Alabama Crimson Tide: Ross Pierschbacher

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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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.”

Top five OG comparisons 

January, 21, 2014
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As each and every new evaluation period begins for our staff, we always try to use today’s college football stars and apply some of their best traits when describing the next generation of prospects. All prospects are different from one another, but many share similar characteristics that stand out in relation to their styles. In this edition of the series, we take a look at a group that often gets little fanfare but is still essential to an offense’s success. Here are the top five offensive guards in this class and who they remind us of in college football at this time.

Garrett Brumfield (Baton Rouge, La./University Laboratory) -- Oregon State’s Isaac Seumalo: The top-rated OG possesses a little better size and natural strength at this stage, while Seumalo was arguably a little sharper with his technique coming out. While they do have differences, these two also share some similarities. Both are physical and tenacious blockers as well as smart players. A coach’s son, Seumalo had a good feel for the game when he came out, and while he might not have that same background, Brumfield displays very good awareness as blocker. In pass protection, both set quickly, deliver a good punch and can slide and mirror rushers. In the run game, both can create push as well as be effective second-level blockers. Both were high school tackles projected as guards at the college level. Seumalo arrived at Oregon State and has started at center since his freshman year. We feel Brumfield will develop at OG at LSU, but he can also offer some versatility, which helped him rise to the top guard spot. With some added size, he could potentially contribute early in his career as well.


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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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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.

Best SEC classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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Top to bottom, the Southeastern Conference is recruiting better than any conference in the country. Thirteen of 14 SEC schools are ranked in the top 40 of the recruiting rankings, including six schools ranked in the top 10. Here's a closer look at which SEC school has the top recruiting classes at each position.

Quarterback
Strongest class: Alabama
This is the hardest position to determine who has the strongest class. Four of the top-five quarterbacks in the final Elite 11 rankings -- Sean White (Auburn), Kyle Allen (Texas A&M), Will Grier (Florida) and Jacob Park (Georgia) -- are committed to SEC schools. Alabama, however has the top-ranked quarterback, David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North) in the ESPN 300. The Under Armour All-American is the 32nd-ranked player in the nation. At 6-foot-5, 241-pounds, Cornwell has a big-time arm and ideal size for the position.

Running back

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SEC class rankings analysis 

August, 14, 2013
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This was another big recruiting week in the Southeastern Conference. One school, Florida, moved up in to the top 10 while another, LSU, barely dropped out. Alabama is back a familiar spot in the rankings and the SEC 13-out-of-14 teams ranked in the top 40 of the rankings. Here's a closer look at the updated rankings.


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video
Some big-name schools got some great news on Sunday when Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) broke down his favorites.

The No. 3 offensive guard in the nation and 56th overall player in the ESPN 300, Mama has already scheduled two official visits and has Alabama, BYU, Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA, USC and Wisconsin among his top eight.

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Haubert: Bama bolsters O-Line 

August, 12, 2013
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The nation's No. 1 offensive guard, Ross Pierschbacher, spurned his hometown team to join the Alabama Crimson Tide. Pierschbacher has the size and versatility to make an impact at every position along the offensive line.


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Video: Pierschbacher flips to Alabama

August, 11, 2013
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The Iowa Hawkeyes used to have a commitment from the top offensive guard in the 2014 class. That is until he decided to flip to the Crimson Tide. Tom VanHaaren joins Jim Basquil to discuss why Ross Pierschbacher decommitted from Iowa, and what this means for the Tide and Hawkeyes.

Video: SEC Official Visit

August, 5, 2013
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Greg Ostendorf stops by to talk about Roc Thomas going to Auburn, the latest on top guard Ross Pierschbacher and what the decommitments of a pair of ESPN 300 recruits mean for their former schools.
ESPN 300 offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls) committed to Iowa back in January, but that didn’t stop other schools from coming after him. Both Alabama and Stanford extended scholarship offers after his decision, leaving a sense of doubt in the back of his mind.

For reassurance, Pierschbacher scheduled visits to both schools for this week. He wrapped up his trip to Alabama on Wednesday night. It was his second trip to Tuscaloosa.


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Five for '14: Offensive line 

December, 27, 2012
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Orlando Brown Jr.Tom Hauck for ESPN.comGiant OT Orlando Brown Jr.'s participation in the Tide's camp this past summer was his first visit to the Tuscaloosa campus.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The offensive line was a clear position of need for the University of Alabama in the 2013 recruiting class, and the Crimson Tide have addressed it with four commitments to this point and potentially more to come.

In addition to the two in-state linemen, Bradley Bozeman and Grant Hill, Alabama has already signed junior college offensive tackle Leon Brown, and on Tuesday, the staff reeled back in former UA signee Brandon Hill, a 6-foot-7, 390-pound tackle.

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