College Football’s 10th Weekend: Picks, predictions

(1) Alabama at (5) LSU

This game is being played in Baton Rouge which is what makes this matchup even more interesting. Talent-wise I think it’s safe to say that the Crimson Tide have the advantage. I like both teams’ tailbacks equally, but other than the running game, I favor the Tide in every other facet of the game other than maybe on the punting side of things.

In order for LSU to take down the nation’s top team, they have to change things up. Ultimately Les Miles is an enhanced version of Jim Tressel. Miles gets more top-end recruits, which makes his program more consistent (now) than what Ohio State’s was. Miles comes up with the occasional crazy trick play, but in the end, he’s conservative. Unless he can unleash Zach Mettenberger and he can throw it with success, Alabama shouldn’t have too much trouble here. Alabama wins 31-17.

(2) Kansas State vs (24) Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State isn’t a bad team. They’re ranked in the top 25, which is probably appropriate, but they’re on the road, facing a team that just doesn’t beat themselves. Collin Klein and company shouldn’t have problems against the Cowboys’ defense. Kansas State wins 45-21.

(3) Notre Dame vs Pittsburgh

This would be a classic letdown game for the Fighting Irish. Again, their defense keeps them in every game. It’s the offense that holds me back from pushing all in with this team. Pittsburgh isn’t a bad team, and although the Panthers are on the road, Notre Dame won’t win this game by as much as the No. 3 team in the country should. Notre Dame wins 31-17.

(4) Oregon at (17) USC

At the beginning of the year, this game was regarded as one of the top games in all of college football. Even a week ago, before USC lost to Arizona, this was still a highly anticipated game. Now we’re here in November and this matchup is still a good one, but many people feel that if Oregon is as good as perceived to be, they’re expected to win this game by more than a touchdown.

It’ll be tough for the Ducks, but I will assume they win by double digits. The game is at USC, so Oregon will have that going against them, but USC is coming off an emotional loss, so the Trojans won’t be going down without a fight. Like every other week, the Ducks will try and speed up the game as much as possible. The issue with doing this against the Trojans is that USC actually has the athletes to compete for 60 minutes. This game ultimately comes down to whether USC can slow down Oregon enough to let its offense put up 30+ points, which is what Kiffin’s squad will have to do if they want to win this one. Oregon wins 41-31. Read more…

Can anyone keep Alabama from repeating?

In January, the Alabama Crimson Tide rolled past conference rival LSU 21-0 to claim the 2012 BCS national championship. Alabama used a ferocious defense to stifle the Tigers in New Orleans, led by linebacker Courtney Upshaw and safety Mark Barron.

With many of the starters returning from last season’s team, including quarterback A.J. McCarron, Alabama was a preseason favorite to compete for the national title. Almost two months into the season, the Tide has entrenched itself at the top of the polls, emerging as the front-runner to claim its second consecutive BCS title. However, there are several teams that could challenge the Tide in its quest to repeat. Here is a look at the teams that have the best shot at knocking Alabama from its perch.

LSU: The Tigers know how to beat Alabama, winning in Tuscaloosa last season in overtime. Though LSU was drummed out of the BCS title game, it should give the team plenty of motivation when the Crimson Tide pay a visit to Tiger Stadium on Nov. 3. Alabama has played a surprisingly soft schedule for a national power, though easy victories over Michigan and Arkansas would have more weight if those teams were having better seasons. LSU will have revenge on its mind for this rivalry game in Baton Rouge. If the Tigers win, they could gain a foothold in the chase for the national title. They have the home field advantage and a tough defense. The question will be if the LSU Tigers can muster up enough offense to top the Tide.

Florida: If the Tigers can not take down Alabama, it may be up to the second-ranked Gators to do so. Florida appears to be the favorite to win the Eastern Division of the SEC and could face the Crimson Tide in the SEC title game. Will Muschamp has his team playing inspired football in his second season as coach, using a stifling defense to knock off both LSU and South Carolina. The Gators may be undefeated heading into the SEC title game, so a BCS title shot could be at stake in Atlanta. Read more…

College Football’s eighth weekend: West Virginia bounces back

Geno SmithTwo strong match up’s this week as Geno Smith and West Virginia look to bounce back after a subpar game against the Red Raiders.

The Florida Gators have gotten up to the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings and are the next team in line in the SEC that controls their own destiny. Alabama still holds the top spot and the top two teams don’t meet in the regular season, but the Gators have a tough road ahead of them. Last week I did pretty well, going 17-1 in my picks.

(1) Alabama at Tennessee

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pro-Tennessee this and especially next year, but they don’t have the players on defense to keep this a close game. Tennessee’s offense is one of the most underrated offenses out there, but unless the Volunteers can at least slow down the Crimson Tide’s rushing attack, quarterback Tyler Bray will have to have a career day if they want to pull the upset. Alabama wins 45-24.

(2) Florida vs (7) South Carolina

The Gators come into this game with a lot of momentum and they get to play in front of their home crowd. South Carolina also doesn’t have their stellar running back Marcus Lattimore starting the game. My guess is he’ll play around 20 snaps, but he isn’t 100 percent, which kills almost any chance the Gamecocks had coming into this game.

LSU showed that South Carolina wasn’t worthy of a top five spot and unless quarterback Connor Shaw can break out in the Swamp, the Gators should be able to control this game. Quarterback Jeff Driskel is starting to get more comfortable the more he plays, and with the rushing attack led by Mike Gillislee, Driskel never feels like he has to force anything. Expect a ton of rushing plays from the Gators, and a win at home to keep their undefeated season going. Florida wins 31-21.

(3) Oregon at Arizona State

This game was played Thursday night* Oregon won 43-21. This game wasn’t as close as the 22 point difference indicated.

(4) Kansas State at (13) West Virginia

The Mountaineers are coming off a huge loss to Texas Tech and will be at home in this one looking for revenge. Geno Smith had a subpar game against the Red Raiders, and while Kansas State’s defense is certainly better than average, I expect Smith to get it going along with his wide receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.

What many people don’t know about this game is that we have probably the two Heisman favorites playing in this game.

Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein is as close as you can get to Tim Tebow, and with his rushing abilities, could lead Kansas State to yet another huge victory this year. If Klein outperforms Smith, which is certainly possible, he may get the win, and the nod when it comes to winning the Heisman. If the Mountaineers want to win, Smith doesn’t only have to play like he has all year outside of the Texas Tech game, but the defense has to at least slow down Collin Klein. I think both will happen just enough for West Virginia to make it a bounce back week. West Virginia wins 45-38.

(5) Notre Dame vs BYU

BYU is only 4-3 and are on the road against a very tough Fighting Irish defense, but this one shouldn’t be a blow out. BYU’s defense is better than many people realize, and with quarterback Tommy Rees getting the start over an injured Everett Golson, this could be the upset of the week. I expect the Fighting Irish to keep it on the ground all game long and be able to stay undefeated for one more week before they head to Norman, Oklahoma. Notre Dame wins 24-10.

(6) LSU at (18) Texas A&M

I’m certainly not an LSU guy, but beating South Carolina last week doing what both teams do best was fairly impressive. In this game, I’m picking the Aggies though. What’s even more odd is that Texas A&M has a freshman quarterback who’s starting for them. The most interesting part is that the freshman Johnny Manziel may be the best offensive player on the field in this game.

Manziel has the top two total yard games in SEC history already, and like I’ve said… he’s just a freshman. Manziel is extremely talented, not only being able to throw, but will soon be regarded as one of the most dynamic quarterback in the country. He’s not as fast as Denard Robinson and Taylor Martinez, but he’s certainly in Braxton Miller’s category, which is still impressive. If the Aggies can keep LSU’s running game at bay, expect the unexpected. Texas A&M wins 34-24.

(8) Oregon State vs Utah

The Beavers don’t have top 10 talent but they’ll stay undefeated here. They’re at home and are simply the better team. Oregon State wins 38-14.

(9) Oklahoma vs Kansas

Much like in the game above, Oklahoma’s the more talented team and at home. But I can’t go on without mentioning how impressive the 63-21 beat down was against Texas last week. That not only showed how good the Sooners were, but how good Kansas State is. Collin Klein’s team is the only team to beat Oklahoma this year. Oklahoma wins 52-14.

(10) USC vs Colorado

Yet again, the vastly superior talented team is playing at home in this game. USC wins 56-7. Read more…

2012 College Football Week 5: Top 25, picks, predictions

Aaron Murray

Aaron MurrayLast week was a pretty good week for me, ending up at 16-2. As for this week’s games, some intriguing matchups will be taking place in conference play. Georgia gets Tennessee, West Virginia plays Baylor, and Michigan State takes on Ohio State.

(1) Alabama vs Ole Miss

As Texas proved last week, Ole Miss just isn’t as talented as top-tier programs. Alabama wins 45-7.

(2) Oregon at Washington State

Oregon impressed a lot of people when they beat Arizona 49-0 last Saturday night. What the scoreboard didn’t tell you is that the Wildcats got to the red zone five times and just couldn’t convert to save their lives. In this game, Oregon continues to dominate. Oregon wins 63-14.

(3) LSU vs Towson

LSU is better. LSU wins 55-3.

(4) Florida State at South Florida

Remember just last Sunday when the 49ers lost in Minnesota in what was deemed as the upset of the week? I’m not picking the Bulls here, but this game has the exact same type of feel. Florida State is coming off a big win and travels (not too far) to a team that just doesn’t get respect. Well, South Florida can earn plenty of people’s attention if they pull off the unthinkable here. Florida State wins 38-17.

(5) Georgia vs Tennessee

Tennessee probably is a top-25 team, but losing to Florida earlier in the year shot down their chance at being ranked at least for now. Georgia is a complete football team, and doesn’t have to play LSU or Alabama during the regular season. I think the Bulldogs could very easily end up running the table and having everything come down to the SEC Championship game. They’ve got a stout defense and a great quarterback that nobody talks about in Aaron Murray. It will be interesting to see if Tennessee’s better-than-advertised offense can put up some points on the Bulldogs defense. Georgia wins 45-24.

(6) South Carolina at Kentucky

Much like Ole Miss, Kentucky just doesn’t have the talent to keep up through four quarters. South Carolina wins 41-17.

(7) Kansas State – BYE

(8) Stanford at Washington

*This game was played on Friday. Washington won 17-13. No shocker here for me. Stanford was on the road, and sure, they’re a top-25 team, but they shouldn’t have been in the top-10. Washington’s quarterback Keith Price is a name college football fans will all know soon enough.

(9) West Virginia vs (25) Baylor

Surely Geno Smith and Tavon Austin are starting to get people’s attention after last week’s win over Maryland, and rightfully so. Maryland isn’t among the country’s elite, but Smith had another fantastic game through the air, and Austin had 179 yds receiving to go along with three touchdowns. Austin is in the top-five in the nation when it comes to game breaking ability. I’ll take his pure speed against anybody’s in the country.

For this game, the Heisman candidate (Smith) should tear the Bears’ defense open much like he has all season to his opponents. Look for Austin and Stedman Bailey to have a show downfield as well. The Mountaineers may not have the greatest defense in the country, but it’s hard to argue that their offense isn’t among the top-five. I picked them to win the Big 12 for a reason, and I’ll pick them here with ease. West Virginia wins 63-35.

(10) Notre Dame – BYE

(11) Florida – BYE

(12) Texas at Oklahoma State

The Longhorns are a very solid football team, and Oklahoma State, well, just isn’t any more after losing Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon to the NFL. Their defense is still a mess, and it’ll show in this game. Texas wins 55-21.

(13) USC – BYE

(14) Ohio State at (20) Michigan State

When Michigan State lost to Notre Dame a couple weeks ago, people didn’t only doubt how good the Spartans were, but the Big Ten as a whole. For me, the Big Ten is as bad as it has been in the past decade. Ohio State can’t compete for a Big Ten championship or go to a bowl game this year, so every game is huge to them; especially a top-25 matchup.

The Buckeyes are talented, but it’ll take a full season to get Urban Meyer’s kind of recruits, and adapt to his system before they really start clicking out in Columbus. For Michigan State, they can only ride Le’Veon Bell so far. Michigan State may be the best team in the Big Ten, but it isn’t by a large margin. I’d be willing to say that Nebraska is the favorite at this point, but that’s a different discussion. This game comes down to two things. Can Le’Veon Bell carry Michigan State’s offense enough? And will Braxton Miller be able to keep up on the scoreboard enough on the road in a hostile territory being only a sophomore, and with a new head coach/system? I think Bell carries Sparty to victory here, though it hurts my Buckeyes fandom. Michigan State wins 24-20.

(15) TCU at SMU

TCU’s the more talented team, and being on the road shouldn’t faze them. TCU wins 38-21.

(16) Oklahoma – BYE

(17) Clemson at Boston College

Coming off the big loss to Florida State, quarterback Tajh Boyd and company now know what it takes to compete with the nation’s elite. It’ll only be a matter of time before Clemson figured everything out and their offense becomes enough to carry them to become a true national championship contender. In this game, the Tigers will be looking for revenge, and they’ve got their eyes set out for some Eagles. Clemson wins 52-21.

(18) Oregon State at Arizona

Oregon State is 2-0 this year and has beaten Wisconsin and UCLA. Both of those teams aren’t title contenders, but they’re surely not slouches. Oregon State probably is a top-25 team this year because of their ability to throw, run, and play good defense, but I think they get upset today. Arizona is coming off a 49-0 drubbing against Oregon, but a case could be made that they could’ve only lost that game by two or three scores. Arizona’s at home, and if they figure things out in the red zone, I expect this upset pick to come through. Arizona wins 31-21. Read more…

College Football Week 4: Picks, predictions

Florida StateWeek 4 is here, and there will be good matchups all day long on Saturday. I went 16-5 last week, pushing my overall record to 38-5 on the season. This weekend will be highlighted by Oregon against Arizona, Florida State against Clemson, and Oklahoma against Kansas State, among many other good games to go around.

(1) Alabama vs Florida Atlantic: My Owls couldn’t get it done last week against Georgia, but they did put up 20 points on the Bulldogs. Needless to say, I doubt FAU keeps it within 30 against the Crimson Tide. Also, Arkansas may’ve been without Tyler Wilson, but to be shutout against Alabama last week was disappointing. Alabama’s defense and rushing attack is for real again this year, and much like the 49ers in the NFL, their success at the end of the year will depend on how their quarterback A.J. McCarron plays. Alabama wins 59-7.

(2) LSU at Auburn: LSU may be on the road, and I may not be their biggest fan, but I’m never going to rave about Auburn anytime soon. LSU wins this one on the ground with ease. LSU wins 38-14.

(3) Oregon vs (22) Arizona: This game won’t be close. Surely both teams are ranked, but Oregon’s at home and their offense will score without mercy. Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas both run for over 100 yards in this one. Oregon wins 59-17.

(4) Florida State vs (10) Clemson: Now this game between two ranked teams will be much closer. Florida State to me is the better overall team and is at home. Clemson however, has a top five offense in all of college football in my eyes. It wouldn’t be shocking at all to see Clemson hang 40 points on the board and take down the Seminoles’ and their national title hopes. Read more…

Once again, Nick Saban tells it like it is

This is hard for me to say considering I’m a Gator alum but Nick Saban is, without a doubt, the man.  This is a guy who has won three national championships at two different schools.  This is a man whose Alabama team embarrassed a defending national championship Florida team in the 2009 SEC Championship Game, making Tim Tebow cry in the process.  This is a man who, despite the rigors of coaching college football at its highest level, still looks pretty damn good for being sixty years of age.  And most importantly, this is a man who demands our respect, although he probably couldn’t care less whether he has it or not.

In a recent press conference, the cool, collected Saban combined one part Mike Gundy, one part Herm Edwards and three parts Yoda to put basically every journalist in the room in their place, killing them with kindness but killing them nonetheless.

After Alabama’s beat down of previously number four ranked Michigan, every analyst from here to Tuscaloosa was ready to award Alabama another national championship, but as Saban promptly reminded everybody, that’s simply not how it works.  There are games to be played, practices to be held, routes to be perfected and most importantly, expectations not to be exploded.

Let’s listen in…

NCAA College Football Top 25: Week 1 picks and scores

(1) USC vs Hawaii

USC is my pick to win the national championship this year, and for good reason. They’re a complete football team. From quarterback, to running back, to the men outside catching the ball, the Trojans are loaded on offense. Matt Barkley is the orchestrator to the Trojans passing attack, and future first round picks Marqise Lee and Robert Woods are the main pass catchers. Penn State didn’t have many elite players to begin with, but once players found out that they could transfer without having to sit out a year, star running back Silas Redd decided to leave for USC. Redd will be the biggest key for USC’s success this season because everyone knows Matt Barkley and USC’s defense will be extremely strong, but can Redd’s running abilities be able to keep teams from rushing Barkley at absolute will? For this game, USC will have no problems, but I don’t expect them to completely unleash all of their talent for four quarters. USC wins 52-17.

(2) Alabama vs (8) Michigan

I won’t go into too much of a rant about how the top of the SEC is a tad overrated this year, but, well, they are. Alabama lost six defensive players to the NFL, along with the top running back prospect in Trent Richardson. Quarterback AJ McCarron did well in the BCS National Championship game against LSU, but is he really ready to play a quarterbacking role not mainstreamed around “don’t make a mistake”? Don’t get me wrong, Alabama’s rushing attack will still be very strong, and the offensive line will have no troubles creating gaps through any defense they face, but is Alabama as dominant as they were last year? Absolutely not. And remember, they still lost one game last season, despite winning the national title.

That being said, looking at the betting line, Alabama is favored by 14 points. This was complete ludacris to me, but of course the underdog had to shoot themselves in the foot. Michigan’s leading rusher from a year ago in Fitzgerald Toussaint has been suspended for this game due to off the field issues. This only puts more pressure on quarterback Denard Robinson, as if there wasn’t enough. Alabama’s young, yet talented defense can now focus on not allowing “shoelace” to escape the pocket and make plays. At the end of the day, with Toussaint being out, and Alabama being able to run the ball at will, I expect Vegas’ prediction to hold true.Alabama wins 27-13.

(3) LSU vs North Texas

As I said before, I won’t get much into how Alabama and LSU are much less dominant than they were a year ago. Even though I believe LSU won’t reach the national championship game this year, they’re still much more talented than the Mean Green. I will say one thing though, if you’re a betting man (or woman) bet North Texas. LSU is not going to win by 45 or more points. LSU wins 45-10.

(4) Oklahoma at UTEP

I will give Oklahoma some credit. They are opening up the season on the road. Most of these “top teams” can’t say that. But, they are playing UTEP. Not much to say about this one or many of the games this weekend, other than that one team is extremely more talented than the other. In this case, it’s the Sooners. Oklahoma wins 56-7.

(5) Oregon vs Arkansas State

The Ducks are my favorite NCAA Football 13 team to play with, not that that makes any difference whatsoever here. Part of that reason though, is their backfield. If one were to argue that Oregon has the top two backs in the country, I could disagree, but I wouldn’t be irate about it. Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas are the first Pac-12’s true thunder and lightning. (Sorry Lendale White and Reggie Bush, but you were in the Pac-10) Barner and “Dat” are what makes Chip Kelly’s team what it is. An up-tempo, 60 minutes of hell, (if you want to call it that) football team. In this game, we won’t see much of the two. At least if you watch the whole game. If you want to see the new thunder and lightning, stay tuned during the first half. Oregon wins 63-7.

(6) Georgia vs Buffalo

My anti-SEC bias ends here with Georgia this season. That only happens because I like the Razorbacks to win the conference this year, but nonetheless, I don’t think the Bulldogs are the sixth best team in the country either. Bias aside, Georgia is a very good football team. With quarterback Aaron Murray leading the way, the Bulldogs won’t have any problem starting off their 2012 campaign. Georgia wins 52-10. Read more…

2012 NCAA Football pre-season Top 10

Matt Barkley USC

It seems like it’s been a while since we had some college football doesn’t it? 175 days to be exact. That means there is only 57 days until the season opens on august 30th with a whole 15 games to get our juices flowing. It should be interesting to see what happens with all the new conference alignments; and to see how teams such as Stanford will bounce back after losing Luck, and how Oklahoma fares without Weeden and Blackmon. Will Texas get back into the mix after one of Mack Browns worst seasons ever? Will Florida State and Oklahoma finally live up to the hype? Is Oregon finally good enough to win a national title? Can Denard Robinson hold up in the Heisman race for a full year. How re-loaded are LSU and Alabama? How explosive will West Virginia’s offense be against Big 12 defenses (If that’s what you want to call them). How good is USC? What will Boise State look like? Since these questions won’t be answered anytime soon, I have constructed a pre-season top 10 poll to keep you busy in the meantime.  Read More…

Alabama: 2012 college football recruiting

T.J. YeldonNick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide have done it again as 2012 was a success and the Tide will finish as the number one recruiting class in college football according to multiple sites.

The Crimson Tide held on to all recruits they were expected to and also stole a few four-star defensive tackles in their 26-man class.

Many recruiting experts have said this Alabama recruiting class rivals the 2008 Alabama recruiting class that brought in some names you might remember. Mark Barron, Terrence Cody, Marcell Dareus, Dont’a Hightower, Mark Ingram, Barrett Jones, Julio Jones, and Courtney Upshaw to name a few were apart of that 2008 class. Only time will tell if the 2012 class is able to have the same success as the 2008 class.

Here’s a player-by-player breakdown of the Tide’s 2012 signing class.

T.J. Yeldon (RB/Daphne, AL): Rivals: 5*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 5*

T.J. Yeldon was committed to Auburn for quite a while, but surprised everyone by switching his pledge to Alabama in December. Rivals rates Yeldon as the #2 ranked running back prospect in the country, and the #12 player overall. His teammate Ryan Anderson played a role in getting Yeldon to flip from Auburn.

Look for Yeldon to seriously push for playing time next season as he gets the advantage of going through spring football at Alabama. With Trent Richardson headed to the NFL, it is widely expected that Eddie Lacy will be the #1 running back for the 2012 season, but guys like Yeldon, Dee Hart, and Jalston Fowler should compete for carries.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to me if Alabama went with an LSU-like approach to running the football in 2012 with four very capable runners.

Ryan Anderson (DE/OLB/Daphne, AL): Rivals: 4*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 5*

Anderson pledged to the Tide last April, and like I said before, he was in high school teammate T.J. Yeldon’s ear the whole time about coming to Alabama. Anderson enrolled in January, and projects as a defensive end or outside linebacker on the next level.

He’s a hybrid end/linebacker, and he reminds me of Courtney Upshaw. He’s comfortable standing up or putting his hand in the dirt. He’s already got great size to be as young as he is at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds.

He’ll go through spring practice and the strength and conditioning program during the Summer, so Anderson has a shot at getting some early playing time during his freshman season in Tuscaloosa.

Chris Black (WR/Jacksonville, FL): Rivals: 4*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 4*

Black is the 2nd highest rated wide receiver to sign with the Crimson Tide in 2012. He doesn’t have ideal size at just 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, but with Alabama’s top two receivers Darius Hanks and Marquis Maze graduating, Black will compete for early playing time.

Enrolling early will obviously help his cause. I don’t think Black is going to be a big time difference making wide receiver, but I could see him making a Darius Hanks-like impact at Alabama.

Amari Cooper is one of many incoming Tide freshmen ready to compete for early playing time.

Amari Cooper (WR/Miami, FL): Rivals: 4*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 4*

Rivals ranks Cooper as the top wide receiver in Alabama’s 2012 class. Cooper is a 6-foot-1 175 pound wide receiver from Miami and chose the Tide over offers from Miami, Florida State, and Ohio State. He’s rated as the 6th best wide receiver in the class according to Rivals.

I was extremely impressed with what I saw out of Cooper at the Under Armor All American game, and he showed game changing ability as a receiver and a return man. He scored a long receiving touchdown from Jameis Winston, and had a punt return for a touchdown later in the game.

With Cooper enrolling early, he’s another guy that will seriously push for playing time in 2012.

Dillon Lee (LB/Buford, GA): Rivals: 4*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 4*

The 6-foot-4 220 pound linebacker from Georgia is another in the deep class of linebackers reeled in by the Crimson Tide in this recruiting class. Lee needs to put on a little weight, but he plays really hard, and is quick to the football.

Most experts expect Lee to redshirt his first year at Alabama. He needs to bulk up some, and he recently underwent shoulder surgery. Even if he does redshirt in 2012, I expect Lee to make a big impact at Alabama down the road.

Alphonse Taylor (DT/Mobile, AL): Rivals: 3*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 4*

Taylor is a massive prospect at 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds. Alphonse Taylor was originally committed to Florida State, but switched his pledge to Alabama in December before enrolling in spring classes.

It’s not yet known whether Taylor will play offensive tackle or nose guard in college, but I do know he was going to Florida State as an offensive tackle. He could play either side of the ball, but he could very well be headed for a redshirt season as well.

He has the size to play right now, but he is obviously a raw prospect at this point.

Travell Dixon (CB/Eastern Arizona CC): Rivals: 4*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: NR, 247: 4*

Travell Dixon was a huge pickup for the Crimson Tide from the JUCO ranks. Alabama lost two of its top three corners in Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie, and Dixon should seriously compete for early playing time next season.

Dixon was one of the top rated players from the junior college ranks, and was a two-year starter and All American. At 6-foot-2 200 pounds, Dixon has the ideal size you would want in a cornerback. Dixon could end up starting alongside Dee Milliner next season.

Deion Belue (CB/NE Mississippi CC): Rivals: 3*, Scout: 3*, ESPN: NR, 247: 4*

Belue originally signed with Alabama in 2010, but couldn’t qualify so he went the community college route, and is now finally in Tuscaloosa. With the roster attrition at corner, Belue, like Dixon, should seriously push for playing time at corner.

Belue could also make an impact for the Crimson Tide in the return game. Belue was rated as the #7 overall JUCO prospect in the country. Saban does not bring in junior college transfers that he doesn’t expect to make an immediate impact.

Dakota Ball (DT/Lindale, GA): Rivals: 3*, Scout: 3*, ESPN: 3*, 247: 3*

Ball is a 6-foot-2 292 pound defensive tackle who committed to Alabama all the way back in October of 2010, and officially signed with Alabama today. Ball plays hard and has a high motor, but he’s not likely to make much of an impact right away.

Ball will have to develop further, and time spent in the Alabama strength and conditioning program will do him a lot of good. Ball is another redshirt candidate, and I’d say it is more than likely he’ll get one.

After a dramatic recruitment, Landon Collins signed with Alabama on Wednesday.

Landon Collins (S/Geismar, LA): Rivals: 5*, Scout; 5*, ESPN: 5*, 247: 5*

Collins recruitment was a roller coaster ride with the backlash from his mother following his initial commitment to the Crimson Tide. Despite her objection to him playing for Alabama, Collins faxed in his letter of intent this afternoon.

Collins is widely regarded as the #1 overall safety in this class, and the top signee for the Crimson Tide. At 6-feet and 210 pounds, Collins is physically ready to play right away for Alabama, but as everyone knows, Nick Saban and Kirby Smart run a very complicated defensive system that will be tough for Collins to pick up when he enrolls at Alabama during the summer.

Collins plans to come in and compete for the star position in Alabama’s secondary next season.

Denzel Devall (Bastrop, LA): Rivals: 4*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 4*

Nick Saban plucked Devall out of Louisiana as the four star inside linebacker prospect chose Alabama over LSU in December. Devall is a very versatile prospect, and could seemingly play three different linebacker spots in the Crimson Tide’s 3-4 defensive set.

Devall was also being recruited as a 4-3 defensive end. He’s just another in the long list of strong linebacker commits for Alabama in this class.

Kenyan Drake (RB/Powder Springs, GA): Rivals: 4*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 4*

The four star running back out of Georgia committed to Alabama last February, and held strong with his commitment to the Tide despite the addition of T.J. Yeldon to the class. Drake is an extremely versatile prospect, and it is not yet known what his role will be on the next level.

He could play running back, but he could also wind up as a slot receiver for the Crimson Tide. Drake is a great athlete with a good ability to run the ball, but he also catches the ball like a receiver. Comparing him to former Florida receiver Percy Harvin may be a bit much, but he could end up playing that kind of role in the Tide offense.

Kurt Freitag (TE/Buford, GA): Rivals: 3*, Scout: 3*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 3*

The 6-foot-3 245 Freitag committed to Alabama back in December over Florida. He joins high school teammate Dillon Lee in this class.

With Brad Smelley graduating, Freitag should get an opportunity to compete for the open H-Back role in the Alabama offense. He could very well win out and see some early playing time his freshman year, or he could redshirt to spend a year further developing.

Brandon Greene (OT/Ellerwood, GA): Rivals: 4*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 4*

ESPN rates Greene as the 6th ranked offensive tackle in this class, and he is an absolute mammoth at 6-foot-6 and close to 300 pounds. Greene committed to Alabama last March, but had a late flirtation with Georgia. He ultimately signed with the Tide.

With four returning starters on the Alabama offensive line, and strong depth all over the offensive line already, Brandon Greene will almost certainly redshirt in 2012. Greene could ultimately be the successor to D.J. Fluker at right tackle.

Adam Griffith (K/Calhoun, GA): Rivals: 3*, Scout: 3*, ESPN: 3*, 247: 3*

Alabama’s kicking troubles on field goals longer than 40 yards may finally be over with the addition of Griffith in this class. Griffith is ranked as the #1 kicker in this recruiting class by Scout and 247sports.

You never know with kickers as Cade Foster came to Tuscaloosa with high expectations, but Griffith has a big leg, and has been said to have made a 69-yard field goal in practice. Griffith will have an opportunity to earn the starting duties for kickoffs and potentially longer field goals that are out of Jeremy Shelley’s range.

Caleb Gulledge (OL/DL/Prattville, AL): Rivals: 3*, Scout: 3*, ESPN: 3*, 247: 3*

While Gulledge is listed as a guard on rivals, Gulledge is expected to at least start his Alabama career on the defensive line. He attended a camp at Alabama following his junior season of high school, and the coaching staff was impressed enough with his ability on defense to offer him.

At 6-foot-4 255 pounds, Gulledge projects as a defensive end on the next level. Look for him to redshirt this season though as he’s given time to acclimate to the system and add some bulk.

Tyler Hayes (LB/Thomasville, AL): Rivals: 4*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 4*

At just 215 pounds, Hayes is likely headed for a redshirt this season at Alabama, but he projects very well down the road for Alabama as an outside linebacker. Hayes needs to add some bulk, and a redshirt season would obviously help him do so.

Hayes is another guy who is quick to the ball, and he has a ton of upside. He should make a big impact for Alabama in the future.

Brandon Hill (OT/Collierville, TN): Rivals: 3*, Scout: 3*, ESPN: 3*, 247: 3*

There was some late rumblings that Alabama may not accept Brandon Hill’s letter of intent due to some worries about him qualifying, but the school announced his LOI earlier today. Hill is reportedly on the path to qualifying.

Hill is massive at 6-foot-6 and 352 pounds. Just like Brandon Greene, Hill is a likely redshirt during his first season at Alabama due to the current depth on the Alabama offensive line.

Cyrus Jones (ATH/Baltimore, MD): Rivals: 4*, Scout: 5*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 4*

Jones, one of the top high school athletes in the nation, committed to Alabama at the Under Armor All American game. Jones is an extremely versatile athlete who could play slot receiver or cornerback on the next level.

Jones is likely to get a first look as a slot receiver for Alabama, and could make an immediate impact in the return game. Jones is a dynamic play maker in the open field so he’ll definitely get a look at taking over for Marquis Maze in the return game.

Korren Kirven (DT/Lynchburg, VA): Rivals: 4*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 4*

As was reported yesterday, Alabama made a late charge for Korren Kirven, and earned his signature early this morning. Kirven chose Alabama over in-state Virginia Tech.

Kirven has good size already at 6-foot-4 and 272 pounds, and is also versatile enough to play defensive tackle or defensive end in college. Kirven is very quick off the ball, and is very good at rushing the passer. His technique needs work, but defensive line coach Chris Rumph will certainly help with that.

Darren Lake (DT/York, AL): Rivals: 3*, Scout: 3*, ESPN: 3*, 247: 3*

Darren Lake has great size for his position at 6-foot-3 330 pounds, but is another guy that is headed toward a redshirt season at Alabama. Lake is still an extremely raw prospect, and a year spent in the strength and conditioning program will do wonders for him moving forward in Tuscaloosa.

The additions of Kirven and Tomlinson this morning to go along with Alphonse Taylor, Dakota Ball, and Lake give Alabama a deep class at a position of need after Josh Chapman and Nick Gentry graduating.

Alec Morris (QB/Allen, TX): Rivals: 3*, Scout: 3*, ESPN: 3*, 247: 3*

Alec Morris was originally a Wake Forest commitment, but after Jameis Winston committed to Florida State, Alabama offered Morris a scholarship, and he flipped his commitment to the Crimson Tide. Morris’ recruitment is eerily similar to that of Greg McElroy who flipped from Texas Tech to Alabama after the Tide missed out on Tim Tebow.

A lot of people compare Morris to McElroy in terms of his leadership ability, but Morris has a stronger arm. Morris will spend next season holding a clipboard as a redshirt behind A.J. McCarron, Phillip Sims, and Phillip Ely.

Reggie Ragland (LB/Madison, AL): Rivals: 4*, Scout: 5*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 4*

At 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, Ragland has the size to come in and play right away on the college level. Ragland is good enough to come in and make an early impact for the Crimson Tide. With as good as Trey DePriest played in the National Championship game when C.J. Mosley was injured, he obviously has the inside track to start alongside Nico Johnson next season.

But Ragland could come in and make a DePriest like impact next season as a special teams contributor, and situational player at linebacker, although I’m sure he will get a crack at starting during the summer. Ragland could be the eventual successor for Nico Johnson in 2013.

Geno Smith (CB/Atlanta, GA): Rivals: 4*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: 4*, 247: 4*

Geno Smith committed to Alabama in August, and despite some rumblings that Georgia was making a late run for him, remained solid with the Crimson Tide. At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Smith needs to bulk up a bit to play cornerback in the SEC.

ESPN has Smith rated as the #2 cornerback in the country, and while a redshirt year is possible, we could also see Smith come in and earn some early playing time when opposing offenses have four wide receivers on the field.

Dalvin Tomlinson (DT/McDonough, GA): Rivals: 4*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: 3*, 247: 4*

Tomlinson signed with Alabama over Georgia Tech this morning as many came to expect over the last week. Tomlinson is a really good story having overcome so much adversity with losing his mother recently. Tomlinson is defending two state wrestling titles, and has a 3.9 core GPA.

Tomlinson is an extremely hard worker, and could earn some early playing time on the Crimson Tide defensive line.

Eddie Williams could solve Alabama’s size issues at wide receiver in 2012.

Eddie Williams (ATH/Panama City, FL): Rivals: 5*, Scout: 4*, ESPN: 5*, 247: 5*

Rivals rates Eddie Williams as the #1 athlete in this recruiting class. From an athletic standpoint, Williams might be the best signee of the Crimson Tide this recruiting season. He’s versatile enough to play wide receiver or safety in college, but he’s likely to begin his college career at wide receiver.

At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Williams could easily solve the size issues Alabama had at wide receiver a year ago following Julio Jones’ early departure to the NFL. Williams stands a good chance of getting some early playing time at receiver in 2012.