Wednesday, February 6, 2013
TideNation signing day recap
Alabama landed the No. 1 class in the nation on Wednesday. Here's a look at how the day went, with analysis and breakdowns of each player as the LOIs rolled into Tuscaloosa.
6:39 a.m. CT -- DE Jonathan Allen (Ashburn, Va.): The four-star prospect, who measured in at 6-foot-3 and 263 pounds on his visit, is expected to start out at the Jack linebacker position when he gets to Alabama, but defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said he could still move to inside linebacker or the other outside linebacker spot.
6:50 a.m. CT -- WR Robert Foster (Monaca, Penn.): Last year, Amari Cooper put on a show all week at the Under Armour All-America Game. It was just a preview of what’s to come for Tide fans as Cooper went on to break all the freshman receiving records at Alabama. This year, it was Foster who put his talents on display at the Under Armour game, proving to be one of the top wide receivers in the country. It might be tough to make the same type of impact that Cooper made with all of Bama's receivers returning, but his talent is clear. If Foster can adapt to the offense quickly, he has a shot at getting on the field as a freshman despite the depth at his position.
7:15 a.m. CT -- RB Tyren Jones (Marietta, Ga.): Alabama already has three players committed to play running back, but that hasn’t deterred ESPN 150 back Tyren Jones, who gave his verbal pledge to the Crimson Tide in February. Jones has proven to be one of the top rushers in the state of Georgia over the last two years, and he’s looking to take that success with him to Tuscaloosa.
7:21 a.m. CT -- DB Eddie Jackson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.): The four-star prospect is listed as a wide receiver but will likely wind up playing defensive back at Alabama. Although the rankings might not reflect it, Jackson’s head coach Wayne Blair believes his star athlete has a chance to be a special player when he gets to Alabama. “He has the capability of being in the same breath of a Patrick Peterson or a Charles Woodson."
7:47 a.m. CT -- DL/LB Tim Williams (Baton Rouge, La.): Williams is a bit of a DE/LB ‘tweener with a slight build for the defensive end position and a move to linebacker in their scheme should actually be more of an ideal fit for him. While not a physically imposing prospect, Williams does possess very good playing strength and that should only improve with continued physical development. He is a physical and very active defender who can develop into not only a pass-rushing threat, but also a tough run defender.
8:21 a.m. CT -- DT Darius Paige (Foley, Ala.): The Florida native who transferred to Foley (Ala.) High School his senior year flew under the radar throughout much of the recruiting process. Even when he committed to Alabama in May, most didn’t know who Paige was. However, he made the initial ESPN 300 rankings and should turn into a solid run-stuffing nose tackle for the Tide.
8:21 a.m. CT -- DB Jonathan Cook (Spanish Fort, Ala.): He was committed to Nebraska throughout his entire senior season, but when Kirby Smart offered Cook a scholarship after the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game, he was quick to take it and flip to the Tide. Cook is known for his athleticism, and at 6-foot-1, he has the size that Alabama likes in its cornerbacks.
8:31 a.m. CT -- ATH ArDarius Stewart (Fultondale, Ala.): Although he’s flown under the radar since committing to Alabama last January, ESPN 300 athlete Stewart is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the Crimson Tide’s class. He played primarily quarterback and defensive back in high school, but the UA coaching staff wants to try him out at wide receiver when he gets to Tuscaloosa.
8:45 a.m. CT -- OG Grant Hill (Huntsville, Ala.): The talented guard from Alabama shot up the ESPN rankings following the Under Armour Game, rocketing up to become the No. 1 offensive guard in the country. Given the loss of Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker to the draft, and guard Anthony Steen to follow after next season, there was a premium on signing quality offensive linemen for Alabama.
9:29 a.m. CT -- ATH Anthony Averett (Woodbury, N.J.): All it took was one visit to Alabama, and he knew where he wanted to play college football. Averett visited Tuscaloosa for the Tide’s spring game and proceeded to give his verbal pledge on the trip. He’s a dynamic athlete who played quarterback in high school, but he’s expected to play cornerback or safety at the next level.
9:43 a.m. CT -- RB Altee Tenpenny (North Little Rock, Ark.): Even though Tenpenny committed to Alabama early on, many felt he would eventually flip to Arkansas, the hometown school. However, the ESPN 150 running back stayed true to his word and gives the Tide a bigger, more powerful back who still has the burst and breakaway speed to go with it.
9:45 a.m. CT -- LS Cole Mazza (Bakersfield, Calif.): It's not often that a long snapper receives a scholarship offer. In fact, coach Nick Saban has never done it. But with Cole Mazza, Saban and the staff thought it was worth it. With long-time snapper Carson Tinker off to the NFL, Mazza has the opportunity to come in and make a contribution right away.
10:14 a.m. CT -- CB Maurice Smith (Sugar Land, Texas): The Texas native was thought to be favoring the Longhorns early in the process, but when he visited Alabama in the spring, he fell in love with it. On his next trip to Tuscaloosa, Smith committed to the Tide. The ESPN 150 cornerback had over 20 offers and late interest from Texas A&M, but he stuck to his original commitment. Smith has a chance to provide immediate help in the secondary.
11:07 a.m. CT -- DT Dee Liner (Muscle Shoals, Ala.): Although he was committed to Auburn since he was a sophomore, Liner opted to sign with the Tide. It was one of the better in-state battles in recent memory. At 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, Liner has the size to play on the defensive line, but he still has the quickness and burst to be disruptive and get to the quarterback. Click here for more analysis on Liner.
12:07 p.m. CT -- ILB Walker Jones (Cordova, Tenn.): The No. 26-rated inside linebacker is more than a legacy signee following in the footsteps of his brothers Barrett and Harrison. The 6-foot-3, 234-pound athlete from Tennessee is ready to blaze his own trail in Tuscaloosa.
12:07 p.m. CT -- LB Reuben Foster (Auburn, Ala.): It wasn't the smoothest of roads for the No. 1 inside linebacker in the ESPN 150. He committed to Alabama before his junior year, decommitted and flipped to Auburn over the summer, and then decided to bring it all the way back around by signing his letter of intent with the Crimson Tide on Wednesday. Alabama lands one of its top commitments in the class, giving Nick Saban the No. 1 in-state prospect and moving the Crimson Tide even closer to another No. 1 recruiting class.
2:51 p.m. CT -- RB Alvin Kamara (Norcross, Ga.): Alabama already had three running backs committed in this class. What’s one more? Kamara might be the most dynamic of the group. He’s a home-run threat every time he touches the football, and he has the versatility to line up in the backfield or in the slot. Stealing the Peach State native away from UGA was a huge coup for the Tide.
3:14 p.m. CT -- DT A’Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas): The longtime Longhorn commitment pulled a pre-signing day surprise when he decommitted to Texas. When that happened, it was pretty clear Robinson was headed to Alabama. He gives the Tide more depth on the defensive line, but he’s versatile enough to move over to the other side of the ball if needed. He’s expected to start out at defensive end. For more on Robinson's signing, click here.
Early enrollee -- ATH Derrick Henry (Yulee, Fla.): Henry has similar versatility on offense. He's the No. 3 athlete in the ESPN 150 and the No. 26 prospect overall. The 6-foot-3, 243-pound Florida native wants to play tailback, but might be better suited elsewhere because of his height. Still, he runs a 4.51-second 40-yard dash and could wind up making gains at any position he plays. The most intriguing option is H-back, where Alabama is trying to carve out more production. He has a similar build and skill set to incumbent H-back Jalston Folwer (6-foot-1, 242 pounds).
Early enrollee -- TE/H O.J. Howard (Prattville, Ala.): Howard could be a game-changer at tight end for Alabama. He's a dynamic pass-catcher with the athleticism to create matchup nightmares for even the most versatile defenses. All one needs to do to understand his rare gifts is to go back to the Mobile (Ala.) Nike SPARQ Combine and find his SPARQ Rating was a whopping 104.22, the best of the event. You'll see the words "physical freak" written time and time again about this rookie.
Early enrollee -- QB Cooper Bateman (Murray, Utah): Bateman will be arguably the most talented thrower on the roster behind AJ McCarron when spring camp begins in Tuscaloosa. The four-star prospect ranked third among pocket-passers in the ESPN 150. Neither Alec Morris, Blake Sims nor Phillip Ely can claim to have been any higher than a three-star when they graduated from high school.
Early enrollee -- OT Leon Brown (Riverdale, Md.): The 6-foot-6, 308-pound offensive tackle from ASA Institute (JC) in New York has been hailed as a potential replacement for departed junior D.J. Fluker at right tackle. Brown, who committed to Alabama in June, has the frame and talent to develop into an SEC tackle, but needs help in the technical aspects of the position.
Early enrollee -- QB Parker McLeod (Marietta, Ga.): The 6-3, 183-pound Georgia native might not grab the headlines the way Bateman has, but he'll have his say in the battle at quarterback. While he doesn't have the raw skill of some of the more elite prospects, the three-star quarterback can still throw the rock around. Our scouts watched film of him and saw a young AJ McCarron, sighting a similar skill set and measurables.
Early enrollee -- OL Brandon Hill (Collierville, Tenn.): The former 2012 commitment had to take the long road to Alabama. But after a year at prep school, he was able to get his affairs in order and enroll at Alabama in January. He's a whopping 6-foot-6 and 355 pounds, yet still maintains the freedom of movement necessary to play on the outside. He doesn't have the same second-level burst of Fluker or Cyrus Kouandjio, but he has the size and build to do well in pass-protection like another former massive lineman -- Andre Smith.
Early enrollee -- WR Raheem Falkins (New Orleans, La.): The G.W. Carver alumnus is another in what's becoming a long line of Louisiana players to spurn the home-state Bayou Bengals in favor of the Crimson Tide. The 6-4, 195-pound receiver is walking into a crowded position, joining the likes of freshmen Amari Cooper, Chris Black, Cyrus Jones and Marvin Shinn. Falkins has flown somewhat under the radar since his commitment nearly a year ago, but the first line in his ESPN scouting report says it all about his skill: "Falkins is a ball vacuum -- he catches everything thrown within his area code."
Notable walk on -- QB Luke Del Rio (Highlands Ranch, Colo.): The son of Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Jack Del Rio certainly has the pedigree. And despite coming to Alabama as a walk-on, he might have the skill, too. The 6-foot-1, 187-pound quarterback, who played high school football in Florida and Colorado, turned down scholarship offers from Oregon State and Colorado to come to Tuscaloosa with nothing more than the opportunity to compete. The three-star prospect doesn't have the high ceiling of some but he made a good impression at the Elite 11 camp, where scouts praised his consistency and intangibles such as feeling the pocket and maintaining balance in the face of pressure.
Notable walk on -- ATH Jai Miller (Selma, Ala.): Miller is possibly the biggest question mark of the class. The former minor league baseball player surprisingly chose to give up the game and come to school at Alabama over Georgia. He projects as a safety and has the physical tools to play right away, unlike some teenagers. The soon-to-be 28-year-old is 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds with the speed and range that scream defensive back. He spent 10 years in pro baseball and played in 28 games in the majors as an outfielder for three different teams, affording him a maturity that will give him a leg up on his fellow freshmen.