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Monday, June 17, 2013
ESPN 300 analysis: Alabama Crimson Tide

By Greg Ostendorf

It should come as no surprise that the University of Alabama’s 2014 recruiting class is littered with recruits in both the ESPN 150 and the new ESPN 300 rankings as the Crimson Tide are coming off back-to-back national championships. But the class received its biggest boost yet with a pair of commitments over the weekend.

It started Friday when Alabama finally made a decision on the quarterback position and took a commitment from ESPN 150 prospect David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North). The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Cornwell is the nation’s No. 2 pocket passer, behind only former UA target Keller Chryst (Palo, Alto, Calif./Palo Alto) and is ranked No. 34 overall.

Stephen Roberts
Alabama cornerback commit Stephen Roberts surged into the ESPN 150 in the latest rankings update.
The Tide’s roll continued on Sunday when four-star wide receiver Derek Kief (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) announced his commitment. Kief considered both Kentucky and Ohio State, but a recent visit to Tuscaloosa put Alabama over the top. He’s ranked No. 196 in the ESPN 300.

With the additions of Cornwell and Kief, Alabama now has 12 commitments in all. Of those 12 commitments, nine are ranked in the ESPN 300 and six are among the top 150.

The biggest mover for the Tide was ESPN 150 cornerback Stephen Roberts (Opelika, Ala./Opelika). The in-state prospect, who committed to Alabama in April, went from unranked to No. 83 in the latest rankings. It was the second-highest jump for any player outside of the initial rankings.

ESPN’s scouting report says, “Roberts is a tall, rangy, athletic defensive back with a ton of upside and scheme versatility. He can run, close and cover ground as good as most in this class, but simply lacks some technical polish that will be gained at the college level.”

The other five Tide commitments in the ESPN 150 -- Cornwell, Kalvaraz Bessent (Kingland, Ga./Camden County), Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver), Bo Scarbrough (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Tuscaloosa County) and Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) -- all remained relatively the same in the new rankings. Scarbrough is still ranked the highest at No. 19, followed by Bessent at No. 31.

The new ESPN 300 features Kief at No. 196 as well as recent Alabama commitments Zach Whitley Jr. (Houston/North Shore) and O.J. Smith (Bossier City, La./Airline), who come in right on top of each other at No. 210 and No. 211 respectively.

It will be tough to top Alabama’s No. 1 ranked class from a year ago, which featured 14 ESPN 150 commitments, but the Tide are off to a good start in 2014.