The Alabama Crimson Tide always does some excellent recruiting and their new class of recruits looks very promising. Nine student-athletes have begun classes and will be eligible to practice for the Roll Tide in the spring, including one former MLB player. Nick Saban already has the recipe for winning, but with these new ingredients, he may be holding up another BCS trophy very soon.
First is tight end O.J. Howard and defensive back Jai Miller, both players are homegrown talents hailing from Prattville and Valley Grande, respectfully. Each player should give the Crimson Tide a boost on both sides of the ball. Howard is the No. 1 ranked tight end in most national polls and should prove to be a great target at 6’5” and 255 pounds.
I like this kid. He’s humble with a great work ethic and should get some playing time soon. Miller on the other hand is a former MLB player who started his baseball career straight out of high school, but with only 68 total at-bats in his 10 years with several teams has decided to return to Alabama to get his degree.
The new Roll Tide running back isn’t Forrest Gump, but definitely can put up big yards like the fictional character. Last season Derrick Henry broke Ken Halls’ high school rushing record by 378 yards setting the new mark at 11,610 yards. The self-described beast is obviously the top ranked running back in the nation and like Howard has a great work ethic.
There wasn’t a team in the nation that didn’t want Henry in their backfield, from the Florida Gators to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, everybody wanted this kid, but Alabama got him. The SEC is a tough conference so he needs to hit the gym this summer and bulk up, but you can bet he’ll be lighting up the scoreboard and causing much grief for defensive coordinators in the conference.
Three new freshman quarterbacks are signed on for the Roll Tide this season. Cooper Bateman, Parker McLeod and Luke Del Rio will all be vying for the most coveted spot in college football right now. No matter who finally gets the starting spot, Alabama will still be in good hands.
Bateman is a tall pocket passer with good decision making skills, but still may not get much tick for a year or two because A.J. McCarron is still around and Phillip Ely is currently the next in line. Bateman had 168 completions with 26 touchdowns and only seven interceptions last season.
Then there is Luke Del Rio. He actually passed on some real scholarship opportunities from schools like UCLA, Oregon State and Oklahoma State to walk on at Alabama. As someone still paying on student loans, passing up a scholarship is just ridiculous, but on the other hand I do like shiny things and trophies and playing for Alabama will definitely get you some of those.
Last, but certainly not least is Parker McLeod. Some analysts have compared his skill set to that of A.J. McCarron, but most polls don’t have him ranked very high right now. He has great field vision with a strong arm and even though he’s a traditional pocket passer like Bateman, he has exhibited some Johnny Football moments in high school.
Rounding out the class of new recruits are Brandon Hill and Leon Brown, both offensive linemen, and wide receiver Raheem Falkins. Falkins’ has some serious hands and is a ball magnet, his size and ability to fight off players to make catches are his positives, but his speed after the catch isn’t the greatest . With a little work on his conditioning he should turn out to be a big time player, think baby Megatron.
Now Brandon Hill is my definition of a beast. At six-foot-six and 330 pounds Hall was basically running over the competition in high school. Watching the tapes I almost felt sorry for the linemen trying to block this guy and I imagine they didn’t like their blocking assignments very much either. Hill almost signed with Ole Miss, but now will face them when the two team’s meet later this September on their only matchup this season.
Finally, there is Leon Brown. Brown is big and quick for his size. With a knack for picking up his blocking assignments, Alabama can sure use his versatility with so much of their offensive line leaving for the NFL. I see him getting some playing time quick and making a big impact.
The bottom line is, any team that is thinking about taking the title away from Alabama better do some great recruiting and fast; as it stands now the only team with any chance is Texas A&M and that’s only because of Heisman winner Johnny Manziel.