December 5, 2007

Freshman Follow-Ups: Defense


Alabama's football freshman class, a mix of recruits from former coach Mike Shula's staff and a few add-ons by new coach Nick Saban, is through its first regular season. Today, BamaOnLine.com's Matt Scalici takes a one-year look at the defensive players in the class.

Josh Chapman
Defensive Line
6-1/280
Rivals prospect rating:
Freshman Recap: Chapman saw snaps in each of the first three games of the season at defensive tackle notching one tackle against Vanderbilt. While the former Hoover star showed promising signs in his limited game snaps as well as in practice, he will benefit greatly from an off-season in Nick Saban's "Fourth Quarter" program with strength and conditioning still an issue for the young lineman. Chapman was one of several freshman mentioned by Saban to have suffered injuries preventing him from practicing during the season, making him a possibility for a medical redshirt.

Luther Davis
Defensive Line
6-4/275
Rivals prospect rating:
Freshman Recap: Davis played in six games in his freshman campaign working as both a defensive end and defensive tackle at various times. Davis recorded his only tackles of the season against Western Carolina where he notched three stops. Despite showing great physical improvement over the course of the season, Davis was unable to edge his way any further up the depth chart over the course of the season. With the departure of Wallace Gilberry, Davis should see an increased number of snaps at defensive end, particular in the Tide's 3-4 sets.

Jeremy Elder
Defensive End
6-3/271
Rivals prospect rating:
Freshman Recap: Elder showed impressive size and athleticism from the day he arrived on campus but was wisely selected for a redshirt season by the coaching staff in order to give him time to improve his strength and to adapt to the Tide's schemes and the speed of the college game. Elder passes the eye test as one of the most impressive looking freshmen on the practice field this fall and will be worth watching as he competes for playing time in the spring.

Tarence Farmer
Defensive Back
6-0/195
Rivals prospect rating:
Freshman Recap: Farmer spent his freshman season redshirting and developing under the tutelage of Nick Saban at both cornerback and safety. Farmer's speed and smaller size makes him a more likely candidate at corner, a position of great need for the Tide next year. Farmer should get his shot to compete for time playing time in the nickel and dime packages.

Nick Gentry
Defensive Line
6-1/263
Rivals prospect rating:
Freshman Recap: After missing fall camp recovering from surgery, Gentry made his way onto the field in one game (Georgia) thanks to a gritty work ethic and a depleted defensive front. Gentry lacks the size to be a dominant nose guard but brings uncommon speed to the interior defensive line making him an ideal inside pass rusher on third downs. Gentry will likely receive a medical redshirt and return with four years of eligibility during he which he will develop as a pass rushing specialist for the Tide on the defensive front.

Kareem Jackson
Cornerback
5-11/185
Rivals prospect rating:
Freshman Recap: Jackson enrolled at UA shortly after signing day allowing him to get a jump on the season and participate in spring practice. The coaching staff showed a fondness for Jackson's athleticism and coverage skills early on Jackson was one of two true freshmen to find his way into the starting lineup this year finishing the season with 61 tackles and three interceptions.

Chris Lett
Defensive Back
6-2/191
Rivals prospect rating:
Freshman Recap: Lett struggled with health issues related to his diabetes throughout fall camp which prevented him from practicing with the team for the entire season. Saban said he believes Lett and his doctors have been able to find a solution to his recurring health problems and if Lett can remain healthy, he could be a factor at either corner or safety for the Tide.

Rolando McClain
Defensive Line
6-4/255
Rivals prospect rating:
Freshman Recap: The Decatur star arrived on campus in peak physical condition and his hard work paid off earning him 8 starts as a true freshman. McClain finished his debut season with 70 tackles and an interception showing he may already be one of the most productive defensive playmakers on the Tide roster. With more development and experience in the Tide defense, McClain has the potential to grow into one of the top linebackers in the league.

Alfred McCullough
Defensive Line
6-2/317
Rivals prospect rating:
Freshman Recap: As with any freshman defensive tackle, McCullough arrived at UA in need of a redshirt year in which to add strength, bulk and experience. Despite playing a few snaps in the opener, McCullough will likely receive a medical redshirt and continue to work on developing physically into a true nose guard.

Kerry Murphy
Defensive Line
6-5/315
Rivals prospect rating:
Freshman Recap: After failing to qualify academically for UA, Murphy decided to enroll in prep school at Hargrave Military Academy where he has excelled as both a defensive tackle and as an offensive lineman. Murphy has already committed to re-sign with the Tide in February and will be eligible to play in 2008 provided he can get his grades in order.

Michael Ricks
Defensive Line
6-2/195
Rivals prospect rating:
Freshman Recap: Ricks failed to qualify academically after spending two years at Northeast Mississippi Community College. Although Ricks has a chance to get his grades in order and re-sign with the Tide in 2008, the chances of Ricks getting to Tuscaloosa appear to be small.

Alex Watkins
Defensive Line
6-3/218
Rivals prospect rating:
Freshman Recap: Taking a redshirt season this year, Watkins had the opportunity to learn the complex assignments and schemes associated with the hybrid Jack linebacker position. Watkins has the size, speed and build that make him an ideal fit for the combination defensive end/linebacker spot and could compete for the starting job during the spring.

Chavis Williams
Outside Linebacker
6-4/214
Rivals prospect rating:
Freshman Recap: Serving as the primary backup at strongside linebacker behind Ezekial Knight, Williams received playing time in 8 games this season recording two tackles.



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