Biggest Needs: Offensively, Alabama loses five key starters, and none of them are bigger than the trio of Chance Warmack, Barrett Jones and DJ Fluker on the offensive line. Eddie Lacy’s departure is bigger than what most realize, and he was absolutely one of the top running backs in the SEC down the stretch when it mattered most for his team. That’s four impact players on offense who will be notably absent in 2013. The invincible offensive line should look more human next season.
Defensively, Bama also loses five starters, and the biggest two are corner Dee Milliner and safety Robert Lester. Milliner was arguably the top cover corner in the country and seemingly wiped out the memory Dre Kirkpatrick left behind. Lester is notable because of his leadership and experience. He was the only returning starter in the secondary last season, and his experience showed. Alabama also loses linebacker Nico Johnson, defensive end Damion Square and nose tackle Jesse Williams.
Needs Met: Luckily for the Tide, it’s just another year with another strong class that meets every need on the board. One of the departures was senior tight end Michael Williams. Nick Saban and company signed the top overall prospect at the position in OJ Howard. Can you imagine another receiving weapon in the Tide’s offense? Likewise, Bama signed two SEC-ready offensive linemen in Leon Brown (6-6, 310) and Brandon Hill (6-6, 390) to help fill the voids of the line, and they signed four running backs headlined by Derrick Henry. The Tide also signed two defensive tackles in JUCO transfer Darius Page and Dee Liner. The one glaring need, if you can call it a need, on defense was the lack of a pass rusher. So, Saban dipped into Virginia to sign the perfect JACK linebacker for his 3-4 defense in Jonathan Allen. Allen, though a freshman, is physically ready for the demands of the league. However, Bama did miss on a top defensive back in the class, and it’s the only possible “lacking” area. The Tide did sign two corners in Jonathan Cook and Maurice Smith.
Biggest Get: With six five-star players, you could go a number of ways here. But the biggest signee is linebacker Jonathan Allen. To invade Virginia and sign arguably the state’s top prospect who can make an instant-impact is a big deal.
Biggest Miss: Saban needed to land five-star defensive back Vonn Bell down the stretch to cement his secondary for the next several years. However, Bell had other plans, and he signed with Urban Meyer to ‘try and beat Bama at championships’. He said it, not me.
Final Evaluation: The Tide signed 26 players, and it’s nearly an embarrassment of riches in one of the biggest dynasties college football as ever witnessed.
Final Grade: A+
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