Marcel Dareus didn't start out as a household name in recruiting his senior season. Most schools didn't know a lot about him and those that did were afraid he wouldn't make his grades.
When his highlight tape hit the recruiting circuit, though, people were instantly wowed. With prototypical NFL size and speed, Dareus racked up 20 sacks in his senior season. His explosiveness on the tape was apparent to anyone that saw it.
As a result the phone started ringing off the hook with coaches looking for more information on the fast-rising phenom.
Still, the academic situation kept many programs from giving him a firm offer. Alabama coach Nick Saban wasn't one of them. The Tide made an offer to Dareus and stuck by him throughout the recruiting process.
Marcel and his brother Demarious took their visits, but their commitments were over once they'd visited the Capstone. They were blown away by the campus, the program, and the business school, which both brothers were interested in majoring in.
There was also the added benefit of only being an hour away from being able to drop in on their Mom in Birmingham.
Alabama's coaches weren't disappointed once fall camp began. Though he still had to learn the defensive scheme, Dareus's talent was obvious. It wasn't just his coaches that noticed either. Teammate Lorenzo Washington could see the potential in Dareus saying, "Marcel has tremendous upside. He's going to be the next great Alabama defensive tackle."
By late in his freshman season Tide coach Nick Saban had seen enough improvement to regularly insert Dareus at the noseguard position on third downs. Saban felt with Darues' combination of strength and speed he would provide the Tide with an improved pass rush.
The change provided immediate dividends against LSU. Dareus totaled three tackles against the Tigers.
The off season only did more to impress the staff and his teammates. Dareus had a great spring and fall camp racking up four sacks in the Tide's two fall scrimmages. When head coach Nick Saban released his depth chart for the Tide's opening game against Virginia Tech, Dareus was second at his spot to only senior Lorenzo Washington.
With the loss of defensive end Brandon Deaderick to a gunshot wound Monday night, Dareus found himself practicing with the starters on the opposite side of Washington. Deaderick is likely to be out several weeks recovering from his wounds.
This should allow Dareus ample playing time to show Alabama fans what he's shown his teammates and coaches all along.
Dareus will be backed up by junior Luther Davis. Some among the fan base may have been surprised by the move. Those who saw fall camp, however, would have been surprised had it been anyone else.
His size and speed make him a great match up for any offensive lineman one-on-one. His strength, considered to be tops among the team, is just icing on the cake.
So Bama fans can rest assured while Deaderick goes through his rehabilitation. Dareus is more than a quality replacement. He is likely the most talented defensive lineman on the Alabama roster. Deaderick might have his hands full getting his job back.
As good as this defense already is, a little healthy competition could only serve to make it better.