Alabama Football: 5 2015 Recruits Tide Fans Should Be Following This Summer

Sanjay Kirpalani@@SanjayKirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystMay 6, 2014

Alabama Football: 5 2015 Recruits Tide Fans Should Be Following This Summer

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    With spring football over with, Nick Saban and his coaching staff will turn their attention to the recruiting trail in hopes of helping Alabama land another top-rated recruiting class.

    After racking up four stud commitments following the spring game, Alabama is comfortably atop the 247Sports class rankings.

    With 15 pledges in total, Saban can focus on putting the finishing touches on the 2015 class. Considering there are still a handful of elite prospects heavily interested in the Tide, the summer will be a critical period in establishing relationships and getting prospects to visit Tuscaloosa in the next few months.

    Which players should Tide fans be monitoring closely over the summer?

    All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

CeCe Jefferson

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    Saban and his staff have found success luring some of the top players out of Florida on an annual basis—with stars such as Amari Cooper and Derrick Henry serving as prime examples.

    The Tide are hoping history repeats itself with CeCe Jefferson—the nation's top strong-side defensive end.

    Jefferson is thought to be a lean to the homestanding Florida Gators. However, he visited Alabama last month and even wore an Alabama T-shirt upon his last visit to Gainesville, according to GatorBait's Luke Stampini.

    While the Gators are in a strong position, another subpar season on the field this fall could impact their recruiting efforts. Regardless of that fact, expect the Tide to lay the groundwork with Jefferson to be in position to pull off a surprise in the end.

Daron Payne

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    While the Tide have extended their reach nationally in recent classes, that success hasn't come at the expense of losing out on the top talent within state borders, as referenced by BamaOnline via Twitter.

    This year, the top prize in the state of Alabama is 5-star defensive tackle and Birmingham native Daron Payne.

    The 6'2", 316-pounder has stated that his recruitment is likely a battle between in-state rivals Alabama and Auburn.

    Given the priority both schools are placing on landing Payne, his visits in the summer will be critical to watch for clues as to which school he is leaning toward.

Tim Settle

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    While Payne represents the top in-state defensive tackle Alabama is pursuing, the Tide are involved with a handful of elite, out-of-state tackles such as Trent Thompson and Shy Tuttle

    However, considering the success that assistant Lance Thompson has had in pulling 5-star defensive linemen out of the state of Virginia in recent years, Manassas, Virginia, standout Tim Settle is a name worth watching for Tide fans.

    Settle—who is close friends with fellow Virginia natives and recent Tide signees Jonathan Allen and Da'Shawn Hand—visited Tuscaloosa last summer.

    If he makes another trip to the Capstone this summer, Thompson will be in strong position to land another gem out of the state of Virginia.

Zach Gentry

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    As it currently stands, Alabama is slated to head into 2015 with five scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. However, Saban and new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin are actively pursuing a handful of top passers in hopes of landing at least one in the current cycle.

    One of the top passers on the board for the Tide is 4-star New Mexico native Zach Gentry—who recently visited Alabama last month and has the Tide in his top four along with Tennessee, Texas and Oklahoma State, according to Charles Power of BamaOnline (subscription required).

    Gentry told Power (subscription required):

    I talk with Coach Kiffin and I'll talk to Coach Saban pretty regularly. (Saban) just reinforces the fact that they're recruiting me for a reason. He says he has a lot of confidence in me and likes my athletic ability. We just talk about general things day-to-day, my progress in football, and getting back to Tuscaloosa.

    With a possible summer decision on the horizon, it will be interesting to see if the Tide continue to push for a commitment from the 6'7", 230-pound star from the Land of Enchantment.

Terry Godwin

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    Alabama already has commitments from two big-time receivers in Calvin Ridley and Daylon Charlot, but that hasn't stopped it from pursuing other standout pass-catchers. 

    In fact, two receivers currently committed elsewhere—Jovon Durante (West Virginia) and Terry Godwin (Georgia)—were on hand for Alabama's spring game.

    For Godwin, a 5-star athlete from Hogansville, Georgia, it was his second trip to Tuscaloosa in a three-week span.

    "Right now, I'm 100% committed to Georgia, because I'm committed," Godwin told Power. "As long as I'm committed, I'm going to stay 100% to them. Alabama would be right there with the rest of them. They're all coming hard."

    While the in-state Bulldogs will be tough to beat out, Alabama looks to be trending with one of the nation's most explosive playmakers heading into the summer.