NCF On The Trail: Robert Foster

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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Success recruiting receivers might be the most overlooked reason for Alabama’s recent run; what one Big Ten recruiter said about Michigan’s 2015 class; and how Maryland landing Jesse Aniebonam was huge for in-state recruiting efforts.

Summer recruit wrap: Alabama 

July, 23, 2013
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The summer is almost over. The majority of camps are complete as schools have turned their focus to the beginning of the season. For Alabama, the camp season resulted in a handful of new commitments as well a plethora of new scholarship offers extended to 2014, 2015 and even some 2016 prospects.

This week, we take a look at the top 10 storylines and trends from the summer and look ahead to what’s next for the Crimson Tide.

[+] EnlargeCameron Robinson
Tom Hauck for Student SportsAlabama is battling for OT Cameron Robinson who put on a dominating performance at The Opening.
1. Camps focus on rebuilding the line

The camp season affects all positions, but the best evaluation comes from the 1-on-1 drills between the offensive and defensive linemen. Alabama used its camps to find talent up front as the staff looks to rebuild both lines. ESPN 300 offensive guard Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) committed to the Tide in late May before the camps began. Since that point, Alabama has added three more offensive linemen including center prospect J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge), one of the stars of The Opening. On defense, Johnny Dwight (Rochelle, Ga./Wilcox County) was one of the top performers from the first camp. He earned an offer and committed on spot.


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Alabama’s 2014 class is beginning to take shape. After a busy June, the class has moved up to No. 2 nationally in the latest class rankings. But the defending champs are not just bringing in talent; they’re also filling needs.

In the last month, they have added depth up front on both the offensive line and defensive line. They also found their quarterback in this class and a punter who will likely take over right away. Still, with more than 10 spots left in the class, there are needs to be addressed.

In this week’s top 10 list, we look at the top five positions of need for the Crimson Tide between now and signing day.

Offensive tackle

Alabama landed a potential instant impact player last week when junior college offensive lineman Dominick Jackson (San Mateo, Calif./College of San Mateo) committed to the Tide. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound prospect has the ability to play either tackle or guard when he gets to Tuscaloosa. However, the staff is still looking for that prototypical left tackle to replace current starter Cyrus Kouandjio if he decides to go to the NFL early. The top option is five-star Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe), who has already narrowed his list to Alabama and LSU. If Robinson stays in state, the Tide could also look at ESPN 300 offensive tackles Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara) or Roderick Johnson (Florissant, Mo./Hazelwood).

Outside linebacker

It’s no secret that Alabama wants at least one impact pass rusher in this class. The Tide struggled to get to the quarteback at times last year, and they want to continue to address that need. Five-star defensive ends Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) and Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) currently top the list. Carter would play outside linebacker for Alabama; Hand could either play on the line or at the Jack linebacker position. The staff is also high on former Florida commitment Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) and ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell). The latter recently visited Tuscaloosa and put the Tide in his top eight.

Safety


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Florida checks in on Tide commitment 

April, 29, 2013
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- ESPN 150 athlete Bo Scarbrough (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Northridge) committed to Alabama in September, but that hasn’t stopped other schools from recruiting him. Last week, Florida running backs coach Brian White paid him a visit.


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ATH Hooker shining despite inexperience 

April, 17, 2013
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Joe Cowart sat behind his desk last spring and watched as students filed into his classroom. And every day he spotted a certain basketball player, the teacher/football coach always had a comment waiting.

"You look like an athlete who'd make the NFL," Cowart said one day.

That athlete, New Castle (Pa.) High School's Malik Hooker, would just smile and deflect that football talk. Playing on the hardwood was his first love, and how did Cowart know that he would succeed anyway? He hadn't even played football since eighth grade, and he was doing just fine at basketball. (He even made one of Sportscenter's top 10 plays for a dunk last month.)

But Cowart didn't relent and, soon, Hooker's friends joined in the chorus. So, Hooker figured, what did he have to lose? He expected to compete, expected to flash his athleticism -- but he never thought he'd be where is now, holding five offers from as close as in-state schools Penn State and Pittsburgh, with another 2,000 miles away in Arizona.


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Rising junior CB has eye on Pa. schools 

February, 17, 2013
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Jordan Whitehead (Monaca, Pa./Central Valley) has seen the recruiting process up close and personal, as ESPN 150 wide receiver Robert Foster went through the ringer before finally signing with Alabama on Feb. 6.


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Mike Groh helps Tide land No. 1 class 

February, 7, 2013
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When the ink dried Wednesday night, the University of Alabama came away with the No. 1 recruiting class for the second year in a row. Coach Nick Saban garners most of the attention, but the job done by his staff should not go unnoticed.

Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart deserves credit for staying with Reuben Foster. The ESPN 150 linebacker initially committed to Alabama and then flipped to Auburn. But in the end, he signed with the Crimson Tide. Smart never gave up on him.


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Signing day primer: Alabama 

January, 23, 2013
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A little behind on the recruiting trail? Worry not -- TideNation has you covered. To catch you up on where the Alabama recruiting class of 2013 stands, we'll take you through the high points, including how the coaching staff has addressed certain needs and set the team up for seasons to come.

Team needs: With three of five starting offensive linemen and two of three defensive lineman starters off to the NFL draft, Alabama was forced to focus on finding help in the trenches. Nick Saban and the rest of the UA coaching staff had success filling those needs with the 2013 class, particularly along the offensive line. The Crimson Tide secured the commitments of four offensive linemen, one coming by way of a junior college in New York. Leon Brown, who was ranked in the top 20 of all junior college prospects by ESPN, could find himself competing for the starting right tackle job vacated by D.J. Fluker.

Derrick Henry
Derek Tyson/ESPN.comDerrick Henry is the only five-star commitment Alabama has and can fit at a variety of position.
Help is on the way: Outside of the lines, Alabama was once again in search of talented athletes to continue bringing potency to an offense that's been on a steady rise the past few years. Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon were difference makers in 2012 and there could be one or two who do the same this year. Derrick Henry, the No. 1 athlete in the country and Alabama's lone five-star commitment, could be the biggest wild card of the class. At 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds, he's an option at tailback, H-back and possibly linebacker. He'll begin at running back, where he set a national career rushing yards record at Yulee High in Florida.

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Richt checks on his top commit 

January, 15, 2013
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ESPN 150 cornerback Shaq Wiggins (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) spent Sunday morning eating breakfast with South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, then ended that night on the phone with Georgia coach Mark Richt.


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Hackenberg, Olsen earn UA Game starts

January, 3, 2013
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Black Team offense

Quarterback: Christian Hackenberg (Penn State)

Running back: Alvin Kamara

Receiver: Alvin Bailey (Florida), Robert Foster (Alabama), Damore'ea Stringfellow (Washington)

Tight end: O.J. Howard (Alabama)

Offensive tackle: Darius James (Texas), Denver Kirkland

Offensive guard: Grant Hill (Alabama), Joas Aguilar (Texas A&M)

Center: Hunter Bivin (Notre Dame)

Captains: Kelvin Taylor, Hunter Bivin, Robert Nkemdiche, Ben Boulware

Black Team defense

Defensive end: Robert Nkemdiche, Elijah Daniel

Defensive tackle: Greg Gilgmore (LSU), Kennedy Tulimasealii (Hawaii)

Inside linebacker: Ben Boulware (Clemson)

Outside linebacker: Alex Anzalone (Notre Dame), Matthew Thomas

Safety: Keanu Neal (Florida), Leon McQuay III

Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida), Tarean Folston (Notre Dame)

Black Team special teams

Long snapper: Tyler Kluver (Iowa)

Kicker/punter: Sean Covington (UCLA)

White Team offense

Quarterback: Kevin Olsen (Miami)

Running back: Keith Ford (Oklahoma)

Receiver: Laquon Treadwell, Ryan Green (Florida State), Jalin Marshall (Ohio State)

Tight end: Hunter Henry (Arkansas)

Offensive tackle: Derwin Gray (Maryland), Dorian Johnson (Pittsburgh)

Offensive guard: Patrick Kugler (Michigan), David Dawson (Michigan)

Center: Scott Quessenberry (UCLA)

White Team defense

Defensive end: Carl Lawson (Auburn), Joey Bosa (Ohio State)

Defensive tackle: Henry Poggi (Michigan), Kelsey Griffin (South Carolina)

Inside linebacker: Reuben Foster, Yannick Ngakoue

Outside linebacker: Trey Johnson

Safety: Max Redfield, Antonio Conner

Cornerback: Gareon Conley (Ohio State), Shaq Wiggins (Georgia)

White Team special teams

Long snapper: Brendan Turelli

Kicker: Ryan Santoso (Minnesota)

Punter: Shane Tripucka

Captains: Ryan Green, Hunter Henry, Patrick Kugler, Reuben Foster

Under Armour Game: Day Two Recap

January, 1, 2013
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Tom Luginbill and Craig Haubert recap the action from the second day of practice at the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game.

Bateman glad for time with UA commits 

December, 31, 2012
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Four-star quarterback Cooper Bateman (Salt Lake City/Cottonwood) is one of three quarterbacks on the Black team at the Under Armour All-America Game.


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Weekly Commitment Roundup 

December, 28, 2012
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ACC
Maryland
Will Likely III CB Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central
HT: 5-7 WT: 172
Position Rank: #21 CB

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Scouts: Big pickup for Tide 

December, 21, 2012
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Robert Foster (Monaca, Pa./Central Valley), who is No. 28 in the ESPN 150 and the No. 2 wide receiver in the nation, has been a significant target for Alabama from the start.

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Foster continues change in philosophy 

December, 21, 2012
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The University of Alabama is known for its smashmouth, power football. It’s what has helped them win two national championships in the past three years.

This season has been different, though. The Crimson Tide are playing for another title, but the offensive philosophy has changed. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier took the reins off quarterback AJ McCarron, and playmakers began to emerge at the wide receiver position, namely freshman Amari Cooper.

[+] EnlargeRobert Foster
Brad Bournival/ESPN.comWith the addition of Robert Foster, Alabama brings in another young playmaker to its receiving corps.
The change has also had an impact on recruiting. Friday was a prime example of that as Alabama went in and stole ESPN 150 wide receiver Robert Foster (Monaca, Pa./Central Valley) away from Pittsburgh, the hometown school.

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