Alabama football analysis: Tide continues to score big in recruiting

Anniston StarJune 14, 2014 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It's early, but Alabama is once again putting together the nation's top recruiting class.

The Crimson Tide's 2015 recruiting class is currently ranked No. 1 by all four major recruiting services.

The Tide's class has 18 commits and is represented by eight states with the most coming from Alabama (5) and Georgia (4). The Tide has seven offensive players, 10 defensive players and one athlete.

"It's another loaded class and they haven't really missed a beat as far as top talent goes," 247Sports recruiting director JC Shurburtt said.

Shurburtt said grabbing top talent from the Southern states like Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana along with the Tide's national reach has the Tide poised to lock up the nation's No. 1 class for the five consecutive year.

Quarterback

Alabama currently doesn't have a quarterback committed, but the Tide is after a few of the nation's top signal callers. Two of Alabama's top targets visited this weekend in Travis Waller and Blake Barnett. Waller, a dual-threat quarterback out of Anaheim, Calif., is 6-foot-3, 190 pounds. He's a top 50 prospect according to 247Sports Composite rankings. At 6-3, 195 pounds, Barnett is a top 100 prospect. Barnett is also a dual threat quarterback. Many recruiting analysts believe he'll end up at Oregon with Alabama being the Ducks biggest competitor to land the Corona, Calif. native.

If Alabama doesn't land one of its top guys this cycle, there's a possibility that the Tide could not take a quarterback and go hard after 2016 prospect Jacob Eason from Washington. Eason is a five-star pro-style passer who projects to be the top quarterback in 2016.

Running backs

Alabama projects to be loaded at running back for the next couple of years so taking one this cycle isn't paramount unless the prospect is an elite player. Vigor's Desherrius Flowers is the only running back committed to Alabama so far. At 6-1, 212 pounds, Flowers is the nation's No. 4 running back, according to 247Sports Composite Rankings. He's drawn comparisons to current Tide standout T.J. Yeldon who is also from the Mobile area (Daphne).

Wide receivers/tight ends

With the possibility of losing its top three receivers this season, Alabama is looking to add more wide receivers during the 2015 cycle. DeAndrew White and Christion Jones are both seniors while Amari Cooper projects to declare early for the NFL draft as one of the top prospects. After those three, there's a ton of talent, but there isn't much experience.

So far, the Tide has two receivers listed as hard commits with many more being targeted. Calvin Ridley out of Pompano Beach is a speedster. At 6-2, 170 pounds, Ridley is ranked as the sixth best receiver prospect for the 2015 cycle according to 247Sports Composite rankings. Louisiana native Daylon Charlot committed to the Tide after receiving an offer at one of Alabama's Junior Days earlier this year.

With this being Brian Vogler's last season, the Tide is also looking to snag a couple of tight ends this cycle. Hale Hentges, the nation's No. 3 tight end, committed to the Tide earlier this summer. The Missouri native excels at blocking and is also a threat in the passing game.

Offensive line

Alabama stockpiles lineman every cycle and this one appears to be no different. Tuscaloosa native Lester Cotton, Tide legacy Dallas Warmack and Richie Petitbon are all big body, skilled offensive guards who have verbally pledged to the Tide. Cotton has shot up the rankings with his performance at various camps. Warmack is the younger brother of former Tide star Chance Warmack, who was a starting guard for back-to-back national championship teams in 2011 and 2012. Petitbon is the grandson of former Washington Redskins defensive coordinator and coach Richie Alvin Petitbon and son of former Maryland linebacker Richie Michael Petitbon.

All three rank among the top 10 offensive guards for the 2015 cycle according to 247Sports.

Defensive line

Following the same theme as the offensive line, Alabama reloads its defensive line each year as well. Alabama has five prospects who are listed as defensive linemen with four being listed as defensive ends. The Tide continues to place an emphasis on skilled pass rushers to combat the speed of spread offenses. Georgia natives Mekhi Brown and Jonathan Ledbetter headline this group. Brown, a 6-6, 220 pound, weakside defensive end, is the No. 4 prospect at his position according the 247Sports Composite rankings. Ledbetter, a 6-5, 265 pound, strongside defensive end, is the No. 5 prospect at his position according the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Linebackers

Despite being talented, Alabama doesn't have much depth at linebacker and the coaching staff appears to be addressing that issue this cycle. The Tide has two linebackers who've already pledged their commitments with more targets on the board. Alabama continues to recruit versatile backers who excels against the run while also being able to rush the passer and cover in space when necessary. Leo Lewis, from Brookhaven, Miss., has drawn comparisons to former Tide great C.J. Mosley.

Defensive backs

After bringing in two of the nation's top cornerbacks (Marlon Humphrey, Tony Brown) in the 2014 cycle, Alabama is after more highly touted defensive backs. And there aren't many better than New Jersey's Minkah Fitzpatrick, who checks in as the No. 4 cornerback according to 247Sports composite rankings. Fitzpatrick committed during his A-Day visit. He is one of two cornerbacks in this class.

Like wide receiver, Alabama stands to lose most of its top safeties after this season. Nick Perry and Jarrick Williams are both seniors while Landon Collins could leave early for the draft.

Texas native Deionte Thompson has the talent to play early if necessary. Thompson, a four-star prospect, is 6-2, 181 pounds has a knack for finding the football. Along with Thomas is Shawn Burgess-Becker, who is listed as an athlete, but will likely play safety in college. Burgess-Becker is high school teammates with Ridley at Monarch (Pompano Beach, Fla.).

-- Write to Marq Burnett at mburnett@annistonstar.com. Follow him on Twitter,@Marq_Burnett.

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