Meet the 2013 Tide Players – O.J. Howard, Dakota Ball, Darren Lake, Adam Griffith and Brandon Ivory


November 3, 2012; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Brandon Ivory (62) falls to the ground after LSU Tigers running back Jeremy Hill (33) was tackled by Crimson Tide linebacker Nico Johnson (35) during the third quarter at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU, 21-17.  Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

O.J. Howard

The University of Alabama signed one of the top tight ends in the 2013 recruiting classes when O.J. Howard enrolled in classes in January and signed his National Letter of Intent in February. Howard comes to Tuscaloosa from Autauga Academy in Prattville, Alabama. At 6-foot-6 and 237 pounds, he proved to be a major mismatch for opponents in high school, and Alabama fans hope he continues to be one in the SEC. The four main recruiting services were very high on Howard. Rivals, 247Sports and Scout rated him the number one tight end and a five-star prospect, and ESPN said he was a four-star player and number two player at the position. In April, Howard caught three passes for 22 yards in Alabama’s spring scrimmage. Fans expect him to compete and make an impact early. He has the ability to change how Alabama uses the tight end position. Look for him to make a splash in the 2013 season.

Dakota Ball

Alabama received Pepperell High School’s Dakota Ball’s signed National Letter of Intent in February, 2012.

Ball took a redshirt for the 2012 season after being a top 40 defensive tackle in the nation coming out of high school. The 6-foot-2, 270-pound lineman earned a starting role in the Under Armour All-America game. He was consensus three-star prospect with the recruiting services.

He was expected to be a contributor on the Alabama defensive line in 2013. Things took a step back when he had an emergency appendectomy during the first week of fall camp. With missed time in camp, Ball may not contribute as much as many hoped.

Darren Lake

Nick Saban’s 3-4 defensive scheme requires a solid defensive tackle to require multiple blockers. Darren Lake is expected to be the number two man at the position.

In his freshman season, Lake got experience in seven games. He earned three total tackles as the third string defensive tackle.

Recruiting analysts said Lake was a three-star prospect coming out of Sumter County High School in York, Alabama. The 6-foot-3, 324-pound Lake received ratings as Rivals’ number 24, ESPNU’s number 54, and 247Sports’ number 38 defensive tackle.

Expectations aren’t high for Lake because of Brandon Ivory. However, he has the ability to be a quality backup to Ivory in the 3-4 scheme.

Brandon Ivory

The expected starter at Alabama’s most important defensive line position is Brandon Ivory, a junior from Memphis, Tennessee.

Ivory signed with Alabama in 2010 out of East High in Memphis. He went under the radar of many recruiting analysts. Rivals ranked him the 73rd best defensive lineman.

After a redshirt in 2010, he played in four games in 2011. He recorded five tackles during the season, three of which game against Georgia Southern.

Western Kentucky was Ivory’s first career start. He played in 13 games overall in the 2012 season, recording 22 tackles.

Fans should look for the 6-foot-4, 310 pound Ivory to be the run-stuff in the middle of the defensive line. He made four tackles in Alabama’s spring game in April. If Ivory does his job, Alabama’s defense will be fine. If he doesn’t require multiple blockers, the defense will have struggles.

Adam Griffith

Adam Griffith signed with Alabama in 2012 to be Alabama’s next place-kicker.

He redshirted to adjust to the college game. He now looks to join Cade Foster as Alabama’s kickers in 2013.

Recruiting experts differed on his skills. Scout and 247Sports rated him the best kicker in the nation. Rivals said he was the number two kicker, and ESPNU saw him as the seventh best.

In Alabama’s spring game, the 5-foot-10, 187 pound freshman had two kickoffs. One was a touch-back. He averaged 65 yards per kick and recorded a tackle.