Alabama Football: Why Defensive Back Is Tide's Biggest 2014 Recruiting Need

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeFeatured Columnist IVApril 12, 2017

Sep 14, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban reacts during the second half against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama again boasts an outstanding haul of incoming talent, as Nick Saban continues to collect commitments from stars of the class of 2014.

The Crimson Tide currently have the nation's No. 1 recruiting class, according to 247Sports rankings, and are on track to finish among the top five for a sixth consecutive season.

Life is good for the two-time defending national champions. It could become even better if Saban is able to punctuate this recruiting cycle with additions at a key position of need.

Alabama began this cycle aiming to fill holes on the offensive line and at linebacker, positions where the roster features several seniors and juniors. Saban has solidified those spots with commitments from coveted high school seniors, including No. 1 offensive tackle prospect Cameron Robinson and a trio of 4-star linebackers (Christian Miller, Zach Whitley and Shaun Hamilton).

With those positional needs effectively crossed off the list for 2014, top-tier defensive backs are now squarely in Alabama's cross-hairs.

Saban would bolster an immensely impressive group of future SEC standouts by acquiring more secondary help.

The Crimson Tide will see a significant exodus from its defensive backfield after this season. 

Experienced cornerbacks Deion Belue and John Fulton are both seniors, while junior safety HaHa Clinton-Dix is considered a first-round prospect in the 2014 NFL draft, per ESPN's Mel Kiper.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, No. 6, has NFL teams awaiting his arrival.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, No. 6, has NFL teams awaiting his arrival.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Nick Perry, who played an important role in the secondary during last year's title run, is also a senior. Junior Vinnie Sunseri, a rising star at strong safety, could ultimately be tempted to depart Tuscaloosa early in order to enter the NFL draft.

Saban has secured commitments from an excellent contingent of 2014 defensive backs so far. Still, the Crimson Tide are in search of more playmakers for the back end of the defense.

Cornerbacks Kalvaraz Bessent (Kingsland, Ga.) and Stephen Roberts (Opelika, Ala.) are both 4-star recruits capable of making an impact early in their collegiate careers. Bessent's high school teammate Chris Williams, a 3-star safety, is also committed to the Crimson Tide.

Keith Holcombe, a rangy defender from Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa, could potentially play strong safety but speed limitations are likely to keep him at outside linebacker.

Alabama continuously churns out NFL-caliber defensive backs so depth is imperative as the roster undergoes consistent talent turnover.

The Crimson Tide are keying in on top targets in an effort to ensure the depth chart remains packed with premier players who are ready to step up and compete against the SEC's best when called upon.

Marlon Humphrey, the nation's No. 1 cornerback prospect, is an Alabama native. (247Sports)
Marlon Humphrey, the nation's No. 1 cornerback prospect, is an Alabama native. (247Sports)

Marlon Humphrey, who plays for Birmingham powerhouse Hoover High School, sits atop Saban's to-do list in the recruiting department. The 6'1", 175-pound prospect is listed as the nation's No. 1 cornerback recruit and Alabama's top player in 247Sports composite rankings.

He is also considering offers from Florida State, Florida, Mississippi State and South Carolina, according to 247Sports. 

Cornerback Tony Brown, the top-ranked Texas prospect in 247Sports composite rankings, still has Alabama in the mix. The Crimson Tide face stiff competition for his services from Ohio State, Texas A&M, LSU, Texas and Florida State, according to 247Sports.

Brown visited Tuscaloosa in late July, while Humphrey checked out an Alabama spring practice in April.

Saban is also in hot pursuit of Louisiana safety Laurence Jones, who has visited campus three times this year, per 247Sports. The 6'2", 215-pound Neville High School star is also taking a hard look at LSU, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Ohio State.

Alabama aims high and its top three defensive back targets are each arguably the premier player at their respective position.

Expect the Crimson Tide to welcome at least one of them into the fold, putting a bow on yet another impressive recruiting class.