Alabama coaches told members of James Clemens' staff during the recruiting process that Ray "has all of the physical characteristics that you look for in an SEC defensive lineman."
Two of Ray's biggest current strengths, according to Rinks, are his wingspan and how advanced he is from a technique standpoint.
"He's got a wingspan that reaches to tomorrow, so guys have a really hard time getting their hands on him because he's already got his hands on you," Rinks said. "That's his greatest attribute right now is his wingspan and how well he plays with his hands for being a guy who's never played at the collegiate level. Other coaches that we play against tell me that he plays with his hands like he's been playing in the SEC already."
With such a large number of top recruits in this cycle all enrolling early and making a splash at the A-day game and spring practices, the LaBryan Ray hype train has been pretty quiet ever since National Signing Day, despite his lofty rankings.
Don’t be surprised though, if he shows up and makes a much bigger immediate impact than some of the spring wonderkids. He’s already a prototype athlete, versatile enough to play both inside and outside against the run and pass, and has a solid technical base to boot. On top of all that, the defensive line returns only Da’Ron Payne as a starter, so Ray will have every opportunity to make his name known from day one this season.
The sense of relief Minkah Fitzpatrick felt when he saw "No. 29, left corner" on Alabama's rep chart before the first day of spring practice wouldn't last long.
Seven practices later, he was out of his more natural position of cornerback and back where he ended last season, at safety, continuing what has been a familiar merry-go-round in the Crimson Tide secondary the past two seasons.
But the countless hours spent in the film room with head coach Nick Saban and defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley cross-training for different positions haven't been without positive results for Fitzpatrick. In doing so, he has become one of the faces of a growing trend toward hybrid players on defense. Last October, he had three interceptions as a cornerback against Arkansas, and four weeks after that, upon after taking over for an injured Eddie Jackson at safety, he had a key fourth-quarter pick during a 10-0 win at LSU.
"He pretty much can do everything in my eyes," cornerback Anthony Averett said. "Put him at corner, safety, star; wherever you want to put Minkah, he can play."
The article itself is about defensive hybrid players as a whole across college football, but Minkah Fitzpatrick and Tim Williams are two of the main examples being used. The biggest reason not mentioned in the article for the rise of these hybrids is how common the no-huddle offense has gotten. In the past, defenders often specialized in one role or the other so they could substitute in and out based on the situation. Now that defenses are rarely given time to substitute, the players must be able to take on multiple roles, depending on the situation. Hence, the hybrids.
Minkah, in particular, is really going to make some money in the NFL next year. He’s big enough to be a safety, athletic enough to be a corner, and has the smarts and experience to play both. The NFL scouting community is generally viewing him as a corner (and corners generally make more money than safeties), so you can understand why he wants to move there, rather than stay at safety.
Justin Fields has been committed to Penn State since last Dec. 1, but no longer.
Fields, a five-star quarterback from Kennesaw, Ga., announced his decommitment from the school on Tuesday. The 6-foot-3, 221-pound Fields' stock has soared since last fall and he is now ranked as the No. 6 prospect in the country per the 247Sports composite rankings.
Fields called the decision "probably the hardest decision I've ever had to make," adding that it was "not easily made." Schools have continued to recruit Fields hard since his commitment to Penn State.
In the recruiting world, we have a bit of an interesting development. Fields is a huge prospect out of Georgia, which is a state that Saban has had a lot of pull in in the past, but has weakened some the last couple of years. Pulling a 5-star QB from right between Auburn and Athens would be a huge statement.
Oh, and by the way, Fields apparently decommitted just one month after Brian Daboll paid him a visit.
The Alabama Crimson Tide has been the most dominant program in college football for the past decade, and dozens of former Crimson Tide players have rightfully made their way into the NFL. Many of them are very-well compensated for their efforts
In fact, if you compile a 22-person starting lineup (we'll set aside special teams for the moment) an all-Alabama alumni roster would net just over $116 million when considering their current NFL contracts ($116,058,893 to be exact). That means under the 2016 NFL salary cap (about $155 million), you could get the 22 highest-paid Alabama players at each offensive and defensive position.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate that Alabama has enough players in the NFL to put together a full starting line-up, and still have so many players left over that the article limits the top 22 only to those with the highest contracts.
In case you were wondering, the defense leads the way with nearly $70 million, while the offense is at about $46 million. Marcell Dareus , Julio Jones, and Dre Kirkpatrick are the three Alabama players making 8 digits per year.
The article has the contract numbers for almost all of Alabama’s NFL players, so give it a click if you’re into that sort of thing.