Who could be the freshman impact players for Alabama this season
There are a few names that have been circulating as to who may be playing significant roles in the 2014 season as true freshman. Head coach Nick Saban wants to put the best talent on the field, as does every coach, but it is not very easy to come in and contribute as a freshman. However, the players that Nick Saban and staff recruit could compete for a starting position on nearly every team in the country on day one.
The Alabama offense has the potential to play two true freshman, but there is a significant chance that Cam Robinson will be in at the left tackle spot by the start of the first game. Robinson saw a lot of time in the A-day game as he was an early enrollee in January allowing him to participate in the spring drills. The 6-6, 325 pound tackle from Monroe, LA came in and proved that he meant business and impressing the coaches with quick feet and hard work ethic. With his size and athleticism he has the potential to protect the edges against the pass rush and can create running lanes for the ground game. Leon Brown, Grant Hill and Brandon Greene are also potential players in the race to replace All-American Cyrus Kouandjio but the rumblings are that Robinson may be the front runner at this point.
Another offensive player that may see some playing time is Bo Scarbrough but maybe not at running back. He was recruited as a running back but it has been mentioned that he may play in some type of hybrid role next year. The 6-2, 235 pound home town recruit is fast, elusive, and has great hands. With comments from offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin regarding getting the running backs more involved with the running game, there could be several packages installed during the fall that include Scarbrough.
The defensive side of the ball may see a few more newbies in action with more than just one getting the nod for a starting position. After all, Nick Saban and DC Kirby Smart have always recruited heavily for the defense with great success. There are several returning starters in the defensive secondary but there are still a few holes to fill and with the following six the future for the defense looks very solid.
Early enrollee Tony Brown and newcomer Marlon Humphreys may be playing opposite sides of the field at the cornerback position as true freshman. It may take a lot to get both freshman on the field as starters but it’s not inconceivable. Brown saw a lot of playing time during the spring with Eddie Jackson being out with an injury. The freshman Brown, who is also a track and field star for the University is very fast, can pivot very quickly to change direction and has a good nose for the football. Jackson is expected to back for fall camp and should have the inside track to be on the field and possibly opposite of Brown.
Humphreys may be a little more behind due to his first look at the defense coming in fall, but he has proven he has the talent to compete for a starting position. He is very fast, has the ability to make big plays and just like teammate Tony Brown, is on the Track and Field team as a top hurdler. If he is not on the field as a starter, he will most likely play as a backup role to Jackson and will most definitely see playing time.
Lawrence ‘Hootie” Jones was another early enrollee in the spring and arrived in Tuscaloosa as one of the top safety prospects in the 2014 recruiting class. Jones is very athletic and listed at 6-2, 221 pounds has a good size to play at nearly any position in the defensive secondary. With All-American Landon Collins leading the Alabama secondary Jones will get a great teacher and mentor. He should see playing time if he can understand the defensive schemes but there are several returners that he will be in competition with.
Moving one step in at the linebacker spot, there are two that are slated to step on the field in the fall that may have the opportunity to see some playing time. Keith Holcombe and Rashaan Evans both will help fill in any gaps in the defense. Holcombe is one very impressive young man on and off the field. Many have compared him to Vinnie Sunseri but that comparison, in my opinion, is not quiet accurate. Holcombe, who is at 6-3 and 215, is a bigger, faster, stronger Sunseri. He has a great mind for the game of football and has the ability to play at the next level. He may see some playing time early at the outside spot or even at the ‘Jack’ position. He has the quickness to get to the flats, rush off the corner or shut down the outside.
Evans is widely considered to be a rushing specialist. At 6-3 and 225, Evans is slightly bigger than Holcombe and could contribute more in the middle but will most likely see more time at ‘Jack’. The ‘Jack’ is a hybrid of defensive end and linebacker, which is designed as a pass rush specialists, but like a linebacker is expected to defend against the pass in zone and cover situations as well. Both Evans and Holcombe fit this position very well, and with several opponents running the spread, the Jack linebacker position is becoming increasingly valuable.
On the defensive line (maybe) there is one true freshman that stands out more than the rest and at 6-4, 273 pounds Da’Shawn Hand has reason to stand out. As a senior he had 90 tackles, 17 sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He was named to the All-USA Team by USA Today. The “maybe” mentioned above is due to Hand’s ability to play on the defensive line with a little more size but is really expected to get an initial look at Jack linebacker same as Holcombe and Evans.
Those are just a few of the true freshman that may contribute during the 2014 season. There are others just as Jacob Coker, Dominick Jackson, Jarran Reed, and D.J. Pettway just to name a few that are not true freshman but are part of the 2014 class and all should make significant impacts on the team. It wouldn’t be a surprise at all if the first four games saw different variations of players trying to determine the best fit. One thing is certain though, fall camp should be very interesting to watch and see how it unfolds.
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