Alabama Football 2011: A Look Back on Tide Standouts in Their High School Days

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Alabama Football 2011: A Look Back on Tide Standouts in Their High School Days

The NFL draft is sometimes called the biggest crapshoot in the world, but it doesn't have anything on college recruiting out of high school. 

Sometimes the ranking agencies hit the nail on the head, as was the case with wide receivers Julio Jones and A.J. Green being the top of their class as 5-star recruits. 

Other times they whiff, such as ranking current floundering Texas quarterback Garret Gilbert at the top of his class as a 5-star, or Mark Ingram as the No. 17 back in the nation.

Some Alabama Crimson Tide players are right about where we expected of them out of high school, while some are not, and others are total shockers.

Here's a look, in no particular order, at where our favorite—and a few not-so-favorite—athletes started.

Dont'a Hightower

Recruited as a middle linebacker, but he spent most of his career playing outside.  Dabbled with middle linebacker in 2010 before moving back to outside.  He was a 4-star recruit but rated low as the No. 15 inside linebacker in the nation.  As we know he is not No. 15 talent, but closer to No. 1 talent.

Tana Patrick

Made limited appearances so far in his career.  Surprising as he was a 4-star No. 5 ranked inside linebacker.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Cade Foster, a star high school kicker and linebacker, attempting to replace Leigh Tiffin with a ninja move.

Robert Lester

Julio Jones' practice opponent in high school, he was ranked only as the No. 23 safety in the nation, but did earn a 4-star status.  He has certainly exceeded expectations.

Robby Green

Played cornerback, not safety, in high school.  Rated as the 17th best in the nation with a 4-star status.  His shenanigans allowed Robert Lester to prove his ball-hawking skills.

Dre Kirkpatrick

The star of his class, Dre Kirkpatrick was the consensus No. 1 cornerback in the nation, and an obvious 5-star talent.  He has proven it, but he had a year to hone his skills before he was thrown to the wolves.

DeMarcus Milliner

5-star corner back in high school, and No. 2 at his position.  He hasn't quite lived up to expectations, but that is likely due to growing pains.  Playing as a true freshman cornerback in a very complicated scheme in the SEC can't be easy.

Cade Foster

Rated as the No. 10 kicker in the nation and just a mere 3-star prospect, he has exceeded expectations, and has all but taken over Jeremy Shelley's job.  He also played linebacker in high school, and at one point in the 2010 season he led the Tide in tackles on special teams. He has the potential to surpass Leigh Tiffin (blasphemy!).

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Barrett Jones cleared the path to the Heisman Trophy for Mark Ingram.

Jalston Fowler

Recruited as a fullback, but may be carrying the ball more than a normal fullback.  Listed as the No. 3 fullback in the nation, with 4-stars.

Barrett Jones

Played center in high school, but now sits at right guard for the tide.  It is not out of the question for him to be incumbent center William Vlachos' successor.  He's as smart as they come and would have no problems with snap counts.  Ranked as the No. 1 center in the nation with a 4-star rating.

David Ross

Recently graduated David Ross spent his career as a backup, but a happy one nonetheless.  He was the No. 2 center in the nation coming out of high school.  He may not have have lived up to expectations, but at least he was smiling.

Chad Lindsay

As one of the Tide's plumper players, Lindsay has a good chance at being the next starting center.  He was recruited as a mere 3-star prospect and ranked as the No. 30 offensive guard in the nation. 

William Vlachos

Though a star on the current 'Bama squad and one of the strongest members, Vlachos didn't have those expectations coming out of high school.  As a 3-star talent he was, however, able to earn the No. 9 position among centers. 

D.J. Fluker still stands out this much in college.

Tyler Love

As part of a highly talented offensive tackle class, Tyler Love was only able to secure the No. 8 tackle position, but did so as a 5-star recruit.  He has spent three years with the Tide, but has seen little action due to chronic injuries.  Though one of the saddest stories on the team, he will get his chance soon enough.

D.J. Fluker

Played defensive tackle in high school, but switched to offense his senior year.  He quickly earned the No. 1 tackle position in the nation with a clear 5-star status.  He has lived up to his expectations when he is groin muscle is healthy. 

Cyrus Kouandjio

He's yet to play a down of football, but Alabama is excited about him.  As an offensive tackle, Cyrus is the consensus No. 1 tackle of his class and a 5-star recruit.  He said he didn't want to compete against his brother for playing time, which probably meant he didn't want to bench his brother.  He gave Auburn a treat by committing to them, only to break their hearts days later.

Arie Kouandjio

Though he is Cyrus' older brother, Arie is not quite as talented.  He is still nothing to scoff at, and earned the No. 15 tackle position in the nation with a 4-star rating.  He has been on campus a year longer than his brother.

Auburn fans reacting to Cyrus Kouandjio's commitment to them just days before he switches to Alabama.

Courtney Upshaw

As a future first round pick, Courtney Upshaw has far exceeded what was imagined of him.  Looking back it is hard to believe he was only the 12th outside linebacker in the nation, but he was a 4-star talent.  He has gained 40 lbs of muscle since coming to Alabama, making himself perfect for Saban's jack linebacker position.

Nico Johnson

As a 5-star recruit and the No. 2 outside linebacker in the nation, Johnson made quite the impact his true freshman year.  He spent a lot of time on the field filling in for an injured Dont'a Hightower.  His sophomore campaign wasn't quite as fruitful but he still holds promise.

C.J. Mosley

It should be no surprise that Mosley was ranked high; he was the No. 6 outside linebacker in the nation, but currently plays in the middle of Saban's 3-4 scheme.  He is a 4-star talent that proves it, and then some, especially when he padded his stats with two pick-sixes. 

Corey Grant

Grant is currently buried in the talented running back depth chart, but he was a 4-star recruit and the No. 5 running back in the nation.

Brad Smelley

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Quarterback-turned-tight end Brad Smelley went to high school not far from this beautiful site.

Smelley is poised to have his breakout year with the previous tight end, Preston Dial, recently graduated.  He is perhaps the biggest surprise on the list.  In the 2008 recruiting class he was ranked as the No. 30 quarterback in the nation with a 3-star rating.  He now plays tight end.  Even with his mediocre rating he was still a Division-I school talent and had scholarship offers from schools that wanted him as a quarterback.  He instead chose Alabama, which shouldn't be a surprise since he played high school there.

A.J. McCarron

He was the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the 2009 recruiting class, and a 4-star talent.  He is currently the favorite to win the starting position, but that's mostly due to tenure. He played ball with Mark Barron in high school, which says he had some tough competition at practice.

Darius Hanks

On the brink of a breakout season, Hanks has far exceeded expectations.  Has been a solid contributor his entire career.  He was not ranked coming out of high school, but when put on the board he was a 3-star recruit.  One of the best steals the Tide currently has.

Michael Williams

Williams currently plays tight end, but was a defensive end in high school.  At 260 lbs. (240 lbs. coming out of high school), he's not quite big enough for Saban's 3-man front anyway.  He was the No. 4 defensive end in the nation and a 4-star recruit.

Trent Richardson dons the houndstooth.

Trent Richardson

As a 5-star recruit and the No. 2 back in the nation, Trent has certainly been everything Alabama expected.

Mark Barron

Coming out of high school, Mark was the No. 5 safety in the nation with a 4-star rating.  It is safe to say he's lived up to the hype.

Will Lowery

Listed as an athlete, Will was not given a rank whatsoever.  The walk-on has since proved his mettle, and did it with gusto.  Though a standout at Hoover High, he received scholarship offers only from service academies.  He didn't want to go to the military and is a lifelong 'Bama fan, and that's why he plays in Bryant-Denny.

Phelon Jones

As a former LSU player, Jones came to Alabama seeking more playing time.  He's gotten it, but has not won a starting position.  Though he now plays corner, he was ranked as the No. 10 athlete in the nation and a 4-star talent.

Josh Chapman

Another player out of the highly esteemed Hoover High, Chapman was a low ranked recruit.  He was the No. 32 defensive tackle in the nation with a 3-star status.  He's now one of the strongest members on the team and has contributed greatly as Mount Cody's backup in 2009 and the starter in 2010.

Who has been the biggest surprise (good or bad) for the Tide?

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Marquis Maze

As a scrawny 5'9", 160 lb. athlete, Marquis Maze sat low on the recruiting list.  He was the No. 52 athlete in the nation with a 3-star status.  It didn't take Maze long to prove the list a joke.  He's poised to have a stellar season as the new go-to receiver. 

Eddie Lacy

Trent's future backup, Eddie Lacy has been about what was expected.  He was a 4-star talent and the No. 13 all-purpose back in the nation.

Michael Bowman

With a very similar build to Julio Jones, Michael Bowman is strong competition to be Julio's true successor.  He wasn't ranked nearly as high, however.  He was the No. 20 receiver in the nation and a 4-star recruit.

Cody Mandell

A 2-star recruit that wasn't ranked on the punter's board, Cody Mandell has proven to be every bit a 2-star player.  He has not replaced graduated P.J. Fitzgerald well at all.

Jeremy Shelley

Shelley was not ranked on the boards and was not even given a star rating.  Though very accurate, his wet noodle for a leg has not helped him fend off his competition, Cade Foster.

 

College football is as unpredictable as any sport.  Some players are busts while others are hidden treasures.  It will be interesting to see how each new class turns out over the following years.

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