Alabama Football: Analyzing Tide's Top 5 2015 Recruiting Targets
247Sports currently has the Tide sitting atop the class rankings, but Saban is still aggressively pursuing a handful of the nation’s top prospects.
Particularly, the Tide are hoping to land difference-makers in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Also, landing a quarterback and another playmaker at receiver are priorities in finishing off the 2015 class.
Which players make up the Tide’s top five remaining targets for 2015?
5. Travis Waller
Alabama has signed at least one quarterback in every class since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa seven years ago.
“Oh it’s definitely a big offer; a powerhouse team like Alabama is really big,” Waller told B/R’s Trenise Ferreira recently. “[They run] a pro style offense, so that’s a plus for me. A lot of their quarterbacks tend to go to the NFL, and the NFL likes pro style offenses, so they’re definitely high on my list.”
As BamaOnLine’s Charles Power reports (subscription required), Waller plans to visit Tuscaloosa over the summer.
In particular, it will be key to watch whether Waller makes it to one of the Tide’s summer camps—which have served as a proving ground for quarterbacks searching for a committable offer.
4. Drew Richmond
Alabama already has a trio of decorated offensive linemen in the fold, but all three are projected to begin their college careers at one of the three interior positions.
Saban would like to nab at least one elite offensive tackle prospect. There are several names on the board, but one player who appears to be a priority for Saban is Memphis 4-star Drew Richmond.
According to Power, Richmond said he was contacted by Saban while the Tide’s head coach was in New York City earlier this month for the NFL draft.
“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.”
Richmond visited Tuscaloosa at the end of March, and if he makes a return trip over the summer, it will signal that the interest between the two parties is mutual and growing.
3. Jovon Durante
However, Miami native Jovon Durante is another prospect heavily involved with the Tide.
The West Virginia commitment was rumored to have flipped his pledge to the Tide during the A-Day weekend commit spree that saw four top targets join the 2015 class, but he discredited the reports, per AL.com’s Wesley Sinor.
With Tide assistant and ace recruiter Mario Cristobal leading the charge in recruiting Durante, the odds appear to remain in favor of him winding up in Tuscaloosa when all is said and done.
2. CeCe Jefferson
Alabama’s commitment toward adding more athleticism along the defensive line has taken shape over the last two recruiting classes.
This year, 5-star Florida native CeCe Jefferson is among the nation’s top pass-rushers in the 2015 class. Jefferson, who visited Alabama on April 2, was extremely impressed with what he saw in Tuscaloosa, according to Chris Nee of Noles247 (subscription required):
Titletown. That place just knocks me off my feet every time I go there. My goal is before I commit to take my mom to Alabama because I am always telling her how nice it is. I want her to see how everything is so beautiful and brand new. Coach (Nick) Saban and Coach (Lance) Thompson are great coaches. The Alabama defense is something that is always good. I think I can see myself fitting into that. I think I would be like a 3-4 linebacker at Alabama. I know they are trying to get more speed up-front.
Alabama has had success in the state of Florida in recent years, and although Jefferson appears to be a lean to the home-standing Gators, the Tide have laid the foundation to be involved with his recruitment until the end.
1. Daron Payne
Alabama has made upgrading the defensive line a priority in the 2015 class, and a big part of that equation hinges on getting an elite presence on the interior.
While the Tide are involved with at least three different 5-star out-of-state defensive tackles, the biggest prize on their board could be Birmingham 5-star defensive tackle Daron Payne.
Payne’s recruitment is believed to be a two-horse race between in-state powers Alabama and Auburn.
Payne visited Tuscaloosa in March and returned for the Tide’s spring game last month, and the Tide appear to be in a strong position to keep the 6’2”, 316-pounder close to home.
All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.