Defense wins championships, and Alabama football remains tilted a bit more to the defense in terms of its reputation and foundation for winning. That process starts with recruiting, and the amount of technology and competition has forced staffs to look at prospects earlier and earlier in their development. As the class of 2013 hits the back-end of their final high school campaigns, the class of 2014 defenders is already plentiful with Crimson Tide targets.
From the top prospect in all of high school football in the class to future five-stars and some sleepers in between, Nick Saban and company have identified the core group of talent to pursue for next year's class.
Let's take a closer look, position-by-position.
Quick Take: Defensive tackle prospects are always interesting with Alabama considering its 3-4 scheme and the traditional skill-sets of high school defensive tackles. Frazier is early in the process, but Shaw has pointed out Alabama as an early co-leader with some other SEC schools. Frazier is the biggest of the bunch, but Shaw may project better at defensive end in Alabama's scheme. He is athletic and can set an edge. Christmas is solid to the ‘Noles, so expect the Nation's top 2014 DT in Clark to likely be next in line for an offer.
Quick Take: Just as the defensive tackle prospects are tough to project in a 3-4 scheme, the defensive ends sometimes have the potential to flex out as a rush outside linebacker. The Nation's top prospect, Hand, has the ability to do so as does Williams and maybe Willis. Brown is the biggest of the bunch, even bigger than some DT offerees, so he may be the best fit at the traditional DE spot in the scheme. With the versatility of the position, expect more extensions to he handed out eventually. Holmes, Thomas and Sawyer have been on radar for some time, but everything starts with Hand. He has kept things relatively quiet, but has plenty of interest in UA after spending a week on campus this summer.
Quick Take: Evans was just offered this month, and he goes to the same school as Auburn commit and former UA pledge Reuben Foster (Auburn High). He is early in the process, but the in-state teams have an edge. Hoza is at the top of this position group in 2014, and he wants to see Alabama at some point – but hasn't been able to. It may be an uphill battle for him, which is why players like Register and James could be next in line. Register is one of the hotter prospects on the east coast, and he camped at Alabama over the summer.
Quick Take: Williams has Alabama right at the top of his list and Daub recently told Scout that he is just 85 percent committed to LSU because of his "high" interest in Alabama largely because his high school teammate is five-star 2013 pledge Demarcus Walker. McMillan seems to be leaning elsewhere, so in-state standouts Posey and Hamilton may be next in line. Hamilton will be in town for Alabama's tilt with Mississippi State on Saturday.
Quick Take: Alabama has obviously done well in recruiting the cornerback position in recent years, and Saban often targets the mold of most of the offerees in terms of their height and skill-set. Brown and Humphrey are the nation's top pair, and each has spoken highly of Alabama. Humphrey, in particular, has been a UA lean for some time. Peppers and Tabor may be leaning elsewhere at the moment, but Watkins has admitted that Alabama is very high on his list. Should Brown, Humphrey or Watkins pledge elsewhere, look for Smith and Ruffin to get into the mix. Smith is the more prototypical of the bunch while Ruffin and Haley are a bit more versatile.
Quick Take: Blanding is the nation's best at the position, but he isn't focused on recruiting at this time. Jones is much further along in the process, and Alabama co-leads with LSU at this time. Clark is also likely thinking a two-team battle, with Auburn challenging UA for the versatile in-state star. Kelly is leaning SEC, but a decision is also far off. The door is still open for a guy like Adams, who has become very familiar with the program over the last six months or so.