The Stones said it best: "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find. You get what you need." It is not the prettiest class of the Nick Saban Era, but none the less it is a very significant one.
In a year when as many as seven defensive backfield players with experience are leaving, necessity overtakes desire. This can also been seen in the signing of eight linemen, four on the defensive front and four more on the offensive side.
Having to sign a punter and a kicker are never easy pills to swallow when you might want to take a five-star safety and his QB brother. That is the burden of having to replace needs.
Still, even with the need to fill holes, Alabama managed to land a consensus top-five recruiting class for the third year in a row. That is a feat that has only been duplicated by the likes of Florida and USC.
To say that this class is less than stellar would be an insult to Alabama, the coaches, but most importantly the players. This may not be the No. 1 class in Alabama history but it is in the top 10 and these players will win a title before they leave the Capstone.
Here is a look at 10 players and what they may contribute over the next 3-5 years on the Capstone.
Phillip Sims: The 6'2" quarterback from Chesapeake, VA is considered by many to be the top quarterback prospect in the country. He has the size and frame to be an NFL caliber talent, and will have the time to hone his skills waiting behind AJ and Greg. He is the most significant player in this class, not because of his remarkable talent but because Alabama took him out of ACC, Big East, and Big Ten country.
Prediction: Sims will sit behind Greg and will battle it out with AJ for the 2011 starting job. After losing to AJ, he will gain the role his junior year, and will lead the Tide to an SEC title game before his departure to the NFL. Where he will be a second-round selection.
DeMarcus Milliner: This is one of those rare occasions where what you want is what you need. DeMarcus is a special talent and has the size and speed to cover any caliber receiver. He shined at the UA All-American game, and has the skills to contribute on defense and special teams immediately.
Prediction: Will start alongside Gasden star Dre Kirkpatrick for the 2010 season. After becoming a consensus All-American in his sophomore year he will lead a junior campaign that will see him receive consideration for the Heisman. He will leave Alabama after his junior year when he receives a first-round grade from the draft advisory board.
John Fulton: John may be the best recruit in the nation. He has the skills, smarts, and ability to develop into a shutdown corner or a ball hawking safety. If that is not enough to wet your whistle, he is a class act. The son of a Sgt. Major and veteran of the U.S. Army. He will feel right at home with Nick Saban and the DBs.
Prediction: John will play a reserve this year and will develop into an excellent corner. In 3 years he will be a starter and an All-American. His senior year, he will help lead the Crimson Tide to the SEC Title. He will be estimated to be a third-round pick but his performance in the Senior Bowl and his character will have him being selected in the top of the second-round.
C.J. Mosley: C.J. is a talent that is just waiting to explode. He still has some growing to do and fill out his frame just a little bit, and that is why he will redshirt. He has the smarts and attitude to be a huge presence in the front seven at Alabama. He is not Rolando McClain but compares well to a DeMeco Ryans.
Prediction: C.J. will redshirt his first year because he will be behind too much talent with more knowledge and experience. In his second year he will play a medium role in the rotation and contribute well. His third and fourth years will be potential All-SEC seasons and lead him to opt out for the draft where he will be taken in the second round.
Keiwone Malone: There is a reason why Saban broke through the mythical fence around Memphis and Malone is why. Malone has deceptive speed and has hands like crazy glue. Look for Keiwone Malone to be a taller version of Maze and provide the deep play threat every time he steps on the field. He may not be a starter at first but he will find a spot in the rotation.
Prediction: Malone will be like most Alabama receivers and have a limited keep-the-defense-honest role at first. Down the road, with QBs like AJ and Phillip taking over the reins, look for him and other Alabama receivers to make some serious noise. He may never make an All-American list but he will be mid-round draft choice by the time he leaves T-Town.
Brian Volger: Nick Saban loves the tight end position and teaches his quarterbacks to love it as well. Brian is a massive 6'7", 248 pounds and can hold his own blocking but still get open down the field as well. Alabama has some talented TEs already but look for Brian to see some playing time this fall.
Prediction: Brian will be one of the few freshmen to play immediately and will contribute well as a safety valve for Greg. He will develop well and will become a very reliable option for the QBs in Tuscaloosa to look for over the next four years. Brain will go in the fourth round of the draft after playing in the Senior Bowl.
Blake Sims: For those of you who have never seen film on Blake Sims, go look at some now. This guy is a football player and an athlete. He could line up at WR, CB, QB, or HB and start at any other school. He is the kind of player that just makes explosive plays happen all the time. Look for him to contribute early as the return man for Alabama this fall, and take some snaps as the Wildcat QB.
Prediction: Sims is a Percy Harvin/Reggie Bush type player but without all the baggage. He will see significant and immediate playing time and will, at some time in his three year career, receive an invite to NY, NY. Sims will be a mid-first-round selection after an impressive combine and great junior year.
DeAndrew White: This Texan will enjoy his time with Alabama much more than his orange wearing brethren, and will probably redshirt this year. White is fast, as in one of top-10 fastest people in Texas fast. Just for info, Texas has a population of over 25 million. He will eventually find his way into a starting WR spot and contribute well during his career at the Capstone.
Prediction: White will not receive many accolades but will help Alabama win a championship ring with a strong work ethic. This work ethic and his natural abilities will make him a steal for some team in the NFL draft. Do not be surprised if he turns out to be an All-American talent at the Capstone; he has fantastic hands.
Alfy Hill: Alabama has a very talented and physical defensive front, but speed off the edge has always been a problem. Alfy is the solution to that problem. He is built like a linebacker but has the hands and strength of a defensive end. Look for Alfy to compete for playing time either at the end or Jack position. Alfy is the type of player who will flourish under Sal Sunseri and Nick Saban.
Prediction: Although he will redshirt his first year, Alfy will be one of the players who will benefit most from the Fourth Quarter Conditioning program. After a year of learning the system and bulking up, look for him to explode on the scene. Alfy has the potential to be consensus All-American good and a first-round draft selection.
Brandon Ivory: Nick Saban has an ability to find athletic big men to fit his 3-4 system and Brandon is that man. A football and basketball player that is a massive 6'3", 330 pounds. He may not be Mt. Cody but he will be a force in the middle of the Alabama defensive front.
Prediction: Look for Brandon to rotate out with Josh Chapman at nose guard for the next three years. Finally attaining the starting job his senior year and fulfilling his role nicely. He may not be a first or second-round talent but he is a perfect fit for the 3-4 system at Alabama and will find a fit in the NFL.
These are not the 10 highest rated players or by any means the only ones that will go to the NFL, even if they do. They are merely 10 of the players that I think have the best chance to succeed and flourish in Nick Saban's system.
This is the future at Alabama and with these players and their comrades developing to their potential, Bama will continue to win championships for a long time to come.
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