Here are Alabama’s top five targets for 2013.
Grayson High School (Loganville, Ga.)
It’s not that Alabama needs a defensive end. The Crimson Tide picked up two potential players at the position, Korren Kirven and Dalvin Tomlinson, on signing day this year to go along with Dakota Ball and Darren Lake who could both see playing time at defensive end as well.
It’s more of the idea that Robert Nkemdiche is the most gifted athlete in the country and could be a perfect fit for Nick Saban’s defense at UA.
The ESPN.com five-star is 6-foot-5, 260 pounds. He’s big enough and strong enough to play defensive end in a 3-4 defense. He’s athletic enough to play linebacker. He’s probably fast enough to play in the secondary if he really wanted to.
Alabama can go one of two ways with him if he were to choose the Crimson Tide. They could bulk him up and put him on the defensive line or leave him where he’s at and have him rush the quarterback from the Jack linebacker position.
Either way, he’s good enough to play as a freshman regardless of where he goes to school, and nothing is holding him back from one day playing in the NFL. These types of prospects don’t come around everyday.
Nkemdiche has said he’s most interested in Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Oregon, but many people believe the Crimson Tide may be the team to beat at this point.
Alternative option: DE Joey Bosa
Columbia High School (Lake City, Fla.)
Unlike with Nkemdiche at No. 1, offensive tackle is a position of need for Alabama in 2013, and Laremy Tunsil may be the best player in the entire country at that position.
The Crimson Tide signed just two offensive linemen in the 2012 recruiting class, Brandon Greene and Brandon Hill. Both incoming freshmen are projected to play tackle when they get to Tuscaloosa, but Hill could possibly move inside to guard.
Either way, Alabama is hurting for offensive linemen in this year’s class, and Tunsil could come in and fill that void immediately.
At 6-foot-6, 275 pounds, he has a prototype body for an offensive tackle with great size and a long wingspan. He already has good strength, but he has the frame to add even more bulk that can only make him better.
The scary part about Tunsil is that he hasn’t even come close to reaching his full potential. He made big strides from his sophomore year to his junior year, and he expects to make another jump going into his senior year.
Tunsil already has 17 scholarship offers, including one from Alabama. UA assistant coach Jeremy Pruitt visited his school last month, and he has plans to make a trip to Tuscaloosa this spring. He says the most important factor in recruiting is his relationship with the coaches.
Alternative option: OT Kyle Bosch
Dooly County High School (Vienna, Ga.)
It wasn’t long ago when nobody really knew who Montravius Adams was. All the talk in the state of Georgia centered around Nkemdiche and five-star linebacker Reuben Foster, an Alabama commitment.
That all changed after Adams enjoyed a breakout week at the Rising Seniors Georgia Junior Bowl in late December. Throughout the week, he proved that he was one of the best players in the Peach State, a state that is loaded with talent in 2013.
Before the all-star game, Clemson was the only school to offer Adams. Now, less than two months later, he’s up over double-digit offers, including offers from the majority of the SEC.
He’s 6-foot-4, 285 pounds. He has the strength to stop the run inside but also has the quickness and athleticism to get through the line and pressure the quarterback.
He may be better suited for a 4-3 defense at the next level, but if he bulks up, he could become the versatile defensive lineman that Alabama has been searching for in the mold of former UA All-American Marcell Dareus.
Remember, the Crimson Tide missed out on five-star Eddie Goldman, a similar player in this past recruiting class.
For Adams, Clemson has been considered the favorite since they were the first school to offer, but that could change with some of the more elite programs coming after him. He plans to visit Tuscaloosa on Saturday for Alabama’s Junior Day.
Alternative option: DL Greg Webb
S Leon McQuay III
Armwood High School (Seffner, Fla.)
Alabama thought it had its safety combination set for the future with commitments from five-stars Landon Collins and Eddie Williams. They were the Tide’s top two recruits in the 2012 class and would have formed quite the tandem in the secondary.
However, Williams has opted to move to the offensive side of the ball where he plans to play wide receiver, and that leaves a void at one of the safety spots.
Collins looks like a clone of Mark Barron coming out of high school, a phenomenal run-stopper with good speed and above average skill in pass coverage, but Alabama still needs a safety back there who’s fast and can cover the whole field.
Nobody may be better at doing that than Armwood High School’s Leon McQuay III. He’s a ball-hawking safety who has good instincts which ultimately leads to big plays. He’s not as big as Collins, but he can still deliver a big hit when he has the opportunity.
Similar to Tunsil, it would be a difficult task for Alabama to pull such an elite player from the state of Florida, but the UA coaching staff offered McQuay a little over two weeks ago, and the chance to play for Nick Saban can be enticing for any defensive back.
Alternative option: ATH ArDarius Stewart (committed to Alabama)
Fork Union Military Academy (Fork Union, Va.)
Quarterback is an interesting position for Alabama. The Crimson Tide has shown that it can win a national championship without an elite signal caller, i.e. Greg McElroy and AJ McCarron.
But with that said, it’s the one position that Alabama seems to have a hard time with in recruiting. The last two years, UA has brought in Phillip Ely and Alec Morris, both solid quarterbacks who fit the Tide’s system, but neither player was ranked higher than a three-star.
With a number of top 2013 quarterbacks interested in Alabama, it looks like this is the year the staff finally brings in a high-profile prospect to run the offense.
Max Browne may be the best of the bunch. Johnathan McCrary may be more athletic and able to do more things. But five-star Christian Hackenberg is the player who best fits what the Crimson Tide wants to do on offense.
He’s pro-style passer, which is exactly what Alabama is looking for. He has the size at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. He can put zip on the ball when he needs to, but he also has a nice touch when he throws the deep ball.
Hackenberg received an offer from the Crimson Tide right before Christmas. He visited Tuscaloosa in November for the LSU game and plans to make a return trip to UA this spring.
Alternative option: QB Johnathan McCrary