Alonzo Lawrence has committed to Alabama.
As I mentioned earlier today, the commitment of Lawrence is arguably the biggest we've had to date, and it is really difficult to overstate how good this kid can potentially be. As an athlete, he is simply nothing short of amazing. At over 6'1 he has good size, but he also has blazing speed as well. He participated in the Scout.com New Orleans combine, and was easily one of the fastest prospects that attended.
Interestingly enough, though, Lawrence was a bit of an unknown commodity until recently. Saban was the first one to discover to him, after he completely shut down star wide receiver Deandre Brown -- a 6'6 and 220 pound five-star receiver -- when he played against Ocean Spring High earlier in the year. At the Alabama v. Mississippi All Star Game, though, Saban's little secret quickly burst onto the national scene. That night he lined up against Julio Jones, and pretty much shut him down too. Lawrence capped his big night when -- just when the Alabama squad was driving deep in Mississippi territory to make it a close game again -- he stepped in front of a pass intended for Jones, and returned it 94 yards for the game-changing touchdown.
After that, Lawrence shot to the top of everyone's board. The recruiting services quickly made him one of the top players around. Scout.com made him a four-star prospect, and rated him as one of the top ten cornerbacks in the country. Rivals, in fact, said he was the second best cornerback prospect in the country. The major programs moved in just as quickly as the recruiting services. Suddenly, schools like LSU, Miami, and others were putting on the full-court press as well.
It would be unfair, however, to just think of Lawrence as a great cornerback prospect. Yes he did excel in high school as a cornerback, and the fact remains that he did shut down arguably the two best receivers in the country. However, Lawrence also excelled as a wide receiver for George County High, where he had over 700 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Moreover, Lawrence had a huge year as a returner as well, returning five kick-offs for touchdowns and one punt for a touchdown. Making Lawrence's accomplishments even more impressive is the fact that he did all of this playing in 5A, the highest classification in Mississippi high school athletics.
Lawrence, however, is not yet qualified, and he still has some work to do in the classroom. Nevertheless though, his grades have improved, and he seems close to qualifying. He needs to slightly increase his ACT score, but he has three more opportunities to do so (including eight days from now). In all likelihood, Lawrence should qualify.
At the end of the day, it is simply a huge pick-up for Alabama, arguably our biggest to date. This kid just has NFL written all over him, and he could very well be a truly dominant player for us. He very much has the potential to be the best cornerback the Tide has seen since Antonio Langham.
In the short-term, he will move us into the #1 recruiting class in the country according to Scout, and should put us right to the brink in Rivals' rankings. More importantly, however, is this likelihood: if Lawrence qualifies, he will most likely start from day one.
Update [2008-2-1 18:15:28 by Todd]:
I'll update the recruiting board tomorrow, but for now, some Lawrence YouTubery to send you into the weekend: