- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
Since before Nick Saban arrived, the University of Alabama has always had the same philosophy in recruiting. Make the in-state players a priority and keep the top talent close to home. That idea hasn’t changed under Saban’s regime.
Last year, Alabama let Florida State and LSU steal some of the top in-state players, but the Crimson Tide still signed five of the state’s top 10 players, including four players ranked in the ESPN 150. Running back T.J. Yeldon (Daphne, Ala.) is already making an impact as a true freshman.
This year, the depth might not be what it has been in years past, but the top two players in the state, Reuben Foster and Dee Liner, are committed to Auburn. Still, Alabama once again has five of the top 10 players in the state committed.
But, if there was ever a year for the Tide to keep the top talent close to home, it would be 2014. The Yellowhammer State is loaded with talent in next year’s class with 11 prospects on the ESPN Watch List.
Of those 11 recruits, Alabama has already offered six and has a commitment from elite running back Bo Scarbrough (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Northridge). At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Scarbrough is a physical specimen. He chose UA over the likes of Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, and Michigan.
The Tide are among the early favorites for cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala.), athlete E.J. Moss (Ashville, Ala.), running back Racean Thomas (Oxford, Ala.) and linebacker Tre Williams (Mobile, Ala./St. Paul’s).
If Alabama could land all five of those in-state players, it would have the foundation of a class that might be hard to top come signing day.
Out of state, UA will once again look to Florida and Georgia in 2014 where it has found success in recruiting over the last few years, but the biggest priority may be the state of Louisiana where Nick Saban has been able to steal a couple top recruits away from LSU recently.
The Bayou State has 12 prospects on the ESPN Watch List, including offensive guard William Clapp (New Orleans/Brother Martin), running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine), wide receiver Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr), offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La.) and defensive end Gerald Willis III (New Orleans/Edna Karr).
Alabama has already offered all five prospects. Willis III, the brother of Tide freshman safety Landon Collins, has an early top three of Alabama, Florida and LSU.
3dJeremy Crabtree and Brandon Chatmon