December 15th was the first day that JUCO players enrolling early could sign a letter of intent, and that brings 'Bama some very good news on the recruiting front. Quinton Dial, originally a signee from the 2009 recruiting class who failed to qualify academically, has qualified academically after a two year stint at East Mississippi Community College and has re-signed with the Tide. Per the Tuscaloosa News:
East Mississippi Community College defensive lineman Quinton Dial signed with the University of Alabama Wednesday night for the second time in nearly two years, but this time, the 6-foot-6, 315-pound end prospect knows with certainty that he'll make it to the Capstone.
"He really made a great commitment to his own improvement here," said EMCC defensive coordinator William Jones. "He went from 348 pounds last winter to 310 by the end of the summer, and really made strides with his footwork. Alabama is getting a fine player."
Admittedly, this has the potential to be a very big addition for 'Bama. By all accounts, Dial is a very talented player -- he was recruited heavily out of the prep ranks by both 'Bama and Florida, at a time when either school could have gotten just about any player they wanted -- and the thinking behind him not redshirting a year in junior college was that he looks to be an NFL body who would be playing on Sundays before playing a fifth year in college, so why even bother with it? Dial will have three calendar years to play two seasons at Alabama, and with him enrolling early and getting the full benefit of spring practice and the off-season strength and conditioning programs, hopefully he can be a major contributor next fall.
Arizona Western nose guard Jesse Williams is expected to fax in his letter of intent in the coming days, and as much as I hate to say it, we need both him and Dial to come in and play at a very high level next season. Marcell Dareus had a solid year at defensive end, but no one legitimately expects that he will return next season, and outside of Dareus we were weak at the point of attack this season and failed to consistently control the line of scrimmage against nearly every legitimate conference foe. Neither of these two guys will likely fix our issues with the pass rush -- at some point, given the nature of the 3-4 scheme, if we are ever going to be an elite pass rushing defense we're going to have to find some highly productive outside linebackers, and OLB's have been the weakest point of Saban's defenses to date in Tuscaloosa -- but unless the rest of the returning defensive linemen improve significantly, it's going to fall on the shoulders of these two to shore up the run defense for 2011.