As BOL continues its look at the top in-state juniors, the defensive side of the football has a number of promising prospects. Speedy defensive ends are in good supply and once again, the state of Alabama features at least one elite defensive back to join the company of recruits such as Dre Kirkpatrick and Demarcus Milliner.
Here is a look at some of the defensive names to watch for in the class of 2011 from the state of Alabama.
Defensive ends plentiful
The state of Alabama has a good history supplying quick defensive ends, and 2011 will be no different. The headliner of the group could be Davidson athlete Jabrian Niles. Niles, 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, was actually a back-up quarterback last fall, but his strength and quickness was too much of a temptation to keep away from the defensive line. In Foley jamboree this spring, Niles had four batted passes in four quarters of play and harassed quarterbacks from both Fairhope and Hoover.
John Carroll has a loaded junior class, and perhaps the best of the bunch is big, athlete Kameron Wood, a 6-foot-5, 220 pounder who came up with several big games last fall.
"Kameron has the potential to be a big-time player. He has the size that you simply can't coach, and he has very good athleticism for someone who is just going to continue to add mass," said John Carroll Coach Chris Musso. "He camped at Mississippi State and their coaching staff just swarmed to him. If he continues to develop like we think he will, he will be special."
Carver-Montgomery's rising junior class is deep and talented, and one of their stars last fall as a sophomore was Antonio Humphrey who registered 10 sacks for the Class 5A semifinalists.
Loachapoka big man Ricky Hunter has good bloodlines as the nephew of former Alabama basketball star Erwin Dudley. Hunter, 6-foot-3, 265 pounds, could easily wind up at defensive tackle before all is said and done.
Long, rangy defender Corey Johnson was a sophomore starter for Class 5A Anniston, and Johnson, 6-foot-4, 206 pounds, has the athleticism to also play outside linebacker if needed.
Columbia's Robert Flowers comes from good bloodlines with several brothers who played collegiately and a father who stands 6-foot-8. Flowers had double-digit sacks as a sophomore starter and good size (6-foot-3, 225 pounds).
While defensive tackles are in shorter supply than ends for 2011, several prospects to watch include Central-Tuscaloosa's Danny Williams, a 6-foot-2, 323-pound prototype nose tackle and Satsuma's Antwan Brunner, a 6-foot-2, 270-pounder with quick feet.
Linebacker unit shines
Alabama 2011 commitment Brent Calloway has staked a claim as one of the top underclassman linebacker prospects in the southeast with a tremendous summer camp circuit, but Calloway isn't the only in-state linebacker with Division I potential. In fact, this could be the deepest unit for the class of 2011 in Alabama.
Blount's Antonio Marsh plays with his hand down for the Class 6A squad, but the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder will very likely move to outside linebacker in college. With long arms and great feet, Marsh has already earned a verbal offer from South Carolina.
Foley High School has been fertile recruiting ground for Alabama the last two years providing two of the Crimson Tide's most prized signees in Julio Jones and DJ Fluker. The class of 2011 at Foley includes another potential star in defensive end Dre'Shon McGaster who like Marsh will likely move to linebacker in college. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound pass rusher was a standout for Foley as a sophomore and is expected to be a key weapon on defense this season.
"He has a great first step, he's explosive off the ball and his quickness and acceleration are pretty impressive," said Foley head coach Todd Watson. "But I think what's special about him is that while he's clearly very talented he's also got great technique for a guy that young and it's something he works hard on."
Watson said that while McGaster needs to add some size to play up front in college, his potential is clear and his speed coming off the edge make him a very strong pass rusher in any defense.
"He's going to bulk up as he gets older and depending on what kind of defense he ends up in, I think he is capable of being a true pass rush defensive end or a hybrid outside linebacker type pass rusher. He really reminds me a lot of Antwan Odom when you look at his frame with his long arms. He's still so young and has so much potential. We're definitely excited about his future."
B.C. Rain's Devaunte Sigler may have one of the best combinations of size and athleticism in this unit at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and a 4.59 40. Sigler is the cousin for Blount Head Coach and former Tide star Kelvin Sigler.
Decatur linebacker Desmond Lavelle was one of the Class 6A program's leading tacklers last season as a sophomore, and at 6-foot, 223-pounds, he has the early frame of a true inside linebacker.
Another middle linebacker with plenty of potential is Carver-Montgomery's Robbie Mangum, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound wrecking ball and one of Carver's many sophomore contributors during last fall's Class 5A run in the playoffs.
One of Sweet Water's top contributor's during their Class 1A string of championships is 6-foot-2, 210-pound Chris Landrum who does most of his damage at running back but is expected to have a future at linebacker at the next level.
Theodore's Carl Robinson at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds hopes to put on a similar show as a junior as his senior teammate and Rivals250 member C.J. Mosley. Robinson had over 80 tackles as a sophomore.
McGill-Toolen defender Charles Benning is similar in build and style of play to Lavelle and stood out during June's EAC Combine. Benning is 6-foot, 210 pounds.
Spanish Fort linebacker Blake Dees was another EAC standout and moves extremely well for a 6-foot-1, 220-pounder with 4.7 speed in the 40.
Williamson's Antwan Rogers is a physical pass-rusher in high school at 6-foot-1, 233-pounds but will very likely move to linebacker in college as a big linebacker. Rogers was another camp standout this summer.
Huffman is never lacking in Division I talent, and outside linebacker Detorious Shipley could be the next big-time Viking at 6-foot-2, 215-pounds and a 4.7 40-yard dash.
Lincoln high school's Desmond Wills is a physical specimen at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds and a 4.5 40-yard dash. Wills was a sophomore starter and rolled up 132 tackles last fall.
Gadsden City's Terrick Wright was a back-up quarterback last fall, but this season he is set as one of the Titans's starting outside linebackers at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds. Wright could get some college looks with a good fall campaign.
Big-time defensive backs lead the way
Valley safety Enrique Florence has already made waves with a 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame and offers already from Alabama and Auburn. Florence has the frame to even grow into a linebacker, but as one of the state interception leaders last fall it is likely that he will continue to be a dominating force in the defensive secondary.
Walker High School was a playoff team last fall thanks in large part to cornerback Jacquese Kirk, a lockdown defender with 4.4 speed in the 40.
"He's a kid that most of our opponents tried to avoid by the end of the season," said Walker head coach John Holloday. "He had that much of an impact as a sophomore and that's really rare to see."
The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Kirk earned plenty of attention for his game-changing turnovers - including seven interceptions - that helped lead Walker to a playoff run that took them all the way to the state quarterfinals.
"He's a very smart player and when you combine that with his athleticism it leads to big plays," Holloday said. "He's got great instincts and that allows him to turn an ordinary play into a big play. I think he's got the potential to be a really excellent college corner. He's got all the tools you need to be a playmaker at the next level if he continues to work hard."
Vigor cornerback Eric Dixon has prototype size for his position at 6-foot-, 170 pounds. Dixon was another key contributor to last fall's state championship run for the Wolves.
North Jackson's Denzel Bynum made a name for himself this summer with blazing 40 times at both Alabama and Auburn. Bynum ran at least one sub-4.4 40-yard dash during testing.
McKenzie High School isn't a large football program, but the south Alabama school has a star in the making in athlete Emmanuel Johnson, a 5-foot-10, 175-pounder who could star on either side of the ball.
Another large corner is Leeds athlete Jonathan Rose who at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds is already bigger than his father, former Auburn star Charles Rose.
Hoover's Rico Dunn has the bloodlines to succeed as his father is former Tide defensive lineman Eric Curry. Dunn, who is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, previously played at Spain Park.
Vestavia Hills features physical head-hunter William Dillard, a 6-foot, 185-pounder who was a part-time starter last fall for the Rebels as a sophomore.
Other safeties with size to keep an eye on are Gadsden City's Anthony Swain, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder, Bibb County's Taylor Morton, a 6-foot, 183-pounder and Vestavia Hill's Patrick Prewitt, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder who had four interceptions last fall.
BOL Xtra: As talented as the early returns indicate the 2012 in-state class will be on offense, the defensive side of the football could be even better. Prattville High School will line up two huge defensive linemen this fall which isn't unusual for the three-time defending state Class 6A champions - except that the two players are just sophomores. Defensive tackle Justin Shanks at 6-foot-3, 251 pounds is as physically impressive as any senior and defensive end Caleb Gulledge, at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, has been compared to a young Bobby Greenwood. Haleyville's Jachine Haltiwanger is already a monster physically at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds. Bob Jones linebacker Reggie Ragland will line up at tight end this fall and also stars on the basketball court for the Class 6A program, but the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder has a clear future at linebacker and was a star at Alabama's summer camps. Faith Academy's Chris Cashier is a two-way star at receiver and defensive end, but his frame at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds could lend itself to any of several different positions. McAdory's Marcus Turner was the most impressive sophomore at the EAC Combine in Vestavia in late spring and will get college looks in both the secondary and at wide receiver with 4.49 40-yard dash speed.