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Tuesday, July 16, 2013
2015 ESPN 300 targets: Alabama

By Greg Ostendorf

It’s never too early to start looking ahead to the 2015 class. The University of Alabama already has three commitments and could add another by the end of the week. With the Tuesday’s debut of the 2015 ESPN 300 rankings, we take a look at the Crimson Tide’s top 10 targets for 2015.

1. DT Daron Payne (Birmingham, Ala./Shades Valley)
6-foot-3, 318 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 30

The word got out quickly on Payne. In May, the ESPN 300 defensive lineman picked up his first offer, and in little over a week he already had six offers, including both major in-state programs, Alabama and Auburn. This summer, he moved to the top of the Tide’s board with a dominant performance at their OL/DL camp. Many believed he was the top lineman in attendance regardless of class. The rising junior is the top player in the state for 2015.

Ricky Town
Ricky Town of Ventura, Calif., is No. 42 in the initial ESPN 300 for the 2015 class.
2. QB Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure)
6-4, 190
ESPN 300 rank: 42

Of the 2015 quarterbacks who have been offered by Alabama, Town is considered the top target. The list could grow this week with several QBs on campus for camp, but the California native looks to have a leg up on the competition. He already has the size, the physical tools and the intangibles that the staff is looking for, and he’s willing to leave home. On his first and only visit to Alabama, he was blown away by the atmosphere.

3. CB Rico McGraw (Nashville, Tenn./Ensworth)
6-foot, 185
ESPN 300 rank: 56

Alabama was the first school to offer McGraw when they extended a scholarship after camp last summer. He wasn’t even a sophomore yet. Now the ESPN 300 cornerback has more than 20 offers and is considered one of the top players in the Southeast. McGraw made several trips down to Tuscaloosa, Ala., after he received the offer, but the Tide will have to fend off Tennessee for his services. The Volunteers are making a hard push for the in-state prospect.

4. DT Tim Settle (Quicksburg, Va./Stonewall Jackson)
6-3, 308
ESPN 300 rank: 7

If Payne is the top defensive tackle on Alabama’s board, Settle is not far behind. He’s the highest ranked player on this list. However, it won’t be easy for the Tide to pull him out of his home state and away from Virginia. Alabama made a push for 2014 five-star defensive tackle Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Smith), only to see him stay home and commit to the Cavaliers. The good news for Alabama is that Settle is on campus this week for the Tide’s camp.

5. DE Mekhi Brown (Columbus, Ga./Carver)
6-5, 218
ESPN 300 rank: 35

Brown is already committed to Alabama -- he committed in April -- but he’s on this list because it’s imperative for the Tide to hang on to him. The 6-foot-5 prospect is a dynamic pass rusher who can play either outside linebacker positions. Although he’s been adamant that he’s 100 percent committed to Alabama, he still plans to take visits to other schools. Of the Tide’s three early commitments, he might be the hardest to keep and the most important.

6. ATH Kerryon Johnson (Madison, Ala./Madison Academy)
6-foot, 175
ESPN 300 rank: 62

The biggest question with Johnson is where he’s going to play at the next level. Many believe he’s best suited as a cornerback or safety at the next level, but he has his heart set on playing running back. At Alabama’s camp this week, Johnson worked out at running back. The Tide already have the state’s top back committed for 2015, but they would love to add Johnson and possibly create an explosive one-two punch in the backfield for years to come.

7. S Shawn Burgess-Becker (Coconut Creek, Fla./Monarch)
6-foot, 185
ESPN 300 rank: 123

Alabama has a knack for finding talent. They were the first school to offer Burgess-Becker when they pulled the trigger this spring. He now has more than 10 offers, but the initial Tide offer resonated with the South Florida prospect. On Monday, he and a group of his teammates made the trip up to Tuscaloosa for Alabama’s camp. It was his first time on campus. The ESPN 300 prospect has the versatility to play cornerback or safety at the next level.

8. OT Jake Fruhmorgen (Tampa, Fla./Plant)
6-5, 256
ESPN 300 rank: 158

Fruhmorgen had more than a dozen offers heading into camp season, but he got the one he was looking for last month from Alabama. He attended the Tide’s OL/DL camp and came away with an offer. The name might sound familiar to Alabama fans as his father played football at the Capstone in the 80s. The family connection makes the Tide an early favorite, but he’s also made trips to Notre Dame, Tennessee and Vanderbilt in the last month.

9. S Deionte Thompson (Orange, Texas/West Orange Stark)
6-2, 173
ESPN 300 rank: 93

Similar to Brown, Thompson is already committed to Alabama. In fact, he was the Tide’s first commitment for 2015. But that hasn’t stopped other schools, in particular schools in his home state, from recruiting him. Thompson visited Alabama in April for the Tide’s spring game, and he’s back this week for camp. It won’t be easy to keep schools like Texas and Texas A&M off his back, but since his commitment in February, he has yet to waver.

10. OG Dallas Warmack (Atlanta/Benjamin E. Mays)
6-1, 295
ESPN 300 rank: 297

Chance Warmack just finished up an illustrious four-year career at Alabama, where he made 39 career starts and was a part of three national championship teams. He was a first-round draft pick in April. It’s easy to see why his younger brother Dallas is coveted by the UA staff. However, just because his brother played for the Tide doesn’t mean that he’s going to make the same choice. Alabama is in a dogfight with Georgia to land the ESPN 300 offensive lineman.