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.