Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Scout's take: Top OL class adds No. 1 C
By Craig Haubert
On Tuesday night, top-rated center Josh Casher (Mobile, Ala./St. Paul's Episcopal) committed to Alabama, which already held the nation's finest group of offensive line pledges. Here's how Casher will fit in with this unit:
He may be undersized, but Josh Casher will bring strength and athleticism to Alabama's O-line.
What he brings: Casher lacks ideal height for the offensive line, but if you can see past his undersized stature, there is a good football player. He does carry good bulk with nice reach for his build and also demonstrates very good playing strength. The ESPN300 OL may lack some in height, but he does a good job with pad level, consistently gains physical leverage and, with good leg drive, creates push in the run game. He also possesses good feet and initial quickness and can be effective blocking on the move. In pass protection, he plays with good knee bend, balance and lateral agility, which helps him to slide and mirror rushers well.
How he fits: Casher, while not a towering presence, is a tough customer with the strength and athleticism to still make all the required blocks. Current Alabama guard Anthony Steen lacks ideal height as well, but he is a three-year starter, and while Casher projects to center, he could also play OG and be very effective in that role as well.
History at position: Alabama fielded an outstanding O-line a season ago, which included two 2013 first-round NFL draft picks. The line is good again in 2013, featuring another likely first-round pick in Cyrus Kouandjio, but it’s not quite at the level as the 2012 unit. The group that Alabama is poised to sign could allow it to field one of, if not the best, offensive lines in college football in the near future. This class features as many as seven OLs, with five in the ESPN300 and four either No. 1 or 2 at their respective position. The prospects in this group need to realize their potential, but this is a very talented bunch led by five-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe). Alabama has a very good track record of getting the most out of many of the top prospects it signs. Time will tell, but the future looks very bright for Alabama in the offensive trenches.
Prediction for performance: Alabama could lose two starters off this O-line in the senior Steen and potentially Kouandjio. Of the group coming in, Robinson, with his talent and opportunity, would be the most likely candidate to potentially step in and play right away. The rest of the group has several talented options they must compete with for time inside. Of that group of interior players, Casher might not be the most likely to contribute immediately but the C/OG can offer very good depth to the interior OL early in his career. In the long run, he has starting potential but with Alabama also poised to bring in ESPN300 center J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge), we could see Casher develop at OG.
How the class is shaping up: Alabama has signed the top-rated class in the country the last two seasons and are in strong contention for a third straight No. 1 group. The commitment of Casher gives the Crimson Tide a class that consists of 17 ESPN300 prospects, as well as seven players who rank in the top two at their respective position. The committed offensive linemen are the strength of this top-rated class.