Alabama got some great news yesterday with the commitment of elite CB Nigel Knott. We will start, however, with the big news of the day:
#GroundhogDay: the verdict is... Spring!!!!— Julia Hatmaker (@JuliaHatmaker) February 2, 2016
Phil was on his game this morning, executing his job perfectly in front of a freezing but excited Pennsylvania crowd that numbered in the thousands. He predicted an early spring for just the 18th time since 1887. Roll Tide, Phil.
On to Knott:
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There are freaks in recruiting, and then there are FREAKS. Suffice it to say that Alabama is getting a FREAK (all caps) in Monday commitment Nigel Knott, a cornerback from Madison (Miss.). Knott plays well on the football field, but the best demonstrators of his athleticism might come off the field, as he showed in the bag jump above. But wait, it gets even better.
We don't know how Knott will pan out as a cornerback in the SEC, but there is no questioning his athleticism. Huge pull out of Mississippi for the Tide. Roll Tide, Nigel. Looking forward to watching you grow.
Chris Sailer Kicking ranks Meyer as the 12th-best long snapper in this year's recruiting class. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Meyer, who has scholarship offers from Army and Air Force, was named to the "All-Saban team" at Alabama's specialists camp, according to the Chris Sailer Kicking website.
Long snapper is a thankless job, one of those positions that nobody notices unless something goes horribly wrong. Sounds like the Tide landed a good one.
Power 5 teams (of which there are 65) that consistently recruit Top 20 classes have a 60 percent chance of becoming a Top 20 program and a 35 percent chance of regularly inhabiting the Top 10. By contrast, Power 5 teams that finish outside the Top 20 in recruiting have a lower than 18 percent chance of fielding Top 20 teams and just a 6.7 percent chance of reaching the Top 10. Still think those recruiting rankings are meaningless?
Recruiting rankings are far from meaningless, but this is looking at a pretty wide perspective. Sure, you have to be in the top 20 or so in order to contend for anything. That seems like common sense. Is there really an appreciable difference in most cases between the first and fifth ranked players or classes, however?
College football is just better in the South, folks. Sorry, B1G peeps. There's always ice hockey.
Hint No. 1: Raw talent might matter more on defense. The correlations between recruiting rankings and defensive success were stronger than on offense. Whereas most offensive categories ended up in the 22 to 29 percent range, a majority of defensive categories were between 31 and 42 percent. These are verified to some degree with eyeballing. Of the top five offenses according to Off. S&P+, only one (Stanford's) came from a team that recruits at a top-20 level. The other four were Arkansas (28th in two-year recruiting), Baylor (32nd), Texas Tech (47th), and Western Kentucky (93rd). Meanwhile, four of the top six defenses came from the top end of the talent pool: Alabama (first in two-year recruiting), Michigan (14th), Clemson (12th), and Florida (13th). Boston College (53rd) and Northwestern (40th) bucked that
This makes sense. So many teams are running spread offenses now, which are disproportionately reliant on quarterback play. Wide receivers in those schemes need not be the biggest or fastest since they are generally playing in open space. In fact, it is often smaller, quicker types that don't usually show up at the top of the 247 composite manning those spots. Being that the defenders are often left on an island, things like wing span and closing speed make a huge difference. Up front, elite athletes who are strong enough to hold their ground against the run while agile enough to catch mobile quarterbacks are at a premium.
Our next QB?
"I think this year was a big learning process," Barnett said. "Getting adapted to how the team works, getting to know everyone on the team, the coaching staff and getting familiar with the offense and how everything really works. But I think I got a lot experience even though I was doing mainly scout team. "With that said, you get to go against the No. 1 defense every day and practicing against them and improving my overall game."
As of Monday evening, Alabama had the No. 5 class in the country in the 247Sports Composite and the No. 3 class in the SEC. The Crimson Tide are one of a handful of teams that, with a big finish, could finish with the No. 1 overall class. If Alabama doesn't finish with the country's best signing class, it will be the first time in six years that has happened.
Everything you hear about Blake Barnett is positive. He reportedly started taking up something of a leadership role as soon as he arrived on campus. If he is as good as advertised, it's unlikely that anyone else on the roster is able to keep him off the field this season.
The sophomore played 20 scoreless minutes in the 78-64 loss at South Carolina. Johnson said he wouldn't be practicing Monday. The Wenonah product is scoring 7.3 points a game, but hasn't started since a seven-game streak ending with the Jan. 9 loss to Kentucky. Shannon Hale should be fine after briefly leaving Saturday's game with a leg injury. Johnson said freshman Brandon Austin is also fine after leaving the South Carolina game with a blow to the face.
Coach Johnson's squad needs a bounce-back in a big way from an ugly loss in Columbia. Mississippi State looked awful at the beginning of the season, with the low point a loss to the University of Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos. Since then, however, they have been much more competitive with a one-point loss in College Station, a six-point loss in Lexington, a six-point win over Ole Miss, and most recently a 14-point win over lowly Mizzou. It won't be easy, but the Tide certainly has a great shot to get a win in Starkville tonight. As always, we will have you covered later in the day.
Prescott's day was over, and it was enough to secure him Most Outstanding Player honors. He wasn't the only SEC West quarterback to lead South scoring drives. Arkansas's Brandon Allen and Alabama's Jake Coker also produced points, though without throwing for scores.
If only Alabama had to play against good quarterbacks...
"Inside, I think, everyone said their own little pep talk like, ‘Hey guys, we’re still in it. Fight for everything, every second. Do it for her,’" Sims said. The following week, Alabama lost to a No. 1 Florida team, 1987.175 to 197.525, but it posted a 49.550 on the beam, setting the fifth highest beam score in school history. The three falls were forgotten.
The season didn't get off to a great start for Coach Duckworth's perennial contender, but there is still time to get it turned around.
That's about it for today. Stay tuned for recruiting news as it comes in.