TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama signed the top recruiting class for 2014, making it the fourth year in a row for Nick Saban’s team to do so. Players want to play in Tuscaloosa and they make it known; sometimes even leaving their hometown to play for a rival. After the 27 players were all signed and delivered, this class - on paper - looks to be maybe Saban’s best in his career at Alabama, maybe his best ever.
But before the 19 signees arrive on campus in the fall, eight early enrollees have already been at Alabama, getting a fastpass into being a member of the Crimson Tide.
Here they are:
Tony Brown, Cornerback, 5-star
Beaumont, Texas (Ozen)
6’0”, 195 lbs
Brown is one of two five-star cornerbacks who will provide needed relief to the plagued secondary of Alabama. The Crimson Tide could never find a solid option at the No. 2 corner position behind Deion Belue and Brown will be able to step in and fulfill that void.
David Cornwell, Quarterback, 4-star
Norman, Okla. (Norman North)
6’5”, 240 lbs
Cornwell is an early enrollee who will get coaching from Lane Kiffin and others, maybe even play in the spring A-Day game, but has a slim chance to start. He’s a prototypical quarterback with a great personality, but Jake Coker will be the starter for Alabama in the fall.
Shaun Dion Hamilton, Linebacker, 4-star
Montgomery, Ala. (Carver)
6’0”, 240 lbs
Hamilton is an early enrollee that knows what it will take to compete for a starting position at Alabama. He spoke about having a high expectation level coming in, showing maturity and poise. The absence of C.J. Mosley will open up the linebacker competition in the fall and Hamilton could be one of the top choices.
Laurence “Hootie” Jones, Safety, 4-star
Monroe, La. (Neville)
6’2”, 215 lbs
Other than sharing a name with a timeless 90’s pop-rock band, Hootie Jones is an option at safety for Alabama. Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart lost both Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri to the NFL Draft, leaving a spot for another guy with a great name to fill that position.
D.J. Pettway, Defensive End, 4-star
Pensacola, Fla. (E. Mississippi Community College)
6’3”, 255 lbs
Pettway returns to Alabama after being kicked off the team in early 2013, claiming to be a changed, more mature person. Being a junior college transfer, Pettway will add needed playing time and experience to the defense, making him a more likely starter than some of the freshmen defensive linemen.
Jarran Reed, Defensive Tackle, 4-star
Chatham, Va. (East Mississippi Community College)
6’4”, 310 lbs
Saban must have seen something in Mississippi to bring Reed along with Pettway. The two college teammates won the JUCO national championship last year and both might get a chance to start in the fall with the experience they have.
Cameron Robinson, Offensive Line, 5-star
West Monroe, La. (West Monroe)
6’6”, 325 lbs
Robinson was the No. 1 recruit in the country when he committed to Alabama. His impressive size and ability for his age make him a prime candidate to replace exiting left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio’s position. Enrolling early, he will have all year to work with the Alabama coaching staff, maybe getting a headstart on his competitors that don’t enroll until fall camp.
Cameron Sims, Wide Receiver, 4-star
Monroe, La. (Ouachita Parish)
6’4”, 200 lbs
The wide receiver position is in a bit of a logjam but Sims is different than Alabama’s other receivers. Amari Cooper is currently Alabama’s tallest starting wide receiver at 6 foot 1. With receivers Kevin Norwood and Kenny Bell leaving, the new quarterback will have to find his own reliable receivers, and Sims’ size gives him a potential for redzone targets and might even get him into the normal rotation.