Alabama Crimson Tide: #AskLoogs

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The answer to that question depends on what the criteria is for five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover), the No. 15 player in the ESPN 300. What does he value most? Is it the school or the program or the academics or the social environment? Or, is it an individual relationship?

As much as we would all like to believe that there is proper substance to a prospect's decision of where to attend school, the reality is most prospects have married themselves to a particular coach throughout the process. Depending on Marlon Humphrey’s relationship with Jeremy Pruitt himself, in comparison to other established relationships that are still in place at FSU, this could certainly give cause for Humphrey to re-evaluate.

I would not believe at this time that Pruitt’s move has removed FSU from its status as a finalist. I think Humphrey is smarter than that and has liked FSU all along.

Time will tell, but relationships developed over the course of a player's recruitment do play a huge role.
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Don’t focus on the game, the week is the most important part. Four practices, three hours each gives you a far better sample to evaluate. In the game he had a sack, but I must say that during the week, he exceeded expectations in my mind. He has gained weight, good weight, which is really important.

Also, he looked more flexible through the hips which was a concerned we have had all along with him. He was special during the week. He is so strong at the point of attack and will be a run ready player when he enters Alabama. His explosiveness impressed as well and he showed us more as an edge rusher than we initially felt he was capable of. He may be a best fit as a five-technique or “Jack” linebacker for the next level. He is smart and is only going to get better technically.

I must say, he was better than anticipated which was very pleasant to see.
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Quite honestly, unreal. He was having a great week. To see a kid work that hard, have that much pride and competiveness and not be able to play was a real shame. There were a few names that everyone was talking about, from Jabrill Peppers to Myles Garrett, etc., and Brown was one of them. To me, the best thing about Brown is that he is always trying to improve and prove his worth, even when he doesn’t need to. He is always seeking out the best guy to match up against because he wants to be tested. He has no red flags. He always has a smile on his face, and as far as cornerbacks go, there are very few prospects we have seen the last six or eight classes who physically compare to him. In fact, physically, Peppers and he are very similar. I can’t yet reveal where he will end up in the final set of rankings, but I can venture a bet he will be in the top 10 overall when all is said and done. I would expect him to play early not just because he is talented enough, but because he is mature enough.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

Uniquely talented. There are only two comparable players at offensive tackle in the seven years of the Under Armour All-America Game we feel would be fair. One is Cyrus Kouandjio at Alabama and the other is Andrus Peat at Stanford. He is more than worthy of being the No. 1-ranked overall player in this class, and in all honesty, Leonard Fournette is 1, Jabrill Peppers is 1a and Cameron Robinson is 1b. He possesses all the traits you look for in an offensive tackle -- both mentally and physically, and maybe most importantly, he has a tremendous amount of pride. It is very important to him to play good. He plays as if he’s always being evaluated or compared to someone. There are never any guarantees, but it was very clear when we had Kouandjio in the Under Armour Game, he was going to be a three-and-out first round NFL draft choice. Cameron Robinson is technically better at the same stage so that should tell you something.

#AskLoogs: More than 25 for Tide?

November, 19, 2013
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The answer to this question lies in the numbers of their current roster, which generally is not public information. When you consider midyear enrollees, midyear graduation, any off-the-field issues that could result in a dismissal, if a player decides to transfer or being able to count back toward another class -- this will have an effect on just how many players Alabama will be able to bring in.

Keep in mind they have to be at or under 85 at all times. Scholarship numbers are like puzzle pieces that can fit into more than one spot, it’s about when and where you place them, which gives just about every roster some flexibility with their numbers, but not too much. Grayshirting comes into play with these numbers as well if a prospect is on board with this developmental approach, which can be very beneficial to prospects long term.

#AskLoogs: Impact recruits in SEC

November, 15, 2013
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So far, I believe there are several. Let’s start in the SEC West. Offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe), an Alabama pledge, is sure to make an instant impact at one of the two tackle spots. Defensive end Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin) is a huge need for the Texas A&M Aggies and should have an immediate role. If Johnny Manziel bolts for the NFL, QB Kyle Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain) could be thrust into immediate duty. Running back Roc Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) is as big of a need as any for the Auburn Tigers and he is the right style of back.

In the SEC East, it is a little more muddy because there aren't as many immediate needs or impact guys committed just yet. For Tennessee, if Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech Senior) can stay healthy, he will play. In fact, several Vols could see immediate duty and they could also have up to 14 mid-year enrollees. Wide receiver Shaq Davidson (Gaffney, S.C./Gaffney) at South Carolina. Defensive end Denzel Ware (Crestview, Fla./Crestview) at Kentucky. And if Florida can hang on, there is no doubt that WR Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead Senior) and RB Dalvin Cook (Miami/Miami Central) will have roles with the Gators.

#AskLoogs: Letting Cornwell get away

November, 14, 2013
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This is a great question that applies to every program in America when it comes to making tough, in-state decisions on prospects.

If I’m Oklahoma, this situation wasn’t as tough of a decision as you might think. Take David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman) first: Physically he is superior to Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Edmond Santa Fe) in some areas, but is not as experienced. Coming into this season he had only been a starter for one year, so from an evaluation standpoint, there was a lot more video evidence and experience to evaluate with Hansen than there was Cornwell.

Also, you must consider the camp evaluation that took place earlier for Oklahoma to make in-person assessments on a player that they might feel is a better fit overall.

Keep in mind, this isn’t only about physical ability. It’s about several critical factors at the position that Oklahoma as a staff places a premium on, and through their efforts, if they feel Hansen possesses more of what they want to have than Cornwell, then you have to pull the trigger.

Recruiting is about making tough decisions each and every day, and none tougher than choosing between two quality prospects in state at the most important position of all. There are no guarantees Cornwell will pan out, and the same goes for Hansen. It’s a risk, albeit a calculated one, based on gathering information and making an educated decision.

This does not mean that Oklahoma dislikes Cornwell -- in fact, they like him very much -- but believe Hansen is further along and a better fit.

This same question you posed to be could be the same question had Cornwell committed to Oklahoma and Hansen to Bama, only the answer might not be quite the same.

#AskLoogs: Impact for LSU?

November, 11, 2013
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From Twitter: What will be the impact to the loser of the LSU-Alabama game, recruiting-wise? Will the winner scoop the best kids?

I think that view oversimplifies the official visit. While in a perfect world all coaches would love for the official visit to close the deal or secure a verbal commitment, rarely does that happen on a consistent basis. Most prospects do not allow for one game, the outcome of a game or one of their five official visits to be the deciding factor. It’s a piece of the puzzle, and while the impact of the official visit on a big-game weekend for both programs can have a lasting effect, there is always a decompression period where the prospect sits back and lets things settle down away from the hype of the weekend.

With this particular game, you essentially have two of the country’s premier programs that often times go head-to-head on the same high-profile prospects on a year-round basis, so the official visit is another component to that battle.

Win or lose, both programs have a chance to win in recruiting here. If Bama wins, they have a shot to make more of a favorable impression on prospects from the state of Louisiana, where they know it is a day-to-day battle to pull kids out of that state. If LSU wins, it’s just another reason to stay home. However, a loss for either team does not devastate their efforts to this point or after. There are too many positives for both programs for that to happen.

The game within the game for this official visit is not the outcome of the game itself -- it is the rest of the 48-hour period that needs to resonate if you are Alabama. If you “wow” in this area, the outcome of the game is minimal in the grand scheme of things. You are selling a program, not an outcome.

#AskLoogs: Robinson's impact

October, 22, 2013
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Aside from the quarterback position, I would argue that playing left tackle as a true freshman is the most difficult adjustment any player can make entering into college, if thrust into duty right out of the gate. That being said, Cameron Robinson might be the most equipped player we have seen over the last eight seasons to do it if the opportunity presents itself, which it just might.

As it relates to Grant Hill, Hill can play anywhere along the line and he is a more physically talented version of Barrett Jones. I believe in the long term, Hill will be the anchor to this group from a leadership and versatility standpoint, but he does not possess Robinson’s rare physical talents, particularly as a tackle. Remember, as it relates to playing early, physical ability is rarely the area that prevents this from happening. As with all true freshmen, including Robinson, it will come down to how much he can handle mentally and competitively, and his aptitude to process will be tested. These are the areas that will dictate just how fast Robinson comes along.

#AskLoogs: Scanning the depth chart

October, 11, 2013
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Whether prospects want to admit it, I believe they pay close attention to depth charts of current college rosters as well as commit lists or who is being recruited at their respective positions. In today’s landscape, redshirting is almost an afterthought for most prospects whether they are being realistic or not. So if they think they are going to play right away, then whoever else is involved in the equation is likely to make an impact on their decision. It’s human nature.

However, it can also be a red flag indicating a lack of competitiveness. Coaches want players who do not care who else is already at the position. They want guys who think regardless of who else is there, they are still the best guy, so it doesn’t matter. Look at Alabama’s 2013 class at running back. I don’t know if I have ever seen that before. Most coaching staffs are selling that they are going to play the best guys, regardless of class. So if you are the best guy, you will play. For most prospects, that is all they need to hear. When they arrive on campus the onus is now on them to perform and prove their worth.

#AskLoogs: Bama sticks to its plan

October, 9, 2013
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It is a combination of many factors, including Nick Saban being very, very good at what he does. And yes, being on top is always an advantage. Where I think Saban really excels is in player evaluation. He places a premium on this area over actually coaching the game. The bottom line is he has never deviated from the philosophy that it isn’t the X’s and the O’s, it’s the Jimmys and the Joes.

Does Alabama have a premier staff of coaches that can instruct and teach? Yes, but more importantly they are relentless grinders in evaluation and recruiting. One of the reasons why Saban is not a fan of all these early offers that have accelerated the recruiting process is because it interferes with their process of evaluation. When you feel the pressure to have to offer a player before you have fully evaluated him just to be in the running for that player, it can lead down a path that is not comfortable. This has created challenges for Alabama when it comes to sticking to the process.

Fortunately Alabama has resources, almost unlimited resources, to overcome challenges. The Tide have a very specific set of critical factors they adhere to when it comes to selecting not only the best player available, but the right player. Height/weight requirements per position, competitive temperament, mental makeup, competitive character, personality traits among other areas of importance are strictly adhered to in order to ensure they minimize the chance of errors in evaluation and missing on prospects. Evaluation is subjective and inexact. What is right for one program, might not be the right fit for another. Alabama sticks to the plan.

#AskLoogs: Tide tills fertile ground

October, 3, 2013
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If you want to base it on the last seven classes and those prospects that have actually panned out and produced in college, you almost have to go with the state of Alabama.

You may say, wait a minute, how can that be? The numbers don’t lie.

Of course, on sheer population alone, Florida, Texas and California have distinct advantages and we would argue that the last few years Georgia has produced better than California.

Just look at Alabama’s program. There is a notion that they have to continually go outside of the state to supplement their recruiting efforts, but the reality is they do this on an as-needed basis more often than not. Julio Jones, Andre Smith, Dre Kirkpatrick, D.J. Fluker, Dee Milliner, Courtney Upshaw and Marcel Dareus were all in-state players and all were NFL first-round draft picks. This list does not count the likes of AJ McCarron, Nico Johnson, Rolando McClain, T.J. Yeldon and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, to name a few more.

You mentioned an underrated “area,” so if we don’t pinpoint just one state, it would likely be the eastern seaboard of the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, D.C. and New Jersey, which produces enough players to provide an ample player pool for the Big Ten, ACC, American and even the SEC.

#AskLoogs: David Cornwell's best trait

September, 25, 2013
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For David Cornwell, without question, it is his raw natural tools and physical stature. His arm stands out. With that being said, he is also very green and lacks some of the experience of his counterparts coming out of high school. This will only be his second full season as a starter due to a few transfers and a family illness with his mother. Cornwell has been highly coveted because he can do things physically that you can’t coach and he is gifted with outstanding size and underrated athleticism. He has powerful arm talent to attack every nook and cranny of the field which really opens up the passing game for any scheme. The key to Cornwell’s development is playing experience and enhanced technical discipline with his feet and throwing mechanics. He needs to be honed and polished. Regardless, there are few if any players in this class that are blessed with his blend of size, arm, power and ability to extend a play given his stature.

#AskLoogs: Bama-bound pass rushers?

September, 18, 2013
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As of now, no. However, understand the premise of their defense and you can see why this isn’t as much of a priority for them as it is for others. For example, in a four-man front defense, Adrian Hubbard would be a pure defensive end and a darn good one, but what they ask out of those guys is to be hybrid stand-up ends/outside linebackers in the mold of a Dont’a Hightower or Jonathan Allen from the 2013 class.

Oversized linebackers for Alabama’s scheme serve the same purpose as pure edge rushers. In fact, they are athletically more gifted because they are generally asked to be more scheme-versatile and have to play in space as well as pressure out of a down stance. Alabama targets such as DE Lorenzo Carter and DE Da'Shawn Hand might be utilized differently for Alabama than for someone else. For Michigan, Hand is a DE or 5 technique. For Alabama he might be a Hightower with pass-rush capabilities. Carter is like Hubbard.

Scheme needs and how guys are built in Alabama’s defense differs slightly from other defensive philosophies. It’s why you don’t see them recruit 200-pound linebackers. Everybody’s needs are exclusive to who they are as an identity. For some programs it’s the same, but for many quite different.

#AskLoogs: Robinson and Fournette

September, 9, 2013
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Possibly. However, LSU’s depth chart at RB might help the Tigers more. They are losing Alfred Blue, Kenny Hilliard is a junior and Jeremy Hill, well, who knows what will happen with him. Alabama will still have Yeldon for at least one more year, plus Altee Tenpenny, Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Tyren Jones and Kenyon Drake are all freshman and sophomores. This illustrious group of Louisiana prospects is a tight knit group, they all know each other and speak regularly, but that rarely guarantees any definitive outcome. Right now, Alabama is the only true predator to the LSU program for in-state kids and I would be willing to bet they would consider it a win to lure three or four more Louisiana kids in lieu of Fournette if it came down to it, especially if one of them is WR Malachi Dupre. Another way to make an impression is if Alabama can meet expectations and play for a third straight national title. Don’t kid yourself though, those Bama coaches will have Cam constantly working Fournette until the end.


Saban vs. Meyer
Trevor Matich discusses the coaching matchup in the Allstate Sugar Bowl between Alabama's Nick Saban and Ohio State's Urban Meyer.


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