Biggest Needs: Offensively Alabama loses 5 starters, but 4 of the 5 are big ones. QB Greg McElroy departs, and Alabama will be breaking in a new QB in 2011. Even though Alabama won a National Championship in McElroy’s first season, Greg was in his fourth year on campus his first starting season. James Carpenter at LT might prove to be a big loss, because he never missed a start and will probably be drafted in the first three rounds. TE Preston Dial is graduating, but Alabama has a good bit of tight end talent stockpiled on campus. Probably the two biggest losses come from Juniors heading to the NFL draft. Alabama’s best WR Julio Jones and RB Mark Ingram are both going pro. Trent Richardson helps to ease concern with Ingram’s departure, but a quality backup for Richardson has to be established this Spring. As far as Jones, there is no one on campus that can do what he did. I think it will take a couple of guys stepping up to replace his production.
On the Defensive side of the ball, the losses are not quite as significant. DE Marcell Dareus is the biggest loss. Dareus will probably be a top 5 pick in the NFL draft, and someone will have to step up and take his place as a pass rusher. The other two losses are DE Luther Davis and LB Chavis Williams, but I think there is plenty of talent to replace these two guys.
Needs Met: All needs met. I could stop right there, but I will go a little further. Alabama signed a great offensive class, and it starts up front with the 4 O-linemen signed in this class. Obviously 2 of the 4 really stand out. JUCO OT Aaron Douglas is already on campus, and he has the best chance to be the starting LT next year. However, Bama signed the #1 OT in the nation in Cyrus Kouandjio, and he could push for the starting job. Bama signed 1 QB and 1 RB in the offensive backfield. QB Philip Ely is bound for a redshirt his first year, but I am not sure about RB Dee Hart. I would be shocked if Hart doesn’t redshirt, but he is on campus already, so he could prove something this Spring. The receiving corps got a big boost by signing 3 WR’s and 1 TE. Tight end Malcolm Faciane could get some PT next year if he can prove to be a playmaker in fall camp. Danny Woodson, Marvin Shinn, and Bradley Sylve are the three receivers signed, and don’t be surprised to see one of the three on the field next year.
The defensive class signed might be a little better than the offensive class, because of one guy that could get the defense back to the 2009 level. They signed 4 D-Linemen, but JUCO NT Jessie Williams might be the biggest position of need. When Mt. Cody departed, there was no one that replaced him in 2010, and I think Jessie Williams fills that void in 2011. However, Xavier Dickson and Jeoffrey Pagan add depth at the DE position. Alabama signed 3 LB’s, and Brent Calloway and Trey Depriest could both play next year. However, Depriest is already on campus, so that gives him the leg up on PT. The Tide did not lose any DB’s to graduation, but it looks as if they have signed Mark Barron’s heir apparent. Hasean Clinton-Dix is only one of 2 DB’s singed, but Clinton-Dix looks like the best Safety in this recruiting class. I don’t know how much he will see the field this year, but I expect to see him a lot in his second year.
Biggest Get: Before the Cyrus Kouandjio saga played out, Nick Saban said in an interview, “We did not sign a long term option at left tackle in this class.” Well after Saturday it looks like Alabama got their long term option. I know Bama signed LT Aaron Douglas, but Douglas has said he will leave in one year. That is why Kouandjio is so important.
Biggest Miss: Nickolas Brassell was a big miss. Brassell looks like a guy that can play right away, and Bama needs guys that can get offensive production to replace Julio Jones. Brassell visited the final weekend, and Bama probably would have taken him in this class.
Final Evaluation: Bama signed 22 guys in this class, and they are stockpiling talent. According to Rivals.com they have signed the top class 3 of the last 4 years. I know that games are played on the field, but there are not many teams that have as much talent on their sidelines.
Final Grade: A+