TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- After recapping National Signing Day and the early enrollees, it’s time to analyze the rest of Alabama’s No. 1 recruiting class. These are 19 of the best high school players in the country and all of them will want to start in the fall, though they all have to earn their spot on the team.
Here they are:
Joshua Casher, Offensive Line, 4-star
Mobile, Ala. (St. Paul’s Episcopal)
6’1”, 295 lbs
Offensive line was a desperate need for this year’s Alabama recruiting class. Casher’s high school St. Paul’s has become a sort of pipeline for the Crimson Tide, with quarterbacks AJ McCarron and Jake Coker both graduating from there. He is a talented lineman who will be a nice addition to the depth chart.
Ronnie Clark, Linebacker, 4-star
Calera, Ala. (Calera)
6’3”, 215 lbs
Clark can play multiple positions - quarterback, linebacker, safety - but Alabama’s biggest needs are in the secondary. If Clark does get playing time, it will be on the defensive side of the ball, probably as a safety or linebacker.
Jacob Coker, Quarterback
All hail the replacement. Coker will ride into Tuscaloosa on his formerly Florida State white stallion and relieve the weary faithful of any anguish. He can throw the ball for yards and miles, is built like a quarterback should and replaced AJ McCarron in high school so it is destiny. He was rumored to transfer for an entire year and finally will after graduating from FSU in May. It will be shocking if he isn’t named the starter.
Can we just stop the list now? Quarterbacks are the only people that matter.
Johnny Dwight, Defensive Line, 3-star
Rochelle, Ga. (Wilcox County)
6’3”, 300 lbs
With the defensive line as deep as it is, Dwight may not see the field. But if there’s an injury or Dwight simply excels in practice, his name might be heard on Saturdays this fall.
Rashaan Evans, Linebacker, 5-star
Auburn, Ala. (Auburn)
6’3”, 225 lbs
This was huge for Alabama. Evans besmirched his hometown and chose to play for the in-state Evil Empire three hours east. He is the No. 1 rated player in the state of Alabama and can step in immediately in Tuscaloosa. His best bet for playing time in the fall is in the linebacker position vacated by NFL-bound Adrian Hubbard.
Ty Flournoy-Smith, Tight End, 3-star
Moultrie, Ga. (Georgia Military College)
6’3”, 245 lbs
Because Alabama didn’t have enough options in the passing game for Coker, the team added the No. 1 JUCO tight end for fun. The ex-Georgia Bulldog has the experience to step in and play right away, sometimes spelling current Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, or more likely helping on the other side of the field.
Josh Frazier, Defensive Tackle, 4-star
Springdale, Ark. (Har-Ber)
6’3”, 335 lbs
Similar to Flournoy-Smith, Alabama can’t have enough defensive lineman. Saban said yesterday that shoring up both offensive and defensive lines was a priority for the team, and that was helped by the signing of Frazier.
Da’Shawn Hand, Defensive End, 5-star
Woodbridge, Va. (Woodbridge)
6’4”, 270 lbs
Hand was the No. 1 player in the country according to some polls, while others simply had him pegged as the top-ranked defensive end in the country. Either way, Alabama landed a must-get prospect who can play right away and help A’Shawn Robinson stop the run and swallow quarterbacks.
JC Hassenauer, Offensive Line, 4-star
St. Paul, Minn. (East Ridge)
6’3”, 290 lbs
Other than having an all-time great offensive lineman name that sounds like a type of bratwurst or German festival, Hassenauer could potentially compete for a starting job in the fall, but the bench or even a redshirt is probably more like it.
Keith Holcombe, Linebacker, 4-star
Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Hillcrest)
6’3”, 215 lbs
The local kid stayed local. Holcombe fulfilled his dream of attending Alabama on Wednesday, and could fulfill another dream this fall while playing on special teams and in late quarters against teams like Florida Atlantic.
Marlon Humphrey, Cornerback, 5-star
Hoover, Ala. (Hoover)
6’1”, 180 lbs
Humphrey was a total must-have, must-get for Alabama. A lockdown corner who has track speed - he will also run track for the Crimson Tide - is exactly what the secondary needed. Not to mention that his father Bobby Humphrey is an Alabama legend. Marlon will have a great shot to start this fall.
Dominick Jackson, Offensive Line, 4-star
San Mateo, Calif. (College of San Mateo)
6’7”, 310 lbs
Jackson and freshman early enrollee Cam Robinson probably have the best chance to fill the Cyrus Kouandjio left tackle role. Jackson is a solid lineman, who playing experience with him to Tuscaloosa after being in junior college.
Derek Kief, Wide Receiver, 4-star
Cincinnati, Ohio (La Salle)
6’5”, 200 lbs
Kief, along with early enrollee Cam Sims, brings size to the table that current Alabama receivers just don’t have. There is a bit of a crowd at the receiver position, but that height advantage and great hands may set Kief over the edge as far as playing time goes.
Montel McBride, Offensive Line, 3-star
Plant City, Fla. (Plant City)
6’4”, 330 lbs
While McBride brings size to the table, a starting job might not be there for him this season. He will probably join his Hassenauer compatriot on the bench.
Christian Miller, Linebacker, 4-star
Columbia, SC (Spring Valley)
6’4”, 215 lbs
Miller is a trendy sleeper pick who could definitely find a place in the defense. As the offenses in the SEC get faster and faster, rotation on defense becomes key and Miller could easily find the field that way.
Ross Pierschbacher, Offensive Line, 4-star
Cedar Falls, Iowa (Cedar Falls)
6’4”, 295 lbs
Joining Hassenauer on the German-American great name list, Pierschbacher is even harder to spell. While large and probably in charge, it’s doubtful that Big P finds the field this fall.
JK Scott, Punter, 3-star
Denver, Colo. (Mullen)
6’4”, 185 lbs
With Alabama’s reliable punter Cody Mandell gone to boot 60-yarders on Sundays, Scott steps in to fill the field position weapon role. He may go games where he isn’t asked to punt at all but that’s fine with him. He has a steel-trap-punting mind and no periods in his initial name like AJ McCarron. This was a need for Alabama and they filled it. Punters are people, too.
Bo Scarbrough, Athlete, 5-star
Northport, Ala. (IMG Academy, Fla.)
6’2”, 235 lbs
While Scarborough could play linebacker and did in high school, Saban said yesterday that he plans to play the local talent at running back. He can provide some tough runs for Alabama, but he will have to fight for carries with current running backs T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry.
O.J. Smith, Defensive End, 3-star
Bossier City, La. (Airline)
6’2”, 330 lbs
More depth on the defensive line for Saban and Smart is always a good thing. Smith might not get to play right away but he’ll earn his chances. This also gives Alabama two players named O.J., though I honestly don’t know what current tight end O.J. Howard’s initials stand for.
All in all a stellar class for Saban, probably his best ever on paper. He said in his press conference yesterday that recruiting classes have to be judged three years in advance to see their true value, but I don’t have that much time so this is his best class ever.