Recruiting classes have an unpredictable value until the players actually have the chance to make an impact on the field. With that in mind, SEC Country is taking a look at Alabama’s last two recruiting class (2014-2015).
Here’s how the stock of Alabama’s 2014 recruiting class has gone up, down, remained even or is still be to be determined as they head into their third season on campus. (Guys who are no longer on the team because of graduation were not included — Dominick Jackson, Jarran Reed, D.J. Pettway, Ty Flournoy-Smith)
Cam Robinson, 5-star left tackle
Portfolio: According to the 247Sports composite, Robinson was the highest-rated player (slight edge over Da’Shawn Hand) and he’s lived up to his lofty ranking. Robinson has been Alabama’s starter at left tackle since he stepped on campus. Despite dealing with nagging injuries, Robinson has yet to miss a game, starting all 29 contests throughout his career.
Heading into his junior season, Robinson is considered one of the top prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Da’Shawn Hand, 5-star defensive end
Portfolio: It’s hard to gauge Hand’s value at this point because he hasn’t been a full-time starter. At one point, Hand was the No. 1 player in the 2014 recruiting class and a lot of people were expecting him to make an immediate splash. But at Alabama, there was a lot of depth at Hand’s position which allowed him to slowly work his way into the rotation. A lot of that depth is gone and Hand is expected to be a starter as he enters his junior year.
We should get a full season of Hand, which will allow us to better evaluate the Virginia native.
Tony Brown, 5-star cornerback
Portfolio: By pure talent and natural ability, a case could be made that Brown is the best player on the team. He is insanely athletic, strong with track speed. But all of those natural gifts haven’t been able to translate to on-field success. As a freshman, Brown played in 13 games and made two starts.
His sophomore year was up-and-down. Brown became a special teams star with eight tackle in kick coverage. But the Texas native wasn’t able to break into the starting lineup on defense. Meanwhile, the other 5-star cornerback Alabama signed (Marlon Humphrey) emerged as a starter while true freshman Minkah Fitzpatrick locked up the starting nickel spot.
Also, Brown still is technically suspended. He practiced with the team this spring, but it’s unclear what his status will be once the season starts.
Marlon Humphrey, 5-star left tackle
Portfolio: After redshirting his first year in Tuscaloosa, Humphrey locked down the starting cornerback spot opposite Cyrus Jones. Heading into his third year, Humphrey has the potential to be an All-SEC performer. Humphrey notched three interceptions last season.
Rashaan Evans, 5-star outside linebacker
Portfolio: Evans spent his first two years as a reserve outside linebacker. He finished with 10 tackles in his second season after notching 15 stops in 13 games as a true freshman.
But this spring, Evans made the move to inside linebacker. Evans capped things off with a 17-tackle performance (10 solo) in the A-Day game. He still has some things to work on at his new position, but Evans could be a versatile asset for Alabama’s defense.
Christian Miller, 4-star outside linebacker
Portfolio: Miller redshirted his first year and didn’t play much his second year, but could be in line for a situational role this coming season. With Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson becoming full-time linebackers, Alabama could use some fresh legs to rush the passer.
Miller fits the bill as a pass-rush specialist. Look for the South Carolina native to have a big season.
Hootie Jones, 4-star safety
Portfolio: Jones hasn’t played a lot throughout his career so he’s another one on whom it’s tough to get a serious read. But it doesn’t help that Ronnie Harrison jumped him in the rotation as a true freshman last year. Jones worked as the third safety in Alabama’s dime package during the spring. That and playing special teams may be his role this season.
Ronnie Clark, 4-star outside linebacker/safety
Portfolio: Clark is a kid who seemed to fit that hybrid safety/outside linebacker role well coming out of high school. He was good enough in coverage and physical enough to compete against the run. But due to depth issues, Alabama moved Clark to running back.
Two torn Achilles later, Clark may never play a meaningful down at Alabama, especially if he stays at running back.
Ross Pierschbacher, 4-star offensive lineman
Portfolio: Along with Cam Robinson, Pierschbacher has turned out to be one of the most valuable members of the 2014 class. After redshirting his first year, Pierschbacher started every game at left guard last season. With Ryan Kelly moving on, Alabama moved Pierschbacher to center this spring.
He worked with the first-team offense and appears to be a lock for the starting job in the fall.
David Cornwell, 4-star quarterback
Portfolio: If you’re ranking the quarterbacks coming out of the spring, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say Cornwell is No. 4 out of four. Of the four, Cornwell struggled the most during Alabama’s A-Day game. There’s still a chance the Oklahoma product can turn things around, but as of right now, Cornwell likely won’t be the starter in the fall.
Cam Sims, 4-star wide receiver
Portfolio: Sims would have been a starter last year had a knee injury in the spring not sidelined him. Now he has to work his way back into a somewhat crowded receiver group. Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart and Robert Foster are the top three guys. Sims sits in that next group so there’s a chance he could see some playing time and a few targets this season. Sims is a good blocker which is always a plus if you’re going to play for Nick Saban.
Josh Frazier, 4-star defensive tackle
Portfolio: Frazier is another guy who saw a younger player at his position step in ahead of him. Da’Ron Payne came on as a true freshman and had a role despite Alabama’s great depth along the defensive line last year. But this is the year for Frazier to make a push. Alabama doesn’t have much depth upfront, and Frazier could be one of the guys to help in that area.
J.C. Hassenauer, 4-star center
Portfolio: This spring seemed like the perfect time for Hassenauer to make the jump into the starting lineup. He had sat behind and served as the backup for Ryan Kelly for the last two seasons.
But with Pierschbacher moving to center, it looks like Hassenauer may spend another year as a backup.
Shaun Dion Hamilton, 4-star linebacker
Portfolio: Last year, Hamilton mostly played in the Tide’s base defense as he posted 27 total tackles. But this season could see Hamilton step into a full-time role. He’s arguably the smartest person on the team so there’s no question about his football IQ. If Hamilton can hold up in pass coverage, he could be a full-time starter for the next two years.
Derek Kief, 4-star wide receiver
Portfolio: Kief is stuck in the shuffle behind other talented players. One thing working in Kief’s favor is that he showed he can really play that slot receiver spot during Alabama’s A-Day game. That could be where he finds a role this season.
Joshua Casher, 4-star offensive lineman
Portfolio: Injuries have slowed Casher’s development to a degree, and it also doesn’t help to have so many other talented guys at his position.
Casher appears to be on track for a career as a backup barring something unforeseen.
Keith Holcombe, 4-star linebacker
Portfolio: Holcombe split his time between football and baseball this spring, so his spot with the football team is a little unclear. He could compete for a spot in Alabama’s nickel defense, but guys like Shaun Dion Hamilton and Rashaan Evans are likely ahead of him on the depth chart at the moment.
O.J. Smith, 3-star defensive lineman
Portfolio: Smith dealt with injuries and other players jumped him on the depth chart during his first two years. But with Alabama losing a lot of its depth, this is Smith’s best chance to make a move for playing time.
Johnny Dwight, 3-star defensive lineman
Portfolio: Dwight spent last year with the tight ends, but he was back with the defensive line this spring likely because of a lack of depth at the position. Similar to Josh Frazier and O.J. Smith, this is Dwight’s best opportunity to push for playing time.
JK Scott, 3-star punter
Portfolio: Depending on how Alabama’s offense looks to start the season, Scott could become an even more valuable player. He’s great at flipping the field and keeping the Crimson Tide’s defense in favorable situations. Scott had a bit of an up-and-down sophomore year after an all-time performance as a freshman, but expect him to get back on track this season. He punted the ball well during the spring and during Alabama’s A-Day game.
Bo Scarbrough, 5-star athlete
Portfolio: Scarbrough is expected to be the starting running back this season. A lot of people have compared him to Derrick Henry from a physical standpoint, which is fair because both are large humans. But what Henry has that Scarbrough hasn’t to this point is durability. Scarbrough has dealt with injuries going all the way back to early in his high school career. If he can stay healthy, he can be that bell cow Alabama’s offense needs.