Alabama Recruiting Update: Making sense of the commitments and decommitments
By Dave Friedman
In your fantasy football league would you swap Matt Ryan and DeMarco Murray for Russell Wilson and Benjarvus Green-Ellis? For the average fan, hearing about football commits and decommitments is kind of like an abstract guessing game. It is important to a point, but more of a crapshoot with names and numbers, than something truly meaningful. Of course recruiting itself is the lifeblood of a team’s future, but without seeing players, evaluating a prospect is more about deciphering numbers and reports that may or may not be accurate. Since the college season began, the Crimson Tide have added six 2014 commitments and lost two. Would you trade Stephen Roberts and Viane Talamaivao for Josh Cashner and Christian Miller? Guess what, Alabama doesn’t have a choice. Roberts and Talamaivao are going elsewhere, and Cashner and Miller are on their way to Tuscaloosa.
Opelika High School defensive back Stephen Roberts committed to Alabama but changed his mind three weeks ago and decided to attend Auburn. Opelika coach Brian Blackmon suggested that Roberts felt more comfortable with Auburn because of its vicinity to home. He grew up cheering for the Tigers and attended all of their home games this year. It seems likely that when Roberts originally chose the Tide, it was uncertain how good Auburn was going to be moving forward. Once Auburn showed that they would return to a top tier SEC football school, he opted to join teammate Jakell Mitchell at the school he may have always wanted to attend.
Talamaivao, an offensive guard from outside of Los Angeles, flipped from Alabama to USC. Much like Roberts, the decision came down to geography. His coach at Centennial High School Matt Logan was not surprised in the end Talamaivao wanted to play at a school where his parents could easily attend his games. Interestingly, Talamaivao’s decision took place in the midst of the Trojans cake walk of coaches. He committed to USC after Lane Kiffin was fired, while Ed Oregeron was the interim head man, and before Steve Sarkisian was hired.
While Roberts and Talamaivao are clearly guys Alabama wanted, taking offensive lineman Josh Cashner away from Auburn, and linebacker Christian Miller from Florida is not only a positive for the Crimson Tide, but a blow to SEC rivals. Cashner, and fellow Alabama commit JC Hassenauer are rated by some recruiting services as the top two center prospects in the country. From St. Paul’s High School in Mobile, Cashner committed to Auburn in March, de-commited in July, then reevaluated and chose the Crimson Tide over the Tigers and Florida State in late October.
Convincing Miller to attend Alabama may have been an even bigger steal than Cashner. Not only did he flip from Florida to the Crimson Tide, in the process he ignored his hometown team, South Carolina, where his dad was a star for the Gamecocks. Corey Miller went on to the New York Giants after a heralded career at in Columbia. Spring Valley High School coach Miles Aldridge said that the decision came down to finding a place where Miller could play outside linebacker in a 3-4 system. Aldridge called him “the best” both dropping into coverage and rushing the passer.
In addition to recent commitment flip-flopping, Alabama has also received promises from Da’Shawn Hand, Josh Frazier, and Laurence Jones over the past month. Hand is considered the top prospect in the country. A 6’4” and 254 pound defensive end from Virginia’s Woodbridge High School, Hand’s coach Karibi Dede went to Auburn. Hand attends Woodbridge because of their civil engineering program, and said that Alabama’s curriculum on the same topic was a big reason for his decision. A defensive end from Springdale, Arkansas, Frazier chose Alabama over Arkansas, Texas A&M, Auburn, and USC. At 6’3” and 323 pounds, recruiting services routinely describe him as among the most physical players in the class. Jones, a safety from Neville High School in Monroe, La., will graduate in the next week or two, and be in Tuscaloosa next semester. Neville coach Mickey McCarty said that Jones has an NFL body.
Signing day is February 5. Until then it is safe to assume the Crimson Tide will add more talent than they lose, and we’ll all guess and imagine how these foreign names and faces will help continue to build the most successful program in the county.