National Signing Day was a month ago. Congratulations everyone, you have almost survived the dreaded period between NSD and the start of spring practices with absolutely no football. It is a tough time for all of us, but have faith! The end is near. In the meantime, here is the final piece in our series at RollBamaRoll.com introducing the new players for 2015.
Over the last month, I have covered the front seven, the secondary, and the offensive line. This week will cover all of the offensive skill positions. Hold on to your pants because an extensive torrent of words is on the way. There are seven total players in the class of 2015 that still have not been properly introduced, and they will all be getting their share of limelight here.
I will mention SPARQ in the profiles of each of the players. SPARQ is a formula created by Nike to quantify and measure a player's athleticism by combining many of the common athletic tests such as the 40-yard dash into a single number. Here is my former article going more in-depth as to what SPARQ really is. Without further delaying the inevitable, meet your 2015 new guys:
Bo was supposed to be a member of the 2014 class. He had some academic issues and his enrollment was delayed until the spring semester. Scarbrough was a 5 star athlete in 2014, and was the top ranked at his position in the nation. He also was the 16th overall player.
At 6'2" 230, and a sub 4.6 forty yard dash, Scarbrough is an extremely intriguing athletic specimen. He's fast, agile, and powerful. His primary position is running back, but has extensive experience as a receiver. Many coaches and scouts have additionally drooled over his potential as a linebacker or even safety.
Scarbrough is already listed on Alabama's roster as a running back. He has very impressive acceleration and a galloping top speed with his long strides. Unlike Derrick Henry, Scarbrough is thicker and more built in his lower body than his upper body, and has the ability to drive the pile and run through defenders with his legs. Scarbrough is also a natural and experienced slot receiver. He excels at catching balls over the middle and running from defenders on crossing routes. He is also a willing pass blocker.
If Lane Kiffin can find a way to utilize Scarbrough, his potential is limitless. I would like to see him used in a role similar to how Florida utilized Aaron Hernandez under Urban Meyer. A sort of tight end/running back hybrid that created all sorts of mismatches.
The Prediction: Receives around 10 snaps per game in packaged plays
Flowers is a 4 star running back from Vigor High School (the very same place that spawned Jalston Fowler). He is considered the 15th best back in the nation, and the 146th player overall. He also has the ability to play safety. Flowers has already enrolled at Alabama.
Flowers struggled with injuries much of his senior year, and did not participate in any of Nike's SPARQ combines.
He is a fluid and patient runner with outstanding vision. He has decent but not great speed, and very impressive lateral agility. He is a prototypical 3-down running back who runs with power and does not shy from contact, often striking defenders. Flowers has a nasty stiff arm, and almost always falls forward for a couple of extra yards when he goes down. His biggest issue as a back is that he doesn't have great balance and tends to outrun himself in the open field quite often.
The Prediction: Redshirts in 2015
Damien Harris is the 5-star running back who committed to the Tide over Kentucky and Ohio State in 2015. He is the top running back in the nation, and the 31st ranked player in the nation.
Harris did not participate in any of Nike's SPARQ combines, but has reportedly run a 40-yard dash in as fast as 4.42 seconds. At 5'10" 210, he has a compact build than many scouts and programs look for in running backs.
He is obviously the best player on the field in any film. He is a decisive and aggressive runner who can plant his foot and hit even the smallest hole in the line with lighting quickness. Once past the line of scrimmage, he has tremendous balance and elusiveness, and is very difficult for defenders to get their hands on. He doesn't seek contact like Flowers or many former Tide running backs, but is still a transcendent talent at running back. In his senior season, 25% of his carries went for touchdowns. Think about that. One out of every four times Harris touched the ball, his team got 6 points. He had over 60 touchdowns in his junior and senior season combined. Insane.
The Prediction: Gets some playing time in blowouts, and gathers a few snaps as a change of pace back
Hales Hentges has been one of the quietest members of the 2015 class. The 4-star tight end is the 3rd ranked tight end, and the 145th player in the nation.
Hentges has prototypical size of 6'5"/235 and an adequate speed as a 4.75 second 40-yard dash.
He is a solid and unspectacular tight end. He is an effective blocker in both the run game and as a pass blocker. As a receiver, he was mostly used as a vertical option down the seam. He rarely was asked to run real routes in high school. However, as a former basketball player, he is extremely effective in jump ball situations and bodying out defenders for a catch.
The Prediction: Redshirts in 2015
Daylon Carlot was one of the biggest news stories of the Alabama commitments this year. The 4-star slot receiver initially committed to the Tide, then decommitted, then recommitted, then redecommitted, and finally re-recommitted on National Signing Day. He marks yet another top player to leave the state of Louisiana for the Tide. He is the 9th ranked receiver and the 90th overall player in the nation.
Charlot is a smaller receiver, but is not lacking in speed. Clocked unofficially as running a 4.35 second 40-yard dash, Charlot is an extremely fluid and impressive athlete.
He is a slot receiver specialist, but has experience on the outside too. He is a polished and fluid route runner, and does a great job getting separation from defenders. His best trait is his body control. He is very effective at maneuvering himself in the air in order to high point the ball in traffic. He also shows an impressive tendency to always land on his feet after even the tougher catches, and is very difficult to bring down with the ball in his hands. For that reason, he is also an electrifying punt and kick returner.
The Prediction: Becomes the Tide's starting punt returner by mid-season
Calvin "Showtime" Ridley is the highest ranked player in the Tide's 2015 class as the 11th overall prospect. The 5-star receiver is the consensus top receiver in the nation and a human highlight reel.
At only 170 pounds, Ridley still has a very slight frame. He scored a 92.70 on his SPARQ tests, which is only slightly above average for a receiver. He did not test spectacularly in any drills, and is a very small guy, but is still the top receiver in the nation...
... And that's because Ridley is explosive play waiting to happen every time the ball is near him. Throw him a bubble screen, an no defenders manage to get a hand on him for 60 yards. Send him on a deep route, and he makes an insane catch down the field. Most of what he accomplishes doesn't even make sense. His route running is unpolished, but still seems to catch everything. He didn't test all too well athletically, but defenders can never catch him. He just has a knack for the huge play, and makes it happen. Ridley is at his best when he is used as a deep threat, and could become a major game-breaker even as a true freshman.
The Prediction: Is part of the rotation at receiver from day one of the 2015 season
And the moment everyone has been waiting for. Blake Barnett comes to Tuscaloosa with more hype than any quarterback Nick Saban has ever recruited. The 2nd ranked quarterback in the nation hailing from California has made a name for himself in being probably the most vocal player recruiter for the Tide there has ever been. The 21st ranked player in the nation has a personality that seems to draw everyone around to him, and is a natural leader on the field. Barnett has already enrolled at Alabama.
Barnett is listed as a dual threat player, and is deadly as a runner. He is both elusive and can power through tackles, all while being able to outrun defenders with his insanely long stride. He has good feet in the pocket, but tends to occasionally bail too early, trusting his running ability.
As a passer, he has a very powerful arm, and shows the ability to fire laser shots even on deep outs - the hardest route to throw to. He is accurate on short, intermediate and deep routes, and shows very impressive touch on fades. The biggest issue is that he has a slow release and long wind-up, with a similar throwing motion to that of Tim Tebow. He also has only played in a read-option spread offense, and seems to be more of a one-read and run type of quarterback, rather than going through multiple progressions.
The Prediction: Though many think he may be the first true freshman QB to start at Alabama, I believe he will redshirt in 2015
With Blake Sims, T.J. Yeldon, Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White, Chris Jones, Jalston Fowler, and Brian Vogler all moving on, there is a lot of room for these young freshmen to compete for a starting job. So expect to see a couple of these names often on game days next fall.
As always, special thanks to hudl.com for providing me with the pretty player cards.