Published February 2, 2012 - 3:28pm
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Biggest Needs: Offensively, Alabama loses 5 starters on offense, and none is bigger than the early departure of RB Trent Richardson. Richardson accounted for over 2,000 yards of offensive production if you combine his rushing and receiving yards. Three guys on the offensive line depart, but Center William Vlachos is the only starter to graduate. However, Offensive Lineman Alfred McCullough is graduating, and he had the ability to play four positions on the offensive line. TE’s Brad Smelley and Chris Underwood are going to leave a few holes at their respective positions, but Maze and Hanks take a ton of experience away from the Bama receiving corps.
Defensively, Alabama is losing the core of one of the greatest defenses ever to play at the Capstone. On the defensive line Josh Chapman and Nick Gentry are both seniors, and both have contributed for the last three years. The biggest losses are probably at LB because Courtney Upshaw, Donta Hightower, and Jerrell Harris are 3 of 5 LB’s that won’t be there next year. There is a ton of LB talent on campus, but look for there to be some drop at this position. In the backfield Mark Barron is a glaring loss at safety, but Bama loses 2 starters at CB with the loss of Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie. Look for a ton of new faces to be on the field next year for the Crimson Tide.
Needs Met: Another year and another class that meets all needs. Alabama worked hard to fill the void left by Trent Richardson by signing T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake. Yeldon is one of the top 5 running backs in the 2012 recruiting class, and he is already on campus. Also, remember that Bama signed Dee Hart last year, and he never got to play because of an early season knee injury. I expect Yeldon and Hart to compete with Eddie Lacy for significant playing time. Alabama won a National Championship without a significant playmaker at receiver, but with this receiving class, that will not happen again. Amari Cooper, Eddie Williams, Cyrus Jones, and Chris Black all inked with the Tide, and any of these four guys could easily get significant playing time. Bama rounded out the offense by signing a couple of offensive linemen and one tight end, all of which will probably redshirt next year.
The gem of the 2012 recruiting class came on the defensive side of the ball. Landon Collins is the top safety in the country, and he will help fill the void left by Mark Barron. However, what makes this sweeter for Bama fans is the fact Bama went into Louisiana to get Collins. Also in the defensive backfield, Alabama signed CB’s Geno Smith, Travell Dixon, and Deion Belue. Belue and Dixon are both JUCO guys that could add immediate help. At LB Bama loses key guys, but they go out and sign five great recruits. Reggie Ragland, Dillon Lee, Tyler Hayes, Ryan Anderson, and Denzell Devall are all huge LB recruits, and will add instant quality depth. Up front Bama is continuing to stockpile talent, as they signed 5 defensive linemen. I don’t think any of these guys will be starters next year, but all will add significant depth.
Biggest Get: Landon Collins. Any team that can go into Louisiana and steal one of the top players in the nation away from LSU is impressive.
Biggest Miss: It’s hard to say Bama missed anywhere, but QB Jameis Winston may be the biggest miss simply because he is an in-state guy. However, if Winston signs a baseball contract, it may not be that big of a deal.
Final Evaluation: Bama signed 26 guys in this class, and they just continue to stockpile talent. According to all recruiting services, they signed the number one recruiting class again.
Final Grade: A+