Alabama Football Recruiting: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

Sanjay Kirpalani@@SanjayKirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystMay 20, 2014

Alabama Football Recruiting: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

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    Dave Martin/Associated Press

    With summer rapidly approaching, the main focus for Nick Saban and his staff will turn to building on Alabama's 2015 recruiting class.

    The Tide already have 15 commitments—with potential difference-makers already in the fold at nearly every position.

    How does the Tide's class shake out heading into the summer?

    *Unless otherwise stated, all recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.


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    Commitments – None

    Top Targets – 3-star Quinten Dormady, 3-star David Sills (USC commitment), 4-star Travis Waller

    Grade – C

    Considering that Alabama has signed at least one quarterback in every recruiting class since Saban's arrival in Tuscaloosa, the Tide are a strong bet to add a passer with at least one of their final scholarships.

    The Tide earned an early commitment from 5-star California native Ricky Town last year. However, Town decommitted in favor of USC.

    Zach Gentry was another top target, but he recently committed to Texas.

    The Tide's attention now turns to players such as 3-star Texas standout Quinten Dormady and 3-star Maryland native David Sills—who's been a longtime commitment to USC. Sills is an interesting name to watch considering he pledged to the Trojans when former head coach and current Tide offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin was in Los Angeles.

    The recent offer to 4-star California product Travis Waller is intriguing. According to B/R's Trenise Ferreira, Waller plans to visit Tuscaloosa either in June or July.

    Another passer to keep an eye on is 4-star Ohio native Joe Burrow, who was recently visited by Tide assistant Bobby Williams, according to BamaOnline's Charles Power (subscription required).

    While there doesn't appear to be a clear-cut top option, the Tide will continue to evaluate the position. Specifically, keep an eye on the quarterbacks who show up to the Tide's summer camps. 

Running Back

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    Commitments – 4-star Desherrius Flowers

    Top Targets – 5-star Damien Harris, 5-star Jovon Robinson (Auburn Commitment), 4-star Nick Gibson

    Grade – B

    With juniors T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake regarded as potential candidates to test the NFL draft waters following this season, Saban and his staff are making running back a priority in this class.

    The Tide already have a commitment from 4-star Mobile, Alabama, product Desherrius Flowers—who rushed for 922 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore.

    However, the recent commitment of 5-star JUCO rusher Jovon Robinson to Auburn was a blow. Even with that pledge, the Tide are still in hot pursuit of the 5'11", 225-pounder, as detailed by Kipp Adams of 247Sports (subscription required). Power reports that Robinson is still scheduled to visit Alabama next month.

    Another back in the mix is in-state standout Nick Gibson, who was in attendance for the Tide's spring game in April. As Power notes (subscription required), Gibson was impressed with what he saw.

    "Everything. All of the success they've had the past few years and my family grew up Bama fans," Gibson said. "The academics are crazy up there. You can major in two things and graduate early. They have top of the line stuff."

Wide Receiver/Tight End

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    Pic courtesy 247Sports

    Commitments – 4-star WR Calvin Ridley, 4-star WR Daylon Charlot

    Top Targets – 4-star WR Jovon Durante, 5-star WR Terry Godwin (Georgia Commitment), 4-star TE Devonaire Clarington, 4-star TE Will Gragg, 4-star TE Jackson Harris

    Grade – A

    With Christion Jones and DeAndrew White entering their senior seasons, and the potential of Amari Cooper forgoing his final college season in favor of the NFL draft, Alabama is looking to reload its receiving unit in this class.

    Adding another body at tight end is also a strong possibility.

    The early commitments from Calvin Ridley and Daylon Charlot give the Tide a pair of explosive playmaking receivers. Alabama also appears to be in a strong position with former West Virginia commitment Jovon Durante.

    Terry Godwin, a 5-star who is committed to Georgia, has also made multiple visits to Alabama in recent months. While he still remains firm in his commitment, the visits alone are reason to keep him as a prospect worth monitoring.

    At tight end, Alabama is aggressively recruiting players such as Devonaire Clarington, Will Gragg, Hale Hentges and Jackson Harris.

    Expect at least one of those names to emerge as the Tide's top option at that position.

Offensive Line

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    Pic courtesy Sanjay Kirpalani

    Commitments – 4-star Lester Cotton, 4-star Richie Petitbon, 4-star Dallas Warmack

    Top Targets – 4-star Matthew Burrell, 4-star Drew Richmond, 4-star Javon Patterson

    Grade – A

    After focusing on offensive tackles in the 2014 class, the interior positions along the offensive line are among the biggest needs in the 2015 cycle.

    With early pledges from three players—Lester Cotton, Richie Petitbon and Dallas Warmack—ranked among the nation's top 10 guards in this class, the Tide have already hit a home run at that position.

    The focus in filling out the rest of the class will likely shift to adding at least one quality tackle.

    Some tackles to focus on in the summer include Martez Ivey, Drew Richmond and Matthew Burrell

    Ivey is a Florida native and is perceived to be a lean to the home-standing Gators.

    As Power recently mentioned, Saban is aggressively pursuing Richmond—even contacting him while he was at the NFL draft earlier this month.

    "He just told me he wanted to see me up there in a couple of years coming from Alabama," Richmond said. "He was up there with Cyrus (Kouandjio) and Ha Ha (Clinton-Dix). I was excited to talk to Coach Saban while he was at the draft. That was special."

    Burrell hails from the same area in Virginia that has seen the Tide land Jonathan Allen and Da'Shawn Hand in the last two years. With those connections, he's someone to keep an eye on if and when he visits Tuscaloosa.

Defensive Line

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    Commitments – 3-star DE Anfernee Jennings, 4-star DT Jonathan Ledbetter

    Top Targets – 5-star DE Byron Cowart, 5-star DE CeCe Jefferson, 5-star DT Daron Payne, 5-star DT Trent Thompson, 5-star DT Tim Settle

    Grade – B

    Another area of focus in this class is reloading along the defensive line.

    The Tide have a commitment from in-state standout Anfernee Jennings, who is a candidate to line up at defensive end. 

    The top targets to join him on the edges are a pair of 5-star standouts from the Sunshine State—Byron Cowart and CeCe Jefferson.

    The Florida Gators are considered the favorites for both Cowart and Jefferson, but both players have the Tide in the top group of schools, and each made visits to Tuscaloosa earlier in the spring.

    At defensive tackle, Georgia native Jonathan Ledbetter is listed as a commitment. However, he's still considering schools such as Georgia and Auburn. While Ledbetter's long-term status remains up in the air, the focus for the Tide remains on pursuing some of the nation's most elite prospects at defensive tackle. Birmingham native Daron Payne is a critical battle that will be waged with rival Auburn.

    Bo Davis will likely take a big swing at out-of-state standouts such as Trent Thompson and Tim Settle. Thompson is a lean to Georgia while Settle is similar to Burrell with his Virginia roots and connections to Hand and Allen.


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    Commitments – 4-star ILB Leo Lewis, 4-star OLB Mekhi Brown, 3-star OLB Christian Bell

    Top Targets – 4-star ILB Joshua McMillon, 5-star OLB Malik Jefferson, 4-star OLB Justin Hilliard

    Grade – A

    Even though the Tide loaded up on linebackers in the 2014 class, they have already struck gold with that position with three pledges in this cycle.

    Leo Lewis is rated as the nation's top inside linebacker while Mekhi Brown and Christian Bell are rangy players who could line up on the outside and even slide down and play defensive end in certain situations.

    With that kind of talent already on board, expect the Tide to swing for the fences with elite linebacker prospects.

    Tennessee product Joshua McMillon and Ohio native Justin Hilliard are a pair of out-of-state standouts to watch over the summer.

Defensive Backs

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    Commitments – 4-star CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, 3-star CB Montrell Custis, 4-star S Deionte Thompson, 4-star S Shawn Burgess-Becker

    Top Targets – 5-star CB Kendall Sheffield,  4-star S Jamal Peters

    Grade – A

    Similar to the situation at linebacker, Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart have already assembled a star-studded class in the secondary.

    The crown jewel of the class to date is 5-star corner Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is ranked as the nation's fourth-best corner. Getting Georgia native Montrell Custis to flip from Kentucky was another savvy pickup for a player who may be underrated as a 3-star.

    At safety, the duo of Deionte Thompson and Shawn Burgess-Becker is top-notch.

    This class could be complete as is. However, adding another corner could be a possibility. Possibilities there include Kendall Sheffield and Florida State commitment Tyrek Cole.