Alabama has long since been expected to focus heavily on offensive tackle in the 2013 recruiting class, and to that end took the verbal commitment of junior college offensive tackle Leon Brown this past weekend. Brown was quoted with the following, per Matt Scalici:
"I talked to Coach Stoutland and Coach Saban and they both said they were proud about my decision and couldn't wait to get me down there. I play left tackle- they like the way I play and feel like I have a chance to come in and contribute.
Basically, I wanted to put all my dedication towards my upcoming season at junior college. I'm most likely going to take my official visit to Alabama during the season. I'll probably just take that visit to Alabama and not look around or take visits to other schools."
Originally hailing from Maryland, Brown played offensive tackle and defensive tackle at Parkdale High School, and was generally a lightly-recruited prospect coming out of the prep ranks. Despite the frame, he picked up only offers from New Mexico and Marshall, and instead chose to go the JUCO route. He enrolled at ASA College in downtown Brooklyn, and has since picked up offers from Alabama, Ole Miss, Kansas, and a handful of other programs. To be sure, though, Brown is not exactly a highly-coveted recruit, and outside of 'Bama the offer list is relatively lean.
Having established that, however, it's easy to see what appeals to Alabama here. Brown is something of a project, but he does have the natural tools that you cannot teach, namely a long frame, great arm length, and obvious quickness. Playing in a pass-happy offense in high school did not help his cause, but he will enroll early and while he will need work, he at least has the physical tools necessary to be a quality tackle in the SEC. As a general matter, Nick Saban and company have only added JUCO signees at clear positions of need who they believe can contribute immediately, and it is highly unlikely that they would have accepted Brown's commitment had they not felt he could be a contributor when he arrives on campus.
Just as important, though, as mentioned earlier, 'Bama has a clear need at offensive tackle, and with the imminent departures of Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker following the 2012 season, the quality depth at tackle suddenly becomes thin as the Tide moves into the 2013 season. Adding a JUCO tackle such a Brown hopefully helps create short-term depth, and even with Brown in tow 'Bama looks to pursue other tackle prospects.
Moving forward, it would perhaps be prudent to keep an eye on Brown, given that he has never visited Tuscaloosa (Alabama offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland did, however, visit him in Brooklyn) and that he has no real ties to the state of Alabama. Those two factors alone could create the possibility of him reneging on his commitment at some point in the future, but for the time being there is no real cause for concern, and admittedly even if he did have some concerns over distance, it would likely take a firm offer from another major program to have him legitimately reconsider his commitment to the Tide.
Brown becomes the seventeenth commitment of the 2013 Alabama recruiting class.
Addendum: The obligatory YouTube video, featuring Brown during his prep days in Maryland: