Recruiting has changed. Freshmen arrive on campus bigger and more likely to contribute than in the past. It takes some adjustment and changes the analysis when you consider how a team could perform in the fall. I never expected Julio Jones to make as significant a contribution as he did in 2008. I should have. We all knew he would be good; recruiting experts, coaches and fans knew that. And it wasnâ€™t like other players of impressive caliber havenâ€™t made immediate impact. Andre Smith anyone? He was a starter from day one.
Will the 2009 class produce similar results for Alabama?
There is potential in players like D.J. Fluker and Dre Kirkpatrick to make an immediate impact.
Tom Luginbill made several predictions for the 2009 signing class; two of those predictions dealt specifically with potential Alabama players Fluker and Kirkpatrick. He compared Fluker to Andre Smith and said Fluker will make it to the NFL. As for Kirkpatrick, â€œCB Dre Kirkpatrick (Gadsden, Ala./Gadsden City) will sign with Alabama, start as a true freshman and develop into an NFL first-round draft choice. Shutdown corners don’t grow on trees.â€
Football has changed, and it is something everyone who follows college football must understand when trying to forecast the 2009 seasonâ€”Alabama once again could field several freshmen in key roles.
In the old days Iâ€™d have said that is a recipe for disaster, but in this new world of college football it isnâ€™t a death sentence as the 2008 Alabama Crimson Tide showcased in its SEC West crown,12-2 record and BCS bowl berth.
This just makes recruiting even more important, if that is possible.