence of an established presence to start on the opposite side, there's ample opportunity for both Humphrey and Brown to get on the field early.
Humphrey could stand to add some weight to his 175-pound frame before the season, but his instincts and ability to be physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage and in run support are factors that will net him valuable snaps this fall.
What to Expect
The expectations for Humphrey, who is the son of former Tide All-American running back Bobby Humphrey, have been building ever since he burst onto the recruiting scene as a sophomore in high school.
Add to that his lineage (his dad is former Tide great Bobby Humphrey) and physical attributes, and it's easy to see why he was one of the nation’s most coveted recruits in the 2014 class.
Similar to 2013 freshmen defenders like Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller, Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III and Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey, Humphrey fits the mold of college-ready defensive backs capable of making an instant impact.
As Andrew Gribble of AL.com notes, the Tide’s secondary will feature a wide-open competition for playing time, and Humphrey may be the most talented option available as soon as he arrives on campus this summer.
Humphrey, who recorded 13 interceptions and 24 pass breakups over his final three prep seasons, is exactly the type of ball-hawking corner with the size and skill to match up against the SEC’s most dominant receiving threats.
Given the uncertainty surrounding the Tide’s situation at corner entering the season, expect Humphrey to log major snaps and be in contention for a starting spot by the end of his freshman season.