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Alabama 2021 Class Grades: Defense

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Defensive tackle: A-

The University of Alabama has three interior defensive line commitments including Damon Payne, the No. 2 player at the position in the country. Payne has a strong chance to end this recruiting cycle as a five-star. That alone gives the position group a high mark.

The Crimson Tide has also reeled in a pair of in-state defensive linemen. Tim Keenan is a wrecking ball who will play nose guard on the next level. He follows a long, talented list of Birmingham area linemen to Tuscaloosa which includes Daron Payne, Quinnen Williams, D.J. Dale and Marcell Dareus.

Anquin Barnes plays on both sides of the ball and steadily improved each season. There is still some question if he will play on the offensive or defensive side once he arrives in Tuscaloosa. Barnes is doing very well on the offensive front this fall.

Maason Smith, five-star from Terrebonne High School in Houma, Louisiana, remains a top target for Alabama.

Defensive end: B+

Alabama has a great player on board in Monkell Goodwine. However, it's only one commitment and the Crimson Tide is looking to add more at the position.

Alabama remains heavily involved in the recruitment of several top end defensive end targets. The best chance appears with elite prospects such as Tunmise Adeleye, Shemar Turner and J.T. Tuimoloau. A few others are considered long shots at this time including Korey Foreman and Tyreak Sapp.

Can Alabama land at least one of the players mentioned above? That's the hope/plan. It will have a hard time turning down two. The numbers are tight, but these targets are elite and top shelf for this class.`

Linebacker: A+

Alabama's linebacker class does not receive enough love from a national stand point as it should. There are also multiple players who appear grossly underrated. There were no camps or events for national/regional analysts to see prospects this past spring/summer. The rankings are still more 'initial' rather than recently evaluated.

Dallas Turner is one of the most polished edge rushers in the country. Rivals National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell recently said he can see Turner moving all the way to five-stars by signing day. Deontae Lawson has performed at a five-star level this season.

Kendrick Blackshire is a thumper who was injured throughout his junior season. He has returned to 100-percent. Ian Jackson is also an outstanding defensive athlete who has played just about every position. He is having a great season for the Prattville Lions.

This is an outstanding group which can still improve. Alabama is heavily involved with Xavian Sorey. Many believe Sorey is a string lean to the Crimson Tide. It's still a long way to go in his recruitment with Florida and Georgia also high on the list. Alabama is also still interested in Khristian Zachary who can play linebacker or defensive end.

Defensive back: B+

This is another strong unit for Alabama which doesn't receive enough attention. However, there are still a few question marks and key targets who remain uncommitted. This class can easily move into the A+ category depending on how things unfold in the next few months with the Tide hoping to add at least one more defensive back.

Many will easily argue the three-stars in the class should move to four-stars. Khyree Jackson was considered Alabama's No. 1 overall JuCo target. Alabama flipped Kadarius Calloway from Mississippi State and DeVonta Smith from Ohio State.

Jackson is recruited as a corner. Calloway and Smith have the ability to play corner or safety. Their future position is probably determined after they arrive in Tuscaloosa. The same with Kaine Williams. He is 6-2, 210-pounds. He will remain at safety or grow into a linebacker.

Alabama is still trying to close some of the best defensive backs in the country. Terrion Arnold has high interest in Alabama. His recruitment will most likely come down between Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Alabama is also still pushing for Ga'Quincy 'Kool-Aid' McKinstry, the top in-state player. Auburn seems to have the advantage..

Alabama is also still heavily recruiting a pair of defensive backs in Louisiana- Sage Ryan and Jardin Gilbert. Ryan seems more than likely to LSU with his family connections to the school and distance from home. He also grew up a big fan of the Tigers.

Order Andrew Bone's new book: ‘The Road to Bama’

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