Friday, April 12, 2013
Looking at the spring visitors: Defense
By Greg Ostendorf
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Defense is Alabama’s calling card.
That philosophy is implemented on the recruiting trail as well. The Crimson Tide have brought in more offensive playmakers in recent years, but the emphasis is still on the defense. It’s no different for the class of 2014.
On Thursday, TideNation looked at Alabama’s visitors this spring, beginning with the offense. Now it’s time to break down the spring visitors on defense.
2014 ATH Ronnie Clark has been impressed with Alabama and Auburn.
Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) has already drawn comparisons to Jadeveon Clowney -- high praise for the ESPN Watch List defensive end. Carter is more likely to play outside linebacker at Alabama, but he’s a top priority for the staff regardless of position.
Last month, the Peach State native visited Tuscaloosa with his parents where he met with the coaching staff and took in a spring practice.
“It was good,” Carter said. “It was probably the most informative visit I’ve had so far with my parents. I think they feel a little more comfortable with Alabama now that they’ve talked to the coaches and sat down to see how the program works.”
More recently, 2015 defensive end Mekhi Brown (Columbus, Ga./Carver), also projected to play outside linebacker, committed to the Tide on his visit to Alabama. Brown already had over 10 scholarship offers but he knew where he wanted to go.
The “biggest” visitor on campus this spring thus far has been 6-foot-5, 340-pound Charles Mosley. The Brighton, Tenn., defensive tackle made the trip to UA last weekend to meet his new recruiting coordinator, Billy Napier.
For now, Mosley wants to play nose tackle at the next level, but the Alabama staff also likes his potential on the offensive line.
With a decision looming, one of the most important visitors this spring could very well be ESPN Watch List linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver). The in-state native spent Tuesday in Tuscaloosa. He’s expected to make a decision next Wednesday between Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee.
Hamilton has opted not to discuss any of his recent visits, including the Alabama trip, but it can’t hurt the Tide if that’s the last trip he makes.
Earlier in the spring, Gavin Bryant (Jackson, Ala./Jackson) visited Alabama and earned a scholarship offer from Saban.
“It was pretty good,” he said. “[Saban] was telling me I was a good player, to keep my grades up and play hard. It felt good. It felt like a kid getting a new toy.”
This weekend, Tampa Jesuit linebacker Vincent Jackson is expected to visit UA with fellow Floridian and ESPN Watch List offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn.
When it comes to recruiting defensive backs, Saban can be very particular. That’s why the list of visitors has been small but elite.
At cornerback, the conversation begins with ESPN Watch List star and Alabama legacy Marlon Humphrey. The Hoover, Ala., native made the short trip to Tuscaloosa last week with his coach, his lone visit of the spring.
When safety Mattrell McGraw (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) visited last month, he picked up an offer from the Tide. But it wasn’t an offer to play safety. It was an offer to play cornerback.
“They definitely like my play,” McGraw said. “[Saban] said that I’m a little undersized for free safety. They like a big, bulky, lanky guy at free safety, but he told me that he definitely thinks I would fit their system perfectly at cornerback or at the star spot.”
Two other top cornerback prospects, Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) and Stephen Roberts (Opelika, Ala./Opelika), are expected to visit Alabama next Saturday for A-Day. Both have offers from the Tide.
At safety, in-state athlete Ronnie Clark (Calera, Ala./Calera) fits more of what the staff is looking for. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound prospect was on campus last month. He made a trip to Auburn before that. It will likely be the Tide or the Tigers for his signature.