The Alabama Crimson Tide have been a merciless juggernaut under head coach Nick Saban, both on the field and on the recruiting trail. The Tide may have come up short in their quest for a third straight national championship in 2013, but their 2014 recruiting class will add plenty of top-tier talent to a loaded roster, ensuring Alabama will continue to compete for titles. It would be a shock if any school signed a better class than the Crimson Tide.
|Total commits||Five-star prospects||Four-star prospects|
Update, Feb. 5: One setback for Bama, as three-star DB Chris Williams flips to UCF. Down to 25 commits.
Alabama is welcoming eight early enrollees for the 2014 recruiting class, a group that will have a head start on adjusting to the college game.
Jarran Reed, a four-star defensive tackle recruit out of East Mississippi Community College, has a short time to play at Alabama because of the time he spent at junior college, so enrolling early will be a big help in his quest to earn a starting position. Reed chose Alabama over offers from Nebraska, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. He should provide immediate help along the defensive line. Reed was rated as the second-best defensive tackle and 13th-best overall prospect among junior college players nationally.
Reed will be joined in Tuscaloosa by D.J. Pettway. Pettway is an impressive defensive end recruit, also out of East Mississippi Community College. Pettway is rated four stars by the 247sports composite — a combination of the four major recruit rating services, and is rated the second-best defensive end and 14th-best overall prospect among junior college recruits nationally. He also held offers from Florida State, Tennessee and Ole Miss. Pettway was kicked off the team in 2013 after being arrested on a robbery charge, and will be returning to the school.
Cameron Robinson is another recruit enrolling early for the Tide. From West Monroe (La.) High School, Robinson is a very highly touted offensive tackle. He is rated as a five-star recruit by the 247sports composite, and is ranked as the best offensive tackle in the country (as well as the fourth-best overall prospect). He also held offers from Auburn, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma and Texas. Be sure to check out our scouting report on him.
Tony Brown is another five-star prospect who will enroll early at Alabama. From Beaumont, Texas, he attends Ozen High School and is one of the top-rated corners in the country. As well as bestowing on him the five-star rating, the 247sports composite ranks Brown as the second-best corner in the class and the ninth-best prospect. He also held offers from LSU, USC, Texas and Ohio State, among others. Here's our scouting report on Brown.
Laurence "Hootie" Jones is an impressive prospect who will enroll early in Tuscaloosa and will try to make his presence known in the secondary. He attends Neville High School and hails from Monroe, La., where he is one of the top safeties in the country. Rated as a four-star by the 247sports composite, Jones is ranked as the fourth-best safety in the country and the 50th-best overall prospect. Jones also held offers from LSU, Oklahoma and Ohio State. He briefly decommitted from Alabama before re-pledging to the program.
David Cornwell will start his campaign to be the next great Alabama quarterback early, as the four-star prospect will enroll in the spring. From Norman North (Okla.) High School, Cornwell is rated as the fourth-best pro-style quarterback in the country and the 79th-best player in the class. He also received offers from Auburn, Miami, Missouri and Oklahoma State. Here's our scouting report on him.
Cameron Sims could be one of Cornwell's top targets, and the wide receiver will enroll early as well. Out of Ouachita Parish (La.), Sims hails from Monroe and is considered a four-star prospect by the 247sports composite. He is rated as the 12th-best wide receiver in the class and the 84th-best overall prospect. He received offers from Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame and USC, among others.
Shaun Hamilton is the final player in Alabama's class who is, as of now, planning to enroll early. From Montgomery, Ala., he attends Carver High School and is considered a four-star inside linebacker. The 247sports composite ranks him as the eighth-best inside linebacker in the country and the 199th-best overall prospect. He received offers from Auburn, Clemson, Florida State and USC, among others.
Signing Day highlights
Among the prospects making it official on National Signing Day are three top-40 players: Da'Shawn Hand, Bo Scarbrough and Christian Miller.
Hand is a five-star defensive end from Woodbridge (Va.) High School. Ranked as the No. 5 player in the Class of 2014 and the top weak-side DE, he held offers from just about every major program in the country and chose the Crimson Tide over the likes of Florida, Michigan, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC, among many, many others. SB Nation national recruiting analyst Bud Elliott expects Hand to make an impact right away.
I first saw Hand in person in the summer of 2012 at an event for seniors. As the only junior defensive lineman, he did not seem out of place at all. Though he plays defensive tackle more for his high school, look for Hand to play defensive end in college.
Hand is also a bright person and has a good attitude. He should be a multi-year starter at whatever school he chooses, perhaps as a freshman. He is certainly one of the very best prospects in the class of 2014.
Scarbrough is a hometown kid out of IMG Academy in Tuscaloosa. A five-star athlete, he's ranked as the 16th-best player in America and second-best at his position. He's been committed to the Crimson Tide for more than a year, and picked 'Bama over power programs such as UCLA, Notre Dame, Auburn, Clemson, Florida Florida State, Georgia, Michigan and Tennessee. Scarbrough's college position isn't set in stone, and Elliott believes he would excel at running back or linebacker.
I personally think Scarbrough's best position could be running back or linebacker. He is a home run hitter as a running back, with excellent top-end speed and though he runs upright, he does have the power to run through tacklers. Scarbrough doesn't have elite moves, and when he dances too much, can get in trouble, but he seems to understand who he is as a player, and focuses mostly on overpowering or outrunning defenders, as opposed to trying to make them miss. He can deliver the blow on offense, and presumably on defense, and is a physical specimen. I also think Scarbrough has better hands than some would credit him with.
Miller is a four-star linebacker from Spring Valley High in Columbia, S.C. He's ranked as the 39th-best player in the class and third-best among outside linebackers. Like most Alabama commits, his offer sheet is impressive, including Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, UCLA and Virginia Tech. In his overview of Alabama's 2014 defensive class, Roll 'Bama Roll's Slice of Life notes Miller's lineage and his motor.
Almost universally regarded as the best outside linebacker in this class, Christian Miller has a bit of a pedigree. His dad played for the Gamecocks in the early '90s, then had a nine-year career in the NFL. Honestly, when I watch his tape, the thing that impresses me most about Miller is his motor. His speed/tackling/play-making skills are all good, but this kid plays with so much energy it will make you tired just watching him.
For Alabama, this class is more of the same: high-profile prospects from in state, the Southeast and around the country. With only nine players locked in on offense, it's definitely a defense-heavy group, which isn't a surprise considering Saban's background. But, there's enough talent coming in on both sides of the ball to keep the Tide rolling.
Alabama's top remaining target is Rashaan Evans, a fantastic five-star linebacker out of Auburn (Ala.) — the son of a former Auburn player, and a mom who also graduated from Auburn. If anyone can pull Evans away from the Tigers, it would be Nick Saban, but that will not be easy. Alabama is also on several other lesser targets.