Jan 7, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban holds the Coaches Trophy after the 2013 BCS Championship game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Sun Life Stadium. Alabama won 42-14. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama In The Hunt For Elite Prospects in '14

As all fans who keep up with college football know, and probably some who don’t, the Alabama Crimson Tide have won three out of the last four national championships with the last two coming in dominating fashion. With those championships, and what many want to call a dynasty brewing in Tuscaloosa, it is no surprise that Head Coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have been able to land many of the top recruits in the nation year after year. Unfortunately for fans and teams that don’t wear crimson and white, the Tide are in the hunt for most of the top elite players in 2014.

Alabama currently sits in the top five for each of the top four prospects in our FanSided150 rankings. The No. 1 overall player in the class, defensive end Da’Shawn Hand, narrowed his list down to three back on June 12. Hand’s three teams included the Michigan Wolverines, Florida Gators, and of course, Alabama. Surprisingly, the 6’5 250 pound Virginia native scratched off one of his home-state teams in Virginia Tech as well as Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks. Hand has great power and strength as well as 4.6 40-yard dash speed, but if he signs with Alabama he will be playing in the 3-4 system. The 3-4 system allows for the defensive line to basically take up blocks and double teams to allow the linebackers to make the plays. The true pass rushing ability comes from the outside rushers. This will not allow him to be a prime, standout pass rusher as if he were in the 4-3 system, which is what both Florida and Michigan run. I believe Alabama may be on the outside looking in on this one, but you can never count out Saban.

The No. 2 overall player in our Fansided150 rankings is power running back Leonard Fournette. The 6’1″ 225 pound back has been quiet about his recruiting process so far, but it has been suggested by many that LSU and Alabama are the top two teams to beat in front of the Texas Longhorns. Fournette recently opened up about his recruiting process and stated that no team was necessarily in front right now, and it looks like this recruiting battle will come down to National Signing Day or just before. The Louisiana native is probably the closest back we have seen to Marcus Lattimore coming out of his school, and he will be a tough get for Saban and the tide because we all know LSU Head Coach Les Miles always does a great job of keeping in-state talent in the purple and gold.

Lorenzo Carter, defensive end out of Norcross High School on the outskirts of metro-Atlanta, is as physically gifted as they come. The 6’6″ 235 pound defensive end is No. 3 in our class rankings and has Alabama and Georgia as his top two teams. In recruiting we all know things can change, but right now it looks as though these are the top two teams to beat for his services along with the Florida Gators who are making a strong push. Although Carter plays defensive end in high school, he is plenty athletic enough to play the outside linebacker position in Alabama and Georgia’s 3-4 system, which is where he is being recruited to play. The only advantage that Florida has over the Tide and Dawgs is that in their 4-3 system Carter will be a true defensive end pass rusher. If Carter truly wants to be a defensive end, then it is obvious the Gators will win his services; however, Carter has already said that he is waiting to decide on signing day, and it will ultimately be a battle between last year’s SEC championship teams.

The No. 4 player in our class rankings isn’t going to wow anyone with his ball skills or his ability to run a 40-yard dash, but offensive tackle Cameron Robinson plays one of the most critical positions in football. Haven’t you ever seen the movie The Blindside? Robinson is a massive 6’6 330 pound offensive lineman from the state of Louisiana, and he has narrowed his list to two teams. Can you take a wild guess? Alabama and LSU. Robinson is the prototypical left tackle that you want protecting your quarterback. He has great size, athleticism, and flexibility. Of course, he’ll need some practice getting used to the skill of SEC pass rushers, but Robinson projects to be an all-American type player and future NFL draft pick. Once again, this battle will come down to whether or not Nick Saban can go into Louisiana and steal another recruit from Les Miles.

Alabama has a chance to land another top recruiting class depending on where these young men sign. I know you must be asking yourself when will the reign end? Well, as long as Nick Saban is in town, no top recruit is going to be easy for another other team to sign.

Tags: 2014 Football Class Alabama Crimson Tide Florida Gators Football Georgia Bulldogs LSU Tigers Michigan Wolverines South Carolina Gamecocks Tennessee Volunteers Texas Longhorns

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