Alabama Crimson Tide: Josh Casher

Top overall position classes in 2014 

February, 21, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at which programs compiled the nation's best overall position classes in 2014. For the full top position classes series, click here.

Quarterbacks: Florida
The Florida Gators had a major need at quarterback in the Class of 2014, and Will Muschamp and staff more than filled it, signing two of the nation’s top signal-callers. Third-ranked dual-threat prospect Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day School) is already on campus and preparing for spring practice, while No. 7 dual-threat prospect Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) was a huge signing-day flip from Florida State. Both prospects are great athletes who are accustomed to operating up-tempo offenses. This should also help newly hired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who will install a similar scheme in Gainesville.

Top position classes: OL 

February, 20, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
Not only did Alabama put together the best offensive line class in the 2014 cycle, but it's also one of the best in recent memory. The Crimson Tide inked early enrollee and five-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La./West Monroe) and also got top-ranked junior college offensive tackle Dominick Jackson (San Mateo, Calif./College of San Mateo). On the interior, the nation's top two centers, No. 168 overall Josh Casher (Mobile, Ala./Saint Paul’s Episcopal) and No. 190 J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge) signed, as did No. 3 guard Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls). A second guard in the class is three-star Montel McBride (Plant City, Fla./Plant City), who could also play nose tackle at the next level.

The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best offensive line class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:


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Room to improve: Offensive line

February, 19, 2014
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Editor’s note: This is Part III in a weeklong series looking at Alabama’s top five position groups with room to improve.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It wasn’t all bad. It’s sometimes important to remember that. Despite a very sour finish against Oklahoma, Alabama’s offensive line wasn’t a complete disaster. In fact, it was far from that. The Tide actually allowed six fewer sacks this past season than they did the season before when the line was hailed as the best in the country and one of the best of all-time.

But, yes, there’s room for the line to improve. The running game wasn’t as dominant as in years past, and the line is somewhat to blame for that. The pocket wasn’t as wide open as quarterback AJ McCarron would have like it, and that came from up front.

[+] EnlargeRyan Kelly
Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesCenter Ryan Kelly will help anchor Alabama's offensive line in 2014.
With Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama’s franchise left tackle, and Anthony Steen, a three-year starter at left guard, off to the NFL, there’s plenty of work to do for offensive line coach Mario Cristobal. He wasn’t there to coach the 2012 offensive line, and now all that Steen and Kouandjio are gone, neither are any of its former five starters.

Battling for No. 1: The good news for Cristobal is that because of the injuries throughout last season, he already has a good idea of who his candidates are to start. Ryan Kelly should remain the starter at center, as should Arie Kouandjio at left guard. Austin Shepherd has done nothing to lost his job at right tackle. And thanks to opportunities throughout the season, we know that Leon Brown is good candidate to start in Steen’s place at guard. And Grant Hill could play either guard or tackle, if need be. Hill, the former No. 1-rated offensive guard coming out of high school, is a more natural fit inside at guard, though.

Strength in numbers: Brandon Hill might be the most intriguing returning player on the offensive line. The massive tackle/guard prospect came to campus last year hugely overweight and has since trimmed down to a more manageable 385 pounds. If he sheds a few more belt sizes, he could be push for time at either position. While you’re at it, don’t count out Alphonse Taylor, either. The rising sophomore is no slouch at 335 pounds and was listed as the backup to Steen throughout the regular season. Meanwhile, look for Chad Lindsay, who started four games, to provide quality depth behind Kelly at center.

New on the scene: The wildcard in the competition to replace Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle is Cameron Robinson. In fact, the two are very similar in that they were both the No. 1-ranked offensive tackle prospects coming out of high school, and they both had the look of an NFL All-Pro from the minute they stepped foot on campus. Robinson, the No. 3 overall prospect in the country, is a massive 6-foot-5 and 330 pounds already. Should he get a firm grasp on the playbook early on -- he’s already enrolled and will compete in the spring, which helps -- he could become a part of the equation by fall camp. Left tackle is one of the most difficult positions on the line to learn, but you’ll recall that Kouandjio played in eight games as a true freshman before suffering a season-ending injury. In addition to Robinson, Alabama will welcome in the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked centers in the country, Josh Casher and J.C. Hassenauer, as well as the No. 28-ranked offensive guard, Montel McBride.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The paperwork is on all of Alabama’s 2014 recruiting class. And now that it’s official, it’s time to start the process of analyzing who each prospect reminds us of.

Potential is a dangerous thing, so keep in mind that these comparisons are looking at the best case scenario for each player. As always, everything depends on what happens when they get to campus and how they develop when they get there.

Yesterday we looked at the defensive players. Today it's on to the offensive signees.

OL Josh Casher
Projects as: With J.C. Hassenauer also vying for time at center, look for Casher to get a look at guard where he could remind many of former Alabama three-year starter Anthony Steen. Both lacked ideal height (well under 6-foot-5) but have great strength and above-average drive.

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
Matt Sullivan/Getty ImagesA big QB who's tough to bring down? Sounds like Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and David Cornwell have some things in common.
QB David Cornwell
Projects as: A strong-armed passer who isn’t easy to bring down, Cornwell is eerily reminiscent of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. That said, the one hold up on Cornwell is his lack of experience having missed a lot of playing time in high school.

QB Jacob Coker
Projects as: He’s more Jameis Winston than AJ McCarron. Make no mistake, Coker is an athlete who can evade pressure and pick up yards with his feet. Throw in a strong arm and you’re looking at something similar to former Auburn signal-caller Cam Newton.

TE Ty Flournoy-Smith
Projects as: Not just because he originally signed with and played for Georgia, but Flournoy-Smith is similar to former Bulldog Orson Charles. In fact, they’re almost exactly the same size at 6-3 and 245 pounds, and both are primarily threats in the passing game.

OL J.C. Hassenauer
Projects as: If you’re drawing up a blueprint for a college center, you’re going to land on someone similar to Hassenauer, who has good quickness, good strength and the build (6-3, 292 pounds) to work in close quarters. Though he’s an inch taller and a few pounds lighter, he compares favorably to former USC center Ryan Kalil.

OL Dominick Jackson
Projects as: Get ready for another D.J. Fluker at offensive tackle, albeit a little lighter. Jackson, the No. 1 junior college tackle in the country, is enormous at 6-6 and 310 pounds. And like Fluker, Jackson is somewhat questionable in space and even played guard in junior college.

OL Montel McBride
Projects as: Alabama fans will remember that Chance Warmack wasn’t the most highly regarded prospect coming out of high school. Like McBride, he wasn’t a top-15 player at his position nationally. McBride has a similar thick build at 6-4 and 349 pounds.

OL Cameron Robinson
Projects as: He’s Cyrus Kouandjio 2.0. Both were No. 1 at their position, in the top 10 overall and had expectations to compete from Day 1. Really, both had the look of All-SEC linemen the minute they stepped on campus. Robinson fits the bill as a rock-solid 6-5 and 330 pounds.

[+] EnlargeSteven Jackson
Chris Trotman/Getty ImagesBo Scarbrough will be a RB first at Alabama and has the look of a big back like Steven Jackson back when he was with the Rams.
ATH Bo Scarbrough
Projects as: Alabama coach Nick Saban insisted that Scarbrough is a “running back first” despite his ability at receiver. His 6-foot-2 frame will catch some off guard as being too tall, but so is Falcons’ running back Steven Jackson, who was a similar one-cut explosive back early in his career.

WR Derek Kief
Projects as: With his size (6-5, 198 pounds), Kief has the chance to be a real threat inside the red zone. The top-20 receiver doesn’t have the out-of-this-world Larry Fitzgerald athleticism, so look at him as a potential Mohamed Massaquoi from Georgia, who gradually developed into an NFL prospect in Athens.

WR Cameron Sims
Projects as: The comparison to Alshon Jeffery is fitting. But since it’s been thrown around plenty, let’s go another direction and throw another former SEC receiver out there, this time Brandon LaFell. Both were tall, rangy athletes with good feet and good burst.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama coach Nick Saban had plenty to be proud about with the signing class he assembled last Wednesday. It was talented, deep and met every need the Crimson Tide had heading into the 2014 season. It was, according to ESPN and every other major recruiting outlet, the No. 1 class in the country by a wide margin.

[+] EnlargeDa'Shawn Hand
Mark LoMoglio/Icon SMIDE Da'Shawn Hand could make an immediate impact for Alabama in 2014.
But for Alabama, top recruiting classes are nothing new. It was the third consecutive year the Tide finished No. 1 in ESPN’s class rankings. In fact, no class assembled by Saban with the benefit of a full calendar year to recruit (since 2008) has finished lower than No. 3 overall.

There was something special about this class, apart from the record five five-star athletes and 19 ESPN 300 signees. This class of offensive linemen might be the most decorated in the program’s history. It is, at the very least, the best Saban has ever put together since arriving in Tuscaloosa.

According to Saban, solidifying the trenches was the goal.

“I think that was a point of emphasis early on when we started this, is that we needed to get quality people up front on both sides of the ball,” he told reporters at his annual signing day news conference. “We got six offensive linemen, and I think six defensive linemen. Even though three of those guys are junior college guys, we felt that it was important that we get some guys that had a little more maturity about them, a little more veteran experience.”

The defensive linemen could turn out to be just as special. Da’Shawn Hand, a dynamic athlete out of Virginia, was the second-best defensive end in the country, according to ESPN. Jarran Reed, a former Florida commitment, could make an instant impact after transferring from junior college, as could former freshman All-SEC choice D.J. Pettway. Johnny Dwight and Joshua Frazier could develop into solid contributors as well.

But make no mistake, the most impressive group of the class was the O-line, led by No. 1-rated offensive tackle Cameron Robinson of Monroe, La. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound athlete brings back visions of Cyrus Kouandjio, who was the No. 1 offensive tackle recruit when he came to Alabama only a few years ago. With a similar build and similar attributes to Robinson, Kouandjio started eight games as a true freshman before a knee injury caused him to miss the rest of the season.

Robinson isn’t the only impressive tackle, though. Dominick Jackson, the No. 1 junior college offensive tackle in the country, is ready to make a good first impression. At 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds, no one is going to miss the towering product from College of San Mateo in California.

[+] EnlargeCameron Robinson
Miller Safrit/ESPNCameron Robinson, the nation's No. 1 offensive tackle, leads an impressive group of offensive line recruits for Alabama.
Josh Casher and J.C. Hassenauer offer a similar two-deep at the center position. Casher, from nearby Mobile, Ala., and Hassenauer, of Minnesota, were ranked the No. 1 and No. 2 centers in the ESPN 300, respectively.

Throw in Montel McBride, the No. 28-ranked offensive guard in the country, and Ross Pierschbacher, the No. 3 offensive guard in 2014, and you’ve got an offensive line class with both quality and depth.

In fact, both areas are unmatched in Saban’s tenure with Alabama. The six prospects averaged a scout’s grade of 84.17. Compare that to the previous high of 81.67 in 2011 when Kouandjio and three other offensive linemen signed with Alabama. Four O-line classes (2007-10, 12) had an average scout’s grade of 80 or lower.

At this point it’s important to remember that rankings aren’t everything. As coaches were quick to point out throughout the last week, whatever stars a recruit “earned” in high school vanish upon enrollment. It’s no longer about who you are as much as what you can do.

Case in point: Alabama’s offensive line, circa 2012. That line, featuring All-Americans Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack, was hailed as the best in the country and arguably the best in the history of the program, clearing ground for an offense that took to Tide to the BCS National Championship.

But if you judged that line based on each player’s recruiting rankings, it would have been considered middle-of-the-road at best. Jones was a C+ tackle prospect out of Tennessee (scout’s grade: 78) and Warmack was thought of in much the same way (scout’s grade: 79). Right guard Anthony Steen was a three-star prospect who wound up starting three years at Alabama. Big D.J. Fluker (6-7, 325 pounds) was the most highly regarded recruit of the bunch, the No. 1 tackle prospect in the 2009 class and the No. 12 player overall, according to ESPN.

Saban, for his part, wouldn’t be sad to see recruiting rankings fall off a steep cliff. We can talk about how great Alabama’s O-line class is today, but he’d like to see it judged three years from now when players have developed and have an opportunity to move on to the NFL.

“The challenge for all these young men [who] got recruited [on Wednesday], wherever they're going, is to be able to stay focused on what they need to do to improve as players and do the things that they need to do to become very effective college football players,” Saban said. “Maybe the biggest challenge of all, maybe even more so going from college to the NFL, I think is having the maturity to be able to stay focused on the things they need to do to develop as players and keep a positive attitude toward the goal they have, understand what it takes to accomplish the goals they have and then have the discipline they have to execute it every day.”

5 to watch: SEC signing day preview 

January, 21, 2014
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With signing day quickly approaching, there are several storylines developing throughout the SEC. Here’s a closer look at five things to watch for on national signing day:


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Alabama’s season might not have ended the way the Crimson Tide wanted -- and let’s face it, anything short of a national championship was going to be disappointing -- but they still finished 11-2.

Off the field, Alabama has continued its recruiting dominance in the 2014 cycle. The Crimson Tide currently have the No. 1 class and still have a chance to have a strong finish. With signing a month away, here’s a closer look where the Tide stand in recruiting.


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The practices are in the books and now is the time for the nation’s top prospects to showcase their skills under the bright lights of the Under Armour All-America game (4 p.m. Thursday, ESPN). With an outstanding collection of talent taking the field, it can be easy to feel a football sensory overload. No matter where you look, you will see a promising prospect in action, but to help guide your focus, we put together a few viewing tips. You can’t go wrong wherever your eyes take you on the field, but the following could be a good place to start.

If you want to know where next year's top college freshmen will play …


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Three days of practice are now in the books and overall execution was sharper as the players begin to move into final preparations for the Under Armour All-America Game on Thursday. The productivity of the players picked up as did the speed of the play, and they’re continuing to think less and display their natural ability more. It was a physical day, with the pads popping and some big hits throughout the practice. Here are some of the highlights.

Top performers


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As expected, Day 2 at the Under Armour All-America practices were smoother, more concise and much more productive. The players are now starting to think less and play more. Natural ability is starting to come to the forefront, which allows for them to be more productive. There have been fewer dropped passes, fewer misses by the QBs and the offensive lines are starting to jell quicker than expected. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this group is there have not been any true letdowns. They have stepped up and been as advertised almost top to bottom for both squads. Let’s hit the highlights of the day:

Top performers

WR Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish): Sims might not wow anyone with his 40-yard dash time, but it may not matter. Sims is so similar to Mike Evans at Texas A&M. He just makes plays. He has extremely long arms and is outstanding when in contested matchups. The ball will look like it is uncatchable and then next thing you know he jumps out of nowhere, extends and makes a play and the defender is left scratching his head. When it comes down to it, the QBs for Team Highlight can trust that if they need to throw it up, Sims will make a play. The most basic thing about the position is catching the football and Sims has no problem doing that.


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Early Offer: Latest on top 5 teams 

November, 4, 2013
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: With the newest edition of the BCS rankings released, we take a look at the biggest headlines of the top five teams from the recruiting trail.


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UA Game jersey tour: Josh Casher

October, 31, 2013
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Senior center Josh Casher (Mobile, Ala./St. Paul's Episcopal) was presented his honorary game jersey Tuesday during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game. The event was part of a three-month jersey tour.

[+] EnlargeJosh Casher, Tre Williams
Courtesy of IntersportESPN 300 prospects Josh Caster and Tre' Williams of Mobile (Ala.) St. Paul's Episcopal are headed to rival schools for college, but will play together one more time in the Under Armour All-America Game.
Casher, an Alabama commitment, is one of 90 players selected to compete in the seventh annual Under Armour All-America Game, a nationally televised game featuring the country’s top high school seniors. The game is set for 4 p.m. ET Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.

“First and foremost, I want to thank God for where he has brought me,” Casher said. “Second, you know I would love to thank my family because without them I wouldn’t be where I am. Third, I want to thank my team because without them I’m nothing at all.”

Added Casher: “This is incredible. I think I was selected to come because I think they see the fight within me. They see that I’m a great player, but I’m also a great individual to come to this game. I think they see that I won’t be denied. No matter how big you are, how fast you are or how strong you are ... that what I want to do is be the best player Josh Casher can be, and I feel like that’s what you want in an All-American and that’s what I’m going to continue to strive for.”

Casher is quick to give credit to everyone in his circle for helping him become the player he is today.

“How did I get where I am today? I would say through my family, my coaches and my team. I have a great head coach and I have an amazing offensive line coach," he said. "My teammates are great, and we all get along. Tre’ [Williams] is an amazing teammate, and I love playing with him,” Casher said.

The 6-foot-1, 290-pound Casher is the No. 183 prospect in the ESPN 300 and the No. 1 center in the class. He committed to Alabama over Florida State and Auburn, where he was originally committed.

Bama adds No. 1-ranked C Casher

October, 29, 2013
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Alabama continued to strengthen its No. 1-ranked recruiting class on Tuesday night by adding a commitment from Under Armour All-American Josh Casher (Mobile, Ala./Saint Paul’s Episcopal), the No. 1-ranked center in the country.

The No. 183 player in the ESPN 300, in somewhat of a surprise, chose Alabama over Florida State and Auburn. His commitment was first reported by Rivals.com and several other media outlets.

Auburn was thought to have the inside track for the four-star offensive lineman. The Tigers' co-offensive coordinator, Dameyune Craig, recruited Casher’s older brother Chris while Craig was an assistant at Florida State and knows the Casher family well. Josh Casher was even previously committed to Auburn before backing off his pledge in July. Casher also has a high school teammate, Tre' Williams, that committed to Auburn.

But it wasn't meant to be for the Tigers.

For Alabama, the rich get richer. The offensive line class the Crimson Tide is putting together is arguably the best position group in the country.

The Tide have commitments from Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La./West Monroe), the No. 1-ranked offensive tackle in the country, Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls), the No. 1-ranked guard, and now the top two centers in Casher and J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge).

With Casher and Hassenauer now in the fold, Alabama could move one of the two prospects to guard.

Alabama now has 22 commitments, including an impressive 17 that are ranked in the ESPN 300. The Tide have six offensive line commitments and could sign as many as eight OL in this class.

Casher is one of only five in-state commitments for the Crimson Tide.

SEC recruiting mailbag

October, 11, 2013
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It’s time to dip into the SEC recruiting mailbag and answer your questions. Because of the amount of questions we’ve received, we won’t be able to get to all of them, but we encourage you to ask again next week by tweeting your questions to @DerekTysonESPN or @HamiltonESPN and use the hashtag #SECRecruiting.

@Drew_Vaughn_55: [Who are the] top targets still on Auburn's board?

[+] EnlargeRashaan Evans
Miller Safrit/ESPNHomewtown four-star LB Rashaan Evans is a top target for Auburn, but other SEC teams are involved, too.
Derek Tyson: This will certainly change from now until signing day, but as of now the top remaining prospects for the Tigers appear to be four-star linebacker Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), defensive end Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing), four-star center Josh Casher (Mobile, Ala./St. Paul's Episcopal), offensive guard Jordan Sims (Birmingham, Ala./Homewood) and wide receiver Myron Burton Jr. (Suwanee, Ga./Peachtree Ridge).

@LSUPETERadams: How serious is Hootie Jones about Bama?

Gerry Hamilton: There is no doubt Laurence "Hootie" Jones is very serious about Alabama. He has been on campus at least two times since July, and he is sitting on I-20 in Monroe at Neville High. Why is that important? One, because it's easier to get a prospect out of Louisiana in the northern part of the state, and two, Alabama has tons of momentum and that includes O.J. Smith (Bossier City, La./Airline High), Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish High) and No. 3 overall Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La./West Monroe High) all being from that very important I-20 in the Pelican State. With that said, one has to consider LSU the front runner for Jones until he actually pulls the trigger for a program other than the Tigers. There is competition and quality depth at whichever school Jones picks, and he is a very talented and confident player, so this is not a decision that will come down to looking at depth charts.

@Watup_Haun: Can Vol Nation steal Clifton Garrett? #vols

DT: The No. 3-ranked inside linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) told me after Tennessee's hard-fought overtime loss to Georgia that his experience actually helped the Vols' chances of landing him. The problem for Tennessee is LSU had such a commanding lead going in to the visit it might be too much to overcome. The Vols certainly improved their chances, and Florida and Ole Miss are still very much in the running, but as of now I think LSU is still probably the team to beat.

@driverag: Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) didn't visit the Gators last Saturday. Is that bad news? Any chance they can still get him?

DT: Noil said on Sept. 1 that his top three consisted of Florida, USC and Texas A&M, which is good news for Florida fans considering the home-state team, LSU, is not listed. However, Noil and his teammate Gerald Willis III have both moved their visit to Florida back twice. The more they continue to to push back their visit to Florida, in my opinion, that is not a good thing for the Gators. Until they actually get on campus again, it's really hard to determine just how serious they are about Florida. Despite what they are saying publicly, LSU is still very much in the picture. A victory over LSU this weekend by Florida could certainly go a long way as far as their recruitment.

SEC 2014 recruiting scenarios 

October, 8, 2013
10/08/13
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With signing day still several months away, schools will add and in some cases lose committed prospects. Here is a look at the best and worst case scenario for each SEC school.


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