Alabama Football Recruiting: 8 Commits and Top Targets to Watch at the Opening

Sanjay Kirpalani@@SanjayKirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystJune 10, 2014

Alabama Football Recruiting: 8 Commits and Top Targets to Watch at the Opening

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    A large portion of Alabama’s 2015 recruiting class will be on display at The Opening next month.

    10 current Tide commitments are scheduled to compete at the camp, which pits some of the nation’s top prospects against one another at the Nike headquarters in Oregon.

    With a healthy mix of committed prospects and top targets in attendance, the action between the various seven-on-seven teams and the offensive and defensive line drills will be must-see TV for Tide fans.

    Which players should Tide fans zero in on during The Opening? 

    All rankings courtesy of 247Sports Composite Rankings. 

Blake Barnett, 4-Star QB

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    High School/Hometown: Santiago High School, Corona, Calif.

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195

    Commitment Status: Committed to Alabama

    How He Got Here: Alabama’s newest pledge will take his game to a place most envisioned he’d wind up playing his college ball.

    The Tide beat out Oregon for Barnett’s commitment last week, and there will be more than a bit of intrigue surrounding one of the nation’s top signal-callers since his surprise announcement for the Tide. Already rated as the No. 4 dual-threat passer in the country, Barnett has a chance to make a statement with regard to his standing as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2014 class. 

    Barnett earned his trip to The Opening by wowing at the Elite 11 Los Angeles regional, according to Student Sports.

Lester Cotton, 4-Star OL

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    High School/Hometown: Central High School, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 325 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Alabama

    How He Got Here: Cotton was among the standouts at the Birmingham NFTC in April. He showed off a trimmer frame and tremendous strength and balance in one-on-one drills against players such as 5-star defensive tackle Daron Payne.

    Cotton has been simply dominant in the spring, as noted by BamaOnline via Twitter.

    If he can duplicate that type of performance in Oregon, Cotton—currently ranked as the third-best guard prospect in the country—will make a case to be considered the nation’s best interior lineman in the 2015 class.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, 5-Star CB

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    High School/Hometown: St. Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, N.J.

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 198 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Alabama

    How He Got Here: Fitzpatrick is one of the rare talents who earned an invite to The Opening as a junior in 2013. A repeat trip was cemented after another strong showing at the New Jersey NFTC, as noted by Student Sports.

    Fitzpatrick’s size and length make him an ideal candidate to thrive in a setting that usually favors receivers. A strong display could vault him into consideration to be tabbed the nation’s top corner prospect.

Calvin Ridley, 4-Star WR

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    High School/Hometown: Monarch High School, Pompano Beach, Fla.

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 170 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Alabama

    How He Got Here: After a junior season in which he hauled in 41 receptions for 1,131 yards and 12 scores, Ridley further established himself as one of the nation’s most explosive playmakers by turning in an exceptional performance at the Miami NFTC.

    The South Florida standout was one of four stud recruits to pledge to the Tide following their spring game two months ago.

    Ridley will look to live up to his nickname “Showtime” by schooling some of the nation’s top defensive backs at The Opening.

Deionte Thompson, 4-Star S

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    High School/Hometown: West Orange-Stark High School, Orange, Texas

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 181 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Alabama

    How He Got Here: Thompson was the very first commitment of the 2015 class after pulling the trigger in February of 2013. The rangy safety earned his invite after turning in a dominant performance at the Houston NFTC.

    After impressing on the camp circuit, Thompson's ranking has steadily climbed. Currently rated as the second-best safety in the 2015 class, Thompson has a chance to climb into the top spot if he continues his strong play in Oregon next month.

Jovon Durante, 4-Star WR

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    High School/Hometown: Norland High School, Miami, Fla.

    Height/Weight: 6’0”, 162 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Committed to West Virginia; Alabama and Miami among handful of schools threatening to flip him.

    How He Got Here: How explosive was Durante as a junior at Miami’s Northwestern High School? According to Student Sports, 17 of his 21 receptions resulted in a touchdown.

    The current West Virginia commit camped at the Miami NFTC and earned an invitation to The Opening last month, according to Chris Anderson of Eer Sports.

    If Durante’s Crystal Ball page is any indicator, he could join fellow South Floridian Calvin Ridley in Tuscaloosa when all is said and done with his recruitment.

    This camp setting should find Durante in his comfort zone, and a strong showing in Oregon could lead to a more favorable ranking and increased interest in his recruitment.

Jacques Patrick, 4-Star RB

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    High School/Hometown: Timber Creek High School, Orlando, Fla.

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 220

    Commitment Status: Uncommitted; considering Florida State and Alabama amongst others

    How He Got Here: Patrick earned his invite to Oregon by rushing for combined totals of 5,385 yards and 67 touchdowns over the last three seasons.

    Florida State is considered the favorite to land Patrick according to his 247Sports Crystal Ball page. However, as noted by BamaOnline’s Charles Power (subscription required), Patrick will visit Tuscaloosa in January and he’s already scheduled an unofficial visit for the Tide’s Sept. 20 game against Florida.

    Given Alabama’s history with recruiting elite running backs, the Tide are positioning themselves to be in the thick of the race for Patrick’s services until he announces his decision.

    In a setting that values a back’s ability to make more plays in a receiving capacity, Tide fans will get a chance to see if Patrick is a back that can be versatile enough to be a feature back in the Tide’s offense.

Daron Payne, 5-Star DT

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    High School/Hometown: Shades Valley High School, Birmingham, Ala.

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 330

    Commitment Status: Uncommitted; considering Alabama, Auburn, Texas and Florida State amongst others

    How He Got Here: Payne’s combination of freakish size and speed was on full display at the Birmingham NFTC where he put on a show against a top-notch crop of offensive linemen.

    If he’s able to put on a similar performance at The Opening, the top prospect from the Yellowhammer State will cement his 5-star rating and build a solid case to be deemed the nation’s top interior defensive lineman.