The 2014 recruiting class is shaping up to be what some pundits are considering the best recruiting class in Alabama history. The overall class is currently ranked number one on several of the top recruiting ranking sites (Rivals, 247Sports.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com). Alabama currently has verbal commitments from two of the nation’s top 10 recruits in Cameron Robinson and Da’Shawn Hand, and are in the running for at least two more in Marion Humphrey and Leonard Fournette.
The class currently has verbals from the nation’s best on both sides of the ball, with quality recruits on the offensive and defensive line, wide receivers, linebackers, athletes and even a commitment from a top five-ranking quarterback in David Cornwell. This class is addressing both need and depth, which will keep the Tide in championship contention for at least the next four years.
The thing that stands out about this highly-touted class is there are no verbal commitments from one of the staple positions of Crimson Tide football – the running back position.
Alabama currently has a verbal from athlete Bo Scarbrough, who has predominately played halfback during his high school career, but is most likely to become a wide receiver on the collegiate side. If necessary, Scarbrough can definitely contribute at RB position with his skills. Scarbrough aside, Alabama does have several top running back recruits on their radar. Let’s take a look at the current targets:
6-1/225 pounds, New Orleans, LA
Fournette is considered the top running back in the nation by all recruiting services this year. Most pundits are comparing him talent-wise to NFL-great Adrian Petterson. He currently has LSU and Alabama as his favorites, and Alabama has already had success this year pulling away some of the state of Louisana’s top talent in Cameron Robinson, Laurence Jones and Cameron Sims. Even though Fournette is seriously considering the Tide, the pressure to stay in-state and early playing time may be too much for Fournette to pass on. Foruntette has publicly admitted that he isn’t afraid of competition when it comes to Bama’s current RB roster, and he’s also announcing on January 2nd at the Under Armour Game, the same day the Tide is playing in the Sugar Bowl.
6-2/207 pounds, Oakley, CA
Mixon, the number one All-purpose back listed by Rivals.com, has high interest in the Tide and would most likely commit if Alabama extends an offer. He is comparable to T.J. Yeldon, since they have similar measurables and running styles and would be a great fit for the Tide. Mixon is also listed as a five-star on most recruiting sites also had a great showing at this year’s The Opening football camp in Oregon. Look for Mixon to receive an offer if things derail with the Fournette train.
Racen “Roc” Thomas
5-11/198 pounds, Oxford, AL
Many would think it would be highly improbable to see Bama miss out on the number one running back in the state of Alabama during the Saban era. But this just may be the case with this year’s class. Thomas was a heavy Bama lean throughout his recruitment process but decided to give a verbal to Auburn in August of this year. Thomas may still be encouraged to flip his commitment before it’s all said and done if they miss out out Fournette. With Auburn’s recent success in the running game under Coach Malzhan’s offense, it may be less likely that Thomas will change his commitment, especially if Tre Mason decides to go pro after this season is up. The Rivals five-star commit has the skills to see the field early and often at Auburn next season. Weirder things have happened before, with the Tide being successful in flipping T.J Yeldon, but all signs point to Thomas’ commitment being solid.
Alabama recruiting success at the running back position with the 2013 class has given them room to miss out on a running back with this recruiting class. But it seems almost criminal to miss out on at lease one of the three of the top 10 running backs in the nation.
My prediction: Unless he decides to commit to another team before January 2nd, Alabama should receive a verbal from Joe Mixon. He’s a high-caliber athlete and playmaker that can have the same type of surprise star effect as Mark Ingram.