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Early Recruit Enrollment for 2013

With verbal commitments from 20 players, including two Rivals five-star recruits and a boatload of four-star prospects Alabama’s recruiting class is already leading up to be a top class again.  The Crimson Tide is to have 9 recruits enrolled at the University this spring semester which got underway on January 9, 2013.  There is one junior college prospect, one prep school, six recent high school graduates and one who is leaving the “big leagues” of baseball and giving football a shot.

Athletes moving to the next level are always looking for an advantage to more playing time and enrolling in the spring semester has benefited several for the Crimson Tide recently.  Alabama freshmen Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon both enrolled in the spring of 2012 and both contributed heavily this season. Yeldon became the first true freshman to rush for 100 yards in his debut and never looked back on his way to a 1,000+ yard season. Cooper said “My goal was to play and contribute to the team this year, and I knew the sooner I could learn the offense, the quicker I could get on the field”. He did just that as the standout wide receiver broke school records for receptions, yards and touchdowns for a freshman.

Only time will tell if the early enrollees will have the same kind of impact as Yeldon and Cooper for Coach Nick Saban and the defending national champions in the 2013 season.

1. OL Leon Brown: JC 4-Star from Brooklyn, NY: The 6’6”, 308-pound offensive tackle from ASA Institute (JC) in New York may be the best potential for a replacement at right tackle for D.J. Fluker who declared for the draft this week.

2. OL Brandon Hill: 3-Star from Collierville, TN: Brown, the once Ole-Miss commit has the size, and quickness to compete for a starting position to play early.  But he will have to beat out Hill for early playing time. He’s a whopping 6’6” and 350 pounds, yet still maintains the freedom of movement necessary to play on the outside. He has the foundation that the Tide needs.

3. TE/H O.J. Howard: 4-Star from Prattville, AL: Howard, at 6’5”, 221, could be great backfill for Michael Williams and a potential game-changer at tight end for Alabama. He has the athletic ability to make great plays and be a “physical freak” for the Crimson Tide.

4. ATH Derrick Henry: 4-Star from Yulee, FL: Henry, ranked as the No. 3 athlete in the ESPN 150 is very versatile on offense. The 6’3”, 243-pound Florida native wants to play tailback, but we’ll wait and see what the coaches have in store for him during spring camp because of his height and 4.7-second 40-yard speed. H-back, may be where he ends up especially if he wants early playing time.

5. QB Cooper Bateman: 4-Star from Salt Lake City, UT: With AJ McCarron hanging around for another year this may generate a little competition in the QB wings next season. There are different styles of play for the back-ups to McCarron.  Ely is the Pro-style and Sims is the running style. There is the option for Bateman and redshirt freshman Alec Morris to battle it out for No. 2 and beat out Ely and Sims for sure. Bateman at 6’3”, 190, is another passer like McCarron and ranked in the top 10 among pocket passers. One thing is certain spring camp is going to be interesting at the QB position for the back-up spot.

6. ATH Jai Miller: The former outfielder spent last season in the Orioles’ minor league system and surprisingly chose to give up the game and come to school at Alabama over Georgia. He committed to Stanford to play football coming out of high school but decided to follow his dream and play baseball professionally. The soon-to-be 28-year-old is 6’2”, 220 pounder is  projected as a safety and has the physical tools to play right aways with the speed and range that scream defensive back. He spent 10 years in pro baseball and played in 28 games in the majors as an outfielder for three different teams.

7. WR Raheem Falkins: 4-Start, from New Orleans, LA:  Credit Nick Saban’s staff for pulling another one from the Bengal’s of LSU.  The 6-4, 195-pound receiver is coming into a class with Amari Cooper, Chris Black, Marvin Shinn, Cyrus Jones and a couple of others.  In other words he is going to have his work cut out for him to get some significant playing time next year.  And he is not the only 4-star receiver in the class either (Robert Foster enrolls in the fall) but the first line in his scouting report says “Falkins is a ball vacuum — he catches everything thrown within his area code.”

8. QB Parker McLeod: 3-Star, from Marietta, Georgia:   The 6-2, 190-pound QB is going to add to the competition at this position this spring.  He’s not the hot topic around the water cooler like Bateman but he is going to make this a good battle for the coveted back-up to McCarron.  He has the arm strength and he has McCarron-esk skills just in the raw.

9. QB Luke Del Rio: 3-Star from Littleton, Colorado:  Yes, the name Del Rio sounds familiar because he is the son of Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.  He has the name recognition and he certainly has the pedigree, and he may just have the skills to compete.  The 6’1″,205 pound quarterback had offers from Oregon State and Colorado but he turned those down to walk-on at Alabama.  Yes, walk-on!  At the Elite 11 camp he impressed scouts with his pocket presence and felling the pressure and consistency with his control.

We will see which of these nine approaches the coaches to get the playbook early and see who follows in the footsteps of Cooper to contribute early.

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