10 Best Recruits Nick Saban Has Lured from Alabama's Bordering States
If you look at a map, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida all border the state of Alabama. While Nick Saban has the ability to recruit exceptionally inside his state and anywhere else in the country, he also has done a great job of luring talent from the states around his borders.
Since arriving in Tuscaloosa as head coach in 2007, Saban has arguably put together the greatest recruiting run in college football history. Alabama has signed countless talented prospects, plus it has put many players into the NFL.
A great deal of the Crimson Tide's top players in the Saban era are from nearby bordering states. Here are 10 recruits from just outside of the state of Alabama who standout.
Barrett Jones, OL
Jones went on to become one of the pillars and leaders of 'Bama's program. His versatility helped him leave Tuscaloosa as one of the school's most decorated players.
Currently playing for the St. Louis Rams, Jones is considered by many around Alabama to be a living legend.
Dont'a Hightower, LB
Another Tennessee native Saban signed in 2008 was linebacker Dont'a Hightower. At 6'4" and 260 pounds, Hightower had the ability to play inside and outside linebacker, plus a little defensive end.
He notched 234 tackles in four seasons and was a consensus All-American in 2011, according to Sports-Reference.com. Hightower was one of the leaders of an exceptional defensive unit during his time with the Crimson Tide.
Trent Richardson, RB
Trent Richardson came to Tuscaloosa in 2009 from the state of Florida. The Indianapolis Colts running back was a 5-star prospect during his recruiting year.
Richardson went on to run for 3,130 yards and 35 touchdowns at Alabama, according to Sports-Reference.com. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2011, the same year he was a consensus All-American.
The Cleveland Browns took Richardson with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
Chance Warmack, OG
Saban's talented 2009 class also featured an underrated prospect by the name of Chance Warmack. From Georgia, Warmack was a 3-star recruit who could have ended up playing defensive tackle.
However, he worked himself into one of the best guards in school history. Warmack dominated SEC trenches with power and agility, which helped him become a consensus All-American in 2012, per Sports-Reference.com.
The Tennessee Titans took Warmack in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.
Adrian Hubbard, LB/DE
A 4-star recruit in 2010, Adrian Hubbard was a standout defender at powerhouse Norcross High School. The 6'6" Peach State native was 237 pounds at the time, but he left Tuscaloosa weighing more than 250.
Hubbard never quite became a superstar at 'Bama, but he did prove to be a dependable player in Saban's 3-4 defense. Today, Hubbard is with the Green Bay Packers.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S
Perhaps the best recruit Saban has landed from a bordering state is safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. A 5-star talent from Orlando, Clinton-Dix chose the Crimson Tide over many other elite programs.
His intelligence and instincts helped him become one of the top players in the SEC, and Sports-Reference.com says he was a consensus All-American in 2013. The Green Bay Packers took Clinton-Dix in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.
Amari Cooper, WR
The top receiver for Alabama this season will be Amari Cooper, who was a 4-star recruit in the 2012 class.
From Miami, Cooper will likely make several preseason All-American teams this year. To date, he has 104 career receptions for 1,736 yards and 15 touchdowns, per Sports-Reference.com. The 6'1", 202-pounder could be a first-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft.
Geno Smith, CB
The Atlanta native was a 4-star prospect at cornerback in 2012. Today, he stands 6'0" and 186 pounds, with 2014 looking like a prime year for him to break out. If Smith plays like he is capable of playing this fall, he will only solidify himself on this list even more.
Kenyan Drake, RB
Kenyan Drake is a speedy running back who should be able to make even more big plays for Alabama this season. The Georgia native has a long frame at 6'1" and 201 pounds, plus he has great explosiveness and quickness.
Drake rushed for 694 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013, per Sports-Reference.com. He surely will be looking to increase his production this season, while also getting on an All-SEC team.
Derrick Henry, RB
Originally a Georgia pledge, Derrick Henry signed with Alabama as a 5-star running back in 2013. He rushed for more than 12,000 yards and 153 touchdowns in high school, according to 247Sports. The Florida native's impressive size at 6'3" and 240 pounds is what initially draws eyes to him.
However, Henry also has some wiggle to his running style, and he has gotten stronger. As a true freshman in 2013, Henry rushed for 382 yards and three touchdowns, according to Sports-Reference.com. If he stays healthy and continues to develop, the NFL is in his future.
Henry told the following to Andrew Bone of TideSports.com (subscription required) in September of 2012:
"Their program is a business-like program. They use that mentally in the weight room and how they approach everything even in the classroom. I just like everything about Alabama."