Recruiting Ripple: Josh Frazier

Alabama landed one of the top defensive tackle prospects in the South over the weekend in Josh Frazier, so how close if the top team in the land to finishing out the position in the class of 2014? We examine.

Josh Frazier spurned his native Arkansas for Alabama on Saturday evening, announcing his commitment from his home after taking in visits at most of his top schools from the summer through the fall.

The four-star Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber standout is the third interior linemen in the class of 2014 among Nick Saban's verbal commitments to this point. He joins fellow four-star Johnny Dwight and three-star Louisiana talent O.J. Smith.

With 22 total pledges now in the fold, how many more spots will be available among interior defenders?

Arguably Alabama's top target is still Matthew Elam, who admits that his interest in Alabama is unaffected by Frazier's decision.

"Nahh, I like competition, it's only going to make us better," he said. "I think they ('Bama) will add two or three more before it's all over, so it doesn't bother me."

Should Elam's gut feeling provide true, with the program looking to take an additional pair, the top two targets may be apparent.

The 6-foot-6, 340-pounder out of Elizabethtown (Ky.) John Hardin has been near the top of the board for some time, and the interest in the Crimson Tide has been reciprocated just as long. Kentucky and Notre Dame remain hot on his trail, with the Wildcats treating him as the headliner of the class, in-state or not, and the Irish hitting the gas of late in sending him 262 letters within the last week.

Elam has maintained the same commitment timetable, most likely during the U.S. Army All-American game in early January, and he's only taken an official visit to Notre Dame among his top three choices despite plans to do the same at both UK and UA. The No. 14 defensive tackle prospect nationally was last in Tuscaloosa for the LSU game earlier in November, where he was not only recruited by fellow Alabama commitments, but even other targets let him know what type of a priority he is, along with the Alabama staff.

[RELATED: T-town trip makes "it more real" for Elam]

If Elam's rise over the last year will end up with him in Tuscaloosa, the opposite type of situation may result in the second, and possibly final, piece of the 2014 interior defensive line group. Former Alabama player D.J. Pettway, who was involved in an off-the-field incident in February, may be on the road to returning to Tuscaloosa.

How soon may Pettway be in the fold (again)?

The former three-star defensive tackle prospect red-shirted during the 2011 season at Alabama and saw considerable playing time during the 2012 national title run. Pettway played in 12 games, with seven tackles, including three tackles for a loss of 14 yards and 1.5 sacks.

The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder was dismissed from the team, along with three others in February, but Pettway redounded and has earned positive praise during his 2013 season at East Mississippi Community College.

"He is the kind of kid, everybody goes through things, but I have been around him now since March," said EMCC coach Buddy Stephens last month. "I am convinced 100 percent that he is the kind of kid you want your daughter to date, and I have three daughters. He has accepted everything and taken responsibility for everything that has happened to him. He is accepting responsibility for his daily actions and does a great job of it.

"I can truly say that I have never coached a better kid than D.J. Pettway. He will be sorely missed next year. Just a great kid and player."

Pettway will look to enroll at his school of choice in January, and he's taken official visits to Ole Miss, Florida State and Tennessee this fall. He has not visited Tuscaloosa on an official basis, but word is that he's been on campus as recently as last week. He'll have two years to play two seasons going forward. There was a reason he cracked the defensive rotation as a redshirt freshman, and he's notched double-digit sacks this fall as well.

Alabama's board is heavy at the top, but several additional targets remain on the interior, especially with the academic standing of current commitments and the ever-changing scope on the number's game still to be determined to a certain degree. Keeping that in mind, at least four other true defensive tackles should be considered ones to watch along with Elam and Pettway.

Other Names to Know

* Four-star Tucker (Ga.) prospect Elisha Shaw, who has maintained Alabama as his leader for some time despite a lack of playing time as a senior due to a neck injury. Shaw has not been cleared to return to full contact.

* Four-star Brighton (Tenn.) prospect Charles Mosley, who has been high on Alabama and in-state Tennessee most of the way through his recruitment.

* Four-star Dodge City (Kans.) Community College prospect Terrell Clinkscales, who added an Alabama offer recently and is considering a visit to campus.

* Four-star Scooba (Miss.) East Mississippi CC prospect Jarran Reed, a teammate of Pettway and former four-star high school talent that originally had Alabama as a finalist along with Florida, the school he ultimately signed with before enrolling at EMCC.

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