Early enrollees are a new trend in college football, and Alabama has also followed this path. Last year, Alabama had nine enter school in January, including OJ Howard and Derrick Henry. This year’s group is extremely talented and each player will get a chance to show the coaches what he can do before the remainder of the signing class arrives in August. Below is a list of the new arrivals, along with what can be expected from each one.
Probably my favorite of the group, Brown was a five-star prospect out of Texas who can play either corner or safety. Brown is an elite athlete whose first sport may actually be track and field. If you research Brown, you will fall in love with his attitude and competitiveness. The way he talks you would think he is a second coming of Nick Saban. Alabama fans will love him, and he could play early given the issues in the secondary late in the year.
One of the most talked about signees, Cornwell will, in my opinion, be the starting quarterback for Alabama. This may not happen in 2014, but going forward Cornwell is the guy. Highly touted out of Oklahoma, the Sooner never offered the pro-style quarterback. His participation in spring drills will most likely be limited due to an ACL tear during the fall. However, he will be an integral part of the Alabama program for years to come. You can read more about his journey to Tuscaloosa here.
Regarded by some recruiting experts as the best high school prospect in the country, Robinson is a dominating left tackle who is an elite pass and run blocker. Robinson was a huge get out of the state of Louisiana, and he will compete for playing time as a freshman due to the departure of Cyrus Koundajio. Like Koundajio, he could easily be a three and done player for Alabama.
Sims is a skilled receiver whose strength centers around his ability to fight for the ball. He does have adequate speed for the position, and his hands are also a strength. Sims played well at the Under Armour All-American Game last week, and while he has competition at his position, it would not surprise me if he sees the field in 2014. Sims also hails from Louisiana, which was loaded with talent in this recruiting cycle.
The last of the “Big 3” out of Louisiana, Jones is similar to Tony Brown in that he can play either corner or safety. Most likely, Jones projects as a safety in college, and he has very good size for that position. Jones is an elite athlete, who reminds me of Landon Collins when he came out of Louisiana. A huge get for the Tide, Jones was committed to Alabama, then de-committed, and then re-committed.
Shaun Dion Hamilton
Many forget about Hamilton since he committed early in the process. He is a very talented linebacker from the state of Alabama who is impressive on film. Hamilton is also very bright, and an impressive young man if you watch an interview with him. I can see him playing early on special teams, and eventually he will become a household name to Alabama fans.
Speaking of household names, Pettway is back on the football team after spending a year in junior college in Mississippi. Pettway played for a national championship team in the JC ranks, and he will add depth to a defensive that will lose a great deal to graduation and the NFL. Many have questioned his return to the team after a brush with the law early in 2013, but few doubt his ability on the field. In limited playing time at Alabama, he produced at a fairly rate with multiple sacks and tackles for loss. I expect him to have a major impact for the Tide in 2014.
Out of high school, Reed signed with Florida, but he eventually landed at the same junior college Pettway attended. Reed is a defensive lineman who could play the 3 technique at Alabama. I can see Reed earning early playing time as well, as evidenced by previous junior college transfers brought in by Alabama. As mentioned above, depth on the defensive line will be needed, and Reed can fill that need nicely.