T.D. Moton became Alabama's most recent commitment with a not-so-surprising pledge on Monday while in Tuscaloosa for Nick Saban's camp, and the Scout.com four-star defensive tackle talent holds considerable weight for the nation's No. 1 class.
Here are the areas the pledge impacts.
Alabama is in Louisiana, again. It already was in general for 2015 with Daylon Charlot's pledge in February, but Moton represents another front-7 defender from the Bayou headed to Tuscaloosa. UA signed O.J. Smith on the defensive interior in 2014 and Tim Williams on the edge the cycle prior. Linebacker Denzel Devall was the class of 2012 representative. One would have to point to the 2011 cycle for a class in which the Crimson Tide didn't address a front-7 need in Louisiana, though it did sign current cornerback Bradley Sylve in the group.
Billy Napier and Burton Burns have really made an imprint in the state over the last few years, and there is no reason to think it will slow down on either side of the football in 2015 and beyond. There is a notion in The Pelican State that Alabama remains the enemy, but prospects have been willing to leave the borders for Tuscaloosa more and more of late. It speaks to the work ethic and early talent identification of the staff, having offered several commitments (including Moton) and eventual signees even before the in-state program has.
The Alabama imprint on the region has been jump-started by big-name five-stars like Landon Collins and Cameron Robinson bolting for ‘Bama, but it has become the volume of eventual signees from Louisiana (eight on current roster) that have helped developed the continuity of the UA product two states over. Moton is the latest example of why it is not a surprise any more. UA has two commitments from Louisiana prospects in 2015 and remains in on four-star athlete Kirk Merrit as well as three-star tight end Bry'Kiethon Mouton. It also has an offer in for the state's top wide receiver Tyron Johnson.
Adding an interior defensive lineman was big for Alabama, especially considering the only other Scout defensive tackle projection in the class is Jonathan Ledbetter. It's been no secret that Georgia and Auburn have made up plenty of ground for the Peach State four-star, so snagging Moton at this time could prove critical if he makes a change. Anfernee Jennings is the other defensive line type on the commitment list, but it's tough to imagine him bulking up to the point that he affects either defensive tackle pledge since he has added a lot of weight just to get to 260 pounds.
The Crimson Tide should take at least three down linemen in 2015, meaning that one spot remains in addition to Moton and Ledbetter, but Moton's ability to play nose tackle as well as a three or possibly a five-technique enables the class to have flexibility in future targets if he numbers work out better for the Tide to attack another position late.
While there may be some flexibility, it's no secret that the in-state headliner is who Alabama wants to close out the class with -- Daron Payne -- who is expected to visit Tuscaloosa multiple times this summer. Payne would be the lone five-star up front in the class, should he pull the trigger, and all signs continue to point towards Alabama's direction when projecting the elite recruit. Auburn and some out of state programs are still very much in the mix, and it is not to be settled any time soon, in all likelihood.
With Payne taking his time, fellow five-star defensive tackle Trenton Thompson comes to the forefront of the "want" list for many schools in the South, UA included. He spent more than one day on campus in Tuscaloosa this week, with multiple commitments trying to sway him to pledge Crimson. Fellow five-star Tim Settle will look to take his time with the process ala Payne, but also holds the Crimson Tide in high regard and BamaMag's sources indicate that the Tide is perhaps in even better shape for Khalil McKenzie, over any of the names on this list. The Tennessee legacy and California native has the program in his "official" top group, but will look to make his initial visit soon if possible. His assault on offensive linemen this summer has him currently tabbed as the No. 1 prospect on the west coast.
Alabama did a lot of things with the commitment of Moton. The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder satisfies a big need in the middle for "right now" and also helps UA get back into the buzz stream in Louisiana, a signature of Nick Saban's efforts during his Alabama tenure. The rising-senior and four-star is a quick-twitch prospect with a nose for the football, has added upper-body strength and currently has a chip on his shoulder after having to sit out the 2013 season because of high school transfer rules.
The get is typical Saban at Alabama, extending the lead on the nation's No. 1 recruiting class, while out-recruiting other conference elites for a Scout 300 prospect, close to becoming a Scout 100 talent while being ranked the No. 147 overall senior-to-be in America.
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