Thursday, April 11, 2013
Looking at the spring visitors: Offense
By Greg Ostendorf
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The last month has been a productive one for the University of Alabama in terms of recruiting.
Sure, the Crimson Tide still have just three commitments for 2014 -- far less than they’ve had at this time in years past -- but since the beginning of spring practice, they have hosted some of the nation’s top recruits. If the talent on campus this spring is any indication, Nick Saban is well on his way to another No. 1 recruiting class.
With just a week until A-Day, TideNation breaks down the recent visitors, position-by-position, beginning with the offense Thursday.
ESPN Watch List QB David Cornwell made the trip from Oklahoma to check out an Alabama practice this spring.
The quarterback audition isn’t until summer camp, but that hasn’t stopped a couple of signal callers from visiting Alabama and getting a first-hand look at who they will be up against next year if they choose the Tide.
The most well-known of the QB visitors was ESPN Watch List star David Cornwell, who made the trip from Oklahoma. He and his father talked with the coaches, met AJ McCarron and watched Alabama’s second practice of the spring.
“I’ve been to a lot of spring practices, a lot of college practices, and I’ve never seen one run this much like an NFL (practice) -- the talent level, the coaching level, the energy, the organization, everything was run at an NFL level. That was amazing to see,” he said.
Lesser-known quarterbacks Hayden Moore and Mason Rudolph have also made trip to Tuscaloosa this spring. Moore, an in-state prospect, is expected to return for the Tide’s camp in June.
Alabama signed four ESPN 150 running backs in the last recruiting class, but the staff still wants to land a top back in 2014, and it’s safe to say Leonard Fournette is at the top of its list. Fournette visited UA just days before the start of spring practice.
“When I first got there, I was greeted by a couple of people, Alabama fans,” he said. “It was fun, entertaining as always. It’s always fun to go out there and see Coach Nick Saban and Coach [Burton] Burns. They treated me like I was there son. I had a very fun experience out there.”
Outside of Fournette, the only other top running back to visit Tuscaloosa recently was local commitment Bo Scarbrough.
On Saturday, Alabama signees Tyren Jones and Alvin Kamara both made the trip to watch the Tide’s first scrimmage of the spring.
Wide receiver/Tight end
With a wealth of young talent at wide receiver, Alabama has the luxury to be a little more selective at the position in 2014. The staff has searched far and wide for talent, and the top two visitors this spring both came from the Midwest.
ESPN Watch List star Dominique Booth (Indianapolis/Pike) and 6-foot-5 wide receiver Derek Kief (Cincinnati/LaSalle) have each made trips to Tuscaloosa to take in a practice. Kief already had an offer from the Tide, and Booth picked one up one his visit.
“Coach Saban offered me,” Booth said. “He said he likes my film and everything. He said I made plays. He liked my size and everything like that. He thinks that I can be a good player for them, and that there’s an opportunity for me when I come in to be able to play.”
At the tight end spot, ESPN Watch List star Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian) is expected to be on Alabama’s campus Friday.
It’s been a new experience for the offensive line targets who have visited this spring. Jeff Stoutland is no longer on campus. It’s the younger, more energetic Mario Cristobal running the show, and it’s been quite a change.
In-state lineman Jordan Sims met Cristobal when he visited UA last month for the Tide’s first spring practice.
“Before practice we didn’t really meet formally, but he came out and introduced himself to me,” Sims said. “He’s a really nice guy. When I watched him during the practice, you can tell he knows what he’s doing. He coaches at a high intensity.”
This past weekend, Alabama hosted one of the nation’s top offensive lineman -- Cameron Robinson. The West Monroe, La., product is at or near the top of the Tide’s wish list. He was in attendance for the first scrimmage of the spring. It will likely be an Alabama-LSU battle for his signature.
Last month, UA signee Grant Hill visited Tuscaloosa to meet with Cristobal for the first time, and on Thursday, 2013 commitment and grayshirt Bradley Bozeman is expected to make the trip to meet the new coach.