2012 Defensive Signees

 

2012 Defensive Signees

DL: Dakota Ball, 3 Star

Specs:  6’2, 292.  Lindale, GA. 

Comments:  Meet Nick Gentry 2.0, but with a better name.  Dakota?  How cool is that?  Anyway, Ball is noted for his high motor, mean streak and leverage strength.

Projection:  Even with his motor, the depth at the DL position would indicate that Dakota would be best served by redshirting.  I saw Ball in the UA game and he never quit.  He got blocked most of the time, though he did get some really nice penetration as a DT a couple of times, but he never ever quit on a play.  The result was a couple of sacks and a pretty solid performance.  But, he’ll redshirt.

DL:  Korren Kirven, 4 Star

Specs:  6’4, 272.  Lynchburg, VA. 

Comments:  This kid is just 17 years old and it only just now starting to fill out his frame.  A tremendous athlete for his size, he should be able to get a lot bigger and a lot stronger over the course of time.  Since he’s obviously still growing, it stands to reason that this kid hasn’t even begun to reach his potential.

Projection:  I can’t wait to see the size comparison in a year after he’s redshirted.  Holy…

DL:  Darren Lake, 3 Star

Specs:  6’3, 330.  York, AL. 

Comments:  Lake is yet another one of those kids who absolutely blew up the Alabama summer camp.  Unblockable was the phrase most commonly heard regarding Lake and at camp he was every bit as good as 5 Star DT Eddie Goldman from what we’ve heard.  This kid is just tapping his potential.

Projection:  If Lake is 330 then I’m about 190, which I am most certainly not.  I think 330 lbs was with him only putting one leg on the scales.  Rumor has it that he’s going to have to drop some LBs before he gets a real look.  Also, he’s very young and very raw – Lake is another redshirt for the DL.

DL:  Alphonse Taylor, 3 Star.  December graduate.

Specs:  6’6, 340.  Mobile, AL. 

Comments:  Now I’ve heard this young man is not 340.  Or 350.  Now, I’ve also heard that he’s working very hard to get himself into playing weight.  The last guy who was asked to lose weight in order to get some PT was Terrance Cody, so you do the math.  Taylor was formerly an FSU commit but he came over to the good guys eventually.  BTW – some say Taylor could play OT and, with his 6’6 frame, you’d think that would be the best long term solution for him.  But, instead, we need depth at NT so I think that’s where he sticks initially.

Projection:  If Taylor begins dining with Terry Bradshaw then I think you’ve got a very solid guy to rotate into the DT position.  It will be interesting to me to see which of Lake & Taylor gets into the rotation but most say that it should be Taylor.  Fall camp will clearly separate these two but I promise you that if one meets his goal weight and the other does not, it will be worked out before they even step onto the field.  Of course, another thing in Taylor’s favor is the fact that he’s already on campus.

DL:  Dalvin Tomlinson, 4 Star

Specs:  6’2, 270.  Lindale, GA. 

Comments:  Tomlinson is a three time heavyweight wrestling champ in Georgia which I do not believe had ever been done before in the heavyweight division.  Very solid base with a great aptitude for using his strength and leverage against his opponents.

Projection:  I LOVE for my OL and DL to have experience in wrestling.  Wrestling adapts them to the hand to hand physical contact and teaches them about balance, leverage and strength.  It’s my guess that this background will elevate Tomlinson to the top of the heap and, while he clearly won’t start or even be in the 2 deep, he may force himself into the 3 deep rotation and lose his redshirt.  I’m totally basing this on his experience with wrestling, as I have not seen him in any all star games or anything like that.

LB:  Ryan Anderson, 4 Stars.  December graduate.

Specs:  6’3, 250.  Daphne, AL

Comments:  Ryan Anderson, quite honestly, should have been a 5 star recruit.  You’ll rarely hear me quibble about rankings b/c they are all totally subjective.  However, this is a 6’3, 250 lb monster who runs very, very fast and is very, very strong.  God doesn’t make a lot of these guys.  Anderson blew up two All Star games by dominating the drills during practice as well as the games.  He.  Is.  A.  Beast.

Projection:  Look for Anderson to play a pretty fair amount this year, especially on special teams and especially since he’s already enrolled.  As he learns the position, look for him to come in on some passing situations and he’ll most certainly push Hubbard and Dickson at the Jack (Upshaw) position.

LB:  Denzell Devall, 4 Stars

Specs:  6’2, 236.  Bastrop, LA

Comments:  A devastating MLB that will fit perfectly in the Alabama system.  He has the right size and range to be the next Nico Johnson – perfect fit for this system (#4 MLB in the nation by Rivals).

Projection:  This is the kind of kid who shows up first on special teams and then expands his role down the road.  I’d bet Devall plays some punt and kick coverage and plays in some mop up duty at LB as well.

LB:  Tyler Hayes, 4 Stars

Specs:  6’3, 215.  Thomasville, GA

Comments:  Hayes reportedly is the best cover LB in the bunch.  Given his size and the depth at LB, it’s conceivable that he could move to safety (though there’s a ton of depth there unless there’s some attrition).  With his frame, I see him staying at LB and growing into the next CJ Mosley and playing a ton in our nickel and dime personnel groupings.

Projection:  Tough call here.  I see him redshirting due to the current depth at the position, his size and the number of freshmen LBs coming in that appear to be more physically developed.

LB:  Dillon Lee, 4 Stars.  December graduate.

Specs:  6’4, 220.  Daphne, AL

Comments:  Supposedly the most athletic LB of the group, Lee spurned Georgia (where his brother Dallas is a starting OL) in favor of Alabama.  That’s a mighty strong statement to me.  Anyway, he’s got enough athleticism to defend the pass and he should continue to put some good weight on there to allow him to be a very good MLB in time.

Projection:  He had shoulder surgery (torn labrum) and I suspect that he’ll redshirt b/c of that.  He needs the year to bulk up in order to play MLB.

LB:  Reggie Ragland, 4 Stars

Specs:  6’4, 245.  Madison, AL

Comments:  Stud.  Absolute stud.  He really caught my eye at the UA game as he went sideline to sideline making eye popping hits.  It’s always impressive to me to be able to stand out in a group of standouts but Ragland did that and more.  Some say he could get a look at H Back or TE, depending on the needs of the team but I can’t see moving this kid from LB.  He really looked exceptional out there.

Projection:  He’ll get on the field as a freshman in some form or fashion.  He’ll either play LB and special teams or he’ll play TE/H back.  Either way, this kid is really, really, really good.  Very excited about his future.

DB:  Deion Belue, 3 Stars.  December graduate.

Specs:  6’0, 170.  Booneville, MS – Junior College(Oneonta, originally, I believe).

Comments:  Belue can flat out fly.  He’s a dynamic punt and kick returner and his speed allows him to be a pretty decent corner.  I think, due to his size, he’ll be utilized a ton as a returner this coming season but I don’t foresee him starting at corner as some have said.  He’ll likely have to play in nickel and dime situations.

Projection:  He’ll play and possibly return the opening kickoff of the season.

DB:  Landon Collins, 5 Stars

Specs:  6’0, 199.  Geismar, LA.

Comments:  Geismar is located 20 miles from Baton Rouge, so it’s no wonder momma wanted Landon to stay closer to home.  This also makes it all the more astounding that Alabama was able to pry him from the LSU clutches, as most give in to the instate pressure in Louisiana.  Collins is a 5 star athlete so that means his athleticism is off the charts.  He was VERY impressive in the UA all star game and he clearly has next level ability.

Projection:  I think he’ll play on special teams and will push to get into nickel and dime packages.  Collins could move to safety and Bama could slide Ha Ha (Clinton Dix – another safety) to the money position.  It just depends on if they trust Fulton or Belue at the money or star position instead and I’m thinking they will not trust them more than Clinton Dix.  We’ll see but it will be tough to keep Collins off the field.

DB:  Travell Dixon, 4 Stars.  December graduate.

Specs:  6’2, 200.  Thatcher, AZ – Junior College.  Miami, FL originally.

Comments:  Did you see his specs?  Dixon sounds like a thicker Dre clone.  He’d better be.  Bama needs either Dixon or Belue to emerge as a #1 corner to go along with Milliner and my money is on Dixon.  He’s got the size and speed to play in the SEC while Belue appears to be undersized. 

Projection:

DB:  Geno Smith, 4 Stars

Specs:  5’11, 180.  Atlanta, GA

Comments:  Smith was Alabama’s leading recruiter throughout the 2012 class and was widely followed for having more accurate info than the recruiting analysts did.  Alabama does not have a ton of wealth in the secondary so if Smith can show a little bit of ability, he’ll likely be on the field.  Belue and Dixon will certainly be blocking his path due to their size and experience so it may be an uphill battle for Smith to get on the field as a DB this season.  I have read that he plays the run well for a high schooler and has played a lot of safety as well, so you never know.

Projection:  Given Alabama’s lack of numbers at DB, it would be hard to imagine that Smith is redshirted.  That being said, he’s the only candidate out of the new DBs to redshirt, IMO.

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2012 Offensive Signees

 

2012 Alabama Signees – Offense

QB:  Alec Morris, 3 Star

Specs: 6’3, 235 from Allen, TX

Comments:  Morris originally committed to Wake Forest but, after losing out on Winston and Kiel, Alabama quickly switched gears and snagged a commitment from Morris.  He’s obviously a big kid with a big arm and he had a lot of success this season in one of the top classifications in Texas.  He takes the QB position seriously, as he’s already employed a top QB coach to work with him once a week in the spring to solidify his footwork and mechanics.

Prognosis:  I have not seen him play except on tape.  He looks like a big pocket passer who has excelled against some of the top Texas athletes.  My guess is that he redshirts in 2012 (barring a transfer from Sims, after which all bets are off) and passes up Ely on the depth chart in 2013.  If he ever wins the starting gig, it will be very tough to pry it from him as he’s used to competition.

RB:  T.J. Yeldon, 5 Star

Specs:  6’2, 205, runs a 4.4.  From Daphne, AL.  December graduate.

Comments:  The Alabama staff identified Yeldon as a top priority back in 2010 or early 2011.  Even after Yeldon committed to AU, the staff had Yeldon atop their big board of RBs.  Yeldon’s flip from AU to Alabama was probably the most pivotal moment in the 2012 recruiting year and solidified Bama’s class as a top 2 or top 3 class overall.  With Alabama’s penchant for running the football, you can never have enough running backs so to get Yeldon was a huge, huge, huge get.

Prognosis:  I have seen Yeldon play on tape and in the US Army All American game.  Three different times, Yeldon hurdled would be tacklers, leaving them grasping for air.  If Lacy is the “B button” or the “Spin Move”, then Yeldon most certainly is the “Y button” or the hurdle.  It will be his go to move.  Also, he shows good vision, and has a little wiggle but his burst is pretty awesome.  It appears he can also catch the ball out of the backfield.  Speed?  Check.  Power?  Check.  Hands?  Check.  He’s the prototypical back for a Nick Saban team.  While Bama has Lacy, Fowler and Hart, I look for Fowler to move to a type of H Back role in the offense which will open up opportunities for Yeldon to play in the backfield in 2012.

RB:  Kenyon Drake, 4 Star

Specs:  6’1, 195, runs a 4.4.  From Powder Springs, GA

Comments:  Before Yeldon’s flip, the feather in the cap of the Alabama running back signees was clearly Kenyon Drake.  Sadly, he’s been overshadowed by Yeldon but he has the potential to be even better than Yeldon in the future.  Not as big as Yeldon, Drake is plenty big and plenty fast as he was named the Gatorade player of the year in Georgia.  He is an accomplished receiver as well and it appears Alabama has signed the next tandem of RBs that will be in NYC for the Heisman presentations.

Prognosis:  If it were up to me, I’d redshirt either Yeldon or Drake to split up their eligibility but with the Tide kinda thin at RB, I suspect Drake will play in 2012 as well.  While Hart presents a dynamic change of pace RB, I think you’ll see Lacy, Drake and Yeldon get the bulk of the carries this season on 1st and 2nd down.  That may be a reach on my part but, if I were to forecast the future, that is what I see at the RB position.  Yeldon and Drake are simply too good to let them sit on the bench.

WR:  Amari Cooper, 4 Star

Specs:  6’1, 175.  Miami, FL.  December Graduate. 

Comments:  Alabama was one of the first to get in on Amari Cooper and this was back when he was just a “lowly” three star player.  When he verballed to UA, many national guys and a couple of local guys advised to watch out for Cooper, as he was a good one.  Some who were at the Alabama camps over the summer said Cooper dominated like no one has since Julio – supposedly he ran one route at the camp and Alabama offered him immediately.  I looked at his size – 6’1, 175 – and I found this to be kind of questionable.  However, after watching Cooper dominate the Under Armour All American game practices and game, I was a believer and so were the national experts.  After the UA game, Cooper found himself with an extra star and a ton of attention nationally.

Prognosis:  Alabama has a fleet of six foot WRs with a slight build so I can’t say Cooper (on paper) was anything I was overly excited about.  However, I did see the UA All American game where he scored two TDs (one receiving and one on a sick punt return) and he was simply a man among boys.  On the TD pass, he was in single coverage and, on an underthrown ball, he deftly used his body to shield the defender and he made the catch.  He easily shed the defender and then showed a big time burst to cover the final 50 yards and get into the end zone.  This kid has some potential, folks.

WR:  Chris Black, 4 Star

Specs:  5’11, 170.  Jacksonville, FL.  December Graduate.

Comments:  At one time, Black was rated as one of the top WRs in the country and he finished as the 8th WR overall.  While his size seems limiting, he is reportedly a tremendous slot receiver who is insanely quick and runs great routes.  Some compare him to a smaller Percy Harvin and that’s how his HS team used him – speed sweeps, quick bubbles, etc. 

Prognosis:  Again, Alabama has a fleet of WRs and we are adding several more with this class as well as Woodson Jr and Shinn who redshirted last year.  Black is already on campus which will be a huge help to his chances to get on the field.  I have not personally seen him play as he had an injury which held him out of his all star game.  All who have seen him think that he can contribute due to his ability in space and his speed.

WR:  Cyrus Jones, 4 Star

Specs:  5’11, 183.  Baltimore, MD.  Runs a 4.5

Comments:  Cyrus Jones was originally considered to be a DB prospect when the recruiting cycle started but after watching him gain 9 yards a carry and after talking with Jones, his preference is to start at WR.  One former Va Tech player says that Jones is the best HS player he has EVER seen, so obviously the kid has skills. 

Prognosis:  I did get to see Jones in the UA game and he’s most definitely a very fluid and exciting athlete.  In that game, he picked off a pass and returned it 30 yards or so for a TD, showing good hands, moves and speed in doing so.  I am very interested to see what happens with Jones b/c he’s definitely a candidate to move to the other side of the ball.  My guess is that they may redshirt him given the depth we have at WR and the possibility that he could move to defense due to his skills and needs at corner.

WR:  Eddie Williams, 5 Star

Specs:  6’4, 204.  Panama City, FL.

Comments:  This freak athlete (#1 athlete nationally by Rivals, #2 by 247) was the very first signee that Alabama had for this class and it turned out that the staff was dead on with their assessments of him.  Williams was originally thought to be a safety prospect but, again, after watching him play and after talking with him, his preference is to start out at WR.  He’s very tall, fluid and shows good ball skills.  Very impressive dude off the hoof and, as he refines his skills at WR (he played QB and S in HS), he could become the next Julio type of Bama WR.

Prognosis:  I actually like Cooper and Black to play ahead of Williams due to the fact that they are in school and have been WRs in HS.  My suspicion is that Williams will have a slower transition to the route running and the nuances of playing WR.  Again, Alabama has a boat load of WRs (I expect some to transfer and some have already – see Carswell) so Williams will REALLY have to be very solid in order to contribute early.  I can almost foresee him redshirting but how do you do that to a 5 star athlete.  Anyway, in watching his game at the UA game, I think he sticks at WR and does not move back to S.   He didn’t appear to be very physical to me during that game and (he was playing S for his all star team).

TE:  Kurt Freitag, 3 Star

Specs:  6’3, 245.  Buford, GA.

Comments:  Freitag looks to have the right size and frame to be successful at the TE position.  He appears to be a very willing and adept blocker, though these skills usually have to be refined on the next level.  His athleticism and hands appear to be good enough, though he only had 13 catches on the season. 

Prognosis:  I’m betting a steak dinner that Freitag redshirts in 2012 to bulk up and to refine his blocking skills.  I did not get a chance to see him in any all star games to really make a solid eval on him but I will say that Vogler and Harrison came in with similar skill sets and they redshirted.

OL:  Brandon Greene, 4 Star

Specs:  6’6, 280.  Ellenwood, GA.

Comments:  Greene shows tremendous athleticism to go along with a big frame that is certain to get bigger in the Bama S&C program.  Georgia made a very, very hard push to get Greene as signing day got close but Greene stood strong and stayed with Alabama.  Saban & co identified Greene very early in the process and Greene signed in March of 2011.  After a strong senior year and a good showing in the UA game, he was awarded an extra star.  Bama continues to do an excellent job in identifying these kids early and reaping the rewards.

Prognosis:  This is an athletic big dude – heckuva building block.  His athleticism shows he could play as a big pulling guard or anchor as a tackle.  After watching him play in the UA game, I can tell you with certainty that he needs to get stronger, bigger and have much better technique so he won’t play in 2012. 

OL:  Brandon Hill, 3 Star

Specs:  6’6, 350.  Collierville, TN.

Comments:  What Greene is lacking in size and strength, Hill currently has.  In fact, it would behoove Hill to get with Terry Bradshaw and Nutri System to shed some LBs.  That being said, once again Alabama ID’d Hill early when he came to camp and they saw a big, raw kid with incredible upside.  He’s athletic but unrefined, and he’s got big time strength.

Prognosis:  I’ll be interested to see whether Greene or Hill pans out better, as both have size.  One needs to gain weight and one needs to lose weight.  One needs to gain strength and one already has it.  Rankings tell you Greene should emerge first but I wouldn’t count out Hill in the long run.  He’ll redshirt in 2012, of course.

OL:  Caleb Gulledge, 3 Star

Specs:  6’5, 275.  Prattville, AL.

Comments:  Gulledge has a frame that’s certainly expandable and the athleticism to play guard in the future.  Well coached, he probably has the best technique of the three OL in this class.  Some say he’ll start out on the defensive side of the ball but, with the five other DLs signed, I just don’t see how he won’t play G at Alabama.  FWIW, Tidesports lists him as a DL and 247 says he’s an OL. 

Prognosis:  I can’t see him holding down the DE spot at Alabama but I can see him playing G.  He’ll redshirt in 2012 and they’ll use this year to figure out what best suits Mr Gulledge.

 K:  Adam Griffith, 3 Star

Specs:  5’11, 175.  Calhoun, GA.

Comments:  Everyone surmises that K is the biggest need for Alabama and, while you all know I will debate that (Shelley is more than adequate), I’ll admit that I’d love to see a kid that can kick it into the end zone with regularity and a kid who can trot out there from 50 yards and make you feel like it’s going to be an easy three points.  Clearly signing a kicker was the #1 priority and Nick is gushing about this kid.  Folks, Nick doesn’t gush about ANYTHING so that tells me plenty.  Also, the kid banged in four field goals in a state championship game, including one to tie the game late and one to win it so he’s got a little moxie.

Prognosis:  Wow.  Kickers are the most difficult position to recruit and project – just ask Bobby Bowden.  In high school, these kids use a taller tee to kick off from and they use a little block to elevate the ball on FGs and EPs.  In college, you don’t get to have items that help you elevate the ball – it’s all you – so that makes projecting kickers insanely difficult.  Griffith was in an all star game and he had difficulty getting the ball to the end zone there (I think he got one of three or one of four into the end zone) and, given his slight build and his 8 year old boy looks, I will be reserving judgment on him until I can see him with my own eyes.  Maybe he wins the kickoff job and/or the long FG job but if he can’t drive the ball better than Foster on Kos then what’s the point of burning a redshirt?  I’m kinda going against the grain and against Saban’s gushings here so we’ll have to see how it pans out.