Alabama Football Recruiting: Five 2015 Commits Who Can Make an Immediate Impact
With three new additions to Alabama's top-rated 2015 recruiting class within the last week, Nick Saban and the coaching staff are cleaning up on the recruiting trail.
Fourteen of the Tide’s 18 pledges are 4-stars or higher, and 10 rank among the nation’s top 100 players, according to 247Sports Composite Rankings.
With that type of talent headed to the Capstone, a handful of potential impact players are capable of making the jump to the college level and earning playing time as freshmen.
Which current commits fit the bill of being able to make an impact on the field next fall?
5. Mekhi Brown
On the recruiting trail, two of the main traits in demand by defensive coaches are length and versatility.
Those traits are exactly what make 4-star defender Mekhi Brown such a coveted commodity.
The 6’6”, 220-pound Brown, who has been committed to the Tide since April 2013, fits the mold of the new hybrid player who can transition seamlessly between positions such as defensive end and outside linebacker.
Given his athleticism and body type, Brown is a candidate to help the Tide in packages that are designed to slow down hurry-up offenses which possess mobile quarterbacks.
4. Keaton Anderson
Similar to Brown, Keaton Anderson's versatility is part of what makes him an intriguing addition to the Tide’s stellar crop of 2015 defensive commitments.
The 6’1”, 215-pounder can play linebacker or line up in the secondary as an extra defensive back in nickel and dime sets. He may not carry the star power of some of the other members of this class, but he's exactly the type of player who could excel in a niche role created by Saban and Kirby Smart.
In fact, as noted by BamaOnline's Charles Power (subscription required), Anderson feels that he could line up in multiple positions when his college career begins.
"I think I’m a Will linebacker and maybe their Star position,” Anderson said. “Right now, I see myself playing Will. I can move around pretty well and I think I can fit different packages. Wherever I can get on the field is all that matters to me. I think I’ll be able to contribute pretty well."
The potential opening at the star position, which will be manned by senior Jarrick Williams this season, offers Anderson a chance to step in and put his diverse skill set to use as a freshman.
3. Minkah Fitzpatrick
On the heels of landing 5-star corners Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey in the 2014 class, Saban and Kirby Smart took another huge step in retooling the secondary by landing 5-star New Jersey native Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The 6’1”, 198-pound Fitzpatrick ranks as the fourth best corner in the class of 2015 after recording a combined six interceptions and 33 pass breakups over the last two seasons.
With a frame that appears ready to handle the rigors of playing corner in the SEC, Fitzpatrick’s arrival figures to ramp up the competition for playing time next season.
2. Leo Lewis
Alabama is noted for the amount of quality depth throughout the entire roster.
However, following the Tide’s spring game, Saban referenced the inside linebacker position as one area where the Tide could use a lift.
“From a front-seven standpoint, I feel a lot further along (this year),” Saban said. “Maybe not quite enough depth at inside linebacker, and there will be some opportunities for some young guys to continue to develop at that position.”
With upperclassmen such as Reggie Ragland, Dillon Lee and Trey DePriest projected to man the inside this fall, plus former 5-star recruit Reuben Foster's struggle to remain healthy, those opportunities may still be available heading into 2015.
Leo Lewis, tabbed as the nation’s top inside linebacker prospect, tallied 100 tackles as a junior in 2013.
The 6’3”, 225-pounder told BamaOnline’s Charles Power that his ability to be a run-stuffing middle linebacker is what made him stand out in the eyes of the Alabama coaching staff.
1. Calvin Ridley
The last time Alabama dipped into the recruiting hotbed of South Florida for a receiver prospect, it landed record-breaking standout and rising junior Amari Cooper.
With the commitment of 4-star pass-catcher Calvin Ridley, the Tide snagged one of the nation's most explosive playmakers in the 2015 class.
Considering that Ridley averaged a ridiculous 28 yards per reception on his 41 catches and scored 12 touchdowns as a junior, the parallels to Cooper may just be beginning.
The 6’2”, 170-pounder ranks as the second-best receiver prospect in Florida. With Cooper potentially testing the NFL draft waters following the season, the Tide may have already found his eventual replacement in the electric Ridley.
Note: All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.