Alabama Crimson Tide: Zach Whitley Jr.

Top position classes: LB 

February, 17, 2014

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

Nationally (and SEC)
The Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2014 class fill just about every need on the board, and that includes linebacker. With designs on addressing pass rushing and the ability to play in space on the edge at outside 'backer in Nick Saban’s 3-4 scheme, Alabama signed the Nos. 1 and No. 2 outside linebackers in the country in No. 48 overall Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) and No. 52 overall Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), who is pound for pound of the best pure athletes in the 2014 cycle. The Crimson Tide added two more talented linebackers in ESPN 300’s No. 102 Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) and No. 281 Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest). Hamilton is an MLB.

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

UCLA flips ESPN 300 ILB Whitley 

January, 4, 2014
UCLA coach Jim Mora didn't take the Texas head coaching job, but that didn't stop him from making an impact in the Lone Star State, as the Bruins gained a commitment from ESPN 300 linebacker Zach Whitley Jr. (Houston/North Shore) on Friday night.

Whitley had been committed to Alabama since early May, but the Bruins -- led by assistant coach Adrian Klemm -- had been pushing hard for the nation's No. 189 overall prospect and No. 8 inside linebacker. Momentum truly began building for the Bruins when the four-star defender took an official visit to Westwood in early December.

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The defending national champions are preparing to host their final camp of the summer next week, and some of the top 2014 and 2015 prospects nationally are expected to descend on the University of Alabama. The camp runs Sunday through Wednesday.

Here are five storylines to watch as the Crimson Tide's camp plays out.

Addressing the OL

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It should come as no surprise that the University of Alabama’s 2014 recruiting class is littered with recruits in both the ESPN 150 and the new ESPN 300 rankings as the Crimson Tide are coming off back-to-back national championships. But the class received its biggest boost yet with a pair of commitments over the weekend.

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Tales from the Road: Alabama 

May, 29, 2013
Each week, Tales From The Road provides news and updates about where Alabama’s coaches are recruiting and which prospects are getting noticed.

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HOUSTON, Texas -- It's the first play of Zach Whitley Jr.'s favorite part of practice on a warm May afternoon in East Houston, and the 2014 linebacker is ready to hit somebody.

The Houston North Shore coaches gather their players together for some full-contact work in the second week of spring football practice. They have the offense and defense compete with best-on-best, first teamers taking on first teamers.

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Last year, the University of Alabama’s No. 1 recruiting class was highlighted by playmakers on offense. The Crimson Tide signed four ESPN 150 running backs, the nation’s No. 2 wide receiver and a player many believed was the most dynamic tight end in the class.

However, Nick Saban is still a defensive-minded coach, and it’s clear the priority so far for 2014 has been on that side of the ball.

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LB Whitley commits to Alabama

May, 3, 2013
Houston North Shore linebacker Zach Whitley Jr. originally wanted to take his time with the recruiting process. Even as late as last month, he said that he wanted to wait until his senior season was underway before making a commitment.

A visit to Alabama changed that.

The four-star linebacker committed to the Crimson Tide on Friday, according to North Shore recruiting coordinator Garrett Cross.

Whitley, the ninth-ranked inside linebacker in the country, had offers from Texas, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and TCU in addition to Alabama.

Earlier this year, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Whitley attended junior days at both Texas and Texas A&M but made his first trip to Alabama on April 20 for "A-Day." He is the sixth commitment in the 2014 class for the Crimson Tide and the second inside linebacker. Defense is a priority in this class for Alabama, with at least five of the six committed players projected to play on that side of the line of scrimmage.

ESPN scouts call Whitley a "tough, physical linebacker prospect who plays fast but disciplined in between the tackles." His trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., was his first spring football game experience.

"He's what you look for in a linebacker," North Shore head coach David Aymond said. "All the attritbutes of a linebacker you want, he personifies. He has a commitment to working hard, believes the game to be physical, expects it to be physical around him. That's what you look for in a traditional linebacker -- dirty, grimy, physical and hard-working -- and that's what Zach is about. He works hard in the weight room and has good speed and quickness on the field."
HOUSTON, Texas -- After a busy track and field season, ESPN Watch List linebacker Zach Whitley Jr. is turning his attention back to football.

The 2014 prospect's time on the track for this season is complete and on Tuesday at Houston North Shore, the soon-to-be-senior was out at Galena Park ISD Stadium, barking out calls to his defensive teammates during 7-on-7 sessions as he and the Mustangs prepare for the 2013 season.

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Watch List LB Zach Whitley in no hurry 

February, 15, 2013
HOUSTON -- When Houston North Shore linebacker Zach Whitley Jr. ventured to Austin for Texas' first junior day of the year, he quickly felt a sense of comfort.

The reason? The presence of two players he knows, two guys who came from the program he currently plays in.

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Alabama Dismisses Jonathan Taylor
Alex Scarborough discusses the Crimson Tide's decision to dismiss defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor after he was arrested on domestic violence charges in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.