Courting Californians

Alabama football recruiting has been a national event for the last handful of years, but it's embarking on unprecedented success in certain areas of the country. California may be the most unconventional fertile grounds the Tide has been making serious noise in.

Alabama already has as many commitments in the class of 2014 from the state of California (two) as it signed in the three previous cycles (2011-2013) combined, with over seven months remaining until national signing day 2014.

It could be just the beginning for Nick Saban's latest elite class, one that is in on several additional Golden State prospects with official visit season drawing closer and closer.

The theme of the Alabama targets in California is offensive firepower and versatility, and it reigns true with the pair of commitments the Tide already has under its belt.

Four-star offensive linemen Viane Talamaivao and Dominick Jackson have each given verbal pledges to Saban and company over the last month. Each has the ability to play tackle or guard, and Talamaivao has the potential to play center as well.

Fellow four-star offensive lineman Damien Mama is close friends with Talamaivao, and the two will be taking their official visit to Tuscaloosa together, for the LSU game in November. The pair won't be alone, as Tyler Luatua and Juju Smith will also make the trek from California to Bryant-Denney Stadium.

Luatua, the four-star tight end/defensive end and younger brother of Alabama offensive lineman Isaac Luatua, has long been considered a favorite to sign with the Tide in 2014. Smith is rated as the nation's No. 1 safety, and he has the ability to play wide receiver at the next level, though Saban courts him on defense. The quartet of Talamaivao, Mama, Luatua and Smith are all close friends and have been public about their desire to play together at the next level.

Alabama has also offered top offensive skill-position targets like two-way five-star Michiah Quick, the top wideout nationally on He is planning on seeing Tuscaloosa potentially this fall as well, as UA within his top five along with other national powers like USC and Notre Dame. Royce Freeman, a four-star running back that fits the physical Alabama style at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, picked up his extension in early June.

"I'm a great back within their (type of) system, not only in running behind my pads, but in finding different roles within the offense," he said of what Alabama likes of him. "He (Saban) also talked to people in the surrounding area and in my community and he knows I'm good young man as well."

Will Mixon be the next to earn an offer?.

Another running back in the state has created as much buzz as any player in the country, but he doesn't have an Alabama offer just yet. Five-star Joe Mixon, another big back with elite receiving skills, expects that to change very soon.

Not having an offer at this time, like in Mixon's case, doesn't mean Alabama isn't in hot pursuit. Being committed elsewhere also doesn't slow the back-to-back defending champions either. Dallas Todd, another four-star talent, is a wide receiver committed to Oklahoma. The teammate of Luatua at La Mirada (Calif.) High has heard plenty from the staff, and may be visiting in July for the first time.

Tashon Smallwood, a teammate of Quick's at Fresno (Calif.) Central High, is also hearing more and more from the Tide. The four-star defensive tackle has been committed to USC since march, but he released a top five with Alabama firmly in the mix for now.

An early start for 2015

The Crimson Tide is on its way to making big moves in 2014, and its already looking to do the same in the class of 2015 as well.

As with most cases surrounding the game of football, it begins at the quarterback position.

At the early-June camp in Tuscaloosa, rising junior signal-caller Ricky Town turned plenty of heads with his throwing ability en route to being the first prospect, regardless of class, to earn an offer at the event.

"I loved the campus and the facilities," he told Scout soon after. "Everything is so first class there and they do it the right way. Alabama just does things differently, it feels like an NFL program the way they run it."

Another California QB has Alabama's early attention in the class. Yet another prospect at La Mirada High is its signal caller, Kevin Dillman. The strong athlete plays multiple positions for the elite program, but he projects as a quarterback, especially with his success throwing to Luatua and Todd as a sophomore.

Alabama assistant Greg Brown, who is responsible for most of the Tide's imprint out West along with Doug Nussmeier, saw him throw in person multiple times this spring.

"He's big, fast, athletic and relentless," said La Mirada coach Mike Moschetti. "He's a division one QB, but he can play outside linebacker, safety or even an H-back. But when he throws the ball, it just comes out of his hands different."

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